David Bowie Confidential – WIF Spotlight

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Obscure Facts

About

David Bowie

David Bowie was a man who lived a life filled to the brim with adventure, mystery, and hair-spray. During his time here on Earth, the Starman accomplished more in a decade of his career than most could in five lifetimes. For this reason, even fans of Bowie aren’t aware of the full scope of the kind of crazy crap he got up to during his half-century-long career.

10. He didn’t know how to pronounce his own name, which he had previously changed twice

Born David Robert Jones, Bowie decided to change his name early in his career to Tom Jones in 1965 to avoid being mistaken for Monkees singer Davy Jones. Just a week after making this decision, Welsh singer Tom Jones released his smash-hit It’s Not Unusual in anticipation of the Carlton dance phenomenon of the ’90s. Annoyed, the young singer changed his name again to David Bowie, after the famous American knife – supposedly because, like him, it had two edges.

The problem was, throughout his entire career Bowie pronounced his last name ‘BOW-ee’, while Jim Bowie, the man the knife is named after, pronounced it ‘BOO-ey’. Something the singer wasn’t aware of until he visited Scotland and heard everyone pronounce it “wrong.” Confused, Bowie came to the conclusion that how his name was pronounced wasn’t as important as people knowing it in the first place.

9. He almost died because he ate nothing but peppers for a month

The album Station to Station is considered one of Bowie’s best. Released in 1976 to rave reviews, Bowie himself remained largely oblivious to the album’s success later in life because he spent much of the recording process blitzed out of his mind on cocaine.

Bowie spent virtually the entire recording process in a state of near-psychosis, surrounding himself with ancient Egyptian artifacts and spending much of his time ranting about witches trying to steal his semen. As a side effect of his cocaine-only diet, Bowie largely lost his appetite and subsisted on nothing but peppers washed down with cold milk. This diet nearly killed the singer, seeing his weight drop to below 100 pounds at one point.

The whole experience shook Bowie, who when asked what he thought of Los Angeles after recording the album there, replied simply, “The f***ing place should be wiped off the face of the earth.” Truer words have never been spoken, Bowie. Truer words.

8. He was voted the best dressed Briton… ever

David Bowie changed his appearance and outfit more times than a indecisive Dark Souls player. He donned everything from suits sharp enough to give a the Statue of David a paper cut to custom made couture dresses, just because he could. In a 2013 poll, Britons recognized Bowie’s commitment to constant reinvention by voting him the best dressed Briton in history.

Bowie managed to walk away with nearly 50% of the vote, beating out everyone from Queen Alexandra to Beau Brummel, aka, the man who invented the suit. It speaks to Bowie’s universal appeal and androgynous appearance that a majority of polled Britons felt that he dressed better than all British royalty as well as the guy who invented the concept of wearing a suit.

7. He’s an integral part of the Metal Gear Solid Universe

David Bowie possessed an uncanny ability to alter his physical form like a lizard-man or, if you prefer, man-lizard. Bowie actually changed the way he looked so much that throughout his career he’s inadvertently styled himself to look like every character in the video game series Metal Gear Solid.

As it turns out, this is no accident, and Bowie is a key part of the Metal Gear universe, with key characters and plot points being named after his various alter-egos and songs. As if this wasn’t overt enough, the character Raiden was described as looking exactly like David Bowie in the novelization of Metal Gear Solid 2, while another character called The Fury quotes Bowie as he flies into space and explodes. If this sounds odd, remember that this is a video game series that suggests its main character invented Mountain Dew, Doritos and Axe body spray.

6. He saved the first music video recorded in space

A few years ago real-life spaceman and all-around badass, Commander Chris Hadfield, recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in space, making it the first music video ever recorded in, well, space. As an aside, has anyone ever noticed that if you type out and say the same word aloud multiple times in a row it starts to sound weird?

Bowie loved the cover and personally thanked Hadfield for singing it, calling it the most moving and beautiful rendition of the song he’d ever heard. The problem was, YouTube kept taking the video down because although Bowie wrote and sang the song, he didn’t own the rights to it. This put YouTube in a unique legal quandary as, although Bowie’s publisher was correct in asserting that it owned the rights to the song, said rights didn’t apply in outer space. And that’s an argument Bowie put forward on Hadfield’s behalf, making him instrumental in making sure the first cover recorded in the upper stratosphere stayed freely available for humanity to enjoy. Speaking of covers…

5. He was annoyed by a Nirvana cover

In 1993 Nirvana covered one of the Bowie’s most famous hits, “The Man Who Sold the World”much to the surprise of the singer who was shocked he was a big enough part of the American musical landscape for Nirvana to even know who he was. After Kurt Cobain passed away, Bowie expressed regret at never being able to pick Cobain’s brain and find out why he chose to cover his song, once saying that simply having the chance to speak to the grunge legend would have been “real cool.”

Although Bowie was ultimately flattered by the cover, he did become somewhat annoyed at its enduring legacy as a “Nirvana song.” Bowie would later note that when he played the song at concerts in the States, younger fans would approach him to talk about how neat it was that he’d covered a Nirvana song. Bowie’s reaction was to call them a “tosser” and tell them to “f**k off.”

4. Christopher Nolan begged him to be Nikola Tesla

David Bowie has had such a commanding screen presence that his cameos often caused the movies he was appearing in to freeze for a moment just to announce that, holy crap, it’s David Bowie. Initially hesitant to appear in movies, Bowie needed to be coaxed into starring in The Prestige by director Christopher Nolan.

According to the director, he never had anyone else but Bowie in mind to play scientist Nikola Tesla, which resulted in him being somewhat upset when Bowie turned the part down. Not willing to take no for an answer, Nolan flew to New York to personally appeal to Bowie, basically begging him to appear in the film. Bowie was swayed by Nolan’s passion and agreed to bless the film with his godly visage.

3. He once played the Elephant Man on Broadway

David Bowie was an astonishingly handsome man, what with his teasing androgynous appearance, cheekbones capable of cutting glass, and soul-piercing stare. Which is why it may surprise you to learn that the Thin White Duke once played a man famous for being so horrendously, upsettlingly ugly he literally earned a living standing completely still and letting people stare at his face: Joseph Merrick, better known by his Wu-Tang name, the Elephant Man.

While little in the way of physical evidence remains of Bowie’s brief tenure as a stage actor, with there only really being promotional photos and publicity stills of Bowie in costume, and a few stray clips here and there, reviews indicate Bowie’s performance was one that cemented his reputation as not just a musician, but a true Renaissance Man who was as comfortable on stage reading lines in a diaper (oh yeah, Bowie’s costume was just a big cotton diaper) as he was playing a guitar. Because apparently just being an internationally recognized sex symbol/rockstar/musical super-genius wasn’t enough for David Bowie.

2. He once finished a set with a lollipop sticking out of his eye

David Bowie’s distinctive, mismatched eyes were a result of a childhood altercation with a friend resulting in his left pupil being permanently dilated. Effectively blind in that eye, Bowie had problems with his peripheral vision, which resulted in him being hit in the eye socket by a lollipop thrown by a fan while performing on stage in Norway in 2004.

The lollipop, which became physically lodged in Bowie’s bad pupil, needed to be forcefully ripped from the singer’s eyeball by a stagehand. An annoyed Bowie chastised the crowd before regaining his composure and joking about how lucky it was that the lollipop hit his bad eye. Bowie then told the crowd he’d punish them by playing an extra long set, presumably featuring the song “The Laughing Gnome” like eight times.

1. He didn’t do any of the contact juggling in Labyrinth

One of Bowie’s most famous film roles is that of Jareth the Goblin King in the film Labyrinth. A question Bowie was asked repeatedly following the release of the film is how long it took him to master contact juggling, a skill Jareth possesses and shows off multiple times throughout the film. Bowie’s response was to laugh and explain that the juggling was actually done by somebody else; specifically, master juggler Michael Moschen.

To achieve the effect that Bowie was able to deftly manipulate a steel ball with his long, slender man-fingers, Moschen hid behind Bowie and put his arms through his Goblin-cape. You know, kind of like what kids do when they’re pretending to be Goro from Mortal Kombat. A testament to Moschen’s skill is that he was able to make an orb of condensed goblin-power dance across his fingertips completely blindIt also speaks to the mystique surrounding Bowie that audiences saw him display a skill nobody had ever seen him talk about or mention before and still assumed it was him, because it does seem like the kind of thing Bowie would be amazing at.


David Bowie Confidential

– WIF Spotlight

You Oughta Be a Picture – WIF @ the Movies

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 True Stories That

Should Be Movies

Reading today’s headlines is undertaken at one’s own peril. The increasingly dire news is filled with a seemingly never-ending glut of brutality, corruption, and disease. Fortunately, there are always the movies to provide a distraction from the wicked, wicked world.

Although the entertainment industry isn’t immune from the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus, sweeping changes are now taking place that includes production safety measures and how movies are being released to the public.

For now, large crowd scenes are gone. The same goes for any steamy sex encounters (unless the actors are already a couple off-screen). However, history remains a valuable goldmine of untold stories that would make great movies — even if they star sock puppets or filmed entirely in clay animation.

10. Un-Brotherly Love

Formed in Manchester in 1991, Oasis would emerge as the kings of Brit-pop (although Blur fans will vehemently disagree) with several chart-topping hits, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” The same relentless drive that propelled the band’s success also nearly ended in fratricide.

Throughout their meteoric career, the brothers Gallagher created a legacy marked by booze, brawls, and belligerent banter that usually involved the C-word. One of the more infamous disputes involved a live performance of MTV Unplugged at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1996. Claiming illness, younger brother Liam pulled out at the last minute only to turn up with ‘refreshments’ in the balcony to heckle his bandmates during the performance.

