A Story About Black History Month & Jocko Graves

jocko gravesFebruary marks the beginning of Black History Month. I’ve always found this an interesting time because one, I always learn something new, and two, I find people’s feelings about this recognition to be interesting.

I’ve heard lots of people express resentment that Blacks have their own month like it’s something the government does to pay tribute to what Blacks have given to America. The simple truth is, the government has nothing to do with it. The whole thing is people originated and involves only those who want to somehow take part.

I believe most Americans see nothing wrong with BHM but even among Blacks there are those who don’t want Black History separated from American History. They believe we all would be

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Busted for rum running! Advice for cruisers.

While cruises can be an economic form of vacationing the cost of alcoholic beverages are marked up to the max. If you’re a drinker the pressure is on to smuggle some hooch aboard. Most cruise lines permit each passenger to bring aboard a single bottle of wine and whatever soft drinks they can carry. Beer and hard liquor is banned, however.

We took a cruise in 2014 and I sneaked some Scotch on board by transferring it to a couple of 20 oz brown plastic root beer bottles buried in my checked luggage. Worked with no problem and I was able to enjoy my daily Scotch on the rocks with no problem and minimum expense.

rum runnerOn our most recent cruise I did the same thing but didn’t check any luggage. Instead we carried everything on the ship. When they           x-rayed my suitcase, however, they saw the outline of two pop bottles and asked me to open the bag. They reached for one of the bottles and tested if the seal had been broken, it had been of course. I was then informed that plastic bottles were no longer

Continue reading Busted for rum running! Advice for cruisers.

My NBA

The passing of the Globe Trotter’s Meadowlark Lemon got me thinking about the NBA during the 1960s. I lived in Los Angeles at the time and my roommate had a source for free tickets. So, when the Celtics or Royals came to town we’d get a couple of seats and take in the game. We’d also try to never miss a Celtics or Royals game when aired on TV.

5.-CelticsSomewhere along the line I lost interest in professional basketball. Last week, however, I saw that Cleveland was playing the Warriors and decided to give it a try. I didn’t set a timer but I doubt I lasted ten minutes before reaching for the remote and I don’t have a clue about why. The only time since the 60s that I’ve shown interest in the NBA was during the Jordan years with the Bulls. There was just something magnetic about watching Michael Jordan. It became more difficult once Dennis Rodman came on board.

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Thoughts on Street People

A friend of mine, Stacey Austin,  shared a video of street entertainers (buskers) with me and it reminded me of our recent visit to New Orleans. NOLA is a hot bed of buskers (and street people) and during the high season one might be found around any corner of the French Market.

Some people just see these people as  being on the take or trying to scam the crowd. To me, they’re working people whose job is to further enrich our lives wherever we find them.

Buskers work solely for tips and I have a general rule that I always tip. Whenever I go to places like NYC or NOLA I make sure I have some coins and a pocket full of dollar bills. How much I tip depends on how entertained I am.

grandpaDuring this month’s visit to NOLA here’s where our money went. The street mimes who do little more than hold a pose generally don’t get top dollar. The kids tap dancing or beating out a rhythm on a plastic bucket got some change, unless they were really good and had their heart in it. Then they got paper money. There was a group of five young men who did a fantastic demonstration of break dancing and attracted a very large crowd. I don’t know how much they earned in an evening but they didn’t just have one bucket, they had four and the crowd didn’t hold back in sharing some of their vacation dollars. Musicians hold top spot on my earning list. If you’re singing a song or playing an instrument you’re assured of a tip. On this visit we sat inside the Cafe du Monde, sipping café au lait, eating beignets,  and listening to a sax player doing jazzy renditions of Christmas music. We all tossed something into the bucket.

Now that you know what I do like here’s what I don’t. I don’t like those who are expecting a donation while doing nothing to earn it. Places like NOLA and the French Quarter are havens for those on the make. Street hustlers and beggars are common at traffic

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Update – Mr. Wert Ash

Several months ago a number of area residents chipped in to help purchase a grave marker to honor the life of Mr. Wert Ash. I received word from Jay Hardy of Hardy Memorials in Greenfield, OH that the marker was installed on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. There has been speculation that possibly Mr. Ash was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. If so this was a great date to honor both his life and his service to America.

Thought is being given to hold a small memorial service in the spring of next year.

NOTE: Some time ago I wrote a story about Mr. Wert Ash. Click HERE to read and obtain some background.

wert ash marker
Mr. Ash’s marker is located in the SW corner of the cemetery near the Hardy Memorial building.

Drone Sub Hunter

FACTOID: Fitting factoid for this Veteran’s Day. The US Navy is completing construction on an experimental 140 ton ship that will be an autonomous drone submarine hunter. It will roam the high seas, totally unmanned, keeping track of both conventional and nuclear submarines. It foretells the future of the world’s navies and will operate at a fraction of a traditional warship. It’s estimate that this ship will cost between $15 and 20 thousand a day to operate versus the $700 thousand a day for manned ships.

drone sub

JAMES MOSSBARGER’S WWII

On June 8, 2004 a group of five Greenfield veterans of World War II met at the Greenfield Library to mark and tell of their experiences during the war. Most, if not all, have passed on but on this Veteran’s Day I’d like to reprise a story told by one, James Mossbarger.

“As part of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Jim Mossbarger spoke to an assembled group of interested people at the Greenfield Library. Here’s a little of what he had to say.

Following graduation from McClain High School, Jim Mossbarger entered the Army Air Corp and was trained as a waist gunner on a B-24 bomber. He left the US, headed for England, in early 1944, prior to D-Day.

wwii vets
L-R: Paul Howland, Hayward Riley, James Mossbarger, Floyd Shockey, Bill Collins

For reasons he didn’t divulge, the trip took almost 2 weeks and took his group into the Caribbean, Brazil, the Azores Islands, the Western Sahara desert of North Africa and finally to England; very much the long way around.

