When we think of the weapons of warfare, we think of guns, planes, tanks, and such, but there are weapons of warfare that while seemingly far less lethal, are still deadly…in other ways. Economic warfare is something I would never have considered, even though it makes perfect sense. The Germans in World War II thought of every possible weapon, or very close to it. If a nation has no money to bankroll a war, they are very likely going to lose. That was the position that Germany wanted to put Great Britain in during World War II. They decided on an age-old plan…if you’re a criminal that is. Counterfeiting money to tank the economy.
The year was 1942 and for the purpose of artificially causing inflation of the British pound, leading to the economic collapse of the competition, while simultaneously funding some of their own projects, the production of the British “White Notes” was about to start. It would not start in Britain, however. These “White Notes” would be made behind the gates of Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The Germans decided to begin counterfeiting British banknotes. These tactics were considered particularly wrong by the German soldiers themselves, basically sneaky and unprofessional. However, soon after World War II, it became common practice for different countries to counterfeit the currency of their opposition in times of war. Evil knows no bounds.
The first attempt at counterfeiting, known as Operation Andrew, failed because of disagreements between top brass inside of the Nazi Party. Friederich Walter Bernhard Krueger was placed in charge of Germany’s second attempt at counterfeiting British notes. The second operation’s codename was Bernhard because that is what Krueger was called. In preparation for the production, Bernhard assembled a team of about 140 men/prisoners. Some historians have suggested that it was as many as 300. These men were told they would receive better treatment and special perks like radio, newspapers, warm barracks, if they participated in the operation. The men had nothing to lose. All they had to do was counterfeit 400,000 British banknotes a month.
After a year of hard work, and the prisoners finally successfully counterfeited the British White Note. By 1945, conservative estimates figure 70,000,000 notes were printed by the inmates. It was a cache worth upwards of £100,000,000. In order to complete this herculean task, the team of counterfeiters studied vast quantities of authentic White Notes. They broke this massive task up into seven smaller tasks, each one seemingly more difficult than the last. “These tasks included: Discovering secret security marks, Engraving the vignette, Perfecting the paper, Creating identical ink, Solving the serial numbering system, Re-creating the signatures, dates and places of origin, and Printing the notes. The men found no fewer than 150 different security marks hidden on the White Notes. There were intentional minor defects and flaws that the Bank of England incorporated as anti-counterfeiting devices. To make things even harder, these security devices were different for each denomination. Nonetheless, in short order, the counterfeit team produced a plate for each denomination: £5, £10 £20 and £50.” The plan was coming together and soon they were ready to execute it.
The plan was to fly over and drop the counterfeit money from the planes. Once it was laundered and in the hands of the people, they could spend it and because there was no real backing for the money, the economy would tank. The operation went on for a time, but with the late February and early March 1945 advance of the Allied armies, all production of notes at Sachsenhausen ceased. The equipment and supplies were packed and transported, with the prisoners, to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria, arriving on 12 March. They had to hide the evidence. They didn’t give up on the process, however. Shortly afterwards Krüger arranged a transfer of the equipment to the Redl-Zipf series of tunnels so production could be restarted. The order to resume production was soon rescinded, however, and the prisoners were ordered to destroy the cases of money they had with them. The equipment and any money not burned was loaded onto trucks and sunk in the Toplitz and Grundlsee lakes.
On February 15, 1933, following his return from a fishing trip in the Bahamas, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was met by a large crowd of thousands of people. The crown was so excited to see the president, but they soon found themselves in the middle of a terrifying situation. Suddenly, before their eyes shooting began. Giuseppi Zangara, an anarchist gunman opened fire, in an attempt to assassinate President Elect Franklin D Roosevelt. Zangara shouted, “Too many people are starving!” Of course, the driving force behind the attack was the Great Depression. People were starving, jobs had been lost, banks were going under, and true depression had set in. Desperation was the next step.
President Roosevelt had just delivered a speech in Miami’s Bayfront Park from the back seat of his open touring car when Zangara opened fire with six rounds. While Zangara missed the president, five people were hit. One of those hit was the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, who was also in attendance. The mayor received a mortal stomach wound in the attack. While every attempt possible was used to try to save the mayor’s life, he later died of his wounds. Four other bystanders were also wounded. One of them, a woman, is was not expected to recover.