Although Oasis hasn’t played together in over a decade, rumors have recently swirled of a possible reunion. Music fans probably shouldn’t hold their collective breath. Regardless of whether the lads ever decide to mend old fences, this script has already been written, and you can bet your [bleepin’] arse it’ll be [bleepin’] good theater.

9. Josh Gibson

He was dubbed “The Black Babe Ruth” and widely considered the best player of his generation. However, Negro League star Josh Gibson did something “The Bambino” never achieved: smack a home run out of Yankee Stadium. More impressively, the blast wasn’t even the power-slugger’s most impressive feat.

For baseball fans, stories of Gibson’s diamond heroics abound. Whether or not some of the tales are apocryphal is irrelevant — Josh Gibson possessed the kind of rare talent in which anything seemed possible.

Born in 1911 during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Gibson’s family later relocated to Pittsburgh, where his prodigious baseball skills were honed. The solidly-built catcher spent his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues, Mexican and Caribbean Winter Leagues, starring for elite teams such as the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords over a 17-year career.

Gibson routinely out-performed white opponents in exhibition games throughout the 1930s and ’40s. Baseball historians estimate that he hit more than 800 total home runs that includes crushing a ball 600 feet during a 1941 Winter League game in Puerto Rico.

In 1943, Gibson fell into a coma and was later diagnosed to have a brain tumor. He refused medical treatment and continued playing despite suffering from recurring headaches as his condition grew steadily worse. At the age of 35, Gibson died of a stroke on January 20, 1947 — just three months before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Although Robinson’s historic achievement can never be diminished, most old-timers agree that he wasn’t the best African-American player. That honor goes to Josh Gibson, who would posthumously be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. The Winning Ace

Sgt. Keith Chisholm had already earned ace status (five or more kills) and the Distinguished Flying Medal when fate took a near-fatal turn on October 12, 1941. The Australian fighter pilot was shot down over the English Channel and later taken to a POW camp in Germany. Relying on his wits and sheer determination, he would eventually escape. Twice.

Originally from Petersham, New South Wales, Chisholm had trained as a dentist when war broke out and soon joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was assigned to Squadron 452, the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during World War II. The Spitfire unit featured several other outstanding pilots, including “Paddy” Finucane (more on him later), and became one of the war’s most successful squadrons.

Chisholm was initially held at Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf in Silesia, which is now part of southwestern Poland. The airman managed to escape after swapping identities with another prisoner to join an outside work camp. Although he was later caught, Chisholm pulled the same stunt again. This time it worked.

For nearly three years, Chisholm cleverly evaded the Nazis while also collaborating with the resistance in Poland and France. His schoolboy athleticism also came to the fore during an incident in which the Aussie used a rugby tackle to push an official into the Vistula River. He eventually made his way back to England and later returned to Australia, earning the Military Cross for ‘his dogged persistence and careful planning’ in successfully escaping from the enemy.

7. Dr. Pat

Irish-born athletes have a long, illustrious tradition with the hammer throw, earning gold in five out of the first six Olympiads. According to ancient folklore, the mythological hero, Cú Chulainn, was said to have hurled a chariot wheel great distances. Fittingly, a modern-day legend became the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the Free Irish State at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

In previous years, Irish champions but had been forced to compete for Great Britain or had immigrated to America. But a medical student from County Cork would change that. Although he stood only 5-foot-11, Pat O’Callaghan relied on his explosive power and quick feet to become the best in the world. Four years later, he yearned for another chance at Olympic glory — and would travel 5,000 miles to get it.

The 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles featured plenty of sunshine and glamour at its modern Roman-style Coliseum. Athletes from 37 nations participated in the Summer spectacle while hobnobbing with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and his equally famous actress wife, Mary Pickford. But the real drama would star a shamrock-clad Irish doctor in search of gold.

Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan, the arena’s throwing surface was unusually hard and ill-suited for his long spiked shoes designed for grass. He struggled as a result until a teammate helped him perform minor surgery with a hacksaw and file down the doc’s spikes. Despite trailing throughout the competition, O’Callaghan unleashed an enormous effort on his final throw to grab victory and raise the Tricolour once again.

While in LA, MGM boss Louis B. Meyer offered O’Callaghan the role of “Tarzan” which the good doctor turned down. After all, he had patients to see back home in Ireland. But that didn’t stop “Dr. Pat” from celebrating his well-deserved win in Prohibition America.

As the story goes, O’Callaghan had smuggled a few bottles of poitín (Irish moonshine) in his suitcase for the long voyage ahead. Upon arrival, a customs official had questioned him about the clanking bottles. The fast-thinking Irishman replied, “Medicine. I’m the team doctor.”

6. Golden Eagle

Lilli Henoch didn’t merely win — she dominated. Coming of age in Berlin during the 1920s, she displayed a natural all-around talent in several sports, making her accomplishments even more impressive considering the few opportunities available for female athletes at the time.

Henoch joined the Berlin Sports Club (BSC) in 1919 and wasted no time making an impact. She helped pioneer their women’s athletics program and became the first female to receive the “Golden Eagle” — the prestigious club’s highest award. Between 1922 and 1926, the superstar set five world records in athletics and won ten German championship titles, competing in the shot-put, discus, long jump, and BSC’s 4 x 100-meter relay.

Unfortunately, she was denied competing in the Olympics during her prime because Germany wasn’t allowed to send athletes in 1920 and 1924 as punishment for WWI. She would also be persecuted for being Jewish — a crime that eventually resulted in fatal consequences.

As the Nazi war machine kicked into high gear, Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, and all non-Aryan schools became shuttered. Despite her status as a national icon and well-respected coach, Henoch soon found herself laboring as a harvest worker outside of Berlin. In early fall 1942, she and her mother, Rose, were put in a livestock railcar and deported to Riga, Latvia.

The journey from Berlin lasted three days. Records show them listed as “missing” on September 8, 1942. They were most likely murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and buried in the mass graves outside of Rumbula.

The memory of Lilli Henoch has been honored with various landmarks around Berlin, including a small brass-plated stone known as a Stolperstein (“stumbling block”). The tribute is one of the 60,000 similar engraved memorials placed across 21 countries in Europe that serves as a poignant reminder of Nazi crimes.

5. Spitfire Paddy

As the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, the Allies were in desperate need of courageous pilots and a bit of luck to stop the German onslaught through Europe. The Royal Air Force (RAF) would get both with “Paddy” Finucane (pronounced FIN-NEW-KIN), who quickly emerged as a top ace and eventually became the youngest wing commander in RAF history while flying his shamrock-adorned Spitfire.

Born in Dublin in 1920, Finucane later relocated with his family to London as a teenager. He joined the RAF at the minimum age requirement of 17 and a half and went on to record 32 kills in operations over the English Channel and Nazi-occupied France. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars and the Distinguished Service Order and was personally decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. The Irishman’s story is even more remarkable when considering his father once fought against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Fearless, personable, and good-looking, Finucane became a worldwide celebrity when the war’s outcome still hung in the balance. He even found time for romance and became engaged to an attractive young woman named Jean Woolford, who lived on the same street as the Finucane family. Sadly, the ace pilot’s story and the ‘girl next door’ would end tragically when his Spitfire crashed in the English Channel in 1942 and vanished into the sea. He was only 21.

An outpouring of grief spread across the globe as military personnel, friends, family, and admirers mourned the loss. A gathering of over 2,500 people attended his memorial at Westminster Cathedral, and Finucane’s name was later inscribed among ‘The Few’ on the Battle of Britain Memorial on London’s Embankment.

4. Noir Christmas

The perennial holiday favorite, “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby remains the world’s best-selling single, selling more than 50 million copies. Although the song’s lyrics evoke memories of more innocent and happier times, the popular crooner real life reveals a much different tale replete with gunsels, dames, and dimly lit, smoke-filled rooms.

At the peak of his fame, Crosby was easily one of the most beloved — and well-paid — entertainers in the world. But his wholesome image as a golf-loving, family man stood in stark contrast to a darker side plagued by his addiction to gambling and alcohol.

The dangerous combination would lead to alleged connections to the mafia that required a bailout from his Rat Pack pal, Frank Sinatra. Crosby’s shadowy shenanigans would result in the FBI keeping tabs on him, files that later revealed ties to mobster Bugsy Siegel, and two of Al Capone’s top henchmen, Frank Nitti and Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn.

Following Crosby’s death from a massive heart attack in 1977, the song and dance man’s reputation received another black eye with the release of a tell-all memoir by his oldest son, Gary. The scathing book, Going My Own Way, depicts his father as a physically and psychologically abusive tyrant — the polar opposite of the benevolent priest character that earned the elder Crosby an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1944 film, Going My Way.

3. The Human Howitzer

More than ever, America needs heroes as a reminder of the sacrifice that made the country great. Men such as Al Blozis, an athlete-turned-soldier, who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed 250 pounds of solid muscle. His larger-than-life persona would even warrant three nicknames: “The Human Howitzer,” “Jersey City Giant,” and “Hoya Hercules.”

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Blozis grew up in New Jersey, where he broke 24 high school records in track and field. He later accepted an athletic scholarship to Georgetown University and also starred on the football team while establishing several world records in the shot put.

As the nation’s top thrower, Blozis set his sights on winning gold in the Olympics. Worldwide conflict, however, would lead to the cancellation of both the 1940 and 1944 games. He made several attempts to enlist but was turned away due to height restrictions. Instead, the multi-talented sportsman signed with the Giants and enjoyed immediate success in the NFL as an All-Pro defensive end.