As a member of the 8th Air Force, Jim, and his crewmates, flew 35 missions into occupied Europe. Most missions were against targets in Germany and France with side trips into Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark.

By the time his unit arrived in the European Theatre, American bombers were receiving long-range fighter support from planes such as the P-38 and the P-51. This meant he and his buddies rarely had to face the threat of German fighters but did have to contend with enemy anti-aircraft flak wherever they flew. Jim offered that except for testing his guns, he never had occasion to fire his waist gun in combat.

He also mentioned that Bill Collins, another of Greenfield’s WWII veterans, was serving with a fighter group in England that was involved in flying cover for the 8th Air Force. After D-Day, Collins’ group was detailed to providing air support for American ground forces trying to establish a foothold in France.

Jim and Bill had an occasion before D-Day to meet in London and spend an evening in an English dance hall. They inferred that the ladies were friendly and all had a good time. Also, as they wiled away the evening and without their knowledge, the city was under a major bombing from the Nazi’s.

Mossbarger related a story in which his B-24 was part of a much larger force flying a mission to Munich, Germany. The tail gunner of his plane, observing bombs falling out of their bomb bay doors, announced over the radio, “bombs away.” This was the signal for the other planes in the group to begin dropping their payloads. Turned out they had released their bombs 12 miles short of the intended target. An electrical malfunction had caused the initial bombs to be dropped prematurely.

Another episode “Mossy” told about was an experience where his plane had taken off from a small English airfield headed for a mission in France. At 11,000 feet and still over English soil, the tail gunner reported that he was witnessing hot metal flying past his gun position. The pilot immediately reported that one of the left engines was on fire and someone, probably the co-pilot, prematurely sounded the abandon plane alarm. Jim and the other waist gunner hiked up their courage and exited the plane via the escape hatch.

Meanwhile, the pilot, maintaining his cool, sent the turret gunner to shut off the fuel to the burning engine, thus extinguishing the blaze. So, as the B-24 shakily turned about and returned to base, Mossy and his crewmate found themselves quietly floating downwards into a small English community named Florida.

The town’s folks took them in and tended to their needs while they waited for the Air Corp to pick them up. Jim said that one of the ladies asked him if he needed something to settle his nerves. He replied that he was okay but could stand a cup of coffee. Not having coffee, the lady offered him a cup of hot tea served on a saucer. When he reached for the saucer the cup went flying in to the air spilling its contents. It was then that he realized just how, “shook up,” he was.

He offered an accounting of the losses his group experienced and, though they were bad, they were not near as bad as those suffered by earlier fliers who ventured into Nazi held Europe before the advent of fighter support and a weakened German air force.”

As told by James Mossbarger, 6/8/04

Looking Back – The Blues

In 2005 I decided I wanted to take a class in becoming a certified barbecue judge. So off I went to Memphis for a day in the classroom of the Memphis Barbecue Association. Afterwards I headed south into Mississippi on what may have been my first field trip into the heart of blues history. I spent several days in and around Clarksdale which literally is ground zero for the blues. The following is an article I wrote for one of the local newspapers and a couple of years ago Ron Coffey asked about it. There was something I said that he liked and I was unable, till now, to find the article.

Anyway, I found it and decided to republish it as my offering for this day. Hope you enjoy.

Originally published in August, 2005.

For many years I’ve been interested in Southern culture and food. About fifteen years ago this interest evolved into a love of blues music and blues history. The blues that most people are familiar with is probably that performed by such greats as Stevie Ray Vaughn and B.B. King. The blues that I’m most interested in is far more raw and basic. It’s the blues that was born in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta and came out of hard times and hard living.

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Highland County’s Gist Settlement

I’m probably like many of you, lived most of my life in Highland County, Ohio and never heard of this thing called the Gist Settlement. It wasn’t until moving back to Greenfield in the early 1970s and starting to read some local history that I first became aware of it.

paul turner aThe settlement, which resulted from a wealthy absentee Virginia slaveholder wanting to settle his conscience as he neared death, is located about half way between Careytown and New Vienna on Gist Settlement Road ( Click HERE for a Google Map of the area). I’ve driven by several times and besides a couple of homes, a church, and an old cemetery, there isn’t much to see these days.

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US Middle Class is Dying

FACTOID: According to the Social Security Administration fifty-one percent of American workers earn less than $30,000 a year. The simple reality is, one cannot call them self middle class on that level of income. Another simple truth is, there are not enough jobs in America that pay a high enough wage for a strong middle class to exist.

middle class

Red v. Blue Sometimes = Purple

red blueThere is absolutely nothing scientific about the following video and I can think of some questions that probably would not show the degree of consensus displayed in it. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see there can be agreement between the two parties.

Click “The Results….” to see the video.

The Results Of This Poll Will Surprise YouWe polled 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans on politically-charged questions. Check out how similar (and different) the two parties are.

Posted by The Huffington Post on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Remember When?

Remember when being a serious candidate for a serious political position such as governor or president often involved stories of great deeds, sacrifice, gallantry and honesty?

george washingtonI grew up hearing stories about George Washington’s truthfulness, his daring, his bravery and leadership qualities. About Abraham Lincoln’s honesty and humble beginnings and Teddy Roosevelt wanting a fairer deal for all Americans. Stories about the first President Bush being a combat pilot in WWII and John Kennedy saving lives when his PT boat was destroyed during WWII.

When you mature you come to know that these people were never perfect but they never found it necessary to tout their mistakes as a means of gaining political position.

Continue reading Remember When?

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