Paul Smith Missive

From Paul J. Smith's Missive Volume One

It was a sunny day on Madison's Riverfront, several years ago, when Madison Came Running Staff met Paul Smith and his wife Debbie, and during the ensuing conversation, MCR learned Paul wrote and distributed, via e-mail, a weekly History Revue. Paul offered to include MCR on his mailing list.

We've received and read each weekly missive over the years and finally decided to put an Item from (almost) each day on a special web-page. Oh, why did we not start this special history page sooner?

Impossible to recall Paul's past contributions, but we will re-build one significant Item from his "Month of July" missive.

July 24th.

Paul wrote about -
John Herbert Dillinger, born in Indianapolis on June 22, 1903, then grew up near Mooresville where he committed a robbery and was sent to the Indiana State Reformatory on September 16, 1924.

John Dillinger

After his release from prison, in 1933, the Dillinger Gang committed a series of robberies, and after one arrest Dillinger escaped from the Lake County Jail using a wooden gun, then drove away in the sheriff's car.

Dillinger photographed with Lake County Officials

Designated by The FBI as Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger was shot and killed, by The FBI, while exiting the Biograph Theater in Chicago, on this date, in 1934.

Now A Chicago Landmark

Buried at Indianapolis' Crown Hill Cemetery, and the grave-site has become the number one tourist attraction in the Cemetery.

Dillinger Marker

From Paul Smith's Weekly History Revue

August 9th.

Paul Says -
This is the day in 1969 that whacko-extraordinaire Charles Manson and his followers butchered 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate Polanski and four of her friends in a Beverly Hills house.

Charles Mansion

August 10th.

Paul Says -
Happy birthday to Jimmy Dean, of sausage fame, on this day in 1928 in Texas.  He is also a singer and actor (remember his character based somewhat loosely on Howard Hughes in the James Bond thriller, "Diamonds Are Forever").  His most popular song?  "Big Bad John" in 1961.

Jimmy Dean

August 11th.

Paul Says -
You may not recognize the name of the minister who passed away from TB in London at the age of 38 on this day in 1778, Augustus Montague Toplady. You will recognize the name of the song that he wrote: "Rock of Ages."

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Also August 11th.

Paul Says -
Band-leader Phil Harris (born Wonga Phillip Harris—the first name came from a Native-American circus worker who was friends with his parents), died at 91years-of-age this day in 1995 in Rancho Mirage, California. He was born to a musical ex-coal miner dad and singer mom in Linton, Indiana.

Phil Harris

August 12th.

Paul Says -
In 1944, on this date, 29-year-old Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., was killed. He was the brother of JFK, Robert, and Teddy. His autocratic dad set his sights on the US presidency for his son and felt that a military record would be useful. Joe Junior became a pilot in the Army Air Corps and flew bombing missions before volunteering for a secret mission.

Joe Kennedy

Also On August 12th.

Paul Says -
On this date in 1964, Ian L. Fleming died at the age of 56. He created perhaps the most famous spy in history, certainly the hero of one of the most successful movies series of all time, James Bond. Fleming was a member of British Intelligence during WWII and got his inspiration for many of his stories from a real-life spy, William Stephenson (code name: Intrepid).

Ian Flemming

First Bond Production:
Sean Connery As OO7

August 14th.

Paul Says -
It's V-J Day, the day in 1945 that President Truman announced the WWII surrender of Japan. (Official ratification would come on September 2 on the decks of the USS Missouri.) Celebrations swept the nation. That led to one of the most famous photographs Life Magazine ever published, the legendary Alfred Eisenstaedt photo of a sailor bending a nurse over and smooching her.

Celebrating Japans Defeat!

August 15th.

Paul Says -
Will Rogers was killed on this day in 1935 in an airplane crash with renowned aviator Wiley Post at the controls. They were traveling through Canada and Alaska and became lost in a storm but managed to land successfully. They asked some natives how far it was to Point Barrow, Alaska, and were told only ten minutes, so they took off again. As they banked away the engine stopped and they crashed, killing both men.

Will Rogers

August 16th.

Paul Says -
Elvis is dead, on this day in 1977. [Or, is he?] If you tour Graceland—you’ll leave convinced that money and taste aren't necessarily linked. Elvis makes more in death from royalties and from the sale of stuff and visits to Graceland than he ever did in life. I think Lisa Marie gets most of it.

Elvis Presley 1970

August 17th.

Paul Says -
Talking about Hoosier candidates for the Presidency, Wendell Willkie kicked off his presidential campaign in his birth place of Elwood, Indiana, on a sweltering day in 1940, this day. He made a quick stop at his old high school and proceeded to Callaway Park where maybe 200K had gathered. He ran his campaign from Rushville, Indiana.

Wendel Willkie

Also August 17th.

Paul Says -
In 1969 on this date, the center of Hurricane Camille crossed the Mississippi coast. A few days later, Red Cross Disaster Services volunteers, including me, set out from Louisville for Gulfport, Mississippi, with a Red Cross canteen truck. Spent three days there as I recall.

Hurricane Camille - Paul Smith Was There

August 19th.

Paul Says -
About 600 miles off the coast of Boston, on this day in 1812, a US warship received the nickname that she carries to this very day. While engaged in a fierce battle with the British HMS Guerriere, cannonballs bounced off the hull of the USS Constitution as if they were made of iron. "Old Ironsides" literally won a smashing victory as the British ship took 79 casualties and was sunk.

The venerable old ship is still in service and set sail in 1997 for the first time in 116 years. BTW, not too long after the war there was a real possibility that she would be decommissioned and scrapped. A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes helped prevent that fate.

"Old Ironsides"

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Oliver Wendell Holmes

August 21st.

Paul Says -
One of the most respected sportcasters is Chris Schenkel, born this day in 1923 near Bippus, Indiana. Really. We’ve driven through it, a tiny place that is more or less a crossroads and a railroad track in Huntington County, Indiana, up north. Schenkel died at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne on September 11, 2005.

Chris Schenkel

August 25th.

Paul Says -
Wish happy birthday to the star of dozens of movies, Oscar winner ("The Untouchables") (Thomas) Sean Connery, on this day in 1930 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He's probably one of the best actors alive today but pursued a number of paths before becoming a successful actor.

James Bond - OO7

Also August 25th.

Paul Says -
On this day in 1945, just a few days after the end of WWII (some say that makes him the first casualty of the Cold War), Baptist missionary and Captain in the US Army (military intelligence) John Birch was killed by Chinese Communists in northern China. Robert Welch founded (at a meeting in Indianapolis) and named the anti-communist organization the John Birch Society in his honor.

Captain John Birch

August 26th.

Pauil Says -
It is the anniversary of the death of Charles Lindbergh. He was 72 when he died in 1974. He made the first solo flight over the Atlantic. Many of you, I am sure, have seen his plane, The Spirit of Saint Louis, suspended from the ceiling in the National Air and Space Museum. His son was kidnapped in 1932 and the accused killer was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a carpenter.

A person who figured prominently in the case was Colonel Norman Schwartzkopf, head of the New Jersey State Police and someday to be the father of a famous General.

Charles Lindbergh

August 27th.

Paul Says -
One of the unsung heroes of the Civil War passed away in New York on this date in 1881 at the age of 80. He wasn't a soldier but rather a banker. His name was J(ames) F(ranklin) D(oughty) Lanier. He was born in North Carolina. While he was growing up his family moved to Bourbon County, Kentucky, then Eaton, Ohio, before settling in the bustling Ohio River town of Madison, Indiana. He became a lawyer in Madison (he had gone to school at Transylvania University in Kentucky) and then a banker. In the early 1800's Madison was strategically located on the river commerce route between Louisville and Cincinnati.

James Franklin Doughty Lanier

When war broke out and Indiana answered Lincoln's call for volunteers the state didn't have the funds to pay to equip its troops (states often bore such expenses, especially early in the war) and Governor Oliver P. Morton borrowed money from Lanier. Two years later when party squabbling among the Indiana legislators and the Governor left the state without a budget, Morton again turned to Lanier. Lanier lent the state about $640K, a staggering sum for the times, with no assurances that it would ever be paid.

Lanier Mansion - Madison's Crown Jewel

August 29th.

Paul Says -
Legendary journalist, newscaster, and world traveler, Lowell Thomas passed away on this date in 1981 at age 89. He was born in Ohio, but we can claim him as a Hoosier as he went to Valparaiso University in Northern Indiana.

Lowell Thomas

Lowell Thomas The Voice Of Cinerama

August 31st.

Paul Says -
On this date in 1688, preacher-writer John Bunyan died in London at age 59. He wrote "Pilgrim's Progress," an allegorical story of a journey to heaven. The book was tremendously influential on the religious thought of the time. It is also one of the earliest English examples of what we would call a novel. The text of "Pilgrim's Progress" is in the public domain and you can find it online.

John Bunyan

And perhaps in contrast to a famous preacher, Sally Rand, one of the most famous strippers of all time, died on this date in 1979 at age 75. She made her reputation at a much earlier age, in particular at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, but kept on fan dancing pretty much to the end.

Sally Rand

On September 1st.

Paul Says -
Hitler invaded Poland on this date in 1939. WWII began. What more can you say about the greatest loss of life and property in human history. BTW, on the eve of WWII, the U.S. Army was 19th in size in the world. We were behind Portugal, but ahead of Bulgaria.

Adolf Hitler

September 2nd.

Paul Says -
This is the anniversary of the 1964 death of the most decorated soldier of World War I, 76-year-old Alvin York. The irony is that he tried to dodge the draft, twice. He finally spent two days in the mountains of Tennessee around his home thinking about it and decided that he would fight. With only his rifle, and following the annihilation of most of his company, he single-handedly killed 25 Germans and captured 132 others. He was so efficient in picking off those who stuck up their heads that others surrendered in droves. With six men left of his outfit he marched all the prisoners back to the rear. He received the Medal of Honor and one of the most tumultuous welcome-home's ever recorded.

Sgt. Alvin York WWI

September 4th.

Paul Says -
On the subject of Hoosier novelists, you can still find novels from the 64-year-old Vevay, Indiana, native who died in Lake George, New York, on this day in 1902. Edward Eggleston, whose best known work was The Hoosier School-Master, based on his brother, George’s experience as a teacher (George was also a novelist) is said to have ushered in the Golden Age of Indiana literature.

Edward Eggleston

Vevay, Indiana Birthplace

Also On September 4th

Paul Says -
Louisville-born, and much nominated for Academy Awards (five times), actress Irene Dunne was 91 when she died in Los Angeles this day in 1990. She made her acting debut in Louisville at the age of five. As a youngster she and her family moved to Madison, Indiana, and she grew up there. She moved to Indianapolis to study music.

Irene Dunne

In Front Of Ohio Theater - Downtown Madison

Irene Dunne's Home In Madison - 916 West 2nd Street

September 6th.

Paul Says -
John Dillinger committed his first violent crime on this day in 1924. He and another loser, an older ex-con named Edward Singleton, hid in the dark, drinking, near the Mooresville (Indiana) Christian Church (the building at 61 W. Harrison still stands) and waylaid local merchant Frank Morgan. The crooks got away with about $150 but were captured fairly quickly. Although Morgan wasn’t able to give a good ID on his attackers, the police got a confession out of Dillinger by promising him leniency. Unfortunately for Dillinger, the judge didn’t buy into the deal and sent him away on a 10-20 year sentence. Some observers feel the harsh sentence is what set Dillinger on the road to perdition. Singleton got 2-14.

Young John Dillinger

While I am at it I will mention that this is also the anniversary of the 1933 robbery by Dillinger and his gang of the Massachusetts Avenue State Bank here in Indianapolis. They got away with $24K that was never recovered.

September 9th.

Paul Says -
On this day in 1969, Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 bound for Indianapolis from Boston collided with a small private plane over Shelby County, Indiana, scattering debris over an area very near the Shady Acres trailer court. Eighty-three people were killed in all. It was quite a mess as the only body found intact was that of the pilot of the private plane, still strapped in his seat.


Crash Scene

Crash Scene Marker

September 11th.

Paul Says -
At least during our lifetimes, this is the day known as “September 11” or “9-11,” with no other explanation needed. On a rainy summer day, Debbie and I visited the site of the World Trade Center. Lots of people were visiting, as I suspect is always the case. On a beautiful, but windy and bitterly cold day when the ground was covered by several inches of fresh snow, we visited the site where Flight 93 was crashed in a field atop the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania. It’s pretty remote and I thought we’d be the only two people there, but the makeshift memorial there had a number of visitors besides us.

Paul & Debbie Visit
Flight 93 Crash Location In Pennsylvania

September 13th.

Paul Says -
Artist Robert Clark, who is so fond of his native state that he changed his name to Robert Indiana, was born in New Castle, Indiana, on this day in 1928. The painter, sculptor, and printmaker studied in Maine and Scotland and settled in New York in the 1950s. You probably know him for a much-reproduced sculpture of his, an example of which can be seen on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the word “LOVE” spelled out with the “L” and a tilted “O” sitting atop the “VE.”

"LOVE" By Robert Indiana

September 15th.

Paul Writes About "The Hanging Tree" -
A cemetery in Versailles was the scene of some excitement on this day in 1897. It seems that a number of the good citizens of the county took it upon themselves to circumvent the criminal justice system by breaking into the jail in Versailles, shooting one to three men out of five accused of a crime spree involving robbing farmers who had cash from selling their crops, and hanging the five men, some already corpses from being shot by the vigilantes, from an elm tree in the cemetery.

Paul Writes About "Gordon's Leap" -
The cemetery seems to abound in interesting incidents, including a story about a group of medical students and a doctor seeking to “resurrect” a body for anatomy class who were surprised by guards hired by the family for just such an eventuality. One of the students escaped by jumping off a 100-foot-high cliff that borders the cemetery. He survived because tree branches broke his fall. That occurred in the 1840’s. A nephew of the doctor was one of the men hanged fifty years later in the same cemetery.

September 15th - A Day Remembered!

Paul Mentions -
BTW, we visit Madison every so often. It is a very enjoyable place to visit if you like historic homes, shopping, nature, and very pleasant people. Seven years ago about this time, on the Riverfront, we met a retired Indiana State Police Colonel and his wife. The Colonel, who operates a web site devoted to Madison, is now a recipient of this missive. We shared many experiences at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Also On September 15th.

Paul Says -
Happy birthday to the oldest volunteer fire department in Indiana: the Fair Play Volunteer Fire Department in Madison, Indiana. It was founded this day in 1841, though its roots go back a decade before.

Madison's Fair Play Fire Co.

September 16th.

Paul Says -
Construction on the Madison Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad began on this day in 1836. If you think of Indiana as flat, you’ll be surprised at one of the biggest challenges faced by the railroad, making a cut just west of town that remains perhaps the steepest grade ever used by a line-haul railroad, a 5.89 percent grade. That’s a rise of 5.89 feet for every 100 feet of length—even the mountains out west rarely sport rail grades greater than 2.5 percent. Excavating the cut took five years of work by Irish workers. For a time horses were used to pull cars up the grade, impossible for early steam trains. Later a cog system was introduced and even later use of the heaviest train engine in the world, the Reuben Wells. The Reuben Wells is now housed at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. If you travel to Madison (and you should, the picturesque Ohio River town is home to historic buildings you can tour, shops, and festivals), you can still marvel at the work that must have been required to make the grade, so to speak.

Madison Railroad's "Reuben Wells"

September 20th.

Paul writes an Item about the "Battle Of Chickamauga" that will be of special interest to Madison Author Dorothy Jones who wrote about Emilie Todd Helm in a recently published book.

Paul Says -
Incidentally, one of those killed at Chickamauga was a Kentuckian and Confederate general, Benjamin Hardin Helm. He was leading a brigade under the command of fellow Kentuckian and former US VP John C. Breckinridge. Helm was returned to Kentucky for burial on the family homestead just north of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a place where his ill father was inaugurated for a second term as Kentucky governor before dying there five days later in 1867. Benjamin is notable for one reason, if no other. He was married to a sister of Marry Todd Lincoln, making him the brother-in-law of the US president who was commander-in-chief of the troops who killed him.

Benjamin Hardin Helm - Confederate General

September 22nd.

Paul Says -
Long-time (thirty-four years) basketball coach of the Butler University (Indianapolis) Bulldogs, Paul “Tony” Hinkle died on this day in 1992 at age 92.

His name lives on in the name of Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Indiana high school basketball championships were played for many years and was used in the filming of “Hoosiers.” Hinkle is credited with the color of basketballs being changed from brown to the orange that we use today so that the ball could be better seen.

Hinkle Field House Indianapolis

Hoosiers "Played" At Hinkles

September 23rd.

Two Nifty Items From Paul -

One -
We have photographers among the recipients of this missive. In 1930 on this day, Johannes Ostermeier patented the flashbulb. Remember popping them into a socket in a reflectorized dish? I do. Somehow there was something satisfying about the pop that they made when triggered, although admittedly more intrusive than today's flash units and much, much less convenient.


Two -
Happy birthday to much-married (I've lost count) Joe Yule, Jr., known now as Mickey Rooney. He was born this day in 1920 and has been a performer since he was fifteen months old. He said: "Always get married early in the morning. That way, if it doesn't work out you haven't wasted the whole day." On at least one of his trips down the aisle he trod the same aisle as did Debbie and I at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas.

"Church Mentioned Above"

September 27th.

Paul Writes -
Joseph (Steve) Broady had to make up time on this date in 1903. He was at the controls of a train carrying the mail between Washington and Atlanta. The track bed wasn't in good shape and he was used to starting his run behind schedule and barreling on to try to make up for lost time. Not too far from Danville, Virginia, traveling perhaps 90 miles per hour, his #97 train plunged into the Dan River Gorge, killing him and seven others. The disaster was turned into one of the most famous of railroad songs: "The Wreck of Old 97."

"Wreck Of Old #97"

Made Famous By Johnny Cash.
Photo Courtesy Wikipedia.

September 28th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1920, a grand jury indicted eight members of the Chicago White Sox (forever thereafter the "Black Sox") for throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Though later found to be not criminally guilty, they were banned from Baseball for life. One player, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, figured in the movie "Field of Dreams." He has supporters who want him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

September 30th.