He eventually convinced Army officials to lift their size ban and reported to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. There, the modern-day Hercules added to his legend by tossing a grenade nearly 95 yards. Before shipping out to Europe, Blozis joined his Giant teammates in the 1944 NFL Championship against the Green Bay Packers at the Polo Grounds. It would be the last game he ever played.

The Army assigned him to the 110th Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, near the Vosges Mountains in France’s Alsace region. During an evening snowstorm on January 31, 1945, Lt. Blozis went looking for two soldiers from his platoon after the men had failed to return from a scouting mission earlier in the day. Despite facing a well-entrenched enemy, pitch-black darkness, and freezing conditions, he set out alone to find them. The towering champion never returned and was later declared KIA.

A simple white cross memorializes 1st Lt. Al Blozis at the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint -Avold, France. The serene, lush grounds of Europe’s largest US WWII cemetery sits peacefully in a region now known as the Grand Est (The Big East) — a fitting tribute to a true American hero.

2. Bird is the Word

When news broke in 2009 that former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych had died in a farming accident, the sporting world mourned the loss of one of its most unforgettable characters. His brief, injury-prone career lasted only five years, but his first year in the Bigs is the stuff of legend.

The year is 1976. Rocky tops at the box office. The American bi-centennial is on full display everywhere. And a gawky right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers became an overnight sensation en route to winning Rookie of the Year. His triumphs on the mound and boyish charm made him a massive fan favorite, a budding superstar who freely admitted that if it weren’t for baseball, he’d be pumping gas back home in Northborough, Massachusetts.

With long, shaggy hair, the free-spirited hurler thrilled the Motor City with his quirky on-field theatrics that included talking to the ball during games. During one remarkable stretch, he won back-to-back 11-inning, complete-game victories. Astonishing. He was later named the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game and finished the season 19-9.

In 1977, he started the season strong and appeared poised to continue his success until experiencing the first of several arm injuries. An un-diagnosed tear to his rotator cuff would ultimately derail his promising MLB career that ended in 1980.

Fidrych then retired to Northborough, where he and his wife raised a family on their 107-acre farm. Over the years, he occasionally appeared at old-timers games in Detroit, but preferred his quiet, rural lifestyle and being just another blue-collar worker, husband, and father.

Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball is heavily steeped in nostalgia and enduring memories that slowly fade but manage to endure the test of time. That said, true aficionados will never forget that magical summer of ’76 and still hear the crowd’s echoes, chanting “We Want The Bird, We Want The Bird.”

1. Non Stop Go-Gos

The eponymously titled 2020 documentary, The Go-Gos, explores the rise and fall of the first chart-topping, all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. While informative and engaging, interspersing old footage with recent interviews by all the band members, the presentation is missing a crucial element that only a feature film could properly deliver: drama. And more specifically, the topsy turvy rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll taken by these legendary ladies.

The story opens in the late ’70s in LA, where a teenaged girl named “Dottie Danger” aspires to be a singer in a punk rock band. She later meets a few other like-minded gals and starts gigging in local seedy bars and clubs. While hanging out at the infamous ‘Rock and Roll Denny’s’ on Sunset Blvd., the group settled on the name “The Go-Gos” and soon broke away from their punky persona to a more radio-friendly, power-pop sound.

Belinda Carlisle, having ditched “Dottie” for her real name, now fronted the new lineup, featuring Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, and Charlotte Caffey. After signing to a major record label, the band released their debut album in 1981, Beauty and the Beat. Hit singles followed, including “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” — both smash hits that helped propel the album to number one.

Shortly afterward, the real fireworks began. Fame and boodles of money quickly led to non-stop partying and lurking troubles. While cocaine was clearly the drug of choice for Carlisle and the others, lead guitarist Caffrey developed a crippling heroin addiction. Nonetheless, the band managed to soldier on, selling-out arenas worldwide to frenzied crowds. Along the way, Carlisle also became romantically involved with the LA Dodgers’ first baseman, Mike Marshall. Home run!

But alas, what goes up must come down. The band’s third album, Talk Show, underperformed as the band slowly imploded (aka “creative differences”). By 1985, nasty in-fighting fuelled by jealousy and increased drug abuse eventually took its toll, and the Go-Gos called it quits and went their separate ways.

Carlisle would have a successful solo career despite continually powdering her nose for nearly 30 years. Incredibly, she even took part in a late 1980s anti-drug commercial — which is kinda like a pathological lying narcissist making a public service announcement about the virtues of honesty and humility.

Fortunately, the story does get a Hollywood ending. The group later buried the hatchet and got back together to perform and record new material. Also, Head Over Heels, a musical featuring the songs of the Go-Go’s, enjoyed a recent successful run on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre.


You Oughta Be a Picture

WIF @ the Movies

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

…“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his butt all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road…

Take the High Road | by nixter

Candidate Crippen launches into a spontaneous analogy.

“I had/haven’t seen my cousin Harold for a while, a nasty spoiled city boy who came to visit my family’s house one summer. Now I had a large collection of plastic handmade models, the kind with a thousand little pieces that you glue together. There were nuclear carriers, supersonic jets, and yes, even an old Space Shuttle docking with the ISS (International Space Station) and this shirttail relative wanted to take some home with him. Well I had worked way too hard on this display to break up the collection, so I told him no.

“When it was time for him to leave, while I loaded his suitcases into my dad’s car to take him to the airport, it turns out he loaded programmable firecrackers into many of them and they were blown to bits after he was safely locked inside the car.

“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his ass all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road. He knew the boy’s parents and how they would never believe that their dear little blankety-blank would never do such a thing.

“That very same cousin called me not long ago to apologize, telling me that he appreciated the way we handled the situation and he never did another mean thing the rest of his life.”

“That’s an interesting analogy Mr. Crippen,” the young woman compliments. But did she make the intellectual connection between Harold Ivey and the United Korean Peninsula?

“Thank you and,” Roy stares directly into the biggest camera in the lot, “if you are watching Harold Ivey, you and your family are welcomed to visit me in the White House!”

The captivated sidewalk audience goes wild. Once again his down home style comes in handy, making Freelove’s clichéd rhetoric appear petty and small. He shakes hundreds of hands on the 20 foot walk into Chicago’s first and only gambling establishment.

Francine, who 20 years ago could have been that overly aggressive reporter, could not resist asking, “Was that story for real?”

“Every word,” he shoots back.

All she can do is shake her head, “I love you Roy Crippen.”


THE RETURN TRIP

True Story by Tim Hussey

Episode 174


page 165

A Pessimist’s View of Ancient Legends – WIF Myths and Legends

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Ancient Places

of Legend

That May

Never Existed

History books tell us of ancient places with amazing architecture, and world wonders long past. Archaeological discovery has learned much about the world before us. The idea of many of these locations has inspired imaginations for many years. However, the truth is that history gets distorted over time both through constant re-telling and sometimes through historical records that were actually just fanciful stories written after the fact. Many of the most famous locations may not have existed at all. Many of those that did, were much different than most people usually imagine.

The Holy Bible is a source of stories that Believers will never dismiss as fiction.

10. The Legend of El Dorado Didn’t Start Out About a City

The City of El Dorado, also known as the City of Gold, was popularized in myth. Fairly recently, it was retold in a very shiny and colorful Disney movie. The myth claims that there was a city of gold, told of by the South American natives. Many explorers went searching for it in the hopes of finding amazing riches. However, the original legend was actually about a person, not a city. It morphed into a city that needed to be searched for, because many of the natives were happy to lead the explorers on a wild chase.

The original legend told of an ancient leader who was so rich, that every morning he would be doused in gold dust. Then every evening, he would bathe in sacred waters, washing the dust off again. This was an example of his absolutely ridiculous wealth. However, while the legend is based on this, it isn’t actually true either. Archaeologists have discovered that the original story began because of the Musica people who would perform a similar ritual when anointing a new king. But they certainly weren’t wasting that kind of gold every day. It was for very special occasions.

9. The City of Troy May Not Be At All Like People Think

The City of Troy has captured people’s imaginations ever since The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, there have been very visually stunning movies that have helped rekindle modern interest in the ancient city. Many people assume the city and the famous siege that took place may have been similar to how it was described in Homer’s work, or in the movies. But the issue of Troy is extremely complicated.

To begin with, much of Homer’s original work that would complete the two famous stories is missing, and may never be found. This makes it difficult to understand how much of his work was fact, and how much was fiction. Also, for some time historians weren’t sure the city of Troy existed at all. Now they have found an archaeological site that they believe may contain the city, but that has only made the problem even more complicated. The site has several layers built on top of each other, which means that even if Troy was once there, figuring out which layer was the Troy described in Homer’s epic would be incredibly difficult.

Archaeologists also have good reason to believe at this point that the siege described in Homer’s work actually took place over the course of many years. There also may have actually been more than one siege, of more than one Troy, over the course of history — all on the same spot. For this reason, trying to get a historically accurate picture of Troy may be next to impossible.

8. The Lost City of Atlantis Was Probably a Myth, Or Just a Regular Destroyed Island

The Lost City of Atlantis has been popularized in myth for millennia. The idea of a lost city of prosperous people, who perhaps had interesting knowledge or technology is a fascinating idea. Some myths even go so far as to suggest that the people of Atlantis somehow continued to survive underneath the ocean. Wilder myths even suggest they are responsible for the Bermuda triangle — bringing down anything that gets too close to the truth of their hidden existence.

