Category Archives: History

Greenfield’s Presidential Dog

The news reported recently that the Trump family was the first to occupy the White House and not own a dog. While I think that is a win-win for dogs I do have a story about presidential dogs. This was originally published on an earlier version of my website but I think it’s time to bring it back for a second reading.

Feller, an adorable 5-week-old puppy, arrived at the White House as a gift in a giant crate, December 1947.
Feller on the White House lawn.

“Feller, a beautiful blond Cocker Spaniel, was an unsolicited 1947 Christmas gift to President Truman. The Trumans elected to give the puppy to the White House physician, Brigadier General Wallace Graham. Dog lovers around the country attacked the President as being anti-canine. Dr. Graham, soon tiring of the press and publicity, decided to get rid of the dog. He had Truman’s Naval Aide, Adm. James K. Foskett, take Feller to Shangri-La (Camp David). As the camp was not open to the press this seemed to end the Feller story, until now. The Admiral left Feller with the chief-in-charge, Quartermaster Chief George A. Poplin. When Poplin was transferred, Charles G. Ross, President Truman’s secretary, came to camp and told Poplin to leave the dog there. Poplin was relieved as chief-in-charge by Damage Control Chief Ralph O. Loften, who in turn was relieved by Chief Boatswain Robert W. Lyle. In 1953, while Chief Lyle was being transferred to Italy, he sought permission from Naval Aide Admiral Robert L. Dennison to take Feller. Permission was granted, provided that no mention be made that the dog once belonged to Truman. Robert gave Feller to his father, Archie Otis Lyle, who owned a farm just outside Greenfield, Ohio. There Feller lived for many happy years until he died of old age.

As a note of interest, when it became known by the camp crew that a member of the Truman family was to visit Shangri-La, Feller would be taken to a pet groomer in Thurmont just to be looking good in case the Trumans wanted to see him. They never did ask about the dog.”

52 Years Today

Fifty-two years ago today John Lewis, Martin Luther King, and a number of other civil rights leaders and marchers set out to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Selma, AL. On arrival they were violently set upon by city police, state troopers, police dogs, water cannons, tear gas, and nightsticks. Unfortunately there were those, then and now, who argue that the wrong side, Lewis’, won.

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The Time for Protest

Many of you know I’m a huge fan of Playing for Change. The effort to bring the world’s people together through the universal language of music. I cut my liberal teeth on the protest music of the 1950s and 60s and PforP just today released a new video containing a y. If ever the need for continued protest was appropriate, this is it.

Enjoy, pat your feet, clap your hands, and then somehow join the resistance movement. We have a long way to go!

And They Will Climb Over It

A lot has been said about building walls in the past year or so. Trump made building a wall along the Mexican-American border a major part of his campaign. And he seemed to convince large numbers of his believe anything base that Mexico was going to pay for it.

The US-Mexican border at San Ysidro, CA. One of the busiest crossings on earth.

The proposed purpose of the wall is to protect Americans. Protect Americans by keeping all those raping Mexicans out of our country and to stop the flow of thugs and drugs. Before the first shovel of dirt is turned some things need to be considered.

First, the US-Mexican border is 1900 miles long. That’s 600 miles longer than the Great of China which failed to keep the Chinese from falling to the hordes of Mongol warriors who eventually brought down the Song Dynasty in the 13th century.

Continue reading And They Will Climb Over It

Video Tour of McClain High School

The included video was shot by students of the Radio and TV class at McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio. McClain is where I graduated from and where I taught American History and Government for twenty-six years.

It was built for and gifted to the people of Greenfield by early twentieth century industrialist, Edward Lee McClain and literally is a one of a kind public school. In the late 1990s, when older public schools were being demolished and replaced with new modern facilities, the state of Ohio exempted McClain because of its historical importance.

Remembering Nannygate?

Clinton’s nominee for Attorney General, Zoe Baird.

Nannygate took place in the 1990s during the Clinton administration. On two occasions president Clinton nominated people to federal positions only to be forced to withdraw their names because both were found to have hired illegal immigrants to work in their homes. The appointments were for Attorney General and the people were Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood. The GOP went nuts when they learned during the confirmation hearings that Baird had employed an illegal from Peru to baby sit her children.

Continue reading Remembering Nannygate?

Note About Black History Month

Black History Month, as we know it, began in 1976 and has been recognized by every American president since. The event is an outgrowth of Negro History Week which began in 1926.

I don’t know if Trump has acknowledged the month yet but I find it interesting that this may be the first such event taking place during the term of a president with known racial biases.

Don’t forget that Trump is the guy who paid mention to Holocaust Week without using the word Jew. He’s also the guy that KKK leader David Duke, and many other white supremacists think is doing great.

The Dream

Teach your children, and maybe yourself, some important American history today. Do some reading about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch the video of King’s entire I Have a Dream speech.

You might even read the attached article about King.