Paul Writes -
He was difficult and moody. Only one of the three pictures in which he starred was released while he was alive (he had small parts in a couple of other movies, had performed on Broadway, and had appeared in television dramas), but James Byron Dean has a cult following yet today. On this date in 1955, at 75-85 mph (or 55-56, depending on who you believe) the 24-year-old actor, who was racing to compete in an auto race, slammed his new Porsche Spyder into a car driven by Don Turnupspeed (really), who had turned in front of the actor. Turnupspeed walked away from the accident, Dean was killed instantly.

Debbie Smith & "James Dean"

BTW, there must be something in that Fairmount, Indiana, water. Not only is James Dean from there, so is Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield the Cat. Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur is from around Fairmount and the family lived there for a time. Long-time CBS News correspondent Phil Jones is from Fairmount. I’ve read that the former director of the National Hurricane Center, Dr. Robert Sheets, went to high school there.

From MCR -
Marv. Smalley, retired ISP Major & longtime friend, is from Fairmount.

October 1st.

Paul Writes -
Many of you have heard a country music song by John Prine called "Paradise" ("And daddy, won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where paradise lay?"). There really is a Muhlenberg County in the coalfields of Kentucky. Its namesake, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, died on his 61st birthday, this day in 1807. He was a Revolutionary War general, in command of a German regiment raised in Virginia, who later served as a senator from Pennsylvania for about three months.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.

Paradise Coal Shovel

October 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Good grief. Round-headed Charlie Brown made his debut on this date in 1950. His creator, Charles Schulz, named him after an art school friend. Originally his strip was called "Li'l Folks" but it was changed to "Peanuts" because the original name was too close to other cartoon strips in existence. It's a billion dollar industry now. Not bad for a guy who learned to draw from one of those matchbook correspondence art schools.

"Charlie Brown"

October 4th.

Paul Writes -
This is the birthday of Moses. OK, it's Charlton Heston (born John Charlton Carter in Evanston, Illinois, in 1924) but that is as close to Moses as the NRA thinks that we'll get. He died April 5, 2008.

Charlton Heston Former NRA President

Also On October 4th.

Paul Writes -
The world changed on this date and many of us on this list were alive when it happened. In 1957 man's first artificial satellite rocketed into space from the Soviet Union. Named Sputnik, it wasn't much larger than a basketball and all it did was emit a steady beep, but arguably millennia from now historians will point to it as the first true venture into space. Its orbit was intentionally such that it could be seen with binoculars by much of the world's populace and it shook the American psyche to the core.


October 5th.

Paul Writes -
Lincoln's Mother remains on and under Indiana soil. On this date in 1818, Nancy Hanks Lincoln died of "milk sickness” contracted by drinking the milk of a cow that had eaten the White Snakeroot plant. She was buried on a wooded knoll, or copse as one of the recipients of this missive notes, ablaze with the Autumn colors in what is now the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial (operated by the National Park Service) near Lincoln City, Indiana.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln Grave

October 6th.

Paul Writes -
If you are a longtime reader (or sufferer) of my missives, you might recall that Jesse James often gets the "credit" for inventing train robberies in this country. In fact, the first known non-wartime robbery of a moving train was conducted on this date in 1866 near Seymour, Indiana, by members of the Reno gang (four Hoosier brothers were the nucleus of the gang) and their cohorts.

On two occasions, five days apart, vigilantes hanged members of the gang at a place just west of Seymour. On another, vigilantes traveled to New Albany across the river from Louisville, broke captured members of the gang out of federal custody, and hanged them.

Frank Reno

October 7th.

Paul Writes -
"Quote the Raven, Nevermore" after this date in 1849 when 40-year-old Edgar Allen Poe died. His poetry and detective stories (he essentially invented the genre) have held up very well over some 15 decades. BTW, I’ve read that he sold “The Raven” for $2.00. If true, someone got quite a deal.

Edgar Allen Poe

October 8th.

Paul Writes -
Hoosier-born (August 7, 1929, in Michigan City) New York Yankee Don Larsen pitched the first no-hitter (a “perfect game”) in World Series history this day in 1956. Twenty-seven Dodgers in a row went out. Not all of his World Series experiences were as pleasant as this fifth game of the series: in the second game he was knocked out, literally. Asked if he ever gets tired of being asked about the big game, he replied: “No, why should I?”

Yogi Berra Hugs Don Larsen

Also On October 8th.

Paul Writes -
Probably the most famous fire in US history began on this date in 1871. Legend has it that Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern in her Chicago barn, although historians have pretty much debunked that origin. No matter, the fire destroyed about three square miles of what is now Chicago (ironically, the O'Leary house survived). About 300 people were killed, over 17K buildings burned, and some $200M worth of damage (in 1871 dollars) was incurred. About 300K people were made homeless. To illustrate that times don't change, looting took place and one looter was stoned to death when he was discovered setting more fires so that he could continue looting.

Chicago Fire

October 9th.

Paul Writes -
On this raw and windy day in 1821, lots went on sale in a tiny cleared spot in the Hoosier forest along the east branch of the west fork of the White River, a spot that is now downtown Indianapolis. The town already had its name and designation as the capital of a fairly new state. Its boosters claimed that it was on a high, dry plain, a bit of hyperbole as the area still had marshes and malaria was a problem for decades.

Indy - 2009

Also On October 9th.

Paul Writes -
In Rising Sun, Indiana, on the Ohio River you’ll come across pictures of a hydroplane named “Hoosier Boy.” Its picture can be found in a hallway in the casino hotel and in a mural on a side of a wall near the river. The boat itself is in the local museum. The reason for the hoopla stems from this day in 1924 when the hydroplane set a still standing record of a round trip between Cincinnati and Louisville: 267 minutes and 49 seconds for the 267 mile trip. BTW, perhaps the reason the record still stands in spite of the fact that modern hydroplanes reach speeds twice that of which Hoosier Boy was capable is that the Markland Dam now stands on the river between Cincinnati and Louisville.

Hoosier Boy

Continuing October 9th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned earlier that I was once a young man. Back then I was a member of the Louisville-Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Board when it acquired the Belle of Louisville Steamboat. One of her features is a massive calliope. In 1855 on this date, Joshua C. Stoddard was awarded a patent for the calliope. Some were installed in churches but most survive on steamboats or in circuses.

The Calliope

October 11th.

Paul Writes -
An era in Louisville blew to a close on this date in 1971 at 1530. For nearly seventy years the steam whistle at the L&N railroad yards in South Louisville marked the time by blasts at 0700, 1200, 1230, 1530, and 2350. It could be heard throughout the area and for miles around. You could - my family did - set your watch by the whistle.

Louisville L&N RR Yards

October 11th.

Looking Ahead - Paul Writes -
Tomorrow I will tell you of the violent 1937 end of two-thirds of the notorious gang of killers and robbers who cut a wide swath across the Midwest and Northeast in the 1930’s, three Hoosiers known as the Brady Gang after their leader, Alfred Brady.

Brady Gang See Following Story

October 12th.

Paul Continues "Brady Gang" Story -
As I am mentioning Madison, Indiana, let me tell you more (see yesterday) of Alfred James Brady, leader of a ruthless gang of robbers and killers in the 1930’s because one of his gang, Rhuel James Dalhover, was from Madison. Brady was also a Hoosier, born near Kentland, Indiana, and grew up in Indianapolis, and the third core member of his gang, Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., was from Indianapolis. Brady came as a youth to Indianapolis and held various jobs growing up. His dad died when he was an infant and his mother and a stepfather died when he was a teenager. He was arrested for a couple of comparatively minor crimes. After release from a prison for one of these crimes he stayed at a farm near Hanover, Indiana, where he met Dalhover who had purchased a farm with proceeds from moonshining. Brady and Dalhover linked up and began committing crimes. When Brady brought in Shaffer, the core of the gang was formed. Over the next couple of years they committed perhaps 150 robberies of jewelry stores, banks, and grocery stores, with countless car thefts. Their crimes spanned states from New England through the Midwest. We know they killed a grocery clerk in Ohio, a Police Sergeant in Indianapolis, an Indiana State Trooper, and may have killed a Police Officer in Anderson, Indiana. Others who encountered the gang were badly wounded, including the Sheriff of Hancock County, Indiana, when the gang beat him and overpowered him before escaping from his jail, a County Deputy Sheriff who was badly wounded in the incident where the Indiana State Trooper died, and a Lima, Ohio, Officer injured during a car chase involving the gang. Alerted by a store manager who became suspicious of gun purchases being made by the gang in Bangor, Maine, on this day in 1937 the FBI and Bangor Police staked out the store. The gang appeared and Dalhover was arrested when he entered the store. Shaffer opened fire on the Officers (one was wounded) and was killed in the return fire. Brady made as if to surrender, but suddenly opened fire. The Officers returned fire and, at the age of twenty-six, Brady dropped dead in the street, a revolver he had taken from the dead Indiana Trooper in his hand. The story of the gang was closed when Dalhover went to the electric chair in Indiana next year for the murder of the Trooper. More on the FBI web site and the web site maintained by one of the recipients of this missive, himself a former State Police Officer.

Open The Following Link - See The Madison Connection:

Brady Gang Kills Indiana State Trooper

Also October 12th - Duty Honor Country.


Paul Writes -
Now I'm describing an almost forgotten Hoosier/Kentuckian, Samuel Woodfill. He was born and raised north of Madison, Indiana.

He went to Europe during WWI and, on this day in 1918 when his men found themselves pinned down by German machine guns, he moved forward by himself, picking off German soldiers one by one, silencing machine gun nests that were raking his men. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor and many awards from other nations. After the war he returned to the US to a tumultuous hero's welcome, including a ticker tape parade in New York. He was one of the pallbearers selected for the honor of entombment of the Unknown Soldier in 1921.

Woodfill went back in the army twice (he returned in 1919 after being out a few months and then again in 1942 in WWII) because he failed at about every civilian occupation that he tried, including working as a carpenter for $6.00 per day on a government project in Kentucky and then operating an orchard in Kentucky. He had to take a job as a night watchman in a Newport, Kentucky, plant to make ends meet. He had served temporarily as a captain in the service but, as the rank wasn't permanent, the US Army blocked efforts to increase his pension. Nearly twenty years later they still blocked efforts of supporters to get him an additional $11.25 per month. [Forget the laws of physics; bureaucracy is the one constant of the universe.] The man who General Pershing called "America's greatest soldier" (Woodfill later was one of his pallbearers), died alone on August 10, 1951, at age 68, on his Indiana farm and was buried, basically forgotten, near Madison, Indiana. After the Madison newspaper took up the cause of the neglected hero he was removed from his overgrown-with-weeds resting place in 1955 and moved to Arlington. He has a small monument on the courthouse lawn in Madison. It is easy to miss if you attend the huge Madison Chautauqua and Old Court Days as we have many times, but you should stop by and pause momentarily to acknowledge the heroism of Woodfill.

Major Sam Woodfill

October 14th.

Paul Writes -
St. Louis claims to be the starting place for the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. Noted historian Stephen Ambrose had a different view, as do some others. On this date in 1803, Meriwether Lewis reached Louisville with men and supplies for the expedition. He hired a local pilot familiar with the Falls of the Ohio and the next day they made their way through the rapids to the north side of the river to meet Clark. William Clark had been staying there in Clarksville with his famed brother and namesake of the town, General George Rogers Clark, in a now long gone cabin (until recently only a historical marker noted the site, but an old cabin has since been reconstructed there), recruiting Kentuckians for the voyage. Ambrose notes that when Clark and Lewis shook hands, the expedition began.

Lewis & Clark Handshake

Meriwether Lewis

William Clark

October 16th.

Paul Writes -
The world came close to really changing on this day in 1962. JFK was informed that there were Russian missiles in Cuba and the "Cuban Missile Crisis" began. It was a good time to own stock in fallout shelter companies. Once in a great while you still see the distinctive signs for such a shelter in an old building. [In case you are too young to know what they looked like.] BTW, Ashford General Hospital was dedicated this day in 1943. How is that related to the Cuban missile crisis? Well, Ashford General Hospital was the name the US Army gave to its 2,000 bed hospital that had formally been the Greenbrier hotel in the mountains of West Virginia.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Greenbrier

October 17th.

Paul Writes -
This is a very important day in our history. George Washington (and his French allies) received the British under a flag of truce at the tiny village of Yorktown (the town had been besieged since September 28 by about 17K American and French troops), an event that would lead to the surrender of the British army by Lord Cornwallis on October 19, 1781.

Site Of Yorktown Surrender

Also On October 17th.

Paul Writes -
"You Load Sixteen Tons and What Do You Get?" Pretty doggone tired I suppose. I've always liked the song, "Sixteen Tons" that was released on this day in 1955 and whose performer, Ernest Jennings "Tennessee Ernie" Ford, passed away on this day in 1991 at age 72.

Tennessee Ernie Ford

Also October 17th.

Paul Writes -
One of history's towering intellects emigrated to the US on this day in 1933, a refuge from Hitler's treatment of Jews. One can safely assert that Albert Einstein changed the world as his work provides much of the theoretical underpinnings for modern physics.

Albert Einstein

Continuing October 17th.

Paul Writes -
Like Dillinger himself, some of his gang died violently. One went to the chair on this day in 1934. Born in Muncie, he was 31-year-old Harry Pierpont. [Some sources say he was 32.] Ohio executed him for killing Sheriff Jess Sarber while Pierpont was breaking Dillinger out of a Lima, Ohio.

Harry Pierpont - Muncie, Indiana Native

October 18th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the Idlewild. I mentioned her a while back in connection with her calliope, only I referred to her under the name that you know her, the Belle of Louisville. She is a steamboat owned by Jefferson County, Kentucky, and you can ride her yet today from a dock on Louisville's waterfront. In fact, a comparatively inexpensive and quite pleasant way to spend a summer evening is on one of her cruises and Debbie and I would recommend it, even if you have to drive from Indy to do so. The steam-driven rear paddlewheeler was christened Idlewild on this day in 1914 in Pittsburgh and made her way early the next year to her first home, Memphis. After use as a ferry, a decade or so later she went to Cairo, Illinois. She moved around, changed her name to Avalon, and was purchased by her current owner in 1962. [A few years later, I was a member of her governing board.] On October 14, 1962, she received her current name.

Belle Of Louisville

Also On October 18th.

Paul Writes -
Thomas Edison passed away on this date in 1931 at the age of 84. He executed over 1K patents in his lifetime, a record. The number would be impressive enough. The devices themselves were world-changing: incandescent light bulb, phonograph (his favorite invention), motion picture projector, mimeograph machine, and on and on.

Thomas Edison

You can tour Edison’s lab that his friend Henry Ford had moved to Greenfield Village near Detroit. If you are in the Fort Myers area, we recommend a visit to Edison’s and Henry Ford's summer homes. Also, it isn't well known even in Louisville, but tucked away not far from the developing Louisville riverfront is a preserved home known as the Thomas Edison House. It is one of three places (the only one left) that Edison occupied when he was a struggling young telegraph operator a few blocks away at what was once the Louisville office of Western Union.

Edison's Lab - Greenfield Village

October 19th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the Indiana State Fair -- on this date in 1852. Estimates of the number of attendees at the fair in what is now Military Park in Indy’s downtown vary but the gate receipts were said to be about $4.6K, which is pretty considerable given that it cost just twenty cents to get in. The event moved around a bit before settling into its current home at 38th Street & Fall Creek Parkway on September 19, 1892. These days the fair is held in August.

Ind State Fair Midway

Also On October 19th.

Paul Writes -
George Mortimer Pullman, who passed away on this date in 1897 at the age of 66, revolutionized train travel with his invention of the railroad sleeping car.

George Pullman

Just south of Chicago he set up a company town to house his workers and their families, providing every amenity. You can still drive through the neighborhood and admire the architecture, as we have a couple of times. But it wasn't idyllic. Needless to say, efforts to organize the Pullman companies were violent affairs, with Eugene Debs, socialist and union organizer from Terre Haute, Indiana, leading the way.

One of Pullman’s workers put it clearly: “We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shop, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman church, and when we die we shall be buried in the Pullman cemetery and go to the Pullman hell.”

Early Pullman Car

October 20th.

Paul Writes -
Five-year-old Vivian May Allison died on this day in 1899, probably of appendicitis. It was a personal tragedy for her family but, sadly, not an uncommon event for the time when childhood mortality in this country was much higher than today. What brings little Vivian into our story is what her parents did after her death — they constructed a tombstone that is really a miniature wood Victorian house with big glass windows and is completely furnished inside. Over a century later, the dollhouse still stands above her grave, refurbished and watched over by merchants across the street in Connersville, Indiana.

Vivian's Doll House - Connersville

October 22nd.

Paul Writes -
Murderer (perhaps ten people), bank robber, and fugitive, Chester Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd got his in a cornfield in Ohio on this date in 1934 at the hands of local police and federal agents who shot him several times. He was 33 at the time that he was killed and had led a life of crime since he was 18. He got his nickname courtesy of a madam in a brothel. Supposedly he hated the nickname.

"Pretty Boy" Floyd

Also On October 22nd.
Hoosiers In WWI -

Paul Writes -
Although the US was late to enter WWI, American troops made the difference. Although I’ve seen various numbers, 118K - 132K Hoosiers signed up to go to war and 2,270 did not return. The first soldier in WWI to fire a shot from an American unit was a Hoosier, Sergeant Alexander Arch from South Bend, Indiana, who fired a shell from an artillery piece on this morning in 1917. BTW, the first US soldier killed in the war (November 13, 1917) was also a Hoosier (and a Kentuckian as he was born in Kentucky and lived there until he was 8-years-old), Private James B. Gresham of Evansville. And the man who WWI commander General Pershing called "America's greatest soldier," was a Hoosier (who lived for quite a while in Kentucky). Almost unknown these days, Lieutenant Samuel Woodfill received the Medal of Honor for his actions on October 12, 1918, in a WWI action eerily similar to that which made Alvin York famous.

World War One

Ripley Co. Soldier WWI

October 25th.

