Monthly Archives: March 2020

He came from a family of seafaring lawmen in Massachusetts, and a long line of English sailors of the Seven Seas. Nevertheless, David Allen Mather was known as Mysterious Dave, because people weren’t sure if he was a lawman or a killer. Mather was born on August 10, 1851, to Ulysses and Lycia Mather. Mysterious Dave could often be found wearing royal blue and red, as a proud display of his English heritage…even as he got older. Because some of his family members were lawmen in Massachusetts, Mysterious Dave decided that he wanted to become a lawman himself, but he was a small man with square but weak shoulders, dark eyes, and a mustache. Mather was not a talkative man, earning him the nickname of “Mysterious Dave.”

While Mather wanted to be a lawman, he wasn’t always true to his chosen profession. Like so many other lawmen of the Old West, sometimes necessity caused him to operate on both sides of the fence. Sometimes he was on the side of the law, and other times he could be found riding with outlaws. It didn’t instill much confidence in the law. The townspeople might find themselves with out protection, because the local sheriff is part of the gang that is robbing the local bank.

Mather’s parents died before he was 16, so he and his brother, Josiah headed west. By 1873, Mather was cattle rustling in Sharp County, Arkansas. A year later, Mather discovered Dodge City, Kansas, a town he would return to frequently…both as a lawman and an outlaw. He also loved to head into Denver, Colorado, always with twin Colts bulging under his coat, to frequent the saloons there. He was interested in watching the gamblers at the faro, blackjack, and poker tables, but strangely, he never gambled himself.

Mather had made his way to Mobeetie, Texas by 1878, and began hanging out with Wyatt Earp. Before long a suspicious story emerged placing the two men running a con game peddling “gold” bricks to the naïve citizens of Mobeetie. Mather hooked up with outlaw Dutch Henry Born in 1879. Born was the leader of a horse-stealing ring operating in a huge area from Kansas, to eastern Colorado and New Mexico, and the Texas Panhandle. Before long Mather was arrested with Henry Born, but was later released…somehow beating the rap. Next, Mather was picked up for complicity in a train robbery near Las Vegas, New Mexico, but somehow dodged a bullet there too, when he was acquitted. Somehow the people of Las Vegas decided that Mather would make a great Deputy Marshal. Apparently he had mixed emotions on that score, because soon, he became part of the notorious Dodge City Gang that was terrorizing the city of Las Vegas New Mexico. What??? I thought he was supposed to be protecting them!!

On January 22, 1880, T.J. House, James West, John Dorsey, and William Randall terrorizing the town, laughing and looking for trouble. When they entered the Close and Patterson Variety Hall, Marshal Joe Carson asked them to check their guns but they refused. In the ensuing gunfight, Carson was killed immediately, while Deputy “Mysterious” Dave Mather killed Randall and dropped West. John Dorsey, though wounded, and T.J. House managed to escape. The whereabouts of Dorsey and House was learned on February 5. They were at the home of Juan Antonio Dominguez in Buena Vista, thirty miles north of Las Vegas. They formed a posse including J.J. Webb, Dave Rudabaugh, and five other men. They surrounded the home and told the men to surrender. Dorsey and House complied after assurance of protection from the citizens of Las Vegas were given. The assurance wouldn’t mean much, because within hours of the men being placed in the Old Town Jail, local vigilantes charged the jailers, taking the men to the windmill on the Plaza, where they were to be hanged. Mrs Carson opened fire on the men, and the opportunity was lost.

After Marshal Carson’s death, the people decided to appoint Mather as the Las Vegas Marshal, but he couldn’t keep to one side of the law, and soon moved on again after being accused of “promiscuous shooting” in his capacity as marshal. He served a short stint as Assistant Marshal in El Paso, Texas, but an altercation in a brothel caused Mather to be slightly wounded. He decided to return to Dodge City where he was hired as Assistant City Marshal.

By the time Mather returned to Dodge City, gambling, drinking, prostitution, and dance halls, often in open violation of the law, had all but taken over the town. The “Dodge City War” in the spring of 1883 was followed by pressure from the Santa Fe Railroad to clean up the town. David Mather was still at odds with the good people, but accepted the position of Dodge City Assistant Marshal. Before long, he was also the co-owner of the Opera House Saloon on Front Street.

