WABAC to the Super Guppy – WIF Aviation

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“We’re going to see a guppy, Sherman My Boy.”

“My guppy’s name is Clyde.”

“This fish can fly.”


 First Flight of

the Super Guppy


You have to see it…

On August 31, 1965, fans of super-different airplanes could add another oddity to their list when the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy made its first flight.  A bulbous looking whale of an airplane, the Super Guppy was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, an equally goofy looking giant cargo plane.


As stated above, the Super Guppy had been developed from the Pregnant Guppy which in turn was based on the C-97 military cargo plane, itself based on the Boeing 377 airliner which in turn was originally based on the B-29 Superfortress bomber.  (It would appear Boeing got their money’s worth out of the B-29 airframe as it had also been used to develop the B-50 bomber and the KC-97 aerial tanker.)

Only 5 Super Guppies were ever built.  Operated by NASA, their purpose was to move oversized cargo.  Loading was done over the nose which would swing to the side (to port) to reveal the cavernous interior cargo bay.  Later, Airbus bought the rights to the design, and in 1982 and 1983, UTA  Industries built 2 of these balumpus transports for France  (Note: “Balumpus” is an adjective made up especially for this article).

One of these unusual planes is still in service with NASA in El Paso, Texas.  The other 4 that were built are on display in France, Germany, England and Tucson, Arizona.

Powered by 4 turboprop engines and manned by a crew of 4, the Super Guppy could fly at speeds of almost 300 mph for almost 2000 miles.  The giant cargo bay measured 25 x 25 x 111 feet, and total cargo weight was just over 54,000 lbs.

Certainly a special airplane that had been built for special purposes, this curiosity has since been replaced by even larger jet-powered transports.  Still, looking at it, one must wonder how such a bulbous plane was ever able to stay in the air or, for that matter, get off the ground!

WABAC to the Super Guppy

WIF Aviation-001

– WIF Aviation

Historic Moments Caught on Film – Before the Cellphone

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WIF History-001

Famous Moments

Caught on Film

While literally hundreds of millions of miles of film and videotape has been shot over the last century, very little of it provides any impact or lasting memory. However, occasionally a piece of celluloid is produced that captures some significant historical event in real time, creating a type of time capsule that transcends the years.  It may be only a few seconds in length, but it provides us with a glimpse of history in the making, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, most of these events are tragic in nature, but each is important to our understanding of the past and, as such, worth remembering. So here’s our list of the top 10 pieces of celluloid that have made film history.

10. Japanese Surrender Ceremony

In contrast to the fiery spectacular footage of the Battleship Arizonaexploding (which we’ll get to later)—effectively capturing the opening salvoes of America’s involvement in World War II—another far more sedate piece of footage captures the war’s final moment, shot just three years later in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Taken on September 2, 1945 by an unnamed Navy photographer, the footage shows the arrival of representatives of the Japanese military and government onboard the battleship Missouri—then securely anchored in Tokyo Bay—to surrender to the allied powers. Though only a few minutes in length and about as exciting as a high school graduation ceremony, it shows a remarkably anticlimactic ending to the bloodiest war in history, which in itself makes it among the most important pieces of celluloid in history.

What’s especially interesting about it is the contrast between the Japanese and allied representatives. Whereas the Japanese are decked out in their most dazzling formal best—complete with medals, derbies, and tuxedos—the allies are dressed in their everyday uniforms that would be considered too frumpy for a trip to Walmart. Apparently the allies wanted to portray the surrender ceremony as no big deal and to that end managed to keep it about as exciting as macramé. One still gets the chills from watching it, however, especially once one considers the extraordinary historical significance of the moment and how the Japanese managed to somehow look proud even at the moment of their country’s greatest humiliation.

9. Apollo 11 Landing

One might imagine that landing on the moon would make for some spectacular film footage, but one would be wrong. Mounted on the bottom of the descending lunar module, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sat Eagle One down on the surface of the moon that July day in 1969, all one could make out as the vehicle drew close to the surface was a blurry white screen and little else. It’s the narrative that accompanies the footage, however, that makes it exciting.

Having trouble finding a landing spot and only seconds away from having to scrub the landing due to fuel constraints, the voice of the astronauts counting off the remaining distance to the surface is spellbinding—even if one can’t see much. The payoff comes from the cloud of dust and the emerging shadow from the landing pads as the Eagle finally sets down on the lunar surface, marking man’s first physical contact with another planet and making the wait worthwhile. While some might argue that footage of the men actually walking about the surface is more deserving of notice, we submit it was the perilous and historical nature of the descent itself that is the stuff of legend.