Pauil Writes -
On the subject of basketball, I suppose I should mention that today is Robert Montgomery "Bobby" Knight's birthday. He was born in 1940. He's the ex-coach at IU, something that positively dominated our news here for quite a spell.

"The General"

Also On October 25th.

Paul Writes -
The pride of Plainfield, Indiana, right down the street from Debbie and me, Forrest Tucker died in Woodland Hills, California, from lung cancer at the age of 67 this day in 1986. He played in many movies, mainly westerns, but is best known for his role as Sgt. O'Rourke in "F Troop."

Forest Tucker

Continuing October 25th.

Pail Writes -
The first Japanese "kamikaze" suicide attacks took place on this date in 1944 when the US escort carrier St. Lo was struck. During the war American officials downplayed their effectiveness, but 34 ships were sunk and 288 were damaged by the 1228 Japanese pilots on one-way missions. Had Japan begun the tactic earlier (and had enough planes and men to sustain the attacks) they could have changed the outcome of the Pacific war.


October 26th.

It Paul Writes -
It is the anniversary of the 1881 shoot-out at the O. K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. The event isn't fiction created by Hollywood. Real people died in the gun battle between the Earps and the Clanton Gang. The event crops up in many stories.

Wyatt Earp

October 28th.

Paul Writes -
It's a day for landmarks. In 1965, the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed. [We’ve seen it many times, and walked around its base, but never ridden to the top.] In 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World, or the Statute of Liberty as we know her, was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in the presence of its sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

Gateway Arch

Delta Queen From Rare Top-Of-Arch Photo

Also On October 28th.

Paul Writes -
Debbie and I spend a fair amount of time on non-Interstate Highway travel. On US 40, the old National Road, in Springfield, Ohio, and in Richmond, Indiana, we’ve come across two of the twelve monuments to pioneer women known as the “Madonna of the Trail” monuments. Richmond’s monument to the women who traveled the pioneer trails was dedicated on October 28, 1928.

Richmond's Madonna Of The Trail

October 29th.

Paul Writes -
He said "I am the greatest" and most boxing aficionados (of which I confess to not being one) agree. It is the anniversary of the 1960 first professional fight of Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali. He beat a guy named Tunney Hunsaker in six rounds. Louisville-born, Ali has a street named for him and now they have a museum to him.

Muhammad Ali

October 30th.

Paul Writes -
Likely some of you are interested in auto racing. One of the names in the sport is Wilbur Shaw, three time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and later the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He died on this day in 1954 at age 52 as a result of a plane crash near Decatur, Indiana.

North Vernon Native

Also On October 30th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1862, physician (but he never practiced) Richard Gatling patented the Gatling Gun, a machine gun that he hoped would make war too terrible to wage. Generals are often hard to interest in new technology and Gatling had difficulty interesting them in the new gun, although Indiana’s governor, Oliver Morton, did convince the Union to order some. [Gatling lived in Indianapolis.] Unfortunately for Gatling, his Cincinnati factory burned before he could complete the order in time for much use during the Civil War. By WWI his device did indeed make war much more terrible, but unfortunately not enough for us to swear off of it. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, right alongside road near the national cemetery portion of the cemetery.

Gatling Gun

October 31st.

Paul Writes -
On this night in 1963, leaking propane ignited and a tremendous explosion killed 64 people attending Holiday on Ice at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Some of you knew folks who were there, or perhaps reported on the tragedy. In fact, at least one of you was there, leaving shortly before the explosion because you couldn’t stay out so late on a school night (thanks Will). I've seen pictures. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Indy Coliseum Explosion

Also On October 31st.

Paul Writes -
Speaking of prominent Catholics, on this day in 1893 Father Edward Fredrick Sorin died at the age of 79 at the place he had built, the University of Notre Dame. In 1842 when Sorin had come to South Bend, northern Indiana was still pretty much a wilderness.

Sorin, BTW, directed that Notre Dame’s famous golden dome be built. The oldest campus building, built by the hand of Sorin and his priests in 1843, now known as the Old College, still stands and is still used.


November 1st.

Paul Writes -
If you live in Louisville, or one of the southern Indiana cities across the river, you are familiar with the Colgate-Palmolive clock that I have mentioned before. It’s big—second largest in the world, behind one in New Jersey—and so is pretty obvious. It sits atop a factory that once was Indiana’s prison. [Colgate-Palmolive bought the grounds from the state in 1923. The clock made it to the Historic Landmarks Foundation’s list of 10 most endangered landmarks because of the uncertainly related to its fate when the plant closed in 2008.] That prison received its first inmates on this date in 1822. [The Michigan City prison now used by Indiana was authorized in 1859 and opened in 1860.]

Colgate-Palmolive Clock

Also On November 1st.

Paul Writes -
A Hoosier from down south in Indiana, Versailles - James Tyson died on this date in 1941 at the age of 85. Tyson remembered his hometown by establishing a trust fund that still contributes money to the community. It is administered by trustees of the local Methodist church who meet every year on his birthday (September 14) to dole out the money. The church itself bears his name and is notable for its towering aluminum spire. James Tyson is buried in Versailles.

Tyson Temple - Versailles, Indiana

November 3rd.

Paul Writes -
James Bethel Gresham from Evansville, Indiana (but he was born and lived in Kentucky until he was eight years old), was the first US soldier killed in WWI, on this day in 1917. His unit was in front trenches scanning for German snipers. He had volunteered to take the place of a man who was suffering from frostbite. A group of ghostly men appeared in the fog. Reportedly, in French they asked the Americans what was the time. Too late the Americans discovered that the men were Germans. Gresham was shot between the eyes, the first to die.

Cpl. James Gresham U.S. Army 1st Division

November 4th.

Paul Writes -
Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael was admitted to the Indiana Bar on this date in 1927. And you thought he was just a composer.

"Hoagy Carmichael

Also On November 4th.

Paul Writes -
Necessity is the mother of invention. Dayton bar owner James Ritty this day in 1879 patented the first cash register. He designed it to keep his bartenders from stealing him blind. Buffalo Bill Cody is said to have ridden his horse up to the bar. John Dillinger is said to have been a frequent patron. I suspect that few young people today will ever hear the sound of the mechanical cash register.

Dayton, Ohio Bar Owner

November 5th.

Paul Writes -
Did you ever hear the song, "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton? He was killed at the age of 33 in an auto accident on this date in 1960. I read that he had just performed at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, the same place that Hank Williams is said to have made his last performance. And, Horton’s widow was once married to Williams. If I was her and I heard that my next husband was going to Texas, I'd take out a big life insurance policy.

Johnny Horton
Hank Williams

Also On November 5th.

Paul Writes -
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" playwright George M. Cohan died at the age of 64 on this date in 1942. As a youngster, one of the recipients of this missive had a collection of 78 rpm records that included Cohan's famous "Over There." I think that perhaps the best performance that Jimmy Cagney ever gave was his portrayal of Cohan in the biographical "Yankee Doodle Dandy." The story goes that Cohan really was born on the Fourth of July, but there is strong doubt.

George M. Cohan
Yankee Doodle Dandy

November 6th.

Paul Writes -
In what I imagine you would think is one of the most unlikely of places, in the remote hills of southern Indiana a century ago was one of the foremost resort destinations in the world. Presidents, royalty, gangsters, the rich of all ilk, took the train to "take the waters" and stay in the huge hotels. One hotel, the French Lick Springs Resort & Spa, still stands and still welcomes guests. [We’ve stayed there several times. It is a great weekend getaway.] Another, the West Baden Springs Hotel, with a spectacular dome that until the Astrodome was opened in the 1960's was the largest such dome in the world, was restored in part by philanthropy and the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana and then by casino money.

West Baden Springs Hotel Dome

Also On November 6th.

Paul Writes. -
Edgar Doud Whitcomb, Indiana governor from 1969 to 1973, was born in Hayden, Indiana, in 1917 on this day. At this writing, he is Indiana’s oldest living governor. His wife, Patricia, is sometimes mentioned as Indiana’s most glamorous first lady. The fashion designer, “Mr. Blackwell,” now known for his “worst dressed lists,” designed dresses for her. Last I read, he lives in a cabin on the Ohio River.

Governor Ed Whitcomb

November 7th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1938 a Jewish man, angered by the destitution of his family caused by Nazi policies, went to the German embassy in Paris and shot (ultimately killing) the first German that he saw. The Nazis used the shooting as justification to arrest 30K Jews. Synagogues and Jewish shops were burned, the breaking glass giving rise to the name "Kristallnacht" (Crystal Night). The irony? The German who was shot was not supportive of the Nazi party and was under observation by the Gestapo.

"Night Of The Broken Glass"

Also On November 7th.

Paul Writes -
It is Sadie Hawkins Day, probably. Time-Life said that the day is usually celebrated on the first Saturday in November. The tradition of the girls chasing the guys is based on "L'il Abner" by Al Capp in the 1930s.

First Sadie Hawkins Day - By Al Capp

November 8th.

Paul Writes -
I think that I will say that the world changed on this day in 1731 when the first meeting of the "Library Company" was held in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin organized the company as a subscription library with a collection that could be used on and off the premises by the community (or at least some members of the community). Public libraries trace their lineage to his company. [The norm to that time was private collections.] Franklin encouraged the delegates to the Constitutional Convention to use the library so some say that it is the forerunner of the Library of Congress. I feel libraries are one of the most important services that we as a society can provide to ourselves and are an overlooked building block of our democracy—books that contain ideas and conflicting views, free to all.

Benjamin Franklin

Also On November 8th.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1942, Allied forces came ashore in the invasion of North Africa ("Operation Torch"). Landings were made at Casablanca (I think it was General Patton's first WWII combat command) and Oran.

General Patton

Speaking of 1942 events, the shipyard at Jeffersonville, Indiana, known for much of its history as Jeffboat, launched the first of 123 LST’s that it would deliver to the US Navy to carry troops into battle during WWII.

Jeff Boat Works

Continuing November 8th.

Pazul Writes -
John Henry "Doc" Holliday died at the age of 35 in a TB sanatorium on this date in 1887. A dentist by training, he moved west because a doctor told him that the climate would be good for the one year of life that he had remaining. He actually lived fourteen more years. He killed his first man after a cowboy criticized his treatment. In all, he is thought to have killed thirty men. He was alongside Marshal Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. There is, of course, lots about him on the web. His tombstone (complete with poker hand and pistols) reads, "he died in bed," although it may not be the original.

Doc Holliday

Doc Holliday Grave - Note Inscription

November 9th.

Paul Writes -

"Peace in (or "for," you see both) our time" British PM Neville Chamberlain went to the great beyond on this date in 1940 at age 71. If you recall, he surrendered Czechoslovakia to Hitler without a fight in return for Hitler's (worthless) promise that he would be good and not take any more territory.

Neville Chamberlain

Also On November 9th.

Paul Writes -
George Dewey Hay began to work for radio station WSM in Nashville on this day in 1925. He’d been working for WLS in Chicago announcing for a show that became National Barn Dance. In Nashville he revised the format used in Chicago following the popularity of a Nashville show of his that included a 78-year-old fiddler known as Uncle Jimmy Thompson. In 1927 Hay named his show the “Grand Ole Opry,” now a country music icon. BTW, Hay, was a Hoosier, born in Attica, Indiana, in 1895.

Ryman Auditorium

November 9th Continues.

Paul Writes -
To stay with the Civil War for a minute, the organization of Union veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic, held its first national encampment in Indianapolis on this date in 1866. [It held its last here, too, in 1949 attended by only six veterans, all over 100 years old. In all, the Hoosier capital hosted the group seven times, more than any other city.]

GAR Formation

November 10th.

Paul Writes -
This is the birthday of the Marine Corps, organized by the Continental Congress in 1775. Semper Fi.

United States Marines

Also November 10th.

Paul Writes -
Kevin "Chuck" Connors. "The Rifleman" went to his reward on this day in 1992. BTW, not only did he play in the NBA, he played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Chuck Conners - The Rifleman

November 11th.

Paul Writes -
Today is Armistice Day (Remembrance Day in Canada), or Veteran's Day as we now know it. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 hostilities in WWI ceased. Indiana’s quota of US Army soldiers set by the federal government was 5.4K; 25.1K enlisted. Indiana’s quota of sailors was set at 800; although hardly a seafaring state, 5.5K Hoosiers volunteered for the Navy. 116,516 Americans died, nearly 3,400 Hoosiers (about the same number as were lost in one day at Chickamauga). 234,428 Americans were wounded.

Tomb Of the Unknown Soldiers

Also On November 11th.

Paul Writes -
Kate Smith first performed her trademark "God Bless America" on her radio show on this date in 1938. Irving Berlin had written the song twenty years before, but decided that it didn't fit in with the rest of comedic show that he had written so he put it aside. He reworked it with WWII on the horizon and now it is one of our most recognizable songs.

Kate Smith

November 13th!!

Paul Writes -
This day was Friday the 13th in 1942 and about one in ten thousand of the residents of Waterloo, Iowa, passed away in the naval battle off Guadacanal. Those who died were five Sullivan brothers serving on a Navy light cruiser, USS Juneau. Early in the morning the ship was badly damaged by a torpedo attack. Late in the morning it was badly hit again and four of the brothers, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert, are thought to have been killed. The remaining brother, George, was one of an estimated 80 survivors who made it into the water or a life raft. For ten days the survivors floated in the Pacific. When rescued only ten were left alive. George had survived the sinking but, days later in a life raft, delirious from hunger and thirst and continually calling his brothers' names, he decided that he needed to take a bath in the shark-infested waters and was not seen again. A Navy ship was later named for them, the USS The Sullivans.

The Five Sullivan Brothers

More November 13th!!

In 1909 on this date, 259 men and boy coal miners were killed in Cherry, Illinois. A friend of mine (Glenda’s dad) was a coal miner in his youth, and even owned a small mine, but moved from Kentucky to Detroit and then Greenfield, Indiana, so his children wouldn't have to do that work. Read some of the accounts of mine disasters; heck, just read what life was like day-to-day working in a 28-inch high underground space, and you can understand why.

Cherry, Illinois Morgue

In Memory Of The 259 Miners Killed

November 14th.

Paul Writes -
On this day (or tomorrow—you know how it goes on the web) in 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman set out on his (in)famous "March to the Sea." The Union general had already burned Atlanta and now he ordered his 60K troops to "forage liberally" in their virtually unopposed 300 mile long and 60 mile wide swath. Looting and widespread destruction was the result. The soldiers reached Savannah on December 10, 1864, and the city fell twelve days later. We’ve been to Savannah a couple of times and are very glad Sherman did not burn that gorgeous city to the ground.

General Sherman

Also On November 14th.

Paul Writes -

On this date in 1945, famed ace Captain Eddie Rickenbacker sold the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its new president was Wilbur Shaw, a former winner of the Indianapolis 500. For a year or so PBS said on its now-changed web site that later the Speedway was purchased by the "Tony Holman family." Unfortunately, that is not how he spelled his name, though the offending web site seems to be gone now. More on the man who resurrected the Speedway and his company, and the correct spelling.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker

Tony Hulman & Wilbur Shaw

November 15th.

Paul Writes -
Wendy's Hamburgers opened on this date in 1969. I'd say their burgers are marginally better than most other chains (except the great burgers at Ollie’s Trolleys in Louisville and Cincinnati). Incidentally, the founder of Wendy's, Dave Thomas (who died January 8, 2002, at age 69) was sort of a Hoosier. He was fourteen in 1947 when his family moved from Tennessee to Fort Wayne. He got a job in a local restaurant and finished the 10th grade at Fort Wayne Central High School before dropping out. He stayed in the restaurant business in Fort Wayne and worked his way up to manager. He met his wife while a restaurant manager there and became friends with another up and comer in the business we call fast food, Colonel Harland Sanders. Thomas moved to Columbus, Ohio, and opened a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, where he is credited with devising the rotating chicken bucket symbol of KFC. In 1969 he founded Wendy's (his daughter's nickname), and the rest, as the cliché goes, is gastronomic history.

Also On November 15th.

Paul Writes -
You may have heard the term “Mason-Dixon Line.” In 1763 on this day, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon began surveying the boundary that bears their name, basically a line across the southern boundary of present day Pennsylvania. Today it tends to refer in general to the border between north and south.

Mason Dixon Line

November 16th.

Paul Writes -
It takes an impressive geological event to make the Mississippi River flow backwards and that is what happened in 1811 on this date as an earthquake along the New Madrid fault shook the center part of the nation. Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee was formed by the quakes that occurred then and into 1812. We sometimes overlook how geologically active that part of the country can be. Another earthquake like the one in 1811 would be felt, and cause serious damage, as far away as Indianapolis. Definitely Louisville would be affected as the 1811 event rattled buildings enough to send citizens into the street. Debbie and I traveled the Interstate down through the heart of the quake area and you can still see evidence of the “sand blows” formed as the ground essentially liquefied under the pressure. At one place the Interstate travels over such a place (mile marker 44 if memory serves), and very near to a levee holding back the Mississippi River.

New Madrid Map

Also On November 16th.

Paul Writes -
Actor Clark Gable passed on at the age of 59 in 1960 on this day. He had suffered a heart attack and then suffered the big one while reading a magazine in his hospital bed. You are most likely to remember him for the role of Rhett Butler in "Gone With The Wind," one of his sixty-one films. He was married to glamorous Indiana-born actress Carole Lombard, who was killed on January 16, 1942 in a plane crash flying back to him from an Indiana visit. After his wife’s death Gable enlisted in the Army and became a decorated Army Air Corps gunner, flying on many bombing missions.

Clark Gable

November 16th Continues.

Paul Writes -
And speaking of actors, 63-year-old William Holden was found dead on this date in 1981. He had been drinking (his BAC was .22) and fell and hit his head on a coffee table. He was able to make it to the bed, but unable to call for help. He made over 50 films, perhaps the most notable "Stalag 17" and "Bridge Over The River Kwai." He was cremated and scattered over the Pacific.

Bill Holden

November 17th.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1800, Congress held its first session in the Capitol, although the building was only partially competed. The dome we now know so well wasn’t even finished until the Civil War.