However, in all likelihood if Atlantis did exist, it was just an ordinary island struck by natural disaster. The first references to such a place were in an allegory by Plato about the suddenness that something could disappear, and about the hubris of not being prepared for danger. Many people are convinced this is the truth, and that there was no Atlantis. But, people often write about what they know. There is evidence that a prosperous island fairly near Plato was swallowed up almost instantly by a volcano, so he could have been making a reference to that event. Either way, there was nothing particularly special about the city Plato was referencing.

7. The Fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon Were Probably Not That Advanced

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the wonders of the ancient world. They also probably never existed at all. Many people have an idea from artwork of a huge city of mostly sandstone, with beautiful terraced gardens throughout, despite being in the middle of the desert. It certainly captures the imagination, but the first references to such a place were not written until hundreds of years after the city of Babylon was gone, greatly calling into doubt their existence.

The site of Babylon was only recently found, and wasn’t exactly where archaeologists expected, either. It turns out it was closer to a neighboring city known as Nineveh. The people of Nineveh had taken over the Babylonian culture through war. But they liked to assimilate the enemies’ names into their own cities, making archaeological identification difficult at first.

Archaeologists have not yet been able to prove the existence of any kind of hanging gardens or super advanced irrigation system. But even if they had, it wouldn’t have been that impressive to begin with. It turns out that the actual site of Babylon is not particularly arid, and would be quite useable for growing vegetation.

6. The Bermuda Triangle Is A Modern Myth, Not An Ancient Danger For Mariners

The Bermuda Triangle is a place that will cause many people to short circuit the logic part of their brain. They’ll start talking about the silliest paranoid conspiracy theories imaginable. Nearly everyone knows a mysterious story or two about the area. While most people would agree it is a natural phenomenon, the average person is convinced that something is going on there.

However, the truth is that there is no such thing as the Bermuda Triangle in the first place. What we mean by this is that there is no map in the world that has ever considered that particular region to be anything special to avoid or not. The entire idea of the triangle was made up by folklore.

Statistics show that there are no more accidents or disappearances of boats and planes in the triangle than anywhere else in the ocean. In other words, you could draw a triangle anywhere in the ocean and you would be just as likely to find a similar set of mysterious disappearances. This is because weather can cause ships and boats to go under, and the ocean is incredibly vast. Any part of the ocean can be dangerous. But there’s no evidence that particular area is any more dangerous than any other.

5. The Garden Of Eden Was Probably Philosophical, Not Physical

The Garden of Eden is a subject that has caused some controversy for many years. Certain Christians are convinced that the Garden of Eden was once a physical location somewhere on the globe, and have done a lot of research to suggest various possible locations. Most of them are somewhere in the Middle East, fairly near the locations mentioned in the early days of the bible.

Interestingly though, the Jewish faith never believed in the Garden of Eden as a physical place to begin with, but as a state of being. When men were first created, in their view, they were in a state of perfect harmony. The sin of man broke that harmony and they were no longer in the Garden of Eden, but harshly viewing the world as it actually was — alone, in the desert to fend for themselves. Many Christian scholars have increasingly taken up a similar viewpoint over the years.

4. The Tower of Babel was Probably Just an Unfinished Building

The legend in the bible says that after the great flood, many people who spoke the same language came together and arrogantly forgot about God. They planned to build a tower to reach the heavens. Partway through their building, God struck them with confusion. Now, they had many languages, and they scattered across the globe. Some people dismiss the entire thing as just a story, and some people have looked for archaeological evidence. The truth is a little more complicated.

There is no evidence to support the biblical story itself. However, there is evidence of a great Ziggurat that could fit the description of the tower that existed in the Babylonian Empire while the Hebrews were their slaves. The Ziggurat was unfinished during that time. Despite being quite grand, multiple attempts had been made to finish it. Some historians believe that the Jewish writers of the time, looking for allegories to teach important lessons, were inspired by the unfinished Ziggurat nearby.

3. Ponce De Leon was Probably Never Actually Searching for a Fountain Of Youth

We already know there was no actual fountain of youth. The idea of a magical fountain that could restore the vitality to anyone who bathed in it is quite ridiculous. However, while no one today really believes the story, some assume that the people of a few hundred years ago would have been stupid enough to believe it.

The legends claim that Ponce De Leon wasted years of his time in Florida searching for this mythical fountain. A fountain, it turned out, that was a trick allegedly played on him by the natives. However, there is no evidence in his writings he was searching for any such thing. The only source for his alleged search was a fanciful account written by a suspect source, trying to gain political favor with his views. It is more than likely the entire legend was a complete fabrication from beginning to end.

2. Jericho Was Probably Just Built on a Fault Line

Many people have heard the story of the fabled Wall of Jericho. Jericho was an ancient city in biblical days, held under siege. God was to help bring down the city, but needed the help of His chosen. The army was to blow their trumpets and march around the city continuously, and He would bring the city walls down for them. After several days, the walls came down, and the people of God were victorious.

Now, while the city of Jericho was real, many historians believe this story was far stranger than many people first realized. The city was actually in an area that would have been prone to earthquake activity. With armies using up nearby waters during a siege, it could increase the risk. Some historians would say that the army got lucky. Or, that someone knew the earthquake activity in the area and hoped to use it to their advantage. Believers would suggest that perhaps God chose that moment to activate an earthquake along that particular fault-line. No one will ever know.

1. Roswell is Really Just Home to an Old, Unused Air Force Base

We know the military presence at Roswell was hardly anything ancient. But with the belief many people have in ancient aliens, and their connection to Area 51 and the US government, it brings the entire thing full circle. Now, we aren’t saying that the town of Roswell, New Mexico doesn’t exist. But we are saying that there is a lot of confusion over what exactly Roswell is. Most people know that it’s the town where there was an alleged crash of a UFO. The Air Force would later claim it was just a weather balloon. Over time, most secret government projects have been associated with Area 51. Somehow the two places — Roswell and Area 51 — have often become conflated in the popular mindset.

While there was an Air Force Base located at Roswell, it has not been functioning for many years now. And it was never used for highly secret projects. In fact, Walker Air Force Base was a fairly generic and unimportant military post. When budget cuts came near the end of Vietnam, it was one of the first bases to close up shop. There’s a museum celebrating the legacy of the base, but what is left now serves commercial purposes. And no, there are no aliens there.


A Pessimist’s View of Ancient Legends

WIF Myth and Legend

Chance Fluke Luck Quirk Random – Historical Coincidences

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Bizarre

Historical

Coincidences

Given how many humans have existed in the world and how many events and incidents, both big and small, happen every day, history is littered with examples of strange coincidences. But the ones we will be looking at today are so unusual that they strain credulity and, should they have come from the pages of a book, they would have been deemed contrived or unbelievable.

10. Poe’s Tale of Cannibalism

At one point, the ship wrecks during a storm and only four men survive and are washed ashore. With no food whatsoever, after a few days they resort to the most drastic solution – cannibalism. They draw straws and the unlucky one is a young man named Richard Parker who is killed and eaten.

At first, this would seem like a straightforward, albeit grisly story. But then we move forward 46 years and something strange happens. In 1884, a yacht called the Mignonette left England headed for Sydney, Australia. Carrying four men, it also shipwrecked and left the seafarers stranded with no food. As a last resort, they also cannibalized one of their own – a 17-year-old named Richard Parker. The only main difference was that the survivors saw no need to draw straws as the real-life Parker had fallen ill after drinking seawater and was considered a goner.

Eerie coincidences aside, the case that followed after the remaining men were rescued and arrested for murder represented a landmark ruling in English law. It stated that necessity does not excuse murder, meaning you cannot kill someone else to save your own life.

9. Where the War Began and Ended

On July 21, 1861, the First Battle of Bull Run marked the first major engagement in the American Civil War. Of course, the war was horrible for many people, but it was a particularly strange inconvenience for one wholesale grocer named Wilmer McLean. He lived on a plantation near Manassas, Virginia, and the Bull Run River passed right through his land. In fact, most of the battle took place on his property and the Confederate leader, General P.G.T. Beauregard even commandeered McLean’s house to use as his headquarters.

Obviously, McLean and his family couldn’t live in the middle of a war so they relocated. A few years later, they were residing in a house near a village called Appomattox Court House. As it happens, that is where the last battle of the Civil War took place. Afterwards, Confederate General Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to Union leader Ulysses S. Grant. And he did it in the parlor of Wilmer McLean’s new home.

The McLeans later moved back to their previous estate and simply abandoned the house in Appomattox County. They also defaulted on the loans they took out to buy it so “Surrender House”, as it came to be known, was confiscated and sold at auction. Today, it operates as a museum and it is a designated National Historical Monument.

As for Wilmer McLean, he liked to say that the Civil War “began in his front yard and ended in his front parlor.”

8. The Curse of Tecumseh

Ever since 1840, American presidents have died according to a pattern which is remarkable enough that people have ascribed it to a curse. Every president who is elected in a year ending in 0 (something which happens every two decades) is fated to die in office.

First was William Henry Harrison. Elected in 1840, he died of pneumonia a month after being sworn in. Then, in 1860 came Abraham Lincoln, and we all know how that ended. In 1880, James Garfield was elected president and he was also assassinated by a man named Charles Guiteau.

William McKinley might have escaped this alleged curse if he stuck at just one term. Alas, in 1900 he was elected president to his second term, and a year later, he was shot and killed by an anarchist. Next up was Warren G. Harding, who suffered a stroke three years after being elected in 1920. Afterwards came Franklin Roosevelt who passed away of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945. While he did die in office, he didn’t actually die during the term which allegedly sealed his fate. And last, but not least, there was JFK, who won the 1960 election and whose assassination is all too well-known.

As you can see, seven presidents followed this extraordinary pattern. Many see it for what it probably is – a series of incredible coincidences, but others claim it is a curse placed originally on William Henry Harrison by Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee people, for the former’s role in Tecumseh’s Rebellion.