8. Hindenburg Explosion

Aviation disasters were rarely caught on film—especially in the early days of flying—but what happened on May 6, 1937 changed all that. As the German dirigible Hindenburg—then making its maiden flight of the 1937 season—approached the mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey, hundreds of spectators and ground crew were astonished to see flame suddenly erupt from just forward of the massive ship’s tail and quickly engulf the entire vessel as its 8 million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen ignited. Within twenty seconds it was all over, with one of the greatest air ships of all time reduced to a fiery tangle of collapsing aluminum girders, and all of it caught on four different cameras—the footage of which is often spliced together to give a sense that it was all part of a single piece of film.

Most imagined at the time that none of the 97 passengers and crew onboard could have survived such a fiery disaster, but remarkably most managed to escape the flames and run to safety as the vessel gently settled to the ground. What makes the footage especially significant, however, is that it records the end of an era in aviation history—the use of dirigibles as passenger carriers. As a result of the disaster, airships were deemed unsafe and overnight an entire industry died—all because of a bit of static electricity and an untimely tear in a hydrogen cell.

7. Patterson Bigfoot Film

Undoubtedly one of the most controversial bits of celluloid in existence is the sixty seconds of footage Roger Patterson (1933-1972) shot of what appears to be a seven-foot-tall hairy primate near Bluff Creek, California on October 20, 1967. The footage, which starts out very shaky because Patterson was initially running towards the creature with the camera on, eventually settles down enough to provide twelve seconds of the most remarkable footage in zoological history.

While other photos and snippets of footage have been made of “Bigfoot” before and since, none are as clear or have been studied as extensively as Patterson’s footage which clearly shows—depending upon one’s predilections—either a “guy in a monkey suit” or a massive primate unknown to science. What’s perhaps most unique about the footage is that it appears the creature has large pendulous breasts—causing some to nickname her “Patty” as a result—which would seem to be a bit of unwieldy over-engineering were one intent upon orchestrating a simple hoax. Additionally, fakes are usually easy to spot, making the fact that the footage is still being hotly debated today a good argument for its authenticity.

6. Iwo Jima Flag Raising

When marines and sailors went about the fairly routine task of raising a flag on the summit of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945, they unwittingly found themselves immortalized—not just for their deeds, but for their excellent sense of timing and composition. In effect, when they raised a second flag over the summit (the first flag raised earlier was considered too small and was replaced by a larger one) they unwittingly became part of one of the most recognized photos in history (or, at very least, of World War II). Unfortunately, three of the men in the photo would be killed in action over the next few days, but the three survivors would go on to become unexpected celebrities for their bit of impromptu flag raising.

The photo, taken by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal (1911-2006), was not without its controversy, however. Later asked if the photo had been staged, Rosenthal—misunderstanding that the query was for the famous shot and not the later group shot around the raised flag—admitted that it had been, diminishing the photo’s pedigree. Fortunately, a film camera set up next to Rosenthal and operated by Marine Corp photographer Bill Genaust (1907-1945) was filming at the same time and from the near identical angle, demonstrating Rosenthal’s photo to have been truly spontaneous, thereby restoring its luster. In any case, the Rosenthal photo and Genaust’s footage are clearly among the most important pieces of visual history ever recorded and deserve to make this list.

5. Ronald Reagan Shooting

As with the Zapruder film (we’ll get to that soon), America almost got to witness the death of a second sitting president when on the morning of March 30, 1981, a gunman by the name of John Hinckley opened fire on newly elected president Ronald Reagan and his entourage as they left the Washington Hilton Hotel. The incident, which was captured by several news cameras but was probably caught best by the crew from ABC, shows Hinckley—in a delusional effort to impress actress Jody Foster—unleashing a volley of shots, most of which managed to find targets including, due to an errant ricochet, the president himself.

Though it was initially believed that the president was not hit, once the motorcade sped away from the scene, Reagan began complaining of chest pains and coughing up blood, the result of taking a single round to the lung. Quickly rushed to George Washington Hospital to undergo emergency surgery, he recovered and returned to full time duties a few weeks later. The same could not be said for his press secretary, James Brady, who received a head wound that left him an invalid for the rest of his life. Hinckley was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity—a verdict that did not sit well with the White House—and he remains alive and well to this day, years after several of his victims had passed on.

4. Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster

When the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1985—killing all seven astronauts onboard—an entire nation was on hand to witness the event, making it one of the few videos of a major event shot live and witnessed by literally hundreds of thousands of people as it happened. What made it even more memorable—aside from the fact that it ended the life of the young and exuberant Christa McAllife (the first teacher in space)—was how unexpected it was. After having watched dozens of rocket and shuttle launches over the previous two decades, people had become complacent about the dangers inherent to launching rockets, but the sudden explosion of Challenger as it arched its way into a perfect Florida sky changed that perception forever.