Then a man named Thomas Nixon enter the picture. The city council objected to Mather’s decision to turn the Opera House Saloon into a dance hall and soon passed an ordinance banning all dance houses, mostly because of its prominent downtown location. Still, the council took no action whatsoever against another dance hall owned by Nixon, allegedly because of its remote location. This didn’t set well with Mather, and for several months, he and Nixon battled to put each other out of business. In 1884, the city government replaced Mysterious Dave with Nixon as the Assistant Marshal. With this action, the fight was on. The evening of July 18, 1884 found Nixon firing a gun at Mather, but only sprayed him with a few splinters. Three days later, Mather approached Nixon from behind and fired four bullets into his back, killing him instantly. Mather was later heard to say, “I ought to have killed him six months ago.”

Mather was acquitted of Nixon’s murder, but he killed another man the following year, and was run out of town by Marshal Bill Tilghman. After serving as city marshal in a couple of small towns in Kansas and Nebraska, Mysterious Dave moved on San Francisco, where he took a ship to Vancouver. Some reports say he soon enlisted in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, proving his prowess by showing what he could do with a pair of six guns and a horse. Little is known about what happened to Mysterious Dave after that. I guess he, like old soldiers, old lawmen, they simply fade away.

They say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and never was that more true than for Ralph Teetor. The circumstances of his invention were of overwhelming necessity…to say the least. Teetor was blind, and because of that, he was forced to accept rides to wherever he chose to go. His friend, Harry Lindsay, who didn’t mind driving Teetor around, but who also had a notoriously “jerky accelerator foot.” Teetor couldn’t figure out why, Lindsay couldn’t keep the car at a consistent speed. When you think about it, a car that is being driven in a jerky manner would be a bit scary for a blind passenger, who has no idea why they might be possible stopping suddenly… or even if it just seems like they are stopping suddenly.

For Teetor, the possibility of things changing was impossible. He was not going to magically get his sight back, so something else had to change. Teetor was no stranger to the idea of inventing things. At the age of five, he endured a terrible accident, which left him in his disabled condition. He was incredibly young age, but Teetor refused to allow an accident to keep him from living a full life. At age 12, he was featured in the December 21, 1902 edition of the New York Herald for building a one-cylinder car to scoot around in his neighborhood. Here is how the Herald described him in 1902: “A constructor of miniature dynamos and other machinery at 10 and thoroughly versed in all that pertains to their operation, and at 12 the builder of an automobile that carries him about the streets of his native town and far out upon the country roads at a speed of from 18 to 25 miles an hour, is the remarkable record of Ralph Teetor of Hagerstown, Indiana.”

Teetor set out to solve his problem. He invented what we know today as the automobile cruise control system, which is an outer control loop that “takes over” control of the throttle…a task normally exercised by the driver through the accelerator pedal. Unlike the driver of the vehicle, the cruise control holds the vehicle speed steady at a set value. The invention worked perfectly on the first try, but being a perfectionist, Teetor spent the next decade tinkering with his design. By 1958, he had finally perfected his invention. Nevertheless, Cadillac began rolling it out in all of their cars by 1950. The only part of his invention that Teetor ever struggled with was the name. At first, the invention was known by “a host of names more suited for the Wiley Coyote: Speedostat, Touchomatic, and Auto-pilot.” Eventually, the designers at Chrysler came up with “cruise control.” It wasn’t flashy, but it was also less likely to be mistaken for “a kitchen appliance.” Teetor decided that sacrifices just had to be made sometimes. So now you know that the cruise control…the gas-conserving savior of long-distance drivers everywhere, actually came from one man’s pet peeve. I would imagine that if you were blind, and being thrown around in your seat because you couldn’t drive yourself, you might be pretty grouchy, too.