Ronald Reagan would have been next in line. He was elected in 1980 and, although someone did try to kill him, he survived his injuries and died of old age decades after he left office. Even if the curse was real, it appears that he broke it.

7. The Church Explosion

At 7:25 p.m., March 1, 1950, the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, exploded due to a natural gas leak ignited by the fire from the furnace. It was a Wednesday and every Wednesday at 7:20 p.m. sharp, the church choir gathered there to practice. People were expecting the worst as they approached the smoking rubble, but it soon became apparent that nobody had been injured in the blast. Even though the choir director was very strict about tardiness, on this particular night, none of the 15 choir members arrived on time.

It wasn’t one single thing that caused the delays, either, but rather a series of minor occurrences that detained each person enough to evade the deadly blast. The reverend and his family, for example, were late because his wife had to iron a dress at the last moment. Two sisters both had car trouble. Two high school girls wanted to finish listening to a radio program, while another student was struggling with her geometry homework. The pianist fell asleep after dinner. A man was late because he wanted to finish writing a letter he kept putting off, while one woman was simply feeling lazy because it was cold outside and her home was warm and cozy.

And so went all the other excuses. Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the circumstances, some people considered it divine intervention.

6. Right Place, Right Time

Joseph Figlock became a hero of Detroit due to a bizarre series of events that happened over the course of a year. One morning in 1937, Figlock was at his job as a street sweeper when he was struck by something that landed on his head and shoulders. That “something” was a baby girl who fell out a four-story window. Because Figlock broke her fall, the infant survived her drop that, otherwise, would have almost surely been fatal.

A year later, the street sweeper was back at his job when he was, again, hit by a falling object. And you guessed it – it was another baby. This time, it was 2-year-old David Thomas who also fell out of his window on the fourth floor. This baby did sustain some injuries but, once more, had escaped certain doom thanks to Joseph Figlock being in the right place, at the right time.

5. Miss Unsinkable

Violet Jessop was born in Argentina to Irish immigrants in 1887. When she turned 21, she found work as a ship stewardess and, in 1911, secured a position aboard the RMS Olympic, the first of the Olympic-class ocean liners built by the White Star Line at the start of the century.

At the time, these were the largest, most luxurious ships in the world. Jessop was probably thrilled with her new job but, pretty soon, she might have reconsidered her fortunes. In September 1911, Jessop was onboard the Olympic when it collided with a warship called the HMS Hawke. The collision wasn’t too bad and the ocean liner managed to make it to port without any fatalities.

This incident didn’t deter Jessop from continuing her career as a stewardess. Although she was content aboard the Olympic, her friends persuaded her that it would make for a much more exciting experience to work aboard the White Star Line’s new ocean liner. After all, this vessel was proclaimed to be “unsinkable” and its name was the Titanic.

You already know how this went down – just four days into its maiden voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. Jessop survived the ordeal as she was lowered down into lifeboat 16 which was later picked up by the RMS Carpathia. She later recalled that, as the boat was being lowered, an officer put a baby in her lap. Later, aboard the Carpathia, a woman leaped at her, snatched the baby and ran. Jessop always assumed that was the mother, but she never saw either one of them again.

Then World War II started and Jessop served as a nurse for the British Red Cross. She worked aboard the Britannic, which was the third and last of the Olympic-class ocean liners and had been repurposed into a hospital ship. In 1916, the vessel suffered damage from a mine explosion and sank in the Aegean Sea. For the third time in five years, Violet Jessop had survived a shipwreck, retroactively earning her the nickname “Miss Unsinkable.”

4. The Opposing Graves

Just outside the Belgian town of Mons sits the St. Symphorien Military Cemetery which serves as the final resting place for over 500 soldiers who died in the First World War.

Many of these men perished in the Battle of Mons which took place on August 23, 1914, and is considered to be the first major action of the British army in the war. One of these men, however, died a little earlier. John Parr was a private who was born in London and lied about his age so he could enlist. He served as a reconnaissance cyclist and scouted the area ahead of his battalion. However, he was gunned down by enemy fire and died on August 21, at only 17 years of age. He is generally considered to be the first British serviceman killed in action during the First World War.

His grave is at St. Symphorien and opposite of it, just a few yards away, is the grave of Private George Ellison. He died years later on November 11, 1918. This date is significant because it is, in fact, the day that Germany and the Allies signed an armistice, bringing an end to the war. George Ellison was killed just 90 minutes before peace was declared, thus giving him the unfortunate distinction of being the last British soldier killed in the war.

These two graves face each other, although this was done completely unintentionally as nobody was aware of their “first” and “last” positions when they were buried.

3. Death at Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam was one of the greatest, most ambitious engineering projects of its day, but it came with a heavy price as a lot of people died during construction.

Exactly how many is a matter of debate. Officially, the death toll was 96, but historians argue that the real number would be much higher because the official version didn’t take into account workers who died off-site of construction-related injuries or illnesses. An inquiry by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased the number to 213 deaths between 1921 and 1935.

The first fatality was a surveyor named John Gregory Tierney who drowned in the Colorado River on December 20, 1921, after he got caught in a flash flood. Technically, another worker named Harold Connelly died first, but his demise was completely unconnected with the project as he drowned in the river when he went swimming.

Here is the truly tragic part – the last fatality registered during construction of the Hoover Dam occurred on December 20, 1935, exactly 14 years to the day after Tierney drowned, when a 25-year-old electrician’s helper plummeted 320 feet from one of the intake towers. That man was Patrick Tierney, the surveyor’s son.

2. The King and His Double

Some say that we all have a doppelganger somewhere in the world, a person who isn’t related to us in any way but they look just like us. King Umberto I of Italy found his doppelganger in 1900 when he went to eat at a little restaurant in Monza. He discovered that the proprietor looked almost exactly like him but, more than that, they had been born on the same day.

At this point, you would think this was more a case of twins separated at birth, but the coincidences did not stop there. Both men had married women named Margherita and had sons named Vittorio. Moreover, the restaurant owner had opened his establishment the day of King Umberto’s coronation.

Shocked to his core by these revelations, the king invited his doppelganger or long-lost twin to an event taking place the next day. Sadly, neither one made it. The next morning, the restaurateur was killed under unexplained conditions. Just hours later, when King Umberto found out about his demise, he was assassinated by an anarchist named Gaetano Bresci.

1. The Writer and the Comet

The life of American writer Mark Twain has been inexorably linked to the passing of Halley’s Comet from beginning to end.

This famous comet visits us every 75 to 76 years. It will next be visible in 2061, but a noteworthy appearance happened in November 1835. Just two weeks after its perihelion (meaning the point of its orbit which is closest to the Sun), Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri. He would go on to adopt the pen name Mark Twain and become America’s most celebrated author.

Throughout his life, Twain took a keen interest in science and he was well-aware of his connection to Halley’s Comet. In the early 20th century, the writer was getting on in years and knew that the end was near. However, he also knew that the comet was due to pass by Earth again soon, and he was convinced that he would not die before that happened. As he put it: “Now there are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”

He could not have been more right. Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, just one day after Halley’s Comet reached its perihelion.


Chance Fluke Luck Quirk Random

Historical Coincidences

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #250

…And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!…

Meanwhile Caption-001“I think you are taking a huge gamble, Lyn. Even if you change the setting from Tallahassee to Timbuktu, someone around here will surely figure it out,” Sara Fenwick warns her partner, who has been researching the possibility of using the death of Laura Bell/Princess Olla as the subject of her next novel.

“A story like this begs to be told, Sara, besides that, it is time I take on a serious subject. And it is also a way to portray a female heroine in a positive light. I want, Constance Caraway – Private Eye, to be the first of a series of crime/mystery books.” Carolyn Hanes has chosen a career path based on the loyalty of her readership. Which is well and good, but she has tackled one sensitive storyline for Constance Caraway’s first-told case. “And just think, Sara, Sherlock Holmes had his Doctor Watson, Constance Caraway has her Fanny Renwick!”

“Yeah, sure, an eccentric photographer with a knack for identifying suspects from witness descriptions and stray hairs.”  Sara has not been wild about her being a rough model for one of Lyn’s main characters. At least in this case, Fanny is not a seamstress. And I was wondering whether the name “Fanny” has anything to do with my bottom.” She twists her torso to view her backside, not quite as firm and high as it once was.

“Oh, sweetie, you know that a good character is really a combination of more than one person. I only give Fanny the best of your ass—ets,” she barbs.

“You and your words! I wish my needles were that sharp!”

Cobblestone (olla)-001

Carolyn Hanes is the daughter of author, Emerson Hough, who wrote many stories about the American West. He was a bit of a crusader in his own right, largely responsible for saving the shrinking buffalo population in Yellowstone National Park. Before dying, while Lyn and Sara were in Europe on holiday, which haunts her to this day, he had planted the seeds of creativity deep inside his precious little girl.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #250


page 235

Ponce, Fink, Bean, Ross, Henry & Pilgrims – WIF Folklore

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Tales From

American Folklore

That Are

Completely Misunderstood

American folklore is a vast treasury of stories and tales which have been passed down through time, often altered in the retelling. Some are based in fact, some were created as fiction and are now accepted as fact, and some are simply tall tales. In some cases, political or personal enemies slandered their contemporaries, and their falsehoods are now accepted as history. In others, the public perceptions created beliefs which are largely unchallenged today, despite their being wrong both then and now.

Some stories became accepted as true because of locations taking financial advantage of them, along the lines of “George Washington Slept Here” signs on old inns and homes, despite the lack of supporting provenance. Others lodge in the consciousness through repetition in film and literature. Here are 10 tales of American folklore which have come to be misunderstood as historical fact, and how they became that way.