The cause of the explosion was determined to be a faulty “O” ring design on the solid fuel booster rockets that allowed hot plasma to escape and scorch the massive fuel tank it was attached to. Quickly redesigned, the accident at least had the benefit of making the shuttle safer as a result. Not necessarily a fair trade for the lives of seven astronauts, but at least their families could find some solace in the fact that their deaths were not in vain.

3. Battleship Arizona Explosion

Of all the sights and sounds of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, none are as unforgettable as that of the 30,000 ton battleship Arizona blowing up as a result of a bomb hit in her forward powder magazine. The blast, which killed more than 1,000 men (nearly two thirds of the men onboard her), was somehow captured on 8mm film by an Army doctor visiting a nearby hospital ship, who somehow had the presence of mind to start filming the attack in its earliest moments. Filming a formation of Japanese bombers as they slowly approached battleship row and dropped their deadly ordnance, he somehow managed to capture the precise second the fatal bomb exploded deep within the battleship’s interior.

What the footage shows is a spectacular fireball spewing upwards from the forward area of the ship, incinerating  everything and everyone inside the hull forward of midships and even causing the superstructure itself to rise thirty feet into the air before collapsing into the raging inferno below it. The blast not only killed most of the crew, but also took the lives of both the ship’s captain and an admiral, Isaac C. Kidd. Perhaps one of the most spectacular and violent pieces of film footage ever recorded, it has since been colorized, bringing out more details and making the footage even more horrific, if such were possible. The gutted hulk of the Arizona remains where it sank to this day, serving as a monument to those who died onboard her and reminding everyone of the importance of being prepared.

2. World Trade Center First Aircraft Strike

There are literally thousands of photos and numerous film and videotapes of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, all of which manage to capture the destruction from every conceivable angle. However, there is only one that shows the precise moment the entire nightmare began. In one of those cases of being in exactly the right place at precisely the right time, French cameraman Jules Naudet was filming a group of New York firefighters responding to a car fire as part of a documentary when the men heard the sound of a low flying jet passing overhead.

Realizing that the plane was flying entirely too low over Manhattan, Naudet had the presence of mind to pan his camera in the direction of the airliner just in time to capture it slam into the 94th floor of the north tower at over 400 miles an hour, killing all 92 crew and passengers onboard along with hundreds of people inside the building. The footage was soon being shown around the world and quickly came to be considered one of the most spectacular and historically (as well as forensically) important pieces of footage every shot. Of course, the later second plane strike on the south tower and the collapse of both structures are equally horrific and important, but there was only one bit of film that captured in graphic detail how it all began, making it the premier piece among a sea of 9/11 footage.

1. JFK Assassination

Perhaps the most gruesome piece on this list is that captured by Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (1905-1970) on November 22, 1963. Hoping to get a close-up shot of the President’s motorcade as it wound its way through the Dealey Plaza that afternoon, Zapruder found a concrete pedestal in front of the Schoolbook Depository building from which he would have the perfect angle. What he caught in those 26 seconds of filming proved to be one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as he was cut down by gunfire from the very building behind him, leaving an entire generation scarred by the event, the effects of which continue to linger to this day.

Of course, Zapruder wasn’t the only person to have captured images of the assassination that day, but his is the clearest and most graphic of the bunch. The most horrific frame is frame 313, which actually records the precise second the president is struck in the head—an event which occurred no more than thirty feet away from the man. It also captures the subsequent heartbreaking effort by Jackie Kennedy to crawl out of the car as it speeds away and her being saved from falling off the back of the vehicle by the quick actions of a secret service agent who managed to climb onto the back of the vehicle just in time. Zapruder subsequently sold the rights to the footage to Life Magazine for a purported $150,000—quite a substantial amount at the time—and it has since become enshrined in America’s traumatized collective memory and went on to become the basis for an entire cottage industry of conspiracy theories that have been going strong ever since.

Historic Moments Caught on Film

– Before the Cellphone

The 1st Amusement Park – WABAC to Santa Claus Land

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Let’s visit a theme park that pre-dates Coney island, Disneyland and Six Flags, Sherman MY Boy.”

 Santa Claus Land

The First Theme Park, Open

George the Eagle - Holidog - Safari Sam

George the Eagle – Holidog – Safari Sam

In Need of a diversion

On August 3, 1946, post-war Americans were ready for a good time and were able to find it at the country’s first “theme-park” type of amusement park at Santa Claus Land in southern Indiana.