U.S. Capitol During The Civil War

Also On November 17th.

Paul Writes -
Previously I alluded to Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This is his birthday, in 1938.

The Edmond Fitzgerald

November 18th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the world's most famous critter, Mickey Mouse. He made his debut on this date in 1928 in "Steamboat Willie" at the Colony Theater in New York. It was one of the first successful sound and animation cartoons, although it was in black and white. He was drawn in the film by animator Ub Iwerks.

Mickey Mouse

Also On November 18th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1978, Jim Jones and his followers drank cyanide-laced grape Kool-Aid in Jonestown, Guyana. They did so after ambushing and killing a US congressman, Leo Ryan, and four members of his party. 912 (or so) members of the cult that Jones led died (he shot himself); many were children who were murdered. Sad to say, Jones was a Hoosier. He was born in the small town of Lynn (or perhaps nearby Crete, I’ve seen both ) to a mother who alternately—or simultaneously, I suppose—thought she was the reincarnation of Mark Twain and the savior of the world and to a father who was badly disabled by poison gas in WWI and an alcoholic. Jones went to high school in Richmond (and worked there at Reid Hospital), went to IU in Bloomington, and moved to Indianapolis perhaps to become a lawyer. He became interested in the ministry and ultimately was ordained by the Disciples of Christ, headquartered here in Indy, and graduated from Butler University here.

He got weird. He and his followers moved around and ended up as one of the largest mass suicides of modern history.

Jim Jones

November 19th.

Paul Writes -
She was only 38 when she died on this date in 1887, but her words live on at the base of the Statute of Liberty. Emma Lazarus penned the famous "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . .." She titled it "The New Colossus" and wrote it to raise money for construction of the pedestal of the statue. They have to be some of the most famous words in US history. If you visit, New York, the Statue of Liberty is a “must-see.” We’ve seen it, as I assume have most of you.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Statute Of Libery

Also November 19th.

Paul Writes -
Speaking of famous words, on this date in 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the national cemetery in Gettysburg. His speech only lasted about three or four minutes, or I guess you could say it has lasted for 140+ years. The keynote speaker was a fellow named Edward Everett who spoke before Lincoln. Everett spoke for two hours. The relative quiet of the crowd following Lincoln’s short speech made Lincoln think that he had bombed. He didn't.

Debbie and I agree, if you quietly stand in the cemetery at Gettysburg, and the throngs of tourists are absent, you feel you can almost hear Lincoln yet today.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth,
upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.


Continuing November 19th.

Paul Writes -
You could say it is the birthday of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." [Or maybe tomorrow. You know how it goes on the web.] In 1861 Julia Ward Howe heard Union soldiers singing "John Brown's Body" as a marching song to the tune of an old southern hymn. She jotted down five verses of the famous poem.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Julia Ward Howe

November 20th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned George “Gipper” Gipp earlier, the Notre Dame football standout who inspired a movie and the phrase “win one for the Gipper.” He played his last football game for Notre Dame against Northwestern University in Chicago on this day in 1920. He did not look well during the game and deteriorated over the next month, dying from pneumonia and a streptococcal infection at age 25 on December 14, 1920.

George Gipp

"The Gipper"

November 22nd.

Paul Writes -
Obviously, it is the anniversary of the 1963 assassination of JFK in Dallas. 

President John Kennedy

November 24th.

Paul Writes -
The “Big O,” Oscar Robertson, was born this day in 1938 in Charlotte, Tennessee. He came to Indianapolis as a child and grew up in the seriously economically depressed area of Lockefield Gardens. He found his calling, though, when he twice led Crispus Attucks High School to state high school basketball championships. He was a college standout at the University of Cincinnati, co-captained an Olympic gold-medal winning team, and set records with NBA teams in Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

Oscar Robertson

Also On November 24th.

Paul Writes -
We still don't know what happened to "Dan Cooper," popularly, known as D. B. Cooper, and the $200K in ransom money that he took with him when he parachuted from a Northwest Airlines 727 over Washington State on this day in 1971.

D.B. Cooper

November 25th.

Paul Writes -
One of the Hendricks family, Thomas Andrew Hendricks, died on this date in 1885 in Indianapolis at the age of 66. He was a member of the Indiana House and a delegate to the Indiana constitutional convention. Later he would be a member of the US House, US Senate, governor of Indiana (on his third try for the office, the first Democrat to be elected to the governorship of a northern state after the Civil War), and finally VP under Grover Cleveland. He died after only eight months in office as VP. Hendricks was born in Ohio but his family very shortly thereafter moved to Madison, Indiana, and then in the same year that his uncle, William Hendricks, became governor of Indiana, the family moved to Shelbyville. He went to Hanover College and read law, as it was termed then, in a judge’s office in Shelbyville. The law firm that he established in Indianapolis is the antecedent of the prestigious Baker & Daniels firm still headquartered in Indy.

Thomas Hendricks

November 26th.

Happy Turkey Day. Thanksgiving has a long and varied history in this country. The first to be celebrated as a national holiday was proclaimed in 1789 by President Washington at the request of Congress.

November 27th.

Paul Writes -
Violent death on this date. The FBI shot "Babyface" Nelson (Lester Gillis) in 1934 near Barrington, Illinois, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He fled the shooting scene but was later found dead. [Apparently the shooting scene is near what is now a city park. We've driven through the area, but never stopped to look around.] He was only 25-years-old but managed to make it to the top of the Most Wanted list. Two FBI agents were killed in the gun battle as well.

"Baby Face" Nelson

November 28th.

Paul Writes -
One of the worst structure fires in terms of loss of life occurred on this date in 1942. Fire swept through the Coconut (or Cocoanut, official sites vary) Grove nightclub in Boston, killing 491 (or 492) people. The cause was never officially determined, though suspicion focuses on a busboy who survived.

Have you ever heard of Buck Jones? He was born Charles Frederick Gebhard in Vincennes, Indiana. Later he was known as Charles “Buck” Jones (the “Buck” was short for Buckaroo) and then Buck Jones.

He was present at the Cocoanut Grove fire I just mentioned and reports are unclear as to what happened to him. He was found near his table, very badly burned, and a couple of weeks short of his 51st birthday he died two days later on November 30 at a local hospital. His ashes were spread over the ocean.

Buck Jones

November 29th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to steam railroading in Indiana. The first steam powered train that chugged on this date in 1838 pulled out of North Madison enroute to Graham’s Ford in southern Indiana. On board the train traveling at the dizzying speed of eight miles an hour were Governor David Wallace and some state legislators.

Madison RR Incline & Trackwalker

December 1st.

Paul Writes -
I think you could say that 20th century history changed on this day in 1955 when seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. A yearlong boycott of the buses followed. Ultimately the US Supreme Court struck down the ordinance that required blacks to go to the rear of the bus. Perhaps more importantly, her action was an important galvanizing milestone in the black civil rights struggle. She died in October of 2005.

Rosa Parks

December 2nd.

Paul Writes -
The world definitely changed on this date in 1942. Underneath the grandstand at Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, scientists led by Enrico Fermi achieved the first man-induced self-sustaining atomic chain reaction. The genie got out of the bottle.

Enrico Fermi

December 3rd.

Paul Writes -
How many of you grew up in a neighborhood with a fire alarm box on the street corner? I did. One such box stood at the corner of Iowa Avenue and Rodman Street in Louisville, not many houses away from my boyhood home. In an era before phones, the boxes could be the only way to summon emergency help. On this date in 1955, Indianapolis modernized its system, upgrading from the pull type box to an emergency phone system. The pull boxes are gone now, replaced by ubiquitous home and cell phones.

Fire Alarm Box

December 4th.

Paul Writes -
One of the most famous greetings in radio went out over the airwaves for the first time on this date in 1932. "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea. . . Let's go to press!" began what was popularly known as the Walter Winchell show. His incredible rapid fire delivery of a blurred mixture of news, gossip, commentary, and just plain innuendo took him into perhaps 50M homes each week at the height of his career, a stunning percentage of the American listening audience.

Walter Winchell

December 5th.

Paul Writes -
In the afternoon of this day in 1945, five US Navy Avenger torpedo bombers lifted off from a Florida airfield for a navigation training mission. Known as Flight 19, they were never seen again. Messages between the bombers intercepted by land stations indicated that their compasses were not working and that they were lost. No trace of the flight has ever been found and the Navy presumes they ran out of fuel and crashed in the ocean in the area popularly known as the Bermuda Triangle.

Flight 19

December 6th.

Paul Writes -
I'll try to get this chronology right. Jeremiah Sullivan was 76 when he died on this date in 1870 in Madison, Indiana. He was a member of the Indiana House, an Indiana Supreme Court justice, and a county judge. For our story, what makes him most interesting is that he served on a commission to find a new location for the Indiana state capital (at the time it was Corydon, down near the Ohio River) and it was he that suggested the name "Indianapolis" for the new state capital. [There were other suggestions. We could be living in Tecumseh, Indiana, had one been accepted.] His son, Thomas L. Sullivan, became a member of the Indiana House. Jeremiah's grandson, Thomas Lennox Sullivan, Jr. was a mayor of Indianapolis known for his infrastructure improvements. The first Indy mayor to be born in the city, Sullivan, Jr. lived for 54 years in the house in the 500 block of Capitol Avenue built by his maternal grandfather, Oliver Hampton Smith (a member of the Indiana House and then Senate). Jeremiah's great-grandson, Reginald Sullivan, also was mayor of Indianapolis (two times) and built Weir Cook Airport (now Indianapolis International). Reginald died January 30, 1980, at the ripe old age of 103. What changes in his city that he saw with his own two eyes. You can visit the Jeremiah Sullivan House in Madison, Indiana, as Debbie and I have, and we recommend you do if you are in the area.

Madison's Jeremiah Sullivan House

December 7th.

Paul Writes -
We all know that this is the date in 1941 that FDR said would Live in Infamy following the surprise attack by the Japanese on the US base at Pearl Harbor.

December 7, 1941

December 9th.

Paul Writes -
You’ve probably heard of the anti-communist John Birch Society. The organization was born this day in 1958 in the home of Marguerite Dice at 3650 Washington Boulevard in Indianapolis at a meeting of twelve like-minded men led by Robert Welch, a former candy manufacturer.

John Birch Society

December 11th.

Paul Writes -
Perhaps a more important birthday for many of us is that of Indiana, on this date in 1816. It is our 19th state. Although there are those who think Spanish or Welsh explorers came this way first, on scant evidence, the accepted European history of the state begins with the French. Before 1700 the French had an outpost in what is now Fort Wayne, on a site that is now a rather empty field with nothing more than a public access to a river and a historical marker. By 1717 the Sieur de Belestre had established what would be Fort Ouiatenon, a settlement that at its peak contained 2-3K settlers in the vicinity of the trading post and Catholic mission near present-day Lafayette, Indiana. Around 1732, the French established a settlement that would become the modern city of Vincennes. After the French and Indian War, in 1763, what would be Indiana came under British control. Both the British and the colonists recognized the strategic importance of the Indiana area. An important Revolutionary War campaign for control of Vincennes was fought, with future Indiana coming under colonial control thanks to the efforts and supreme sacrifices of the men under command of Kentuckian (well, Virginian at the time) George Rogers Clark.

George Rogers Clark

Towns like Madison and New Albany, once Indiana's largest city, along waterways grew rapidly. One of the three governors of the territory, William Henry Harrison, went on to be a US president. The first governor after statehood was Pennsylvania lawyer Jonathan Jennings and the first state capital was at Corydon, Indiana.

Jonathan Jennings

December 12th.

Paul Writes -
You may have seen Spencer Tracy's 1938 Oscar winning portrayal of Father Edward Flanagan in the movie "Boys Town." The real Father Flanagan opened the real Boys Town on this date in 1917. Originally the home took in wayward boys but since 1979 it has accepted girls as well.

Spencer Tracy As Father Flanagan

Also On December 12th.

Paul Writes -
The Reno Gang was Indiana’s equivalent of the James Gang and others of outlaw mythology, but the Renos were no myth. The gang centered around the Reno brothers from Seymour, Indiana, and are said to be the first in the US to rob a train in peacetime (in 1866).

Re-enacted Reno Robbery

Quite few went to the hangman’s noose from a now-gone tree west of Seymour, Indiana, at the hands of vigilantes in the summer of 1868 (the place is still called Hangman’s Crossing on maps). Three more family members and another gang member met the same fate this day in 1868 in New Albany. Masked men had come by train from Seymour, stormed the jail, and hung the four.

John Reno

December 13th -

Paul Writes -
I saw a note that, on this date in 1929, Hoagy Carmichael recorded with Louis Armstrong. They did "Rockin’ Chair."

Hoagy Carmichael

Louis Armstrong

Then - On December 13th.

Star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers Carl Erskine was born this day in 1926 in Anderson, Indiana. Now he is a banker and businessman in his hometown.

Carl Erskine

December 14th -

Paul Writes -
I think it is safe to say that the man who died on this date in 1799 was among the most beloved and respected in American history. [Thirty-one states have counties named for him.] George Washington was 67 when he died. He is buried at his estate, Mount Vernon, near the city that bears his name.

Mount Vernon

December 15th.

Paul Writes -
The Battle of Verdun came to an end on this date in 1916. In actuality the battle lasted some 10 months and came to symbolize the grinding, boring, terrifying trench warfare of WWI. About 700K soldiers were killed (maybe 1M -- you know the web.) in the fighting (more than on both sides in our Civil War), many of whom were never found. Neither side had won anything of strategic importance once the carnage was over.

Trench At Verdun

Also On December 15th.

Paul Writes -
Somewhere over the English Channel on this date in 1944, 40-year-old Major Glenn Miller was lost with his aircraft. The bandleader was on his way to conduct a Christmas concert. A lot of theories exist to his fate but the Army decided that icing on the plane's wings probably caused a crash because the weather was conducive to such an occurrence. Or he could have been shot down. Or, in one of the more interesting theories, his plane went down because a bomber on its way back to Britain jettisoned its bombs high above and they fell on Miller's little plane below.

Glenn Miller

"In The Mood"

December 16th.

Pail Writes -
The Battle of the Bulge, the last major German counteroffensive of WWII, kicked off on this date in 1944. The attack was timed to coincide with bad weather that would ground Allied aircraft. It was successful across a 75-mile front. It was quite a surprise to the Allies and it took until January to restabilize the lines. Over 1M men (600K Americans, 500K Germans, 55K British] took part in the largest land battle of the war. [America suffered 81K casualties of which 19K were deaths.] The best known action of the event was the march through the snow by General Patton's Third Army to relieve the 101st Airborne surrounded at Bastogne, an action of interest to me because my father was in Patton's Third Army.

Battle Of The Buldge

General Patton

December 17th.

Paul Writes -
The world definitely changed on this date in 1903. Bicycle mechanic Orville Wright made the first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in a 12-HP plane powered by an engine built at Purdue University in Indiana. Next up was his older brother Wilbur, a Hoosier, born in a farmhouse in eastern Indiana near Mooreland, and who went to high school in Richmond, Indiana. [Wilbur’s original home burned down but has been recreated and is open to the public, assuming you don't mind taking a bit of a trip in the backroads of Indiana. Orville was born after the family moved to Dayton.]

Each of those first flights lasted just under one minute and spanned a distance that is less than the wingspan of some modern jets. You can read how the flight was accomplished in Orville's own words (plus some other information). The home in which the brothers grew up and the bicycle shop in which they developed their plane are now in Henry Ford's Greenfield Village and are interesting to tour.

"First Flight"

Also On December 17th.

Paul Writes -
Former Indiana Governor, George North Craig, passed away this day in 1992. He was 83. The lawyer and WWII Lieutenant Colonel made the March 7, 1955, cover of Time in an article during the Eisenhower administration.

Indiana Governor George N. Craig

December 18th.

Paul Writes -
It’s hard to imagine a worse place for a fire than in a nursing home. Twenty persons died in a fire in the Maples Convalescent Home at the edge of Fountaintown, Indiana, a few miles southeast of Indianapolis, on this day in 1964. The temperature was 3° F, which considerably hampered the fire-fighting efforts.

Memory Awakened -
Indiana State Troopers Richard Westlake and Ronald White were the first officers on the scene. They and the nurses helped first floor patients through flames and smoke out the front and side doors.

248 on scene.

December 20th.

Paul Writes -
The US doubled in size on this date in 1803 as France sold the Louisiana Territory to the US. The name is misleading as it is much, much more than Louisiana. Basically the purchase included land west of the Mississippi, east of the Rockies, between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, some 828K square miles. Thirteen states would be created from what has been called the greatest land deal in history. Thomas Jefferson paid $15M for the land, around three cents an acre. [As General Horatio Gates wrote to Jefferson: "Let the Land rejoice, for you have bought Louisiana for a Song."] Jefferson thought it would take 1K years to settle. It took less than a century. BTW, the transfer ceremonies took place at a building on Jackson Square in New Orleans. The Cabildo is now a museum.

The Cabildo - New Orleans

Also On December 20th.

Paul Writes -
Rarely do I spend much time on fairly recent events, but I have to note that the world lost a brilliant mind on this date in 1996 when astronomer Carl Sagan died of pneumonia at the age of 62. His books explaining science are eminently readable. He wasn't a favorite of the religious fundamentalists as he extolled the scientific method over faith. He also excelled at debunking UFO stories. I recommend his "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark."

Carl Sagan

Continuing December 20th.

Paul Writes -
The 58-year-old evangelist who died in Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis this day in 1942 never achieved the national fame as did Billy Sunday, another Hoosier of the same avocation, but Howard Cadle attracted huge crowds to his “tabernacle” that stood on the corner of New Jersey and Ohio Streets in Indianapolis and the similar tabernacle that he built in Louisville. I’m not sure of the fate of his Louisville building where he exhorted the masses to repent, but his Indianapolis venue stood for about 25 years after his death before falling into decay and being demolished. He was born in a log cabin in Fredericksburg, Indiana, maybe 30 or so miles from Louisville.

E. Howard Cadle

December 21st.