My aunt, Bonnie McDaniels often reminds me of my mom, Collene Spencer, who is her older sister. I don’t think it was as noticeable when they were younger girls, but later it became very obvious to me, and to many other people in the family. Aunt Bonnie and her siblings have long been close, but these days, their numbers are getting smaller, as more and more of them go home to Heaven. Aunt Bonnie’s husband, Uncle Jack among them. That has been hard on all of us, but especially Aunt Bonnie, who lost the love of her life when he went home. Still, her family is very close, and they are making sure that she has what she needs, and the she is not lonely.

Aunt Bonnie has always been a very hands on mom, grandma, and great grandma, and that has not stopped. Just the other day, my husband, Bob and I ran into Aunt Bonnie with her grandson, Peter, and his daughter at the mall. The smile on Aunt Bonnie’s told me that she was, as always, very excited and happy to be included in her grandchildren’s family. I’m not sure where they were headed in the mall, but due to her great granddaughter’s influence, I’m sure they were planning on some fun activities.

Aunt Bonnie and I have that “hands-on” grandparenting style in common. We wanted nothing more than to spend lots of time with our grandchildren. It is our opinion that kids need their grandparents as much as grandparents need their grandkids, and I know that many grandparents share that view. Aunt Bonnie has the added fun item for kids, of living out in the country. Her place is beautiful, and all of the family members who have been there, would agree. It’s like going out to a park along the river. Summertime at her house is beautiful. I’m so happy that she has such a beautiful sanctuary. I’m sure it is a very relaxing place to be. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Imagine an airplane simply disappearing…without a trace. These days, that scenario seems both far fetched, and yet not so far fetched. After Malaysia Flight 370 went missing and wasn’t found for a long time, the people began to wonder if it had been hijacked and taken to a communist country. Many people are still skeptical concerning the wreckage that was located. Nevertheless, Malaysia Flight 370 was not the first flight to go missing, many planes have gone missing, some never to be seen again. The big shock with the Malaysia flight was that there were so many locators on these planes. We couldn’t figure out how this could happen with so many gadgets to find missing planes.

In years gone by, flight locating equipment was not as readily available. For that reason, planes disappearing was more common. On March 16, 1962, one of the strangest disappearances of modern times occurred. Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 still remains a mystery. It is the worst aviation accident in the Lockheed Constellation series. The strange thing was that there was no reported accident involving the flight, and yet the general belief is the plane was involved in an in-flight explosion. This information came from a potential witness on a civilian tanker. Nevertheless, no wreckage, debris, or bodies were ever found, although the search and rescue efforts of the US military were extensive. The frustration must have massive. Looking…but finding no signs of wreckage.

The biggest reason that the lost flight still remains a mystery, is that without wreckage, there was no way to determine probable cause of the accident. The explosion remains the best cause, but there is a conspiracy theory which insists that sabotage could have been in play. Flight 739, an L-1049 Super Constellation, took off from the Travis Air Force Base on the March 16th and went missing in the area of the Aleutian Islands. The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that, based on the tanker’s observations, Flight 739 probably exploded in-flight, though an exact cause could not be determined without examining the remnants of the aircraft. As of this date, flight 739 remains the worst aviation accident involving the Lockheed Constellation series.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually synonymous with celebrations, parades, green beer at the local pub, and of course the “Wearin’ O The Green,” but this year might be very different. Of course, we all know why that is. The current Coronavirus has found most people taking extraordinary measures to avoid being around large groups of people, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which can have serious symptoms in some patients and rather mild symptoms in others. I think people are trying to do what it takes to be safe.

One of the biggest cancellations is the many Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Most places don’t want more than 50 people…or 25 people…and even 10 people gathering in public places. Many of the bars and restaurants have been closed, so that eliminates Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Of course, schools and day cares, gyms, hotels and travel industries, casinos, movie theaters, churches, and many businesses, are also closed, so people can’t go to those places to celebrate or even to carry on everyday life. Even the traditional dying or the Chicago River to emerald green for Saint Patrick’s Day has been cancelled. There are places that are open, such as stores, hospitals, and doctors offices, but people are asked to avoid them as much as possible. The idea of a sick person being told to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital is a very strange one. In times past, doctors would not diagnose disease over the phone, but now that is the first line of defense. The medical professionals don’t want people who have the disease to come in and infect other people. In fact, people are told to “quarantine or shelter in place” in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Testing sites have even become drive-through…a previously unheard-of idea. All of these things have pushed Saint Patrick’s Day to the background of reality.