Come one come all…

Surprisingly, today, the park, which is now known as Holiday World, is not only dedicated to Christmas, as it was originally, but also to the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Halloween!  The name change occurred in 1984 to better reflect the park’s diversity.  Holiday World is constantly being upgraded and just keeps getting better and better.  If you like dogs, the Fourth of July section even has a sub-section called “Holidog’s Fun Town,” a dog-themed kiddie section.  Of course, each section (including “Holidog”) has its own mascot.

With approximately 1 million visitor a year and boasting 51 rides and live entertainment, the 120-acre park also has a water park known as “Splashin’ Safari” where the 2 longest water roller coasters in the world (both over 1,700 feet long) and “Zoombabwe,” the longest enclosed water slide in the world, can be found.

Furthermore, the park’s premier coaster, “The Raven,” is one of the top-ranked wooden roller coasters in the world and has previously been rated #1 in the world for 4 years.  Another wooden coaster, “The Legend,” has been ranked as high as 4th in the world.

In 2004, the park won the prestigious Applause Award, becoming the smallest amusement park to ever win the bi-annual award.

In addition to winning awards for its rides, it has also won awards for its cleanliness.  In fact it won the Cleanest Park Award fifteen times in a row from 2000-2014, an incredible streak!  It has also won the Friendliest Park Award from 1998 through 2008 and then again in 2010 and 2011.

Tickets are relatively affordable, with adults paying just $40.99 and kids $34.99, a bargain if you compare the prize to what a kid’s ticket at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio costs ($54.99)!

Holiday World belongs among the great Midwestern amusement park and is definitely worth considering for a summer outing.

The 1st Amusement Park

WABAC to Santa Claus Land

Castles in America? – WIF Travel

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Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

10 Abandoned and Haunted

American Castles

10. Dundas Castle


Construction of the medieval-style Dundas Castle was begun by Bradford L. Gilbert in Roscoe, New York in 1910 but not completed until 1924. Gilbert built the castle for his wife Anna Maria Dundas, but she never had the opportunity to live in the house. Gilbert died before the castle was completed, and his wife lived the rest of her life in asanatorium.

This magnificent stone castle has remained untouched since 1950, when it last served as a retreat for the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. All of the rooms have deteriorated, although the structure remains intact. Dundas Castle could stand a chance for a complete restoration if it weren’t for one small factor: the castle is reputed to be haunted by Anna. Today Dundas Castle is privately owned and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

9. Wyckoff Castle


Built in 1895, it seemed like Wyckoff Castle was doomed from the start. Its owner, William O. Wyckoff (inventor of the Remington typewriter), died in his sleep from a heart attack the first night he spent in the Victorian-style castle. His wife, Francis, died from cancer one month before he moved in. His only heir, Clarence, didn’t care to live in the house either. Wyckoff Castle sits on a small island near Cape Vincent, New York, by the St. Lawrence River and has remained uninhabited for six decades, the last owners being General Electric.

Evidence has been found within the walls of this beautiful castle to suggest a haunting. The words “Help me” appear on a ceiling in an upper-story room, too high for the average person to reach. Wyckoff Castle has been on and off the market for some time now, but remains abandoned. The windows are bare with no glass in them, and the floors, walls, and ceilings are deteriorating. Maybe you can get a discount?

8. Castle Mont Rouge


Hidden in the forest of Rougemont, North Carolina stands a marble and cinder block castle that looks like a Russian palace complete with copper onion domes and spires. The vision of sculptor Robert Mihaly, Castle Mont Rouge was supposed to be his country studio for creating works of art. Built on a mountain in 2005, the castle wasn’t quite finished when Mihaly’s wife died.

Since its abandonment, Castle Mont Rouge has attracted vandals and homeless people. The castle’s floorboards have rotted away, and many of the upper floor rooms remain unfinished, but there is one main floor room full of books, a bed and a small kitchen. There’s also a spiral staircase and unique crooked windows. It’s rumored that Mihaly’s wife haunts the castle. Mihaly occasionally visits his fairy-tale castle to sculpt, and while the sculptor has attempted to raise funds to restore Castle Mont Rouge he hasn’t succeeded.

7. Hearthstone Castle


Named for its numerous stone fireplaces, Hearthstone Castle was magnificent when it was built in 1897 by E. Starr Sanford. Located in Danbury, Connecticut, the medieval stone castle is now blocked by a wire fence, for the property is in such disrepair it’s considered dangerous by the city of Danbury. Sanford, aportrait photographer, built the castle as a summer home for his family, but they only lived there for five years.

By 1985, Hearthstone Castle became ownerless and started to crumble from top to bottom. The castle looks like it should be haunted considering its present state, and maybe it is: Sanford died in 1917 after an unusual set of circumstances. He went into shock from being on a ship hit by lightning in 1914, which eventually led to his death. Individuals brave enough to venture onto the property claim to see ghostly images of a man running on the ground, as well as a ghost dog.