Paul Writes -
One of the best -- and most controversial – American generals, George Smith Patton, died on this date in 1945 in Heidelberg, Germany, as a result of a December 9 collision between his Cadillac and an army truck. He had been paralyzed from the neck down since the accident. He is buried in Luxembourg.

General Patton


He has a museum dedicated to him at Fort Knox where you can view the car in which he was injured. The museum is worth a visit. A lot more on Patton at The Patton Society. Patton came from a warrior tradition. His grandfather died fighting for the Confederacy (we’ve seen his home in Charleston, West Virginia) and his dad went to VMI (as would George) and was friends with the Confederate raider John Mosby.

Patton Museum - Fort Knox

December 23rd.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned Paul Hornung of Louisville Flaget High School (and later Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers). It is his birthday, in 1935, and "Sgt. Friday" is the best known role of the man who died on this date in 1982. Jack Webb was 62.

Paul Hornung

Jack Webb

Two "Hall Of Famers"

December 25th.

Paul Writes -
Merry Christmas. Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Christ today.

To many around the world Christmas is still celebrated on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. The timing of our holiday probably coincides more with the winter solstice than anything else.

Also On December 25th.

Paul Writes -
This is the anniversary of the 1776 crossing of the Delaware River by General George Washington's troops to engage the Hessians on tomorrow's date at the Battle of Trenton (New Jersey). [The Hessians were German soldiers in the employ of the British. After the war many deserted and stayed in the US.] The Continentals surprised the sleeping Germans and about a thousand prisoners were taken. No Americans were killed. The British commander was. The battle and the subsequent Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777) did much to prevent the British from occupying Philadelphia, raised American morale, and increased enlistment in the Continental Army.

Washington Crossing The Delaware

December 26th.

Paul Writes -
Our 33rd president, Harry Truman, died on this date in 1972. I was born during "Give 'em hell, Harry's" administration but heard little of him growing up. He enjoyed a resurgence of sorts, thanks in part to David McCullough's excellent biography.

Harry Truman

Also On December 26th.

Paul Writes -
Current US senator (D-Ind.) and former governor, Evan Bayh was born in Shirkieville, Indiana, on this day in 1955.

Evan Bayh

December 27th.

Paul Writes -
The Hoosier composer mentioned in these pages several times, Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael, passed away in the emergency department of Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, on this date in 1981 at age 82. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana, in a house on South Grant Street that no longer stands. Carmichael began his working career studying law. Apparently the story Hoagy told was that he was working as a law clerk in the Palm Beach, Florida, law office of an IU law graduate, M. D. Carmichael (no relation), when he heard music coming from a phonograph in a radio shop across the street. It was song he had written a year before but he had not known was recorded. He promptly quit his job. The law lost a young laborer and the world gained more music.

Carmichael is buried towards the back of Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana. Although dead, he has an official website.


Also December 27th.

Paul Writes -
On the Catholic calendar this is the Feast of St. John the Evangelist. He is said to have sat next to Christ at the Last Supper and was the first to believe that Christ arose on Easter Sunday. The vision that he had on the island of Patmos comes down to us as The Revelation of St. John in the Book of the Apocalypse.

St. John Outside Boston Seminary

December 28th.

Paul Writes -
State senator, lieutenant governor, and Indiana governor (twice, eight years apart) Henry Frederick Schricker, died in Knox, Indiana, on this day in 1966 at age 83. The former banker and newspaper editor was a popular, frank man, said to epitomize the small town Hoosier, perhaps the reason he was the only Democrat (narrowly) elected to a statewide office when he was elected governor in 1940. In spite of that, or perhaps because of that, FDR is said to have offered him the nomination for US VP in 1944. He declined, an act that changed history as he would have become president when FDR died in 1945. The reason he is said to have declined is that "a man ought to know his own limitations." Would that more politicians did.

Governor Schricker Inspects Indiana State Police

December 29th.

Paul Writes -
The last major battle between the US Army and Indians in the Old West, the Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota, took place on this date in 1890. It is not quite fair to term it a battle, more like a massacre. Accounts vary, but perhaps 150 to 350 Indians, including women and children, were slain. Twenty-five soldiers were killed, many by "friendly fire."

Wounded Knee Grave Site

Also On December 29th.

Paul Writes -
An institution died, or at least radically changed, on this date in 1972. "Life" magazine discontinued weekly publication.

Typical Issue - Life Magazine

December 31st.

Paul Writes -
This day in 1929 was the end of an era on the Ohio River around Louisville. After 145 years, ferry service between Louisville and the Indiana side of the river came to end. The earliest ferries were powered by men pushing poles or pulling oars. Steam power appeared by 1831 and the boats evolved into elaborate conveyances. But when the Clark Bridge across the river was opened in October of 1929, it was the end. However, there is still ferry service (tax-supported) elsewhere on the river and you can ride it. Debbie and I have done so and found it fun. BTW, did you know that teen-aged Abe Lincoln operated a ferry on the Ohio River? He did indeed. He began by ferrying people across the mouth of the Anderson River at the Ohio River near Troy, Indiana.

Clark Memorial Bridge

Thunder Over The Ohio

January 1st.

Paul Writes -
Country singer Hiram "Hank" Williams was noticed by his limo driver to be dead at a gas station in Oak Ridge, West Virginia, on this date in 1953. The star ("Your Cheatin’ Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin", "I’m So Lonesome I Could Die") had been using whiskey and chloral hydrate. Earlier the car had been stopped by the police for speeding and the officer noted that Williams looked dead. The driver kept on driving, apparently used to seeing Williams unconscious from hard-drinking. Williams was 29. They say the next song of his to become a hit, after he died, was "I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive." He apparently didn't. His son carries on the family name.

Hank Williams

Also On January 1st.

Paul Writes -
Hanover Academy, now Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, opened in a small log cabin near the home of its founder, John Finely Crowe, on this day in 1827. The school began its life in town but now occupies a picturesque bluff overlooking the Ohio River. Among its graduates is actor (“Cheers”) Woody Harrelson.


January 2nd.

Paul Writes -
General James Longstreet died on this date in 1904 at the age of 82.  His contribution to the Confederate cause is sometimes overlooked for—as it has been said—he made three mistakes: he disagreed with Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg (Longstreet thought a frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge on the third day was a bad idea), he was right (he was, in hindsight), and he became a Republican (which may have been the greatest sin of all in the post-war South).  The latter refers to the fact that he became friends with U. S. Grant.

General Longstreet

Incidentally, there is great story about a little old lady who faithfully came to work every day at a WWII bomber plant.  She was quiet, never tardy, never absent, and apparently walked from her modest house down the road.  She was also the widow of General Longstreet, Helen Dortch.  Wouldn't it have been interesting to talk to the woman who saw the world at war (42 years younger than Longstreet when they married in 1897, she lived until 1962) and probably heard first-hand stories from her husband on what it was like when the country was at war with itself

Helen Dortch

January 3rd.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1938, FDR established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, or March of Dimes as it would come to be known. The purpose of the organization was to fight polio, a disease that afflicted FDR as an adult. The organization is a success story -- within about 20 years the Salk vaccine, and then the Sabin vaccine, would be available.


January 5th.

Paul Writes -
Alexander Ralston, a Scotsman who was 56 when he passed in his Indianapolis home on this day in 1827, lived an interesting life. He was involved in helping to lay out the streets of Washington, D. C.

Alexander Ralston

The Indianapolis street system is based on a fairly logical grid system, the extension of Ralston's work, it is much easier to find your way around here than in many other cities in which I have driven (or lived).

Ralston's Indianapolis Grid

Maybe the idea floated around thirty years ago, to name Interstate-465 after him, should be implemented. [As opposed to the hare-brained joke to name it for Indianapolis native David Letterman.]

Speaking of I-465, in my earlier EMS days I had occasion to drive around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. In terms of speed, these days the Indy 500 seems surpassed by the drivers on our Interstate system.

I wonder what Louisville drivers in 1908 would have thought? On this day that year an article in the Louisville Herald noted that police bicycle patrols were ordered to crack down on automobile drivers exceeding the 8-12 mph downtown speed limit.

January 6th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned the formation of the John Birch Society in Indianapolis. One of its leaders and founders, Robert Welch, died on this date in 1985. He was 85.

Robert Welch

January 7th.

Paul Writes -
The trustees of the Indiana State Seminary announced that were open for business (they had received a state charter in 1820) on this day in 1825 in an “elevated situation affording a handsome view of Bloomington.” Tuition was $5.00 per year. In 1828 the school became Indiana College, but you know the school by the name it received in 1838, Indiana University. There is some evidence that one of the first students was Joseph Wright, who would later be Indiana Governor.


Also On January 7th.

Paul Writes -
Air National Guard (I think) Captain Thomas Mantell died on this date in 1948 chasing a UFO that had been spotted over Godman Field at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Reportedly his last transmission was that he was still climbing in pursuit of the object. The pursuit ended when his plane crashed into a field near Franklin, Kentucky.

Captain Mantell

P51 - UFO Chaser?

Speaking of UFOs, do you believe in life on other planets? To me that is a different question than do you believe in UFOs, at least UFOs of extraterrestrial origin.


There are more suns in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. [Our galaxy alone has something like 400B stars and there may be 50B galaxies.] Assuming that the number of those that have planets are, well, astronomical, it seems reasonable that something that we would term alive has evolved somewhere else other than on this warm and watery rock of ours. It could even be intelligent. But could it be here? Well, first of all, what are the odds of picking out any individual grain of sand somewhere on the beaches of the world? Seems pretty small, about the same odds that anything intelligent would find us. Even with detection of our radio signals it would have to be within a century's worth of light years from us -- the length of time that we have been transmitting -- and that ain't very far in the scope of the universe, maybe 1K suns or so. And how could it get here? Physicists are skeptical that anything made of matter can travel faster than light.

January 8th.

Paul Writes -
Perhaps the smartest fellow alive on the planet (well, arguably), English physicist Stephen Hawking, was born on this date in 1942, fittingly on the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo. Hawking has ALS. It hasn't stopped him from receiving many honorary degrees and contributing to our understanding of the basic rules of the universe.

Stephen Hawking

Also On January 8th.

Paul Writes -
The battle that shouldn't have been, The Battle of New Orleans, concluded on this day in 1815. [To be a bit more precise, there were a number of smaller battles before and after the one this day, but this is considered the decisive one for defense of New Orleans.] The War of 1812 had been over for a couple of weeks, but word had not reached New Orleans. Good for Andrew Jackson as it would help send him to the White House. Bad for the perhaps 20 Americans and 2K British, including the British commanding general and some of his subordinate commanders who were casualties.

Jackson Statute - New Orleans

January 9th.

Paul Writes -
I saw that Richard Nixon was born on this day in 1913. Did you know that he has relatives in southern Indiana? His mom, Hannah, was born in 1885 in a now-gone farmhouse south of Butlerville, Indiana (near North Vernon). In 1897 the family moved to Whittier, California, where Nixon was born. Nixon came to North Vernon in 1971 to dedicate a memorial to his mom. If you go to Hopewell Cemetery near there (the cemetery is not far off the main road), you can visit some of his relatives. You'll see a number of Milhous stones in the small country crossroads cemetery.

Hannah Milhous Grave Site Butlerville, Indiana

Continuing January 9th.

Paul Writes -
When the Indianapolis Railways ceased electric train operation on this day in 1953, the more than half-century era of electric train transportation in Indiana essentially came to an end. Once hundreds of trains crisscrossed the state, running between small and large Indiana cities and even into surrounding states. Today the only regularly scheduled electric trains that carry passengers in Indiana are operated by the South Shore railroad across northern Indiana to Chicago, unless you count the monorail that links certain Indianapolis hospitals.

South Shore Line - Northern Indiana

January 10th.

Paul Writes -
William Henry Harrison was sworn in as governor of the Indiana Territory on this day in 1801. He was sworn in by William Clarke, chief judge, who had just been sworn in by Harrison. Harrison had arrived in Vincennes not long before, probably after traveling along the Buffalo Trace from Louisville to Vincennes. The territory had come into existence on July 4, 1800, and Territorial Secretary John Gibson had arrived on July 22, 1800, and began making appointments to the various offices and getting the government organized pending Harrison’s arrival.

William Henry Harrison

Speaking of Indiana government, in Harrison’s day the capital of the territory was Vincennes. When Indiana became a state at the end of 1816, its capital was picturesque Corydon not far from the Ohio River. A new site was needed nearer the center of the state and present-day Indianapolis was selected.

January 11th.

Paul Writes -
Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died on this date in 1797. He was 62. His brother, Richard Henry Lee, was also a signer. As a family they had much to lose. When the Scots rebelled against the rule of England, their leaders were beheaded and their heads stuck up on poles on London Bridge.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

I heard an author of a book on George Washington remark that every British commander carried a copy of the Declaration of Independence with him as a sort of arrest list. The signers had no illusions about what would happen to them if the rebellion failed. When Ben Franklin remarked that they must all hang together or they will hang separately, he wasn't speaking metaphorically.

Sometimes I think that we look back from the safety of history and assume that this nation's birth was foreordained. It wasn't. These men risked all for an uncertain outcome.

Also On January 11th.

Paul Writes -
Francis Scott Key, lawyer and poet, died in Baltimore on this date in 1843. His poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry," was re-titled "The Star-Spangled Banner" and later set to music (an old tune, likely composed by a Brit, by the way) impossible for most of us to sing. Key had been held by the British while he was negotiating for the release of a beloved town physician and watched the bombardment of the fort from on-board a British ship.

Francis Scott Key

January 12th.

Paul Writes -
Architect Richard E. Bishop was commissioned by the Indiana Lincoln Union to design a memorial to Lincoln’s mother and her famous son near the site of her grave in Spencer County, Indiana, this day in 1940.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln Grave

January 13th.

Paul Writes -
Legendary Marshal Wyatt Earp was 80 when he died on this date in 1929. He was born not in the Old West, but in Monmouth, Illinois (although it was the west in those days). His final resting place.

Wyatt Earp

More January 13th.

Paul Writes -
Stephen Foster wrote a song about "way down upon the Yazoo River" after a tributary of the Mississippi. His brother heard it sung for the first time and told him that it sounded wrong. Foster rewrote it and published it as "Swanee River." Foster also wrote the song you get to hear every year before the start of the Kentucky Derby, "My Old Kentucky Home." He died, seriously alcoholic and destitute, on this date in 1864 in New York.

Stephen Foster

X-tra On January 13th.

Perhaps you could guess the profession of the 78 year old Hoosier who died this day in 1983 in Arlington, Virginian, if I told you he was born in Battle Ground, Indiana, the site of William Henry Harrison’s battle with Indians under the command of the Shawnee mystic The Prophet just before the War of 1812. He was David M. Shoup, a warrior, twenty-second commandant of the US Marine Corps. Shoup graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he had been a member of the ROTC, at least partially because he needed the living expenses stipend paid the junior officers. He joined the Marines and rose to command the Second Marine Division during the November 20, 1943, invasion of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest fights in the history of the Corps. There he became one of four Marines to earn the Medal of Honor (the other three received theirs posthumously). He retired from the Corps in 1963 and became a critic of the growing US involvement in Vietnam, something he saw as not worth the lives of young Americans. He is buried in Arlington.

David M. Shoup

January 14th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to one of the nation's premier institutions of higher learning, right here in Indiana. Notre Dame received its charter on this date in 1844. If you are Catholic, find some reason to go to South Bend on Sunday morning and attend Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Basilica Of The Sacred Heart

Continuing January 14th.

Paul Writes -
This is the anniversary of the death of actor Humphrey Bogart in 1957. He was just a few days short of 58 when he lost his two year battle with esophageal cancer. His wife was actress Lauren Bacall.

They say the studio wanted Ronald Reagan for the classic "Casablanca," George Raft for "The Maltese Falcon," and Gregory Peck for "The African Queen." Bogey was cremated.

Humphrey Bogart

X-tra For January 14th.

Pail Writes -
I saw a note that the Ford Motor Company fired up its assembly line on his date in 1914. Henry Ford didn't exactly invent the concept, but he did raise it to an art form, one that increased efficiency dramatically at the expense of mind-numbing sameness.

Model "T" & Henry Ford

January 15th.

Paul Writes -
British astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley (I've seen his name spelled Edmund but I'll use NASA's spelling) was 85 when he died on today's date in 1742. Using Newton's laws of motion he calculated that comets move in elliptical orbits around the sun, some of very great duration. The one that in 1705 he predicted would return in 1758 did, and it now bears his name.

Edmond Halley

January 16th.

Paul Writes -
Mrs. Clark Gable, Indiana-born (Fort Wayne) actress Carole Lombard, was hurrying home from Indianapolis where she had appeared at a war bond rally and sold $2M worth of bonds, a record at the time. Her plane crashed in Nevada's Table Rock Mountains on this date in 1942, killing her and 20 others. She was thirty-three-years-old. She was born Jane Alice Peters to society parents in Fort Wayne.

Carole Lombard

More January 16th.
Paul Writes -
Happy birthday (1941) to "The Man of Steel," or at least his comic strip. He's an American icon, but Superman has Canadian roots. One of his creators, Joe Shuster, was from Toronto and fashioned "The Daily Planet" after the "Toronto Star." The other of Superman's parents was Jerry Speigel. They conceived the superhero when they were teenagers.


January 17th.

Paul Writes -
Another birthday, the "Louisville Lip," Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., now known as Muhammad Ali, was born in Louisville on this date in 1942. I assume that Clay and his dad were named for the original Cassius Clay, the Kentucky emancipationist (son of a Madison County, Kentucky, slave owner) who was born in 1810 and died in 1903.

Muhammad Ali

January 18th.

Paul Writes -
In a sense, Germany was born on this date in 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. King William of Prussia became Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Second Reich that began under him would last 47 years. More on how his coronation is on a line to WWI.

Kaiser Wilhelm I

Also On January 18th.

Paul Writes -
On this date in 1936, 70-year-old author Rudyard Kipling passed away. His "Gunga Din" won a Nobel Prize in 1907. He was born in Bombay and his poems and stories often reflect the period of British colonial expansion.

He lost his only son in the carnage of WWI. A quote: ("I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who"). He's at Westminster Abbey.

Rudyard Kipling

January 20th.