Nevertheless, I have seen a number of people who have put their own “Wearin’ O The Green” on line, or on television (for people who are in the news, etc), or just at home with their own families. I realize that this virus has dampened the spirits of many people, but deep down inside, there seems to live a victorious spirit within people. They seem to be refusing to allow this to bring about depression. On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I have seen the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about postponing the Ohio Caucus, while wearing a blue suit, green tie, and green hair dye in his hair. Sure, the best case scenario is to be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in all of it’s traditions, but the reality of the Coronavirus insists that we do things differently this year. I like that so many people have chosen to celebrate in a social-distancing social media kind of way. I’m glad that people still seem to have a sense of humor, amid the panic. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all!!

My nephew, Eric Parmely was raised in a house in Casper, Wyoming, but he hasn’t lived in the city since his marriage to his wife, Ashley, Eric has lived in the country. Ashley was raised in the country, around horses especially, but other farm animals too, and her dream was to raise her children in the country too. As a motorcycle-riding kid, who loved racing and popping wheelies, the idea of Eric, taking care of horses, chickens, goats, pigs, cat, dogs, and dogs, and dogs…surprises me to a degree, but Ashley is an “old hand” at it, and now so is Eric. In fact, Eric is very comfortable in this farm environment he and Ashley have built for themselves and their children. They love farming.

There isn’t a lot Eric can’t handle. He is the first person Ashley calls when she has a car problem, because she has her own “Roadside Assistance” service, and she feels very blessed that he is also a “Looker.” Not many men can fix a flat tire, work in the oilfield, ride a motorcycle and a horse, muck stalls, help with an animal giving birth…all while being a great husband and daddy to his kids, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve.

Much like his mom, Jennifer Parmely, Eric likes the outdoors and even snow. He and Ashley are teaching the kids to ski…mostly cross country skiing, and even little Maeve gets involved, because they have a covered sled for her to ride in, and of course, her big strong daddy is right there to pull her through the snow, while she laughs, wide-eyed and happy. As with her siblings, there will come a day when Maeve will walk on her own two feet, or skis, as the case may be. Nevertheless, all these kids think their daddy hung the moon, because after all, he can “do anything.” Not bad for a city boy!! Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock is one of the happiest people I know. Kellie keeps happiness in her heart, and from there, it explodes into the atmosphere around her. Kellie has always been that way. Her laugh, her smile, her sense of humor, and her unending ability to be pleasantly surprised have made her personality one of bubbly excitement and happiness. Everything about life is exciting to her. I don’t know many people who as adults continue to be excited and amazed at all of God’s creation, but Kellie is just that. She is that person who wakes up and looks at the world, and says, “Wow!!”

Kellie has two pets, who fill her with joy every day…her bird, Peetey, and her dog, Leena. They keep her busy every day too. Peetey loves to sit on her shoulder and listen to her sing, which Kellie loves to do. Kellie is one of the worship leaders at our church, Word Christian Fellowship, but Kellie loves to sing all the time. She has been such a great blessing when she sings at church, and every time I hear, it brings tears to my eyes. Her songs are just so beautiful, and her voice is perfect. She plays piano at her house, and sings worship songs to God as often as she can, then she often posts them on YouTube, so others can enjoy them too. It is in her blood and in her spirit. Leena came into Kellie’s life as a tiny little ball of fur. She has grown some, but not really very much. Leena…a wiggly, happy little pup, has stolen Kellie’s heart…what Peetey left of it anyway!!

Of course, Kellie is all about her family. She loves each and every one of them, but her nephew and her nieces are her very favorite people ever. They love spending time with their Aunt Kellie, and they always have lots of great fun. I think that Kellie just might be everybody’s “favorite aunt,” but to say that might get me in trouble. Nevertheless, I call ’em as I see ’em. Kellie is so much fun to be around, that it’s like having a “friend aunt” or something. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One of the most unique buildings in the United States is the Pentagon. I’m sure that most people think that it was built the way it was to provide a better level of security for the people working within its walls, but that was not the case at all.