6. Squire’s Castle


Squire’s Castle in Cleveland, Ohio, was supposed to be a caretaker’s house on the same grounds where a mansion was to be built in the late 1890s. Unfortunately, the mansion planned by Feargus B. Squire never came to fruition. Legend has it that Squire’s wife died alone one night in the caretaker’s house, tripping over a piece of furniture and breaking her neck. Squire sold the building in 1922.

Built of stone with Tudor elements, Squire’s Castle consisted of three floors which are now gone. The exterior of the castle is still beautiful, and it’s been used as a setting for weddings. It is said that Squire’s wife haunts the castle. The castle has been under ownership of the Cleveland Metroparks System since 1925 and is on public park property, so visitors can investigate accessible areas during daylight hours to determine the truth of the ghost for themselves.

5. Sibley Castle


Located about 45 miles northeast of Tucson and nestled in the Gailuro Mountains in Arizona, Sibley Castle was built in 1908 by E. Roy Sibley. In its heyday, the 3,000 foot stone castle contained 20 rooms, complete with oak floors, beautiful windows and ornate furniture. The Sibleys did their share of entertaining there, but moved out in 1910.

The property was sold to Martin Tew, a naturalist and poet. He lived in Sibley Castle as the town of Copper Creek deteriorated due to growing numbers of outlaws and crime, and the mining community was officially deserted and declared a ghost town in 1945. Tew stayed long after everyone else left the town and eventually died in the castle, which he’s said to haunt.

4. Bannerman’s Castle


Bannerman’s Castle was built on the Hudson River in New York City in 1900 by Scottish immigrant Francis Bannerman. Intended to be a warehouse for the businessman’s arsenal of military surplus goods, the castle faced deterioration and destruction due to explosions and fires over the years. A smaller castle served as a private home for Bannerman right next to the warehouse, where the Bannerman family lived until 1940.

The Iroquois who once inhabited the island considered it to be haunted thanks to all the bad luck it had over the last century. There’s also the story of a tugboat captain who died when his boat struck the rocky island where the castle is located, his cries for help ignored by Bannerman. In 1967, the castle was purchased by New York City, and while a trust has been established to preserve the remains of Bannerman Castle it remains abandoned.

3. Franklin Castle


Considered to be he most haunted house in Ohio, Franklin Castle was built on Franklin Boulevard in Cleveland in 1865. Built by Hans Tiedemann, the Queen Anne-style castle consists of four floors and is surrounded by stone walls with one major turret in the front. Gargoyles perch on corners of the roof, and there’s a carriage house on the property. All of Tiedemann’s children, along with his wife and mother, died in the house by 1895, leaving no one to inherit the building or his fortune.

Between 1908 and 1968, Franklin Castle was uninhabited until a man by the name of James Romano bought the castle and moved in with his wife and six children. Romano called in an exorcist, but that didn’t seem to help the castle’s atmosphere. Several more owners eventually sold the property, and fires in 1999 and 2011 destroyed much of the propery. As of 2014, Franklin Castle is being renovated to the tune of $270,000. Whether this renovation project will find owners willing to live and stay in the castle is another question.

2. MacFadden Castle


McFadden Castle in Dansville, New York was built in 1883 as a hydrotherapy spa where sick people could go and seek cures for their ailments. Originally named Jackson Sanatorium, this five-story Victorian style castle was built by James Jackson on the East Hill of Dansville next to a river of mineral-rich water which was believed to have healing properties. The spa closed in 1917 but was reopened in 1929 by magazine publisher Bernard MacFadden, who transformed the property into a hotel, spa and recreational facility. The facility remained in use until 1971, when it closed for good.

The abandoned MacFadden Castle since gained a reputation for being haunted. There’s the story of a teenage boy who died there after falling down an elevator shaft. The building has been vandalized and fires have been started in the basement, although most of the property has remained intact. Some renovation work has been done, with the possibility of the building being transformed into apartments for seniors.

1. Beta Castle


Built in 1904 on the grounds of National Park Seminary school for girls in Forest Glen, Maryland, Beta Castle was a clubhouse for the school’s Pi Beta Nu sorority. Beta Castle resembled a medieval English castle with a large crenelated turret and Gothic windows, and the style was later adapted by many Victorian homes during the early 20th century.

The seminary closed in 1942 and the land and castles are presently owned by the U.S. Army, with the buildings remaining in disrepair. Restoration to the exterior of the historic buildings has taken place sparingly. Beta Castle is reputed to be haunted by soldiers who spent time there when the buildings were used as a rehab center for those wounded on the battlefield during World War II.

Castles in America?


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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 216

…I forgot what I was going to say….