Paul Writes -
Death in childbirth used to be common. On this day in 1828, Abraham Lincoln's 20-year-old sister, Sarah, married for a year and one-half to neighbor Aaron Grigsby, died giving birth. She was buried with her stillborn child in her arms in what is now a state park in southern Indiana, beside the Little Pigeon Primitive Baptist Church her dad helped build. Younger by two years, Abe was working on a neighbor's smoke house when he was told that his sister, who had served as the woman of the house until his dad married Sarah Bush Johnston, was gone. Thus, two of the most important women in his life, his mother and his sister, were laid to rest under Indiana soil a short distance apart.

Sarah Lincoln Grigsby

Little Pigeon Baptist Church Spencer County, Ind.

January 22nd.

Paul Writes -
If you are like me, you assume that Moses looks like Charlton Heston. We got that impression from "The Ten Commandments" given to us by the fellow who died at age 77 on this date in 1959, Cecil B(lount) DeMille.

Apparently the studio was carping about the price of his movie, as a quote from him goes: "What do they want me to do? Stop now and release it as the The Five Commandments?"

Cecil B. DeMille

January 23rd.

Paul Writes -
I saw a note that this is the anniversary of the coldest day in the US, in 1971. The mercury plunged to 80 degrees below zero in Prospect Creek Camp in Alaska. I like cold weather, but that is too much even for me.


January 24th.

Paul Writes -
He is among the most well-known Britishers in history. Lord Winston Churchill was 90 when he passed on to his reward on this date in 1965 (70 years to the day after the death of his father, Randolph). The world mourned. It is said that a Navy pallbearer twisted and broke his ankle as he was carrying the coffin down the steps of Westminster Abbey, but carried on as if nothing happened, later remarking that he would have carried Churchill all over London if he had to.

He has a national historic site here in the US at the college where he used a term that entered the language, "iron curtain:"

Winston Churchill

Also On January 24th.

Paul Writes -
Captain George Wellington Streeter passed away in Chicago on this date in 1921 at the age of 84. If you look up the word "character" in the dictionary, you'll probably find his picture.

He purchased a rickety scow that he called the "Reutan" and took passengers up the lake, once, to Milwaukee—they all took the train back. When he returned his boat shipwrecked on land north of the mouth of the Chicago River, sand filled in the area, and a marshy swamp arose, abetted by city contractors who dumped hard fill in the area.

Now "Streeterville" as the area is known, is part of the area around the Magnificent Mile, the portion of Chicago's Michigan Avenue dedicated to shopping that is among the most expensive real estate in the world. [Have I ever mentioned that Chicago is among our favorite cities?]

Debbie Smith In "Changed" Chicago Neighborhood

January 25th.

Paul Writes -
Alphonse Capone died of syphilis on this date in 1947 at age 48. The disease rendered him insane (or more so, depending on your view). Most historians think his gang was responsible for the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (February 14, 1929) in which seven members of a rival Chicago gang were machine-gunned by police-garbed killers. Capone was in Florida at the time. He spent seven years in prison for tax evasion, first in an Illinois prison, but then in Alcatraz when the amenities that he enjoyed in the Illinois prison came to light.

Capone Mug-Shot

January 26th.

Paul Writes -
You may have seen the movie based on his autobiography. This is the date in 1945 when 20-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Audie Leon Murphy earned the Medal of Honor. He ordered his men to retreat to safety while he manned a machine gun atop a burning tank destroyer and called in artillery on his own position. BTW, it wasn't his only act of heroism. He was the most decorated soldier in WWII, winning awards for bravery in five of the seven categories for which such medals were awarded.

He’s not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington these days.

Audie Murphy

Continuing January 26th.

Paul Writes -
Actor (Oscar winner for "The Color of Money") and salad dressing mogul, Paul Newman, was born on this date in 1925, in Cleveland. Several of us saw him at a local auto race. He was shorter in person than he appeared on the screen. He was 83 upon his death on September 26, 2008.

Paul Newman

January 27th.

Paul Writes -
January weather is unpredictable in these here parts. But cold and snow are not all that can come along in January. Along the Ohio River around this day in 1937 residents coped with the greatest flood in recorded history. It crested in Louisville on this date at about 41 feet, by far the highest crest ever recorded. 250K Louisvillians were displaced, 90 died from flood-related causes, and property damage exceeded $50M in a time when a dollar went a very long way. The Army Corps of Engineers said it was a "calamitous inundation of almost Biblical proportions." [The river crested at different times along its length. On yesterday's date it reached almost 80 feet in Cincinnati.] If you visit the bike path that runs along the downtown Louisville riverfront, amid the maze of pillars that support I-64 are markings that indicate the water levels from various floods.

You can imagine that with water like that before the days of the floodwalls that now line the river on the Indiana and Kentucky sides (indeed, the 1937 flood was the impetus for their construction), Louisville must have become an inland lake. You would be right.

1937 Flood - From JB's Files

Continuing January 27th.

Paul Writes -
Three astronauts, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Roger Chafee, and Edward White, were killed on this date in 1967 when their Apollo command module caught fire on the launch pad during a flight simulation. Grissom, one of the original seven American astronauts and the second American in space was a Hoosier, born in Mitchell, Indiana.

"Gus" Grissom

January 28th.

Paul Writes -
The Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison, patented the electric incandescent bulb on this date in 1880. He definitely changed the world and it is worth thinking about for a minute. If you get a chance, attend some historical function at night in a log cabin. Imagine doing your sewing or reading in a dark room lit only by a couple of candles. The corners of the room are in darkness. A few feet away from the candle in the room, there is darkness. Outside the cabin, it is pitch black. It isn't homey; it isn't romantic; it isn't cozy; it is just dark.

A few minutes in a log cabin at night is a real eye-opener, so to speak. In fact, fast forward a half-century to a beautiful Victorian home lit by oil or gas lamps. We've attended some evening functions in those types of settings, too, and, while a sight better than the cabin, those homes are positively gloomy compared to what you and I take for granted. I say, thanks Tom. Would you like to see all 1,093 patent applications in Edison's name? You can visit the Thomas Edison House near downtown Louisville and you can see some of his inventions in operation.

Thomas Edison & Bulb

January 31st.

Paul Writes -
Mooresville, Indiana, bills itself as the "Home of the Indiana State Flag" because artist Paul Hadley, who designed the flag, lived there. Hadley was born in Indianapolis and studied in Pennsylvania. He came back to Indiana, though, and after a bit moved in with his with his mom and disabled brother in Mooresville. Hadley’s art studio was on the fifth floor of the Union Trust Building on east Market Street in Indy and, being a non-driver, he took the interurban every day from Mooresville to Indy. In 1915, a woman named Mary Stewart Carey was embarrassed at a national DAR meeting to notice that Indiana did not have an official state flag and so she sponsored a competition to design one. Hadley won and his flag (well, we officially called it a banner until 1955) was given the state imprimatur in 1917. In his elder years Hadley moved from Mooresville to Plainfield, Indiana, then Cincinnati, and finally to a nursing home in Richmond, Indiana, where he died this day in 1971 after 91 years with us. He’s at Crown Hill Cemetery.

February 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Who is Punxsutawney Phil and why does it matter whether he sees his shadow on this day? Yes, it is Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob. If the little critter in Pennsylvania sees his shadow it means six more weeks of winter. For more than a century people have gathered to see what the tiny weatherman will predict. Apparently his usual prediction is six more weeks of winter.

"Paux" Phil

Also On February 2nd.

Paul Writes -
The world first met Mark Twain on this day in 1863. To be more precise, Samuel Clemens first signed his name that way, adopting the old riverboat term for two fathoms of water below the boat.

Samuel Clemens

February 3rd.

Paul Writes -
Don McLean said in song that this day in 1959 is "the day the music died." Ritchie Valens, J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Buddy Holly were all killed in an airplane crash. Holly was enormously influential with early rock and roll artists. Interestingly, he was only 22 when he died and thus didn't have a lot of time to make his fortune, but since his death his works have sold well and his memorabilia commands enormous prices. Waylon Jennings was supposed to have been on the plane but didn't go.

Buddy Holly

Also On February 3rd.

Paul Writes -
I think it is safe to say that four army chaplains received their eternal reward on this day in 1943. Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist); Lt. Alexander D. Goode (Jewish); Lt. John P. Washington (Roman Catholic -- he had served at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis); and Lt. Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed) were on board the US transport ship "Dorchester" crammed full of 902 servicemen, merchant seamen, and civilian workers as it steamed across the frigid Atlantic. Early in the morning the ship was torpedoed and began its 27-minute descent beneath the waves. The four chaplains helped distribute life jackets and, when there were no more, took theirs off and gave them to four other passengers. The chaplains were last seen by survivors to still be aboard the ship, arms linked and braced against the sloping deck, praying as it went under.

Four Chaplins

February 4th.

Paul Writes -
The pride of Indiana, former VP J. Danforth Quayle, was born on this date in 1946 in Indianapolis. His museum. Like at least one of the recipients of this e-mail, Quayle’s a DePauw graduate. Indiana has produced five VPs as well as many serious unsuccessful candidates. [Debbie and I saw a historical marker in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, that said Kentucky had produced the most US VPs. That is incorrect.] At Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis you can visit a number of them, three successful (more than any other cemetery) and several unsuccessful (off the top of my head I don’t know how many in the latter category).

VP Dan Quayle

February 5th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery earlier. The Kentucky General Assembly passed an act to incorporate the cemetery on this date in 1848. The cemetery at the eastern end of Broadway Street in Louisville is one of the most picturesque in the nation. You can find Hoosiers there including members of the all-German 32nd Indiana Volunteer Regiment, a unit that entered service in Indianapolis and consisted of persons with German heritage. It was commanded by Colonel August Willich, a Prussian-trained Marxist. Members of his regiment who fell at the Battle of Rowlett's Station in Kentucky are interred in the military cemetery inside Cave Hill. There you'll also find one of the more overlooked figures in the history of the west, as this part of the country was once known, General George Rogers Clark.

Clark Louisville Statute

Cave Hill Cemetery

February 7th.

Paul Writes -
William Hayden English passed away in Indianapolis on this date in 1896 at 73. He was an attorney before he was nineteen-years-old, clerk of the Indiana House, secretary of the Indiana Constitutional Convention, the youngest speaker of the Indiana House (all the preceding before he was even thirty years old), later a banker (reputed to be Indiana’s wealthiest man), and later a US representative. English loved history and served on the commission that oversaw the building of downtown Indy’s centerpiece, the monument that stands on Monument Circle.

William Hayden English

BTW, born at Lexington, Indiana and studied at Hanover College.

February 8th.

Paul Writes -
Indiana governor Noah Noble died at his home in Indianapolis on this day in 1844. He was only 50. Born in Berryville, Virginia, he lived in Kentucky before moving to Indiana in 1811. Interestingly, he lived in Brookville, Indiana, a small southern Indiana town that has given Indiana four governors: James Ray, Noah Noble, David Wallace, and Abram Hammond, three of whom served in a row. [Noble’s home—shared by his brother, US senator James Noble—still stands, next door to Wallace’s home.] Noble was suited for politics, dignified, polished, and charismatic.

He was a member of the Indiana House before becoming governor and tried twice, unsuccessfully, to be a US senator. He signed a bill promoting canals in Indiana; some were built, but the state ended up essentially bankrupt because of their construction. While governor he called out the militia in 1835 to deal with unrest among Irish laborers building the canal across northern Indiana.

Noble was buried in the Indianapolis cemetery that used to be south and west of the now-demolished Hoosier Dome (drats, I keep forgetting all the money that RCA gave to the city so I would call the stadium by another name), Greenlawn Cemetery, but was later moved to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. One of his servants, the daughter of a former slave, is buried in the same plot as the governor. She has a marker that notes that she is the daughter of the man who inspired the famous story of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a friend of Noble's (more precisely, her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was a friend of Noble).

Noah Noble

February 9th.

Paul Writes -
Carl Fisher, James Allison, Frank Wheeler, and Arthur Newby formed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation this day in 1909. They purchased 328 acres of farmland, now the site of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Carl Fisher

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

February 11th.

Paul Writes -
I’ve lived in Indiana for something like 35 years so I think I qualify to be a Hoosier. The name graces everything from a college basketball team (the Indiana University Hoosiers) to a government agency (the Hoosier Lottery) to the memoirs of a US VP (Recollections of Thomas R. Marshall: A Hoosier Salad) and has even been the name of a movie that ranks among the best sports movies ever, Hoosiers. Oddly, we do not know the origins of the word.

Sure, if you surf the net or even consult some respected sources, you’ll find a variety of opinions, some fanciful. One of the earliest uses of the word in writing was in a letter to General John Tipton this day in 1831.


A recent scholarly article concludes the word probably originated among farmers and boatmen along the Ohio River, but when, how, and why remains unknown.

Also On February 11th.

Paul Writes -
The late Jack Paar was the host of NBC's "Tonight Show" before the late Johnny Carson. On this night in 1960 Paar was still miffed over a punchline that had been censored from the previous night's broadcast. Just minutes into tonight's show, which was live in those days, he abruptly announced that he was quitting and walked off the set. Announcer Hugh Downs was forced to finish the ninety-minute show. Paar stayed off the set for a month before he returned, leaving two years later for good.

Jack Paar "I Kid You Not"

February 12th.

Paul Writes -
Two enormously influential persons were born half a world apart on this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Lincoln was born near Hodgenville, Kentucky, and Darwin in Portsmouth, England.



Also On February 12th.

Paul Writes -
Ethan Allen was 51 when he died in Burlington, Vermont, on this day in 1789. He is revered in New England, but was something of a rapscallion. [Maybe that is why they love him.] A physically imposing figure, he raised a private army called the Green Mountain Boys during a border dispute with neighboring New York. When the Revolutionary War broke out they turned their attention to the British and subsequently Allen and Benedict Arnold captured Fort Ticonderoga for our nascent nation.

Ethan Allen

February 13th.

Paul Writes -
The world changed on this day in 1946. "ENIAC," short for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the world's first electronic calculator, was switched on. Funded by the US Army (seeking a better way to calculate artillery ballistic tables), the device was gigantic, 30 tons in size, required nearly 17.5K vacuum tubes (you remember them), and took 174 kilowatts to run. Luckily the University of Pennsylvania, the calculator’s home, had its own power station. BTW, the oldest person working on the project was 39 years old.

The pocket calculator in your briefcase is smarter and faster than ENIAC. To me the device indicates the impossibility of predicting the future.

1946 ENIAC

February 14th.

Paul Writes -
And since this is St. Valentine's Day, it is also the day in 1929 that Al Capone's machine gun toting hoodlums, some dressed as cops, lined up seven members of George "Bugs" Moran's gang along a wall at 2122 N. Clark Street and added them to the several thousand mob killings that took place in Chicago during the gangland era. One of the victims of the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," Frank Gusenberg, lived long enough to answer questions after the real police arrived: "No one. Nobody shot me."

Chicago Typewriter

February 15th.

Paul Writes -
"Remember the Maine!" That rallying cry helped propel us into the Spanish-American War a century ago. The USS Maine blew up in the Havana harbor on this date in 1898. Numbers vary on the various web sites but between 250 and 260 sailors were killed in the explosion.

Maine Mast At Arlington

Also On February 15th.

Paul Writes -
This is the birthday of actress Jane Seymour ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg in Hillingdon, Middlesex, England, in 1951. Remember her as the virginal "Solitaire" in the 1973 James Bond thriller "Live and Let Die"?

Jane Seymour In "Live & Let Die"

February 15th Continues.

Paul Writes -
Surely we've all seen the epic movie "Ben Hur" written by the man who died of stomach cancer on this date in 1905 at the age of 77. Lewis "Lew" Wallace wrote the very popular book published in 1880.

Wallace came by political genes through his dad, David Wallace, who was Governor of Indiana, and three of his uncles who were politicians as well. Lew lived in Crawfordsville, Indiana. His "study," as he called the circular, domed building, studded with Tiffany windows, still stands in the park-like setting where he liked to sit outside and write. The study is open to the public as a museum dedicated to the general and in our opinion is worth a trip to Crawfordsville.

General Lew Wallace

February 16th.

Paul Writes -
One of the most memorable dramas of the period ended on this day in 1925 in Cave City, Kentucky. Noted spelunker Floyd Collins was trapped by a boulder while exploring Sand Cave eighteen days before. While rescuers worked to free him, the nation followed the progress by radio and in the Louisville newspaper.

The rescue wasn't successful: Collins died of exposure, probably on or about this day. The body was ultimately recovered and buried in Flint Ridge Cemetery.

Floyd Collins

February 19th.

Paul Writes -
US Marines did what Marines do on this day in 1945 - assaulted the beaches, in this case, of Iwo Jima. 30K Marines took part in some of the most intensive land fighting in the Pacific. It would take about a month before the island was declared secure.

Flag Raising Iwo Jima

February 20th.

Paul Writes -
John Glenn orbited the earth inside "Friendship 7" on this day in 1962, the first American to orbit the earth in space. His flight lasted just under five hours and he made three orbits.

John Glenn

February 22nd.

Paul Writes -
The first Confederate prisoners bound for Camp Morton in Indianapolis arrived by train this day in 1862. Ultimately, thousands were interred in the camp, the largest group, more than a thousand prisoners, arriving after the Battle of Shiloh.

Camp Morton - Indianapolis

February 23rd.

Paul Writes -
Louisvillian Zachary Taylor won a significant victory during the Mexican-American War in the battle that began the day before and concluded this day in 1847 near Buena Vista, Mexico. General Santa Anna had demanded the surrender of Taylor, but Taylor refused ("Tell Santa Anna to go to hell.").

Taylor had only about 4.8K men and they were largely inexperienced. Anna had perhaps 15K men, but they weren't any more experienced. Perhaps to a large degree because of the bravery of Taylor’s artillery men who fought directly in the face of the enemy (and men such as a colonel from Mississippi, Jefferson Davis), the Americans forced Anna to retreat. American casualties were high, 650 - 750 (sources vary, naturally), but the Mexican losses were five times that amount. The victory created momentum that put Taylor in the White House.