10. Betsy Ross and the design of the American flag

Betsy Ross was a seamstress in Philadelphia who legend and folklore assigns the credit for the design and creation of the American flag, consisting of a constellation of stars in a blue field, and 13 alternating red and white stripes. Those who support the belief, which has been widely debunked, have recently used the premise that there exists no proof that she didn’t. They are correct. But there is perhaps less to prove that she did. There is substantial evidence to establish that Betsy sewed flags for the Continental Navy (actually for the Navy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). But the first documented record of her creating what became the Stars and Stripes did not appear until the 1870s, coincident with America’s centennial, when it was reported by her grandson.

That gentlemen, William Canby, presented a paper around the time of the Centennial claiming Betsy had created the American flag. His sources were entirely family oral tradition. Betsy was presented as an example of patriotism and ambition to young girls of the Gilded Age as a result. However, other than the claims of Canby, and the resultant years of the story being repeated ad nauseum, there is no evidence that Betsy Ross created the American flag, and no record of her ever presenting it to George Washington. There is a record of a team of Philadelphia flag-makers presenting him the Union Flag, which contained a Union Jack in the blue field and which Washington raised above his headquarters in Cambridge, but the same record does not mention Ross by name.

9. Ponce de Leon wasn’t seeking a Fountain of Youth

Juan Ponce de Leon is widely believed to have sought in vain for a mythical Fountain of Youth in Florida, which today has many establishments using the legend to attract tourists. But it is only a legend, one in which Native Americans told the Spaniard that the key to immortality and perpetual youth could be found in Bimini. De Leon first came to the Americas as part of the second expedition of Christopher Columbus and by the early 1500s he was Governor of the Spanish settlements in Puerto Rico, acquiring significant wealth through his Royal appointment. Diego Columbus, brother of Christopher, succeeded in deposing him as governor in 1511, and de Leon decided to explore lesser known areas of the Caribbean.

His legal battles with the Columbus brothers and their allies left him with several political enemies, and it was one of these who first linked de Leon with the Fountain of Youth. De Leon made several voyages to the coast of Florida, and charted it as far south as the Keys, finally attempting to establish a permanent settlement there in 1521, after the death of his patron, King Ferdinand. Wounded in battle with natives resenting the Spanish trespass, he traveled to Cuba, where he died. A biography by Gonzalo Fernandez printed in 1535 was the first to claim de Leon had been in search of the Fountain of Youth (as a cure for impotence); later biographers picked up the unverified tale, and the legend was born. Nothing contemporaneous with the life of the explorer mentions either the search or the mythical fountain.

8. The Pilgrims didn’t land at Plymouth Rock

There were many chroniclers of the voyage of the Mayflower and the landing of the Pilgrims both on Cape Cod and later at what became Plymouth Colony, and still later Massachusetts. None of them mentioned landing on a rock. Indeed, it would have been exceedingly strange for an accomplished seaman to choose a rocky outcropping as a place to land a wooden boat laden with passengers in rough weather. The New England coast in December is seldom placid, and the Pilgrims had already landed on other sites, were concerned about the weather, and were in search of a safer location.

Over a century after the landing Plymouth Rock entered the annals of the colony, when a church elder named Thomas Faunce claimed that his father had told him the rock now known as Plymouth Rock was where the colonists first stepped ashore. The story took hold in the settlers’ collective imaginations. By the time of the Revolution it was a symbol of freedom, and a misguided attempt to move it to a place of honor near a liberty pole resulted in its being broken in two. The bottom half of the rock remained in the ground, the top later suffered another accident and was broken in two again. In 1880 what remained of the top was reunited with the bottom (using cement) and 1620 was carved into its face.

7. George Washington didn’t throw a dollar across the Potomac

Many myths exist about George Washington and a few have at least a passing reflection of basis in truth. Throwing a dollar across the Potomac isn’t one of them. The Potomac at Mount Vernon is almost one mile across. The US did mint two silver dollars of differing design in the 1790s, today known as the Flowing Hair and Draped Bust dollars. In Washington’s day they were scarce, and Spanish dollars (the famed Piece of Eight) were still in wide circulation throughout the new nation. Washington didn’t throw one of those across the Potomac either. The story of the cross-river toss was born out of another story, which featured another river and another item thrown.

According to George Washington Parke Custis, Washington’s step-grandson, the river was the Rappahannock, the site the Washington family home near Alexandria, and the item was a rock about the size of a silver dollar. But Custis heard the story from family lore. Charles Wilson Peale also told a story of Washington’s ability to throw an iron bar a prodigious distance, a popular game among young men before the Revolutionary War to test themselves against one another. Washington was also reported to have thrown a rock to the height of Virginia’s Natural Bridge. So, while he never tossed a dollar across the Potomac, he evidently had a throwing arm of considerable strength.

6. John Henry was not a steel driving man, but a composite of several men

John Henry, according to folklore, was a steel-driver drilling holes in rock to fill with explosives, part of the construction of railroads in the Appalachians. His legend is that he raced against a steam driven machine and won, only to collapse and die of exhaustion at his victory. Several locations in America claim to be the site of the race. The Coosa Mountain tunnel in Alabama is one such site. The Lewis Tunnel in Virginia is another. Yet another is the Greenbrier Tunnel near Talcott, West Virginia. Other sites which have been suggested as that of the legendary race between man and machine are Oak Mountain in Alabama, in Kentucky, and even in Jamaica.

John Henry first appeared in song, sung by the men swinging sledge hammers and handling the rods driven into rock. There were several different versions of the song depending on the area of the country but they all shared a central truth. The hard, physical labor of men with no other job prospects was gradually being eliminated by machines. Many of those workers were former slaves, or the sons of former slaves, and they sang of their woes as they worked, as had been done on the plantations of the south before the Civil War. John Henry was a legend they created out of other men they had known, the hardest worker no longer among them.

5. Manhattan was not sold to the Dutch by gullible Native Americans for $24 and change

A longstanding bit of American folklore which has acquired the authority of history is that Dutch settlers, led by the crafty Peter Minuit, purchased Manhattan Island from an Indian tribe for a collection of beads and other trinkets, worth about $24. The story at once displays the duplicity of the European settlers and the trusting nature of the Indians, who from that point on were doomed to continuous fleecing by the onrushing settlement of the whites. The truth of the matter is that the tribe with whom the Dutch negotiated, the Manahatta, didn’t own the land which they sold in the first place. Enterprising Dutch settlers had already established a fur trading and lumber camp on the tip of the island, and along streams to the north.

To protect the fledgling settlements from the depredations of roaming tribes, the Dutch approached the Manahatta, offering to purchase the lands they already occupied. The Indians didn’t live or hunt on the lands, and thus had no objection to taking Dutch goods in exchange for what was already a fait accompli. The actual value of the transaction, in today’s money, was several thousand dollars, which seems low until it is considered that the Indians sold the Dutch land for which they had no claim. Basically the Manahatta carried out the equivalent of selling their neighbor’s house and making off with the profits, leaving the Dutch to deal with an unhappy true owner.

4. The legend of Mike Fink may have been based on the adventures of several men

Mike Fink was a real person who in life and after his death took on the legends and tall tales told of other riverboat men, along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Born in Fort Pitt in 1770, he moved down the Ohio River sometime after the American Revolution and the Indian Wars in the Ohio Country ended. Although he is linked in legend to the Ohio River, there is evidence that he actually operated a freighting business along the Great Miami River of Ohio. There he carried products from the farms of Ohio to Cincinnati, and returned upriver carrying needed merchandise from the wharves of the growing city.

The river towns and frontier settlements were rough and ready places, and stories of Fink, who was well known for his size and prodigious strength, appeared up and down the Ohio, and carried along its many tributaries during his lifetime. Activities of other rivermen and travelers were related in taverns and inns, with his name attached to give them extra flavor. He undoubtedly related more than a few himself. Over time the less admirable facets of his nature made him appear as an undesirable character. When Disney featured him in a film with Davy Crockett during the Crockett craze of the 1950s, Fink was rendered little more than a buffoon. His name is still well-known along both sides of the Ohio, though few could say who he really was.

3. Paul Revere never finished his famous midnight ride to Concord

There were riders from Boston and Charlestown on the Massachusetts roads on the night of April 18 (and into 19), 1775, alerted by the famous signal from Old North Church of two lanterns, warning that the British were coming by sea. The signal was sent by Paul Revere, not to him, before he was carried across the Charles River to mount a horse locally known for its speed. From there, he is known in legend (thanks to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) for alarming “every Middlesex village and farm.” According to Longfellow it was “two by the village clock” when Revere arrived in Concord. But in truth he never made it to Concord at all. The British captured him outside of Lexington, confiscated his horse, and he walked back to the village.

The Sons of Liberty had a well-established chain of riders and church bells to spread the alarms, which had been exercised previously, and when Revere arrived in towns such as Somerset and Medford, the local militia companies sent out riders of their own. It was the sound of the bells spreading the alarm, as well as some gunshots meant to rouse the militia in Lexington, which encouraged the British patrol that captured Revere to confiscate his mount and return to the relative safety of the approaching British column, rather than confront the aroused village on their own. Revere was just one of many riders along the roads that night, several of whom alerted the village of Concord.