Thousands of people witnessed the shooting, which occurred in a dense crowd at Biscayne park on the Miami water front. The people acted quickly. A woman named Mrs W F Cross, of Miami was the first to seize the assassin’s gun. Zangara was quickly captured after that and people in the crowd began to beat him severely. The men that had tackled the assailant, might have beaten him to death, if Roosevelt had not intervened, telling the crowd to leave justice to the authorities. At police headquarters he was found to be of maniacal anarchistic tendencies. He ranted, “I like Roosevelt, all right, but I don’t like presidents.” President Roosevelt, who had stayed to speak to Mayor Cermak after the speech, immediately got Cermak into the Presidential Limousine and rushed him to the hospital. Cermak told the president that he was glad it was him and not the president. Noble words from a man who was about to die. Mayor Cermak, who did not lose consciousness during any of the time prior to being put on the operating table, was wounded by a single bullet which entered his back just above the right kidney.
For a time there were reports that the gunman might have been a Chicago gangster sent down here to murder Mayor Cermak, but the subsequent developments showed that was not the case. Zangara was initially tried for attempted murder and sentenced to 80 years in prison, but when Mayor Cermak later died of his wounds, Zangara was retried and sentenced to death. Zangara died on the electric chair on March 20, 1933. I find myself amazed that his death came so quickly after his conviction. Most often it takes years to put someone to death. Nevertheless, just over a month later, the execution took place. At least that one time, justice was swift.
Let’s face it. This past year has been…the worst. The closures, job losses, and personal losses; many of which are still going on a year later, have made us all edgy, irritable, and even depressed. Many people are still in a place where social distancing is the norm. For my family, Thanksgiving was cancelled, because my husband, Bob and I had Covid-19. Then Christmas was delayed 24 days, because my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin had Covid-19. Kevin got it the worst, as his system is compromised, but after a week in the hospital, he is home and doing very well. We lost out on so much in 2020, and now we are back to almost normal.
Valentine’s Day is a little bit different holiday, since it is mostly about couples, but since Bob and I prefer not to go to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, because of the crowds, we are going to be staying home, but its not going to be just us. This year, our family is a little bit battered, because we have lost one of the members of the couples…my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg. That leaves her husband, my brother-in-law, Ron and their son, Tucker in a very different place than they expected. We decided to ease them into the coming year, that will be inevitably hard, by having a small group Valentine’s Day gathering. There will be five of us, Bob, Ron, Tucker, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, and me. Unfortunately, it will be a sad time, because Rachel won’t be with us, but the reality is that it’s about love, and we love Ron and Tucker. We want to help them move forward, and I know that Rachel would be pleased that her guys aren’t alone on this difficult day. We aren’t the only family that is living with battle scars. There are so many families that have lost someone or have someone in the hospital. There are many people who cannot be with their loved ones today. Some have to work, and some live far away too. There are some in my family in that place, and while that feels sad for some of us, they are in the place they need to be.
Today is not supposed to be a sad day, but sometimes that is just the way it is. Nevertheless, we also have reasons to be happy. Family, friends, hope, and love, are all a part of our futures now too. Rachel is in Heaven, but she, along with all of our other loved ones are happy, and they are in our future now. This is a day to rejoice too. There are blessings that come with this day. Wedding anniversaries, like that of my niece Lindsay Moore and her husband Shannon, who’s daughter Hallie was born and went to Heaven on December 19, 2020 can be sad, but they are still celebrating, because they have been together for 7 years now and they will see Hallie Joy again soon. She lives in their future now, not their past. It’s about love, and Hallie would want them to go forward. For me, the main this is that we never forget those we love.
Of course, many of us celebrate this day because we love our own sweethearts. We are all blessed with loved ones, partners, spouses, or other family members. There is really no greater emotion than love. I don’t know how any of us would survive without it. This world can be cruel, and it is love that balances it out for us. So today, we celebrate, even if life has left us a little sad. Because, it is really all about love.