Our story resumes-001

Attorney Moore is ankle deep in horse apples, knee deep in hay and up to his neck in angst.

“Not to worry Worth old boy, Rex has everything under control. I remember when we were kids and I was out visiting his pop’s farm… ”  ____ PLENTY OF TIME FOR WORTH’S MIND TO WANDER____IS THE MILKMAN COMING TODAY?____ I DO LIKE THAT NEW  CARTOON “DENNIS THE MENACE”____HARRY TRUMAN IS DOING A BANG-UP JOB____“... But we went over to the General Store and bought him a carton of Camels and a Baby Ruth and he was happy.”

I forgot what I was going to say.” Eddie is a sidebar waiting to happen. “Didn’t we have something else to tell him Fanny?”

“That Baby Ruth is your favorite candy?” Funny Fanny.

“I favor the maple variety Bun Bar…” Now Worth remembers… “Oh yes, you’ll need a police escort to get into Comiskey Park. It’s over 4 miles on busy streets.”

“Got it covered Worth, my third Cousin Elston from my mother’s side works all the ballgames, he still sneaks me in after the first inning starts. I haven’t been to a game this year, I don’t like cold baseball, but last September I saw them sweep the Bronx Bombers all the way back east.”

“How many cousins do you have Eddie?” Fanny steps in to change the subject.

“Let’s just say the Dombroskis and Baxters got busy after V-J Day.”

Even with a 12 word sentence, Eddie D. can deliver excess information.

***For those keeping score, Eddie has injected 8 cousins to support his many and varied stories. Here in a list in review:

Eddie's Cousins-001

  1. Jimmy from Berwyn with 3 mentions>
  2. Wilfred who invented the rubber band ball board>
  3. Harold owner of White Castle stock>
  4. Johnnie’s son had polio>
  5. Georgie has a car repair shop on Western Ave.>
  6. Hilbert the farmer from Sandwich>
  7. Elston works White Sox games at Comiskey Park>
  8. Rex is one of the drivers & co-owner of C-14>
Now that’s a list!




Episode 216


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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 212

…Attorney Worth has located an abandoned stable on north Dearborn, the actual coach house for a Louis Sullivan designed home…


North Dearborn

Eddie's Cousins-001

Also not very common in the middle of the Twentieth Century is specialized upscale livery by horse drawn carriage. Partially inspired by wife Edie’s insistence that he gives up his Checker Cab days, coupled with the inheritance left behind by his wife’s rich aunt from Jersey, Eddie Dombroski is teaming up with his cousin Rex from Western Springs on the concept of carriage rides in what is considered to be the downtown Chicago’s Loop.

There is a gaping hole in romantic conveyance in the city, in fact there are none at all. The only problem is, that despite his extensive knowledge of the byways and side streets, he has zero experience with Cleveland Bays, those 16-hand mahogany colored beauties that will tow the high-wheeled four person enclosed cabs.

Eddie is coachman to Rex’s footman, though one cannot exist without the other. Edie has broken away from her domestic chains to become the hawker for the fledgling undertaking and the three of them work together.

And seeing as Fanny has parked he fanny at that shyster Moore’s South Loop Hotel, they will be the perfect guinea pigs for this groundbreaking rebirth of a long lost mode of transportation. But he may be switching from the South Side for the North Side. Attorney Worth has located an abandoned stable on north Dearborn, the actual coach house for a Louis Sullivan designed home. After clearing away the legal hindrance to keeping live farm animals, the Floridian decides he likes the home itself and buys it.

“What a wonderful place to start a family,” directing his comment to “we know who”, a “who” that is creeping up on the upper reaches of motherhood – tick-tock, tick-tock.

That puts Fanny to thinking. If he is thinking about children, he must have sexual intimacy on his mind. If he has sex on his mind then he knows that marriage must come first; which is the very same hurdle that Ace and Constance have facing them.

“Let’s get Rex and his horses into the stable first. The 28th is coming up fast and Constance wants us to meet up with Agent Daniels as soon as possible.”

“After the stadium crusade is over, you’ll have to help me furnish the place.”

“I used to have simple tastes!”

To be foretold is to be forewarned. (or something like that)



Episode 212

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Changing the World – From Out of History’s Shadows

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People Who Changed the World

…and you didn’t know it.

Fame is a curious thing. Two people will devote their lives to working toward the same world changing goal, with one gaining global recognition while the other slides into obscurity. So what makes one person famous while the other remains an unknown?