Zachary Taylor

February 25th.

Paul Writes -
In 1779 this was an important day in the American Revolution and in particular to those of us here in the middle of the nation. A Louisvillian, sort of, Lieutenant Colonel (later general) George Rogers Clark, acting on behalf of Virginia, forced the surrender of Vincennes (now in Indiana) by the British under command of Colonel Henry Hamilton.

It was the second time that Clark’s men had captured the settlement there. The first was earlier the year before, but the British took it back. [On his way to taking the fort the first time, Clark founded Louisville by dropping off settlers at Corn Island.]

BTW, we should never forget what Clark and his men endured on behalf of their country. Indeed, it remains one of the most inspiring feat of arms in the annals of US history, not so much for the battle, although Clark was clever enough, but the march to the battle. It took some 18 days in the midst of a horrible Midwest winter. With virtually no food and with clothing far different from that which we find necessary for foul weather, Clark and his men confronted floods, ice-tinged rivers swollen to lake size, freezing rains, sometimes marching in freezing water up to their chests on and off for days.

Clark Memorial Vincennes

February 26th .

Paul Writes -
Dr. Otis Ray Bowen, former Governor of Indiana, was born in Rochester, Indiana, on this day in 1918. He’s not our oldest living Ex-Governor. Edgar Whitcomb was born in 1917.

Governor Bowen

Governor Whitcomb

February 29th.

Paul Writes -
Railroads had enormous influence on our history. On this day in 1827 the first railroad in the US to be chartered for passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Company, was incorporated. It wasn't actually the first railroad, but rather the first to offer regular service.

Early Engine

B&O Map

March 1st.

Paul Writes -
By his own account, this is the day in 1830 that twenty-one-year-old Abraham Lincoln “left the old homestead in Indiana and came to Illinois.” In an account of his time in Indiana he said: “There I grew up.” Lincoln is most often identified as being from Kentucky or Illinois, but the Hoosier state has a bonafide claim on Lincoln because he spent his “formative years” here, from the age of seven to age twenty-one.

Abe Lincoln In Indiana

March 2nd.

Paul Writes -
Was it a song by the Oak Ridge Boys or Statler Bothers (or one of those other similar country groups) that posed, "What ever happened to Randolph Scott?" The 85-year-old actor, best known for his western and military roles, passed away on this day in 1987. He got his start when he met producer Howard Hughes on a golf course in 1929.

Oak Ridge Boys

Statler Brothers

Randolph Scott

March 3rd.

Paul Writes -
On this day in 1943, the Army airfield at Seymour, Indiana, was re-named Freeman Army Airfield after Captain Richard S. Freeman from Winamac, Indiana. Freeman was a graduate of West Point who was killed in Nevada testing a new aerial bomb sight.

Freeman Field

March 4th.

Paul Writes-
Wish happy birthday to one of our favorite cities, Chicago. On this day in 1837 it incorporated as a city. At the time it had no building higher than two stories or even any with basements. It had no paved streets. Before the century ended it would have some of the tallest buildings in the world and be home to a million people. The first Europeans to see the site that would be the city, Frenchmen Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette.

As they paddled through ten-foot high marsh grasses in 1673, Joliet is said to have remarked to Marquette: "Here will be someday one of the world's great cities."

Both Debbie and I would agree with his assessment and we make the 150-mile trip as often as possible for shopping, museum visits, etc. Both of us would love to live there, although the strain on one's housing dollars would be significant, not to mention on one's patience in trying to deal with traffic that is jammed seven days a week.


March 5th -

Paul Writes -
One of Debbie's favorite country music singers, Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley), was killed in a plane crash in 1963 on this day (her "I Fall To Pieces" was high on the charts at the time). Anyone know the origin of the custom of leaving change on a gravestone? I saw a picture of Cline's grave that showed money on the headstone. As well, Debbie and I saw a bunch of change on Colonel Sanders’s stone in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.

Patsy Cline

March 6th.

Paul Writes -
"Remember the Alamo!" You do if you are from Texas. After a siege of a couple of weeks (would it surprise you to know that there are differing versions of how long), the fort fell on this day in 1836. Perhaps 3-4K Mexican troops under General Santa Anna surrounded the 187 (or 185) defenders who were seeking independence for Texas from Mexico. William Barrett Travis and Jim Bowie (a Kentuckian, BTW, from Logan County) led the defenders. Women, children, and a black slave were spared, but all the male defenders were killed.

The Alamo

As I just mentioned, we don't know for sure if he died in the battle or was put to death afterwards, and we don't know where he is buried or if he was consumed in a funeral pyre after the battle, but we do know that former member of the Tennessee House and US House of Representatives, David Crockett, was killed in the battle for the Alamo or shortly thereafter.

Davey Crockett

TV's Davey Crockett

March 7th.

Paul Writes -
Calvin Coolidge was in Louisville on this day in 1930. The former president came to the rear of his train parked at Union Station and said to the press: “I have no information about anything.” He went back inside the train.

President Coolidge

March 8th.

Paul Writes -
I am a little confused (that will be enough of that). Every source I consulted answers the following question the same way: "what US city was the first electrically-lighted city in the world?" No, not New York. No, not Philadelphia. Yes, tiny Wabash, Indiana, home to perhaps 3K people at the time in 1880.

Wabash, Indiana

March 10th.

Paul Writes -
The world changed on this day in 1876. Alexander Graham Bell said something to the effect of "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you." They are the first words that we know to have been spoken into and transmitted by a telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell

March 11th.

Paul Writes -
Let's move to Indiana history for a moment. In the early days, if you wanted to go to the territorial capital, you went to Vincennes, over on the Wabash River in the western part of the state. On this day in 1811, the territorial legislature passed the State Capital Act, moving the Capital to Corydon, Indiana, now maybe forty-five minutes or so west of Louisville. You can visit some of the early governmental buildings in Corydon and we recommend the trip.

Corydon, Indiana - State Capitol

March 13th.

Paul Writes -
It seems that this is the time period to commemorate deceased US Presidents. Our 23rd President, 67-year-old Benjamin Harrison, died of pneumonia in his Indianapolis home at 1230 North Delaware Street on this day in 1901.

Benjamin’s was a political family. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was former Governor of the Indiana Territory and a US President for about a month until he died in office, and his great grandfather, also Benjamin Harrison, signed the Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin Harrison

March 14th -

Paul Writes -
Because of an act of the Indiana General Assembly, on this day in 1913 Paul Dresser’s “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” became Indiana’s official state tune. As I have said before, you probably think you know some of the words to the state song and think you’ve heard it sung by Jim Nabors before the Indy 500, but you are wrong. What you hear is “(Back Home Again in) Indiana.” If you are like most Hoosiers, you’ve probably never heard the official state song, but think you have.

Indiana State Song

Paul Writes -
If you are a fan of country music of the twangy sort, not the modern stuff that seems pretty far removed from its country roots, you probably know that the "Grand Ole Opry" closed out its long run at historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on this day in 1974. The inimitable Johnny Cash led a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" as the Opry ended 31 years at the Ryman. BTW, did you know that the Opry was founded by a Hoosier?

Hoosier George D. Hay

March 16th.

Paul Writes -
President Thomas E. Dewey had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 68 in Bal Harbour, Florida, on this day in 1971.

OK, I am wrong; the three-term New York governor and two-time presidential candidate never made it to the presidency. But then, I am in good company, or at least plentiful company. When Dewey ran against Harry Truman just about every pundit, poll, and publication thought Truman was a goner (remember the famous picture of Truman holding up the front page of the "Chicago Daily Tribune" that erroneously trumpeted Dewey had won).

"Dewey Defeats Truman"

March 17th.

Paul Writes -
This is our wedding anniversary. The day is appropriate as both Debbie and I have a fair amount of Irish blood. She was born a Gallagher and my mother is a cross between a Riley and a Flaherty. You can see online the place where we did the deed.

Las Vegas Paul & Debbie Married Here

March 20th.

Paul Writes -
You’ve seen the movie “Hoosiers” in which Gene Hackman takes his basketball team from tiny “Hickory, Indiana,” to win the state high school basketball finals in Indianapolis. The real life inspiration for that storyline took place on this day in 1954 at venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Hickory is a fictional place, but even tinier Milan, Indiana, is not. They beat powerhouse Muncie Central 32-30 on the strength of Bobby Plump’s last second shot. Sadly, such will not happen again as Indiana has adopted class basketball and the small schools and the large schools no longer get to play out the David and Goliath scene.

Bobby Plump operates a restaurant with pretty good food in Broad Ripple, called appropriately, Plump’s Last Shot. If you drive through Milan in southern Indiana you’ll see that the town still remembers: the team’s accomplishment is noted on the “welcome” sign and the town’s water tower.

Milan 1954 Champs

March 21st.

Paul Writes -
The last 27 prisoners were transferred from "The Rock" on this day in 1963. Since 1934 Alcatraz Island had hosted a prison for those felons deemed the most dangerous in the penal system, about 1545 men in all. Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Alvin Karpis, and Robert Franklin "The Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud were all among the inmates.

Alcatraz Island

March 23rd.

Paul Writes -
This is the day in 1775 that Patrick Henry made his ringing "Give me liberty, or give me death" speech to the second meeting of the Virginia convention in Richmond, Virginia. A successful attorney, he is considered by many to be the best orator of the Revolutionary period.

Patrick Henry

March 28th.

Paul Writes -
A president from my childhood died at the age of 79 on this day in 1969. Dwight D. Eisenhower was our 34th chief executive. [He was born David Dwight Eisenhower but, as everyone called him Dwight, he changed his name in high school to Dwight David Eisenhower.]

He is credited with possessing the perfect blend of personality and leadership to hold together the coalition that was needed to defeat Hitler in Europe, quite an accomplishment for a man who never directly led troops under fire and was the son of pacifist parents. After leaving the presidency he was asked if it had affected his golf game. He replied, "Yes, a lot more people beat me now." He wasn't pretentious -- his coffin was standard military issue costing about $80. Debbie and I agree that his and Mamie's home, the only one they ever owned, is worth a visit.

President Eisenhower

Also On March 28th.

Paul Writes -
The first steam powered train in Indiana operated from the Madison, Indiana, area beginning in 1838. But if you’ve been to Madison (go in the spring or fall when you can attend a very nice art fair there) you know that the picturesque little Ohio River town sits below some pretty imposing bluffs. That climb was too much for early train engines so cars were pulled up by horses and allowed to descend by gravity. On this date in 1844 a descending train plowed into the back of a train ahead and killed four people and injured several more. Six years later a cog wheel system was introduced and that was used for over two decades. Later the heaviest train engine in the world at the time, the Reuben Wells, was used to climb the 5.89 percent grade, the steepest in the country for any standard gauge railroad.

The Ruben Wells

The Reuben Wells is preserved and you can see it on the lower level of the children’s museum here in Indy. You can still see the railroad bed just west of downtown Madison.

Madison Incline

March 30th.

Paul Writes -
Unless you have lived in Louisville, you may have never heard of the Hoosier (born in Madison and attended Hanover College) who was 87 when he passed away on this day in 1969. If you live in Louisville (or go to Hanover College) you won’t be able to escape the name of J(ames) Graham Brown as the name of the lumberman, real estate developer, horse breeder, and philanthropist adorns a number of buildings and places. One of those is the downtown Louisville Brown Hotel, built in 1923, that still has the most elegant lobby in Louisville, or compared to any in Indy for that matter. His hotel is the place where the “Hot Brown” sandwich (open faced turkey with bacon, pimentos, and mornay sauce) was born.

J Graham Brown

Brown Hotel

Brown Gym Madison, Indiana

April 2nd.

Because it is of little use to us today, we tend to forget the work of Samuel Morse who died on this day in 1872 at the age of 80 changed the world.

Samuel Morse

His work on telegraphic signal relays and the system of dots and dashes that bear his name made world-wide, virtually instantaneous communication possible. Days, weeks, months, or even years formerly would pass without word of some events reaching the rest of the world.

First Morse Telegraph

No longer. The click-click of Morse’s keys meant Abraham Lincoln could follow the progress of the Civil War just hours after the events unfolded. That was amazing at the time.

April 3rd.

Paul Writes -
Tornadoes tore across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio on this and tomorrow's date in 1974, killing 315 people. I had just purchased the first car I ever owned and one of the first things I got to do with it was drive it to the Red Cross Chapter House in downtown Louisville and leave it for a few days so I could join up with a Red Cross team on its way to the devastated town of Brandenburg, Kentucky, maybe 50 miles south of Louisville. [I am sure a couple of the recipients of this missive have vivid memories of those days.]

Tornado Approaching Hanover/Madison

April 5th.

Paul Writes -
New York's World Trade Center opened on this day in 1974. When I first made this entry many years ago, who could have predicted that the site would be synonymous with tragedy.

World Trade Center Prior To 9-11

April 7th.

Paul Writes -
A period “Time Magazine” map showing the route John Dillinger took after he broke out of the Crown Point, Indiana, jail on March 3, 1934, shows that John Dillinger was involved in an auto accident in Noblesville, Indiana, on this day in that year. No other details are given. It must not have been bad as the next day he had dinner with his dad in Mooresville and on April 13 got a haircut and obtained food and fuel in Brownsburg, Indiana. He had a little over three months to live.

John Dillinger

Also On April 7th.

Paul Writes -
One of the handful of five-star US generals, General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley, passed away in New York at the age of 88 on this date in 1981. He is buried in Arlington.

General Omar Bradley

April 9th.

Paul Writes -
Samuel L. Clemens, who we know as Mark Twain, an old river pilot's term that he appropriated, got his riverboat pilot's license on this date in 1859. He didn't have a lot of time on the river because the Civil War intervened in 1861 and he -- briefly, before he deserted -- served in a Confederate unit from Missouri.

Mark Twain

April 10th.

Paul Writes -
The infamous Bataan Death March began on this date in 1942 after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese on yesterday's date. In reality a series of marches over 5 to 9 days, the length depended on where the captive began his march into captivity. Most marched 55 miles, with no food or water, and many were executed by the Japanese along the way.

At the end of the march they endured being packed like standing sardines into cargo train cars, packed so tightly that the dead remained standing. In all, perhaps 20K Americans and Filipino soldiers died along the way. Thousands of Americans and Filipinos who survived the march subsequently died in the hellholes that were Japanese POW camps.

April 11th.

Paul Writes -
Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale,” was a mega-celebrity of her day. Her concerts were a major event. She toured the US, including an 1851 stop at Madison, Indiana (the smallest city on her tour), on this day. She performed in a pork factory for what was then the pretty hefty sum of $5.00 per person.

Jenny Lind

From Paul J. Smith's Weekly History Revue:

April 12th.

Paul Writes -
Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on this date in 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia, at the age of 63. He was a short way into his fourth term as president. He had a stroke and many who knew him personally thought that it was only his force of will that kept his polio, heavy smoking, and general poor health from overcoming him sooner than it did.

Although the press knew of his disability they respected his wishes (it really was a different time) and photos of him in his wheelchair are extremely rare although he is otherwise one of the most photographed presidents in history.

President Franklin Roosevelt

April 13th.

Paul Writes -
I mentioned that John Dillinger had attended a family fried chicken dinner at his dad’s Mooresville, Indiana, home while on the run from the law following his escape from jail in Crown Point, Indiana.

John Dillinger

Dillinger decided he needed some bulletproof vests so he and gang member Homer Van Meter (another Hoosier, from Fort Wayne) made their way to Warsaw, Indiana, and at about 0115 this day in 1934 approached Officer Judd Pittenger of the local police force and, machine guns at the ready, made him take them to the deserted police station and open the weapons room where they stole some bulletproof vests and pistols before releasing Pittenger.

Type Weapon Used In Warsaw PD Robbery

April 15th.

Paul Writes - As strange as it may sound, I am willing to say that the world changed on this day in 1955. Ray A. Kroc opened his first McDonald's in Des Plaines, Illinois, and set in motion a sea change in the eating habits of the developed world. Fast food is so ubiquitous that we forget that it only became so in our lifetime.

Now A Museum

One of eight Americans has worked for McDonald's and world-wide the golden arches are more recognizable than the Christian cross. [They may be right. A McDonald's near my house doesn't even have the name of the restaurant on the side that faces a busy street. Why bother? Who above the age of two doesn't recognize those golden arches?]

April 16th.

Paul Writes -
Marie Bernarde (her family called her Bernadette) Soubirous, Saint Bernadette to us, died on this day in 1879 at the age of 35. At the age of 14 she had the first of 18 visions that the faithful believe were the appearance of Mary, the Mother of Christ. The site, Lourdes, is now a shrine that attracts those faithful worldwide.


April 17th.

Paul Writes -
I saw somewhere this was the day in 1964 that Ford rolled out its legendary Mustang. It sold for something over $2K (now those were the days) and Ford sold more than a million of them in the first year. They could be modified for speed as a childhood friend of mine down the street loved to do. Indeed, the fastest that I have ever been on the ground was a brief moment on Berry Boulevard in Louisville with my friend in his Mustang.

1964 1/2 Mustang

April 18th.

Paul Writes-
You know of the events of this evening in 1775. "Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere" and "One if by land, two if by sea" and so forth as we know from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." To be sure, the silversmith was a patriot, but he wasn't alone in his nocturnal gallop. William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott had similar missions, but are much less known today. All three got themselves captured by the British, but not before spreading some alarm through the countryside.

Silversmith/Patriot Paul Revere

April 20th.

Paul Writes -
For some 172 years the tiny Hawcreek Missionary Baptist Church served its congregation near Hope, Indiana, in Bartholomew County. The church burned on this day in 1998, the victim of an arsonist. Rural churches were especially hard hit by arsonists for about a year or so during that time period.

Hawcreek Church Featured In "Hoosiers" Movie

Also On April 20th.

BTW Paul Writes -
When Debbie and I were in Madison, Indiana, in the fall of 2003, we toured the 1837 Shrewsbury House. Our tour was conducted by the home’s owner, a then-ninety-two-year-old, delightful lady named Ann Windle. Mrs. Windle was the widow of John T. Windle, the person most responsible for saving the beautiful and historic buildings in the river town. We were the only two people on the tour and got to spend an hour sitting with Mrs. Windle in her parlor hearing about her fascinating life (her entire house is furnished with antiques that she and her husband collected traveling the world). I understand that Mrs. Windle has since died.