The Pentagon was originally planned for a different location, but for reasons unknow, the structure could not be built on that location. The original location was a rather tight space, so in an effort to fit the building in the field that was located between five major roads, the design of an irregular pentagon was chosen. The building couldn’t be very tall due to regulations in the area, and so the design was an almost-level irregular pentagon. Still, the building needed to house 40,000 people and have parking for 10,000 vehicles. That is a very tall order, for a short building. In the end, the planned location, was not allowed, and the Pentagon had to be moved.

Of course, with the location change, it was thought, at first, that the design to be changed too, but everyone involved in the design immediately got mad about the change. The designer had already been paid for his work, and it wasn’t really fair to take the payment back, nor did they want to pay for something they did not use. Finally it was decided to go ahead with the original design, and the result is the well-known, irregular pentagon shape that we are all very familiar with. While the Pentagon is synonymous world-wide with defense, he design had nothing to do with defense at all, but rather it was in an effort to put the building in the space allowed…much like a child putting a square peg in a square hole so that it fits.

The White Rose was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students including Hans and Sophie Scholl. The students attended the University of Munich. Their goal was to promote awareness using an anonymous leaflets and a graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Of course, while the actions were anonymous, the Third Reich had spies everywhere. The activities of The White Rose started in Munich on June 27, 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. The core group, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, were sentenced to death or imprisonment in show trials by the Nazi People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof).

Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were among the members of the core group. They were captured on February 18, 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times, but she was ignored. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak. They had no way to defend themselves, and were found guilty at the “trial.” They were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on February 22, 1943. The group had only been active for eight months, they had never committed a violent act, and yet they were put to death. Hitler’s regime considered them more of a threat for pamphlets and paintings, than if the had run around shooting people.

The group wrote, printed, and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. As the movement grew, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. The White Rose authored a total of six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread. In all, about 15,000 copies were printed. They denounced the Nazi regime’s crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. They openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews, in their second leaflet. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide. Sadly the movement ended almost before it could get started.

When the Civil Engineers build a dam, it is a structure that is expected to last for many years to come. The build dams for recreational purposes, as well as economic purposes. In August of 1924, civil engineers began construction of the Saint Francis Dam. The dam was to be a curved gravity dam located near Los Angeles in the San Francisquito Canyon, close to Santa Clarita. Chief Engineer William Mulholland supervised the project as a part of the Los Angeles aqueduct system.

The construction of the dam was completed on May 6th, 1926. While the dam was very new, it still began to exhibit signs instability and leaks shortly after the work was completed. Apparently, there were a few flaws in the construction of this dam. The problems with the Saint Francis Dam continued until on March 12, 1928 at 11:57pm, the dam suffered a catastrophic failure causing a massive flood with little to no warning for residents in the surrounding area. Many thought that the rumbling from the dam may have been an earthquake, only to find out very quickly that the dam had failed in a catastrophic way. Without warning, the flood water came rushing down the river and into the unsuspecting town.

The resulting flood left between 385 – 430 people dead according to some of the official estimates. In reality, the number may have been higher…possibly over 600 dead. The carnage caused the collapse to be considered one of the worst civil engineering failures in United States history. The flood waters…12 billion gallons strong were initially 140 feet high. Several Southern California towns suffered massive damage due to the collapse including Castaic, Saugus, Santa Paula, Saticoy, and Filmore. It was estimated that 1,200 homes were destroyed with damages in the $7 million range.

Investigations into the collapse found that issues with the dam’s foundation were at fault. It was also later reported that the dam may have been built on the site of an old landslide that could have contributed to the foundation issues. The collapse ended Mulholland’s career, because many people blamed him for the catastrophe, partially because he and his assistant had personally inspected the dam just 12 hours before the failure and had deemed it safe. It was determined that the dam would not be rebuilt, and what was left of the Saint Francis Dam was demolished in May of 1929.

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