Click the button for a great article about King. 

 

A Few Notes on History Repeating

I was listening to a TV discussion this afternoon and one of the subjects talked about was how we are having to deal with things that most of us thought were long gone into the pages of history. As a history major in college I was required to take a class in historiography, which includes theories of why things change. One idea that most are familiar with is that history repeats itself.

There are other theories but what we’re seeing unfold today has elements that were common in the decades between the two world wars. Throughout much of the world there was a huge increase in militarists and nationalists groups. In Japan the military came to power and pushed for military solutions to Japan’s problems. In Italy and Germany people turned to dictatorial leadership and its promise of resolving the effects of the First World War and the Great Depression.

I grew up and became educated after these things had occurred. In my time most of us came to believe we’d seen the last of fascism, Nazis, genocide, and religious and ethnic wars. My generation grew up in the post war prosperity of the 1950s, got an education,  a decent job, and went on to out do our parents. I suppose we thought it would always be that way, if not get even better.

Well, it wasn’t to be. Changes in business practices and rapidly changing technology turned against the middle-class prosperity I had witnessed. Millions of jobs went where labor was cheaper, became obsolete, or are now performed by robots. The good “people” jobs remaining in America now go to those who have a high degree of technical skill. What’s left are low paid, low skilled, and too few.

So here we are, back to those days when jobs are few, education expensive, young adults are still living at home, and whole parts of America is in ruins. The same feelings of despair that turned Germans to fascism in the 1930s have given rise to right-wing extremists in 2016’s America. Both Hitler and Trump are the products of people feeling desperate.

Next time you’re wondering what causes our story to change, add desperation and despair to the list. But keep in mind that history repeats itself so the good times may someday return. I just hope we don’t have to endure what the world witnessed that last time so many became desperate.

FOOTNOTE: Since I wrote this piece both Putin and Trump have began talking about increasing each nation’s nuclear arsenal. From out of nowhere the world is suddenly knocking on the door of another nuclear arms race and the weapons makers are seeing their stock values hit the roof. It’s good to be a war monger!

In an attempt to end on a happier note reading this article I’m reminded of the bit they did on Hee Haw about, Gloom, Despair and Agony On Me!

The Man Who Saved Jimmy Wise

If you read either of the stories I republished yesterday about Greenfield’s USS Arizona survivor, Jim Wise, you’ll understand the significance of this story from Stars and Stripes. It’s the story of two brothers who served on board the Arizona and on December 7, 1941, one lived and the other lost his life.

On its own the story is plenty interesting. But add in one of the brothers mentioning having saved the life of a man from Greenfield, Ohio, it takes on a whole deeper dimension. I don’t know if Jim Wise or his family ever knew who pulled him out of the Arizona but now, 75 years later, they do.

Click button to read Stars & Stripes story about Arizona. 

FOOTNOTE: Jim Wise is not mentioned by name but he was our only person on the Arizona so it has to be him. Also, as of yesterday there were only five remaining survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona.

Update on Welch, WV

A few days ago I wrote a piece about the future of coal in WV and mentioned the community of Welch, WV, the county seat of McDowell County. I know just a little about Welch because of once having some amateur radio friends in the area and by selling the local school system a bunch of computers back in the early 1990s.

The assistant superintendent of schools told me that Welch was one of the most economically depressed areas of WV and a large percentage of the residents were on some sort of welfare or relief. There was so much welfare money coming into the county that K-Mart built a brand new store on the edge of town to keep the money from going to Walmart in neighboring Bluefield and Princeton.

Continue reading Update on Welch, WV

Lots of Hands

hands-across-americaHaving recently written a piece about demonstrations and riots it got me thinking about something the family participated in that was a little more legal and family friendly, the 1986 event called Hands Across America.

On May 25, 1986 we loaded up the station wagon and headed to someplace near London along US 40. There we donated some money to help fight hunger in Africa and joined hands with 6.5 million other people in an unbroken line stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Supposedly there were plenty of hands to make the stretch and together we raised $34 million for charity. I don’t think we came close to ending hunger or solving any world problem. But, we did give our kids a lesson in helping out, introduced them to a major world issue, had a reason to go to the Dairy Queen for a sundae, and make a memory that has lasted for thirty-years.

Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ About Riots

Sitting here reading the bitches and complaints from those who really don’t like it when Americans exercise their rights to protest. My conclusion is that there can be a million person march against racism and if one guy sets fire to a garbage can the bitchers and moaners instantly label the whole event a riot of morons, goons, and unpatriotic thugs.

Anyway it got me thinking about an anti-war protest I took part in back in the 60s. It went without incident but many of the protest marches and demonstrations of that era didn’t. Especially following the killing of four students at Kent State in Ohio. Cal-State Fullerton, where I was just finishing my degree, wasn’t immune from it. Most were peaceful but one, on February 9, 1970, turned ugly.

Continue reading Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ About Riots