2. The Law West of the Pecos, Judge Roy Bean, was hardly a hanging judge

Judge Roy Bean ran a saloon in Val Verde County, near the Rio Grande River in Texas. He gained appointment as the local Justice of the Peace, and hung a sign on his business establishment which read “Law West of the Pecos.” He did have some acquaintance with the law, having been arrested himself for assault, petty theft, public drunkenness, and threatening to kill his wife. After his appointment as a Justice of the Peace was verified by Texas authorities, he used his new status to run a competitor in the saloon business out of town. He based his judicial decisions on a single law book, once letting a murderer free because he “could find no law against killing a Chinaman” in his reference.

Bean became part of the legend of the Old West, known as a hanging judge, in the sense that all who appeared before him as defendants were likely to be found guilty, and likely to receive the maximum punishment allowed. In truth he only ordered two convicted men to be hanged. He usually fined miscreants the amount of money they had on their person at the time of their appearance, which he kept for himself. As a Justice of the Peace he conducted weddings, announcing “May God have mercy on your souls” following the vows. He also granted divorces, though he had no legal authority to do so.

1. Isabella’s jewels didn’t fund the voyage of Columbus, Italian lenders did

Christopher Columbus attempted to obtain funding from several different sources, including the Kings of France and Portugal, before he approached Isabella and Ferdinand with his project. When he did, they at first turned him down. It took nearly two years of persuasion and negotiation for Columbus to obtain the support of the Catholic Monarchs, as they are known today. The longstanding and pervasive myth that Isabella pawned or sold her jewels to fund the voyage is false; the funding came from the royal treasury, which obtained them through loans from numerous sources, including Italian bankers from Genoa and Florence doing business in Seville.

The main source of the loans was the Bank of St. George, based in Genoa, with branches across Europe. The bank was operated by the powerful Genoese Centurione family, rivals of the Medici family. Security for the loans which funded Columbus was speculative, based on the expected riches he would bring back from his voyage. They were serviced, that is the interest on them was paid, through an increase in taxes in Western Spain. Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the New World were paid for in a surprisingly modern way, not by the Queen of Spain pawning her jewelry.


Ponce, Fink, Bean, Ross, Henry & Pilgrims –

WIF Folklore

Time Twisting Tales – WIF Perspective

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Historical Facts

That Will Alter

Your Perception

of Time

The United States remains a young country in relation to the rest of the world, its oldest shrines and historical places but recent stepping stones in the march of time. St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied city on the North American continent, was founded by the Spanish in 1565. That same year a Swiss physician documented an improvement over the writing sticks used since the times of the Roman Empire. Rather than using a lead stick to leave marks on papyrus, Conrad Gesner described the use of graphite encased in wood, making the humble pencil at least as old, and most likely older, than the European settlement of what became the United States. Such overlaps of history abound and many are eye-opening, to say the least.

Most people today would assume that the Japanese company Nintendo is a relatively new business entity, one of the many which were born of the video-gaming age which developed at the end of the twentieth century. In truth, Nintendo was created in Japan in 1889 as a playing card company, the year after the murders attributed to the London serial killer known as Jack the RipperNintendo is thus older than the Panama Canal, through which so many of its consoles and games are shipped to the United States and Europe. The company was born the same year as the Wall Street Journal, which today reports on its business operations, and is older by months than the statehood of both Dakotas, Montana, and Washington. It is also older, by several weeks, than the first coin-operated musical playback machine, known colloquially today as the juke box. Here are some examples of the overlap of historical events which may surprise you.

10. Oxford University in England was created before the emergence of the Aztec Empire in modern Mexico

The Aztec civilization in Mesoamerica, so often referred to as ancient, was about three centuries old when it was encountered by the Spanish explorers and conquistadores. In the early 16th century the Spanish made short work of the thriving civilization, driven by the twin desires of obtaining their gold and silver riches and by converting the natives to Christianity and servitude. By the 1530s the Aztec Empire was all but destroyed, its cities and temples converted by conquest to ruins, and the Spanish Empire was emerging as the world’s most powerful. Growing Spanish wealth and power was viewed with alarm by its European rivals, which rapidly began to find the means to rival the Spanish position in the New World. England, an island nation, became a both military and religious enemy of Catholic Spain.

English scholars were among the world’s leaders of knowledge, many of them having completed their education at Oxford, which had been conducting classes of what was then considered to be higher learning for nearly five centuries by the time Cortes and his followers arrived in Mexico. Oxford first conducted classes in 1096, only thirty years following the Battle of Hastings, one of the seminal events of the history of Britain. Born as a rival, Cambridge University existed before the Spanish conquest of Mexico as well, yet neither English school is as old as Italy’s University of Bologna. By comparison, the oldest university in the United States, Harvard, was started in 1636, well over five centuries after the first classes were conducted at Oxford, but less than a century and a half after the conquest of the Aztec Empire in Mexico.

9. Tiffany & Company is older than the nation of Italy

Italy is, in most American minds, indelibly linked with the ancient world through the ruins of the Roman Empire. Italy is viewed as a romantic destination, for centuries a land of beauty and history thrust like a discarded boot into the blue Mediterranean. While the image is justified, most Americans are astonished to learn that Italy, as a nation, is younger than the United States. In fact, Italy is younger than one of America’s own symbols of luxury and romance, the iconic jeweler Tiffany & Company, long symbolic of style, taste, and little blue boxes famous for their ability to grab the attention of one’s beloved. Less well known is that Tiffany’s was founded not in New York but in Connecticut, and not as a jeweler, but rather as a stationer in 1837. The company moved to New York the following year, and did not become firmly associated with high end jewelry for another fifteen years.

Italy, on the other hand, was a collection of rival principalities, duchies, patron states, Papal States, and other entities, as it had been since before the Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent Congress of Vienna at the time Tiffany’s first opened its doors. Italian history is far too complicated to be described in one or two paragraphs, but the basis of today’s Italian Republic did not emerge until decades (in 1861) after the New York jeweler established its reputation as the world’s final word in the profession. As of 2019, Tiffany’s operates stores in Venice, Florence, Verona, Milan, Bologna, and Rome, all of which were cities in which Italian was spoken, but which were under separate governments, at the time the company was born in the United States.

8. The Titanic sank the same month that Boston’s Fenway Park opened for business

On April 20, 1912, Boston’s mayor, John F. Fitzgerald (known as Honey Fitz around town) arrived at the brand-spanking new Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch inaugurating the park and the 1912 baseball season. Honey Fitz undoubtedly joined in the conversation which dominated the day, not the prospects for the Red Sox’s success that year, but the shocking loss of another brand new feat of construction just days before when RMS Titanic sank. The Boston club prevailed that day over the team from New York known as the Highlanders, though the newspapers paid little heed, concentrating instead on the still evolving lists of the dead and missing from the tragedy at sea.

The Titanic was soon relegated to history. Overshadowed by losses of other liners during the First World War, it was a resurgence of interest after Dr. Robert Ballard’s expedition found the wreck in 1985 that restored its myth in the public imagination. Fenway Park soon developed a mythology of its own, the home of a baseball team forever doomed by the Curse of Babe Ruth until it managed to exorcise its demons in 2004. And Honey Fitz’s name returned to fame decades later, when it was used for the presidential yacht favored by his grandson, President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy was an experienced sailor and the former commander of a US Naval PT boat – PT 109 – lost to the Japanese during World War II. In 2002, Dr. Ballard found the wreckage of that lost vessel as well.

7. The guillotine was still in use when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States

The beheading machine known as the guillotine, long the official means of state executions in France, is often erroneously described as being the invention of Dr. Joseph Guillotin, who was himself sent to meet his maker via its descending blade. Neither is true. Guillotin neither invented the machine nor died on it. As a physician who opposed capital punishment, he nonetheless reluctantly endorsed its use in executions as being the most humane means available at the time, leading to his name being attached to the machine. Its efficiency is undoubted, as demonstrated during the French Revolution when thousands died upon it, often hundreds in a single day. Have the victim lie down, drop the blade, dispose of the headless corpse by rolling it to the side. Over the period of its use for executions, debate over whether the severed head retained consciousness for a time raged, though it was never fully resolved.

The use of the guillotine may be forever linked to the French Revolution, but it completed its purpose far more recently. The death penalty in France was abolished in 1981. In 1977 the machine saw its final use, beheading child killer Hamida Djandoubi in Marseille on September 10. At the time, Han Solo and his compatriots were dispatching Stormtroopers using blasters on movie screens around the world. There is only one documented instance of a guillotine being used in North America, on the island of Sainte Pierre in 1889, though as recently as 1996 it was proposed to augment the electric chair as the means of state sponsored executions in the American state of Georgia. The choice of which device to use was to be left to the condemned, but the matter was never taken up for a vote.

6. The bicycle evolved years after the steam engine revolutionized locomotion

The bicycle is seemingly, at least at its most basic, a simple design for self-propelled travel. In fact, in its earliest forms it was an elongated board with wheels at each end, astride of which the user moved by walking, with each thrust of alternating legs sending person and carriage forward. Braking was by using the feet, sort of like the Flintstones stopping their car. It was decades before the bicycle propelled by pedals and chain evolved. The actual date and inventor is disputed, but the system resembling the modern safety bicycle, with pedals and chain for driving the rear wheel, first appeared with regularity around 1860 in France. Safety brakes and pneumatic tires followed. By the 1890s, bicycling was considered a new sport among the genteel in Europe and America.

Locomotion driven by a steam engine, mechanically far more complex than bicycle propulsion, predated the latter by many years. The use of steam to move road vehicles was under development as early as 1800, and its use on marine vehicles was relatively common by the 1820s. The steam locomotive wasn’t far behind in development and deployment. Steam locomotion developed long before the use of bicycles as transportation was common. In truth, the far more efficient steam turbine was well into development before the safety brake made bicycling relatively safe. Despite the late start, bicycles are, by far, the most common means of conveyance available in the world today, with well over 1 billion having been manufactured, and with more added to the total daily in virtually all of the world’s nations.