Good PR is often a part of it, of course. Other times people suffer from bad timing, and some are just overlooked by historians and the media for whatever reason, rendering their accomplishments and deeds largely ignored by the general public. So who are these historical “coulda-beens”? Well, it’s funny you should ask…

10. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


When you think “Civil War” you think of names like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but how many have ever heard the name Joshua Chamberlain? Aside from the most ardent civil war buffs, it’s a fair bet that most haven’t heard of the chivalrous professor from a tiny college in Maine who may have been more responsible for saving the Union cause at Gettysburg than any other man. Though lacking any formal military training, Chamberlain was eager to serve and enlisted in 1862.

Made a Colonel and put in command of the 20th Maine Regiment, he found himself anchoring the southern flank of the Union forces arrayed at Gettysburg and was tasked with fending off repeated assaults from General Oates’ 15th Alabama regiment as it tried to seize Little Round Top, a strategic hill overlooking the Union positions to the north. Had it fallen to the rebels, it would have seriously compromised General Meade’s position on Cemetery Ridge and probably forced him to withdraw to less defendable ground.

Through his moxy and unconventional tactics – including ordering a bayonet charge that managed to send the rebels to flight, a tactic which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor – it could be argued Chamberlain did more to save the day than any other officer, yet history has largely forgotten him. He eventually became a General and was even present when Lee surrendered at Appomattox courthouse two years later.

9. Elisha Gray


Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone, but you probably didn’t realize it all came down to his attorney’s punctuality. Had he arrived at the U.S. Patent Office just two hours later, we would be talking aboutElisha Gray being the man behind the squawk box, and Bell would have been just another of a long line of men who missed their chance at fame and fortune.

Both men were working on the telephone at the same time, but Bell was the one with the patent and Gray was the one with the attorney who shouldn’t have stopped for lunch on his way to the patent office. Of course had Gray won the race to the patent office, Bell might well have still achieved a degree of fame. Unlike most inventors, he didn’t concentrate on a single invention but proved to have a wide range of interests that would lead him to develop groundbreaking inventions in the areas of optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and even aeronautics.

8. Kia Silverbrook


People often consider Thomas Edison the most prolific inventor in history, but many would be surprised to know that he is far surpassed for that honor by a man who is still inventing today. Kia Silverbrook is an Australian inventor who started his first company at the age of 19 in 1977, and since then has been inventing all sorts of useful devices, many of which you probably use today without even knowing it. He currently has over 4,600 patents to his name, and almost 10,000 total patents or patent applications registered in the international patent document database.

So what has he designed? Silverbrook has made numerous inventions in the fields of digital music synthesis, digital video, digital printing, computer graphics, liquid crystal displays, robotics, 3D printing, DNA analysis, solar photovoltaics, image processing, microelectromechanical systems, cryptography, nanotechnology, microfluidics, semiconductor fabrication, and integrated circuit architecture to name just a few. It’s okay if you need to take a moment to catch your breath after reading that list, we certainly had to after writing it.

Sure, none of his inventions have been as flashy as Edison’s, but all of them have been essential in creating the high tech revolution we all depend on today, making him perhaps the most obscure influential person in the world.

7. Gustav Whitehead


The Wright Brothers are credited as being the first to flight, but it turns out that may not be entirely accurate. There was another man working on achieving flight at the same time who has been largely forgotten by aviation historians. In 1901 a little known German immigrant by the name of Gustav Whitehead not only demonstrated himself to be a competent glider pilot, but had built a number of small but powerful combustion engines that he used to power an elegant little flying machine he called, simply, Number 21.

Sleek and birdlike, the frail little machine may have actually achieved several minutes of sustained flight on the morning of August 14, 1901 with Whitehead at the controls, according to a handful of witnesses. Unfortunately, no photograph exists of the flight and there was only a single account of the flight recorded in a local Connecticut newspaper. Additionally, being an immigrant who spoke little English and had been known to exaggerate his accomplishments on occasion made it easy to discount his claims, and once the Wright Brothers achieved their success, Whitehead quickly found himself lost in the shuffle.

6. Anton Drexler


Most people assume that Adolf Hitler created the Nazi party back in the 1920s, but that wasn’t the case. The German Workers’ Party (the precursor the National Socialist Party) was actually the creation of Anton Drexler, who founded the party in 1919 during the aftermath of World War I. Hitler, it turns out, was actually an early convert to Drexler’s anti-Semitic, anti-Communist organization. In any case, Hitler’s power of persuasion and oratorical skills so impressed Drexler that he recruited him to be his propaganda chief, a move he would come to regret when within two years his protégé would rise so quickly through the party hierarchy that in July of 1921, Hitler actually displaced Drexler as head of the party and pushed Drexler into the background.

Drexler stayed on as honorary president until 1923, when he left the party for other pursuits. He rejoined the Nazis in 1933 after Hitler came to power, but remained little more than a propaganda tool until his death from natural causes in 1942. The sad thing is that had Drexler remained in charge, it’s unlikely his party would have achieved anything like the success it did under Hitler, and World War II might never have happened. The moral of the story here is that when one creates a monster, they must beware lest that monster turn on them.