Ann Windle & Debbie Smith

April 22nd.

Paul Writes -
The German army first unleashed poison chlorine gas during WWI at the start of the Second Battle of Ypres on this date in 1915. One historian quoted on the PBS web site, Jay M. Winter of Cambridge University, says you can argue that the first modern world war began on this day as up to that time the war was really a series of failed 19th century maneuvers.

Poison gas brought a new, horrifying technological and industrial dimension to the battle and by the end of the war one in every four shells being produced were for gas. After the Germans first used it on this day against unsuspecting French and Canadian troops, poison gases like chlorine, which burns out lungs and eyes, and mustard gas which likewise burns away tissue, were used by both sides.

Gas Attack WWI

Also On April 22nd.

Paul Writes -
Richard Milhous Nixon passed away on this date in 1994. I've mentioned before, but for the benefit of any newcomers, he has relatives in southern Indiana. His mom, Hannah, was born in 1885 in a now-gone farmhouse south of Butlerville, Indiana, (near North Vernon). In 1897 the family moved to Whittier, California, where Nixon was born.

President Richard Nixon

Aprin 24th.

Paul Writes -
William Alexander "Bud" Abbott, half of "Abbott and Costello" passed away at 78 on this day in 1974. Their "Who's On First" routine is one of the greats. For you New Jersey readers, both were natives of your state.

"Who's On First"

April 27th.

Paul Writes -
For something like $22.49 (2001 fee in Canadian dollars) you can go to the lookout levels of the CN Tower on the Toronto lakefront. You'll be in North America's tallest structure. You can even stand on a large glass floor and look a really long way straight down (it is a disquieting experience, I am here to tell you). Had you been on the tower site this day in 1813 during the War of 1812, you'd see a battle a very short distance away to the west at Fort York, the fort that grew into Canada's largest city. What you would have seen is about 2.7K Americans storming the fort, overwhelming its 700 or so defenders.

CN Tower

April 30th.

Paul Writes -
I saw that on this day in 1947 Boulder Dam was officially bestowed with the name Hoover Dam. It honors President Herbert Hoover who was instrumental in its construction. I know several of you have seen the dam and would agree that seeing it on TV does not do it justice. The thing is just plain mammoth in any sense of the word and probably could not be built today given the cost and environmental impact.

Hoover Dam

May 1st.

Paul Writes -
"They're at the post!" It is the first Saturday in May and that means Derby Day in Louisville. I grew up within spitting distance of the twin spires of Churchill Downs and so have memories of race day going far back. As a youngster I wasn't very good at the time-honored (probably now defunct) tradition of asking strangers who parked on the public street for a quarter to "watch” their cars. I was never quite sure what I was watching for. But some kids made some serious change by hustling from car to car as the cars clogged my neighborhood streets.

Twin Spires

Another May 1st.

Paul Writes -
I am an IU alumnus (times two). The school opened its doors to its first students on this day in 1824 in Bloomington. The school was chartered as the “state seminary” in 1820 but got off to a slow start. It became Indiana College in 1828 and later Indiana University, the name it bears to this day. Incidentally, the school is not located on the same site in Bloomington where it began. For about sixty years it was located in what is now Seminary Park. It moved to the present site after a devastating fire in 1883.

Indiana University Gates

May 3rd.

Paul Writes -
Did you ever wonder for whom Louisville is named? Well, wonder no more. It is named for French King Louis XVI. On this day in 1776, the French monarch gave about 1M livres' worth of weapons and other assistance to the American colonists who were fighting his British enemies. The assistance of the French was invaluable to us in our fight for independence, something that earlier generations acknowledged more than do we today. Not too long after the French chipped in, Charles III of Spain did as well. For a couple of years, we received over 80% of our gunpowder through our foreign friends. Perhaps the moral is that when you are picking your enemies, pick those with powerful enemies as well.

Louisville, Ky Named After French King

May 6th.

Paul Writes -
Kentucky stayed in the Union throughout the Civil War, but was not without a lot of southern sentiment. As the war dawned, both the Confederacy and the Union recruited in Louisville. Sometimes northern and southern troops trained and then marched off to war on the opposite sides of the same street. On this date in 1895, a large memorial was dedicated to "Our Confederate Dead."

[To quote an article in the September 2001 issue of The Filson describing the flourishing (in Louisville and the nation as a whole) “Lost Cause” memory: “In 1861 Louisville was a Union City. In 1895 Louisville was a Confederate city.”] The memorial stands in the middle of the street adjacent to the University of Louisville campus, near a university street once named “Confederate Place,” now renamed “Unity Place” out of political correctness. [Because of the controversy over the decades-old street name and the politically incorrect presence of the monument, U of L has decided to incorporate the monument into a “Freedom Park” that will tell the broader story of the war.] If I had a dime for every time I have driven, bicycled, or walked past the monument you'd be getting this note from some private island I'd own in the South Pacific.

Confederate Monument

May 8th.

Paul Writes -
I saw that "Dr. No" premiered on this night in 1963, the first of the enduring James Bond movies. BTW, on the subject of Bond movies from that era, do you recall the model of the Fort Knox Bullion Depository used by Goldfinger in the movie of that name? The movie prop is on display in the Patton Museum at Fort Knox.

"The Name Is Bond, James Bond"

Concluding May 8th:

Paul Says -
Harry Truman was 61 on this day in 1945. He had been US president for little over a month when on this day in that year VE-Day came (as the day that WWII came to an end in Europe was known).

Paul Also Says -
Tom Brokaw is right in his bestseller when he calls it "The Greatest Generation." Thank them before it is too late.

May 8, 1945

May 10th.

Paul Writes -
The world's first transcontinental railway was completed on this day in 1869 when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met at Promontory Point, Utah. The place where the "Golden Spike" was driven is now a national historic site.

West Meets East

May 10th Feature.

Paul Writes.
The seventy-eight-year-old Hoosier (born in a log cabin near the southern town of Weisburg) who passed away this day in 1960 in Community Hospital in Indianapolis was born Edwin G. Baker but was christened “Cannon Ball” by a New York reporter because of his penchant for setting cross-country travel records.

Cannon Ball Baker

In all he made 126 cross-continent trips, often setting speed records on an Indian motorcycle or various automobiles (many of Hoosier manufacture). Remember, this was in a time when such a trip was a real adventure given the dearth of good roads. His solo eleven day, eleven hour, and eleven minute 1914 motorcycle run of 3,379 miles from San Diego to New York involved only four miles of pavement and sixty-eight miles on railroad tracks.

He drove in many different types of endurance contests (in 1918 he visited all forty-eight state capitals in about three months, 16K plus miles) and competed in countless racing events, including 1909 motorcycle racing at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 1922 Indianapolis 500 finishing eleventh. He spent a lot of time in his workshop near Garfield Park on Indy’s near south side and these days spends his time at Crown Hill Cemetery on Indy’s near north side.

Indy's Crown Hill

May 11th.

Paul Writes -
FDR had not been president a week when in 1933 he asked Congress to create what would be known as the Civilian Conservation Corps. Unemployed men were recruited into camps organized along military lines and received a salary (most of which was sent to their families) plus food, housing, clothing, and medical care. The Corps engaged in public works projects, mostly in rural areas, and by its end during WWII over 3M men had passed through its ranks, serving in every state and territory. Fifty-six camps existed in Indiana at one time or another, the first three of which were established this day in 1933 working in state forests in the southern half of the state. You can see a memorial to the CCC in Indiana’s Spring Mill State Park.

CCC Camp

May 16th.

Paul Writes -
Debbie and I live a few hundred yards away from the Indiana county named for William Hendricks, who died on his farm near Madison, Indiana, on this date in 1850 at 67. His brothers, uncles, and dad were all prominent politicians. [His nephew, Thomas, would be governor of Indiana, as was he.] He was a schoolteacher, lawyer, printer, member of the Indiana Territorial House of Representatives, US representative from Indiana, Indiana governor (the third), and US senator. He isn't buried in Hendricks County, but rather in Jefferson County, Indiana.

William Hendricks

BTW, in March I mentioned the Battle of Pea Ridge in Missouri. Killed at that battle (on his 38th birthday) was Lieutenant Colonel John A. Hendricks, the son of Governor Hendricks (he was also the grandson of John Paul who was one of the founders of Madison, Indiana).

Also On May 16th.

Paul Writes -
Captain Charles W. Brouse of the 100th Indiana Volunteer Infantry received the Medal of Honor on this day in 1899. He received it for his actions nearly 36 years before at Missionary Ridge. He directed his men to lie down behind some breastworks in the face of heavy fire, but until he was severely wounded he walked along the top of the ramparts to encourage his men. He is now buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, one of perhaps three MOH recipients there.

Captain Brouse

May 22nd.

Paul Writes -
John Dillinger was on the lam on this day in 1934. Still, that was no reason to pass up the fried chicken at his family reunion in Mooresville, Indiana, so he dropped by. There are photographs of him hamming it up there with the fake gun he used to escape from the jail in Crown Point, Indiana. He spent a couple of days in Mooresville, to the knowledge of everyone——before heading on.

John Dillinger In Mooresvile 1934

Some people think Dillinger buried a boatload of cash on the family farm during the reunion, but as the land is now a housing development, no one knows for sure. Local folklore says you can hear the sounds of a ghostly family reunion on this day and the smell of fried chicken wafts through the air. It is just down the road from Debbie and me so maybe we’ll drive by and let you know if we hear or smell anything.

May 28th.

Paul Writes -
Fire broke out in the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, on this day in 1977, apparently as a result of faulty wiring. The dinner theater was said to be the largest between the east coast and Las Vegas and some 2.4K - 2.8K people were on hand awaiting singer John Davidson to take the stage. The disaster claimed 165 persons, many from toxic fumes from burning furniture and decorations. [Three people were arrested for stealing from the bodies.] The site of the disaster is still vacant and overgrown. Debbie and I have been in the vicinity a few times but I keep forgetting to check out the site.

Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

Continuing May 28th.

Paul Writes -
If you had seen only his movies you might be surprised the man killed in a plane crash in Virginia on this day in 1971 was the most decorated US soldier in WWII.

Thrice wounded Medal of Honor recipient (plus just about every other award for valor that one could earn and some awards from other countries as well) Audie Murphy was 46. If you are in the vicinity of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, you can visit Audie, too. We did.

Audie Murphy - Arlington

May 30th.

Paul Writes -
Without a doubt, the 45-year-old man who died on this day in 1912 in Dayton changed the world. Born a Hoosier near Millville, Indiana, Wilbur Wright predeceased his younger brother Orville by about 35 years. They gave the world powered, heavier-than-air flight. I read an interesting comment by a Smithsonian official (the institution is now the custodian of the Wrights’ airplane) that the brothers’ greatest technological contribution is fight control. As the official said, “Wilbur Wright was the first person to understand how an airplane turned.” BTW, likely around the time you are reading these words, Debbie and I will be visiting the place in North Carolina where the brothers flew.

Wilbur Wright

Kitty Hawk

June 1st.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to Andy Griffith, on this day in 1926 in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. If you are ever in Danville, Indiana, a few miles west of us, you can visit the Mayberry Cafe. You'll know you are in the right place by the old squad car parked out front, the pictures of the cast and show, and souvenirs related to Sheriff Taylor and the gang. The food is pretty good. About the time you read this we will be passing through the Mt. Airy area so perhaps we’ll drop by the Griffith homestead.

Mayberry Patrol Car

June 6th.

Paul Writes -
It is the 6th of June, the anniversary of the largest amphibious invasion in history, known to all of us as D-Day. 250K servicemen, 5K ships, and 10K aircraft were involved in the 1944 Allied effort to begin the invasion of northern Europe at Normandy on the north coast of France. There is a lot of information about the day on the web.

D-Day Omaha Beach

June 11th.

Paul Writes -
Marion Michael Morrison passed away on this day in 1979 at the age of 72. As the website of his birthplace says, his movie name of John Wayne conjures up images of courage and patriotism. The Duke" may be dead thirty-plus years but the number of web sites devoted to him is impressive. For a long time his family kept his grave in Newport, California, unmarked to ensure his privacy, but he now has a marker that portrays his western persona.

John Wayne Statute

June 12th.

Paul Writes -
This night and into the next day in 1944 was the first use, against London, of what we would call a cruise missile. The V-1 "Buzz Bomb" missile killed 4K - 6K people during the nine months or so that it was used. While the weapon had no impact on the course of the war, it did divert Allied air assets to destruction of the launch sites and some 2K Allied airmen were killed in doing so. It was replaced in September 1944 by the supersonic V-2 and the missile age was clearly here: BTW, I've read that there are two V-1's in the US, one in storage at the Smithsonian.


June 13th.

Paul Writes -
I saw in an old text that surveyors for the National Road started staking out the road west of the Indiana-Ohio line on this day in 1827. They encountered only a relative handful of homes between there and Indianapolis 70-80 miles west, most of those homes in Centerville. We simply cannot appreciate how important roads were to our ancestors. Road building was a concern of state legislatures everywhere and in the case of roads such as the National Road, Congress got involved. We take roads more or less for granted, griping at the inconvenience of potholes or lane closings. Our ancestors would be in awe of our transportation opportunities to a degree we cannot fathom.

Across Indiana

June 14th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the basic design of our flag, on this date in 1777. The story of Betsy Ross is considered by most historians to be a legend.

Betsy Ross

Paul Continues -
Speaking of birthdays, happy birthday to the United States Army, created this day in 1775 by the First Continental Congress.


Also On June 14th.

I’ve often mentioned John Dillinger in these pages. If you read anything or have seen any movies you might link J. Edgar Hoover’s name with him as his nemesis. But, often overlooked is Dillinger’s pursuer from the Indiana State Police, Captain Matthew Leach who, at the age of 60, was killed (with his wife and two other people in the other car) this day in 1955 in a head-on collision near Somerset, Pennsylvania.

Capt. Matt Leach

June 15th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to perhaps our nation's most hallowed ground. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton signed an order on this day in 1864 appropriating the ground that had been the home of General Robert E. Lee for use as the cemetery that we now know as Arlington National Cemetery. As I am sure that many of you who have visited would agree, you do really have the feeling that you are on sacred ground.


June 19th.

Paul Writes -
Happy birthday to the "Bobbies" of Scotland Yard, on this date in 1829.  The man responsible for the inception of Scotland Yard is Sir Robert Peel, hence their nickname.  Their name of Scotland Yard is a bit obscure.  Their first headquarters faced a place called Great Scotland Yard and so they took the name.


June 20th.

Paul Writes -
I've mentioned Louis XVI a couple of times because his financial support was important to the American Revolution and he is the namesake of Louisville. [A statue of him stands on the county courthouse lawn in Louisville.] Things did not turn out well for Louis and Marie Antoinette. They fled Paris in disguise as the French Revolution got underway, but were recognized at Sainte-Menehould on this day in 1791 by a postmaster, Jean-Babtiste Drouet, and stopped at Varennes. Drouet recognized the king from his likeness on the coin of the realm, which goes to show what kind of trouble your ego can cause you.

Louis In Louisville

June 22nd.

Paul Writes -
Actress ("The Wizard of Oz") Judy Garland died on this date in 1969 from an overdose of sleeping pills. She was 47 and had been acting for forty years. She wasn't well known at the time of her famous Dorothy role and of all the principal actors, only the dog, Toto, drew a smaller salary. She has a tiny Hoosier-related connection. She was born Frances Ethel Gumm but changed her name because she liked a song by Hoosier composer Hoagy Carmichael titled “Judy.” BTW, she and I have something in common. We've both walked down the aisle, so to speak, at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas, although I assume that she was 40 or 50 years before Debbie and me. I've read that a tornado touched down in Kansas on the date that Garland died, but haven't confirmed that.


June 24th.

Paul Writes -
This is the traditional feast day of St. John the Baptist, known as the "Precursor," and one of the earliest heroes of the Catholic Church. If you recall, he is the one whose head was brought to Herod at the request of Salome. Debbie and I attended a Middle Eastern festival at an orthodox church on the east side of Indy. The church had a very impressive interior, basically two large walls of stained glass, one panel of which showed John’s head on the platter.

John Baptizing Jesus

June 25th.

Paul Writes -
Ninety thousand North Korean troops swept across the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea on this day in 1950 (it was June 24th here in the US), kicking off the Korean War. The South Korean capital of Seoul fell by June 28th. Within days a UN force under General Douglas MacArthur was authorized. The war lasted three years before status quo was returned. One hundred thirty-one Medals of Honor were earned during the conflict, 94 posthumously.

Korean War Memorial

Also On June 25th.

Paul Writes -
The "boy-general" known for his flamboyant looks and yellow hair, George Armstrong Custer, took 267 US Cavalry Soldiers against Chief Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn in Montana on this day in 1876 and lost. How we view the event varies considerably depending on perspective and the times. A man of undeniable and uncommon personal bravery, Custer has been viewed as a hero who made his stand against overwhelming odds, a blunderer who got his whole command annihilated, a commander who performed well but got a bad break, and on it goes.

General Custer

7th Cavalry

June 30th.

Paul Writes -
John Dillinger’s gang robbed the Merchant’s Bank in South Bend, Indiana, this day in 1934, his last bank robbery. Patrolman Howard Wagner was directing traffic nearby when he heard a gunshot (one of the robbers discharged a machine gun into the ceiling of the bank) and walked towards the location. A rifle bullet, fired by gang member Homer Van Meter who was stationed at the bank door as a lookout, mortally wounded officer Wagner.

It was a chaotic scene. A jeweler came out of his store and fired a pistol at Baby Face Nelson, staggering him but not injuring him because he wore a bulletproof vest. Nelson fired a machine gun, missing the jeweler but hitting a couple of bystanders, at least one seriously.

A couple of hostages were injured, perhaps by police fire. Van Meter was also injured, but survived. He would be dead in a police shootout in less than two months; Dillinger in a little over three weeks.

Wanted Poster