5. The first man to achieve powered flight lived to see it accomplished at speeds faster than sound

In December, 1903, Orville Wright, a bicycle mechanic by trade, became the first human being to fly in a powered, heavier than air craft. The flight itself was over a distance of 120 feet, and Orville achieved a speed of about 35 miles per hour (though due to prevailing headwinds, his speed over the ground was only about 7 miles per hour). Over several more flights during the course of the day, Orville and his brother Wilbur finally achieved a distance of over 800 feet, though their speed remained relatively modest. Their experiments that day ended when the aircraft was wrecked by contrary and unpredictable winds with which they had contended all day.

Just less than 44 years later Orville Wright was understandably amazed at the progress made by aviation, which included the airplane being the supreme weapon of war, a miracle of mass transit, a device which was making the world smaller in many ways. In October, 1947, American Chuck Yeager used an airplane which was as much a missile as it was the former and became the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound. Orville had last flown as a pilot in 1918, but his entire life was active in aviation, and he was awestruck that the sound “barrier” had been broken in his lifetime. As a comparison, America first landed on the moon during the summer of 1969. Despite the predictions offered at the time regarding humanity’s future in space, since the Apollo missions no one has ventured further from the earth, and there is little promise one will in the foreseeable future.

4. The last American pensioner from the Civil War died in the 21st century

The American Civil War seems to have occurred in a distant world barely recognizable today, long before cities were linked by highways and when communications were slow and unreliable. In truth, many of the features of modern life were present, albeit in somewhat primitive forms. The telegraph, railroads, scheduled shipping connections, and other links to the present day could be found without much search. Still, the war took place more than a century and a half ago, and any links to it by the end of the 20th century were through books, or museums, or films, or preserved battlefields. Faded sepia toned photographs were thought to be as close as anyone could come to America’s greatest crisis by the time George W. Bush became President of the United States.

It is an indication of how young the United States as a nation is that the last pensioner from the American Civil War died during President Bush’s tenure in the Oval Office. It was 1956 when the last surviving veteran of the Civil War died, but the US government (and several states) continued to pay pensions to the widows of Civil War veterans, including those who married veterans years after the war ended. In the latter half of the 19th century, many young women married widowers whose wives had died, their being a shortage of marriageable young men in America in the aftermath of the war. In 2008, the last eligible widow of a Civil War veteran died. Pensions payable to surviving children and their spouses continued until at least 2017, meaning the United States was continuing to bear costs related to the Civil War over 150 years after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

3. The Indianapolis 500 is older than the 50 star American flag (and the 48 star flag, too)

The annual motor racing event held over the Memorial Day Weekend known as the Indianapolis 500 was first run in 1911, over a racing surface paved with bricks. Ironically, most of the power used for moving and placing the bricks which were the original racing surface came from mules, with more than 300 employed to complete the project. Numerous events took place at the track in the years before the inaugural 500 mile event, including balloon races, motorcycle races, and automobile races of shorter duration. When the first 500 mile race was run in 1911, fans and participants saluted the American flag before the competition was run. Only 46 stars graced the blue field at the time.

Neither New Mexico nor Arizona were then states in the Union. They would be added the following year, leading to the creation of the 48 star flag, which flew over US territory throughout the Second World War. Later that summer of 1912 future actress, comedienne, and producer Lucille Ball was born. Another birthday that year was of John S. McCain Jr, who would rise to the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy. The son of another admiral, who commanded American aviation in the Pacific during the Second World War, he held major commands in the submarine actions against the Japanese which were so crucial in the victory against Japan. He was the father of yet another naval officer, John S. McCain III, a senator and candidate for President of the United States, who hailed from Arizona.

2. Woolly mammoths were still roaming the earth when the pyramids were built at Giza

The ruins at Giza were already ancient when they were discovered – or rather re-discovered – by ancient Roman invaders. Historians debate the impact of the pyramids on those Romans who actually saw them, as well as that on Roman society as a whole, but there is no dispute that the overall influence was substantial. The Romans had no way of dating the structures, nor of understanding their historical or archaeological influence. Nor could they grasp their religious significance. For many Romans, the ancient Egyptians became a culture which was at once legendary, mythological, and of necessity mysterious. Similar sensations were later encountered by those who discovered evidence (or in some cases the continuing existence) of ancient cultures in North America, Mesoamerica, and in the Polynesian Islands of the South Pacific.

One thing the Romans could not possibly have known was that at the time the oldest of the pyramids was built, woolly mammoths still roamed some places on earth. The great mammals, which were the antecedents of the Asian elephants, coexisted with humans for several thousand years, the last fading from earth approximately four millennia ago, at Wrangel Island, in the Arctic. The date of their final demise is several centuries after the construction of the pyramids, and though the Egyptians did not encounter them as they went about their work, the fact that they co-existed on the planet is a matter of archaeological record. Whether efforts to use DNA to reanimate, as it were, the specie will be successful is debatable, but efforts are ongoing to do just that.

1. Americans were on the moon before women in Switzerland were allowed to vote

Americans first landed on the moon in July 1969, completing a challenge thrust upon the nation by President John Kennedy in 1961 in response to Soviet progress in space. The first Americans on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked about their lunar base. So did Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, who followed on Apollo 12. Not until Apollo 15, in the summer of 1971, did the American astronauts do a singularly American thing. They brought a car with them, and cruised about the lunar surface in what NASA named the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Thus astronauts from the United States not only trod upon the lunar surface, they left behind tire tracks, using a vehicle which the astronauts and the public dubbed “moon buggies.”

Just a few short months before Americans drove on the moon, (during which excursions the astronauts routinely ignored speed limits imposed upon them by the sticks in the mud at NASA back on earth) Switzerland, land of chocolate and secret bank accounts, finally gave women the right to vote. An election held in October of that year (on Halloween) was the first time Swiss women were allowed to cast a ballot in federal elections. After the Americans left behind the lunar rovers used on the last three Apollo missions, several of the prototypes were given to museums for public display. After the Swiss election of October 1971, women continued to expand their voting rights and their political power in Switzerland. Americans have yet to return to the moon since Apollo 17 in late 1972. Swiss women have returned to the polls every year since 1971.


Time Twisting Tales –

WIF Perspective

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #74

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #74

…This night, when her husband does tarry in rural Tallahassee, Amanda is thinking the worst…

Back in Quincy, there is a struggle of a different sort; the remnants of two families, one staying the course, the other wondering if it will survive sudden changes.

Phoebe Love’s unconditional love for her husband and her God allows her the freedom to trust that everything is all right.

Amanda Campbell, on the other hand, whose tenuous insecurities dominate her previously ignorant consciousness, worries unnecessarily and labors mightily with a son who will forever test his boundaries. Hosea Campbell is smart, but not in a book taught way.

Hosea Campbell

This night, when her husband does tarry in rural Tallahassee, Amanda is thinking the worst. It does not help that Hosea, after completing his duties at the creamery, specifically milking the many head of Jersey milk cows, he pulls his regular disappearing act. Mother suspects that he is up to no good, but has no good ideas as how to shackle a 16 year old, who dresses in fancy clothes of his own acquire and has friends that are much older. The fact that he smokes cigarettes is not as bothersome as the late hour escapades that leave him reeking of alcohol and in need of a swift kick in the morning for motivation.

And even though Willy is usually fast asleep at eight o’clock in the evening, at least he is there for moral support.

Where could he be?

Wayward worries include bands of marauding blacks, like those that had escaped from Sumter South the day of insurrection, seeking booty from revelers along the road to Tallahassee. The true only between them and the Campbells is that the Campbells were “lucky in Love” so-to-speak.. Those who have not gone north to find employment, lingering aimlessly, are surviving on the leftovers or ill-gotten gains, above the law.lions_tigers_and_bears

Or, perhaps they had a broken wheel on that huge ice wagon. They may be forced to sleep in the middle of nowhere, under the stars, potential prey for lions & tigers & bears. Poor little Alfrey would be a mere appetizer for the hungry beasts. Her precious Alfrey must be in danger.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Image result for danger gif gif

Episode #74


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 215

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 215

…I got a special use permit for the stable, so keep you and “our” horses noses clean…Carbon 14 Coaches-001

“I just talked to Constance and she said that they need 3 convertible carriages for the 28th,” Fanny is speaking to the co-owner of Carbon-14 Coaches, Eddie Dombroski. His footman/cousin Rex is where he always is, with the horses. The two of them have assembled three wagons and six horses, every one of them living the kings’ life behind Worth Moore’s new Near North Chicago Louis Sullivan residence. (The coach house concept is quickly losing its relevance in modern Chicago, with automobile garages replacing the buildings where the horses and carriages used to be kept)

“It’s a good thing we hired some new coachmen – two of them are 70 years old for crying out loud – but this will be like falling off a log for them, they were born in 1880 for crying out loud! They are used to the horse ‘n buggy.  I can’t keep from poking the floorboard for the gas and brake.”

For crying out loud.

“You do not need any accidents, Eddie. I got a special use permit for the stable and out of the ordinary liability insurance, so keep the place and your nose clean.” 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, two of the cows and a goat got through the fence and were walking down the Burlington Northern train tracks on their way to Downers Grove.Well Rex and me jumped on a couple of their hay-burners and went over to round them critters up, which was good because there was a mile long freight train loaded with coal trying to get to the city and the engineer was furious because it takes him 5 miles to get up to speed from a dead stop. But we went over to the General Store and bought him a carton of Camels and a Baby Ruth and he was happy.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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