5. John Alcock and Arthur Brown


While Charles Lindbergh became the 1920s equivalent of a rock star for his Transatlantic flight in 1927, he was far from the first to make a non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by air. In fact, the feat had actually been accomplished eight years earlier by two British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber. The duo flew the rickety, two-engined plane from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Connemara, Ireland in June of 1919.

The flight, which covered just under 1,900 miles, took 16 hours and ended in a crash landing in a bog, but it demonstrated that Transatlantic flight was possible. The two men received some recognition for the flight afterwards but it was nothing compared to the much more public flight Lindbergh pulled off in 1927. The reason for this is two-fold: first, Alcock and Brown were not performing their feat as part of a contest, but as more of a test flight for the Vickers Aircraft company. And second, they didn’t perform it solo. Additionally, Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris – a much longer and more demanding route – and there was also the added thrill that others had died in the attempt to accomplish the task.

4. Lothar Von Richtofen


The Red Baron, Manfred Von Richtofen, remains the most famous flying ace of World War I. What few people remember, however, is that he had a brother named Lothar who was also a fighter pilot and had a record nearly as impressive. Lothar shot down 40 aircraft, and both took command of the same squadron, making their careers almost a partnership. For some reason, however, Lothar never got the recognition his older brother received despite the fact that he was one of the most efficient and prolific fighter pilots of the war.

Perhaps one reason is that he survived the war, and fighter pilots who die in battle strike a far more romantic image than those who live through the carnage. He also had a pedestrian career after the war, flying passengers and mail between Berlin and Hamburg, which was hardly the sort of death-defying, pulse-pounding profession you’d expect from flying ace. Lothar didn’t outlive his brother by much, perishing in 1922 when the engine on his plane failed. He doesn’t even have a gravesite anymore, as the cemetery he was buried in was leveled after the territory was transferred to Poland after the war.

3. Amy Johnson


Amelia Earhart was the undisputed darling of the press during the 1930s for her long-distance flying records, but she was nearly eclipsed by another female pilot named Amy Johnson. Earhart’s British contemporary and rival set a number of long-distance flying records as well, including becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia – a journey of over 11,000 miles – in 1930. She was setting records before Earhart really got started, and might well have beaten her across the Atlantic and the Pacific, if not for the fact that Earhart received far more financial backing and public support thanks to her marriage to publishing tycoon George Putnam.

When Earhart disappeared over the Pacific in 1937, female aviators largely fell out of the public eye, and Johnson ended up in relative obscurity. In a footnote as tragic as Earhart’s, she also lost her life while flying, this time as ferry pilot for the RAF in World War II. Lost in the fog while ferrying a plane to its base, her aircraft ran out of fuel, forcing her to parachute. Landing in the frigid Thames River, she apparently succumbed to hypothermia and was presumably washed out to sea. Like Earhart, her body was never recovered.

2. Alfred Russel Wallace


While Charles Darwin is credited with being the man behind the Theory of Evolution, it was actually another British naturalist whose theory of natural selection would inspire Darwin’s ground-breaking Origins of the Species. Alfred Wallace was an anthropologist and explorer, as well as a contemporary of Darwin’s, who had written numerous papers on the subject of natural selection, demonstrating that the two men had come up with essentially the same idea independently of each other.

The reason Darwin is so much better known is because he had the good sense to write an entire book about the subject, while Wallace was content to simply publish his ideas as a series of articles in scientific journals. Darwin used a much larger audience and platform to popularize his controversial ideas, while Wallace seemed to have been more interested in continuing his travels and studies on biogeography. These days Darwin gets most of the credit, all because he understood the power of the written word better than Wallace.

1. Philo Farnsworth


Most people can tell you who invented the telephone or the light bulb or the steam engine, but how many people can name the inventor of television? It seems remarkable that one of the paramount features in most people’s lives has such a murky history, but that’s the case with what might be described as one of the most influential and impactful inventions of all-time. Television was really the brain child of a boy genius named Philo Farnsworth, who first demonstrated a crude but working example of what was called an “image dissector”in 1927 at the ripe old age of 21.

That first image was just a straight line, but by 1929 he had improved his basic design enough that he was able to transmit a very blurry image of his wife onto a three inch surface. The reason you’ve probably never heard of him is because he passed on an offer by Westinghouse to buy out his patents and work for them, preferring instead to create his own company. Unable to compete with his much larger rival, he remained a prodigious yet obscure inventor up to the time of his death in 1971.

Changing the World

– From Out of History’s Shadows