With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just behind us…he was born on February 12, 1809. Most of us know that Lincoln had no formal education. We know that he gave amazing speeches and that he freed the slaves. We also know that he was assassinated, but there are a number of other Lincoln Facts that I didn’t know, and maybe you didn’t either. One sad fact is that Lincoln lost his mother at the tender age of 9 years old, when she drank poison milk. She wasn’t poisoned, but it turns out that many people died of a strange “milk sickness” that was caused by a cow eating a “poisonous to humans” plant called White Snakeroot. I’m sure it was a horrible time for Lincoln, but his father remarried, and the widow, Sarah Bush Johnston was a kind woman, who got along well with her step-son.
At the age of 21, Abraham Lincoln became a champion wrestler. I don’t know how he would have fared in WWE, but then that is a lot of drama and show too. Nevertheless, he wrestled in approximately 300 matches, and only lost once. It is thought that his long legs helped him lock his opponent down. Lincoln reportedly talked a little smack in the ring too. According to Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, “Honest Abe once challenged an entire crowd of onlookers after dispatching an opponent: ‘I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.’ There were no takers.” Lincoln’s grappling exploits earned him an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lincoln is also the only president to have personally test-fired rifles outside the White House, including one by my ancestor, Christopher Spencer who was the inventor of the Spencer Repeating Rifle. When Spencer signed his new rifle up for adoption right after the Civil War broke out, it was not well received by the Department of War Ordnance, that felt soldiers would waste ammunition by firing too rapidly with repeating rifles. The unit was also more expensive than Springfield Model 1861 rifled musket in use at the time. Nevertheless, shortly after the famous Battle of Gettysburg, Spencer was able to gain an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, who invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of the weapon on the lawn of the White House. President Lincoln was so impressed with the weapon that he ordered General James Wolfe Ripley to adopt it for production. Unfortunately, Ripley disobeyed the order and continued to use the old single-shooters.
President Lincoln is also responsible for the safety of the presidents that followed him. Yes, there were failures, but without Lincoln’s decision to create the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, just hours before he was assassinated, many presidents in the future would not have had the quality of protection they did. The Secret Service did protect President Lincoln after his death, when grave robbers attempted to steal his body and hold it for a ransom of $200,000 and the release of one of their gang from prison. Their attempt was foiled by the Secret Service that President Lincoln had initiated.
When you think of Big Ben, many of us think of a tower in London…or at least I did. The reality is that Big Ben isn’t the tower at all…it’s the bell. The tower is actually called the Elizabeth Tower…at least since 2012 when it was renamed that in honor of the current Queen Elizabeth. Prior to 2012, the tower was just called “the clock tower.” That was it’s official name, but it was nicknamed Saint Stephen’s tower. It’s funny that we can associate a specific name or idea to something, and have the whole thing totally wrong. The tower name is an interesting story, but that is not the only oddity when it comes to Big Ben.
As interesting as that was to me, I find it even more interesting to find out that there is actually a prison in the tower. A third of the way, or 114 steps up inside the tower is the Prison Room, where MPs in breach of codes of conduct were imprisoned. The prison room was last used in 1880 when newly elected MP Charles Bradlaugh, who was an atheist, refused to swear allegiance to Queen Victoria on the Bible. He was kept in the prison room overnight. These days there is a pub named after him in Northampton. I’m not sure how many more people were imprisoned there, but it is certainly a strange use for a clock tower.
There are 334 steps over 11 floors up to the belfry…399 up to the lantern of the Elizabeth Tower. Each clock face measures 23 feet in diameter. The minute hand on each clock face is 14 feet long, and the hour hand is 9 feet long. The main bell weighs 13.7 tons and is 9 feet in diameter. There are four quarter bells that are smaller. These have different dimensions to enable them to hit different notes. At the top of the tower is an extra light called the Ayrton Light. It was installed so Queen Victoria could see when the members of parliament were sitting after hours.
The current bell is not the original bell. The original bell was famously cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The contract to create the bell went to a company called Warners of Norton in Stockton-on-Tees. A 16.5 ton bell was created and delivered to London before the clock tower was ready. For several months, the bell was tested outside the tower. It was working fine until the man who designed it, Edmund Beckett Denison, decided he wanted it louder so added a much larger hammer. Three weeks later the bell broke. It was sent to Whitechapel Bell Foundry in pieces and melted down to create the new 13.5 ton bell. Once complete, it took 32 hours to winch it up the tower. Just two months after the bell named Big Ben first went into service in 1859, it was cracked. The hammer that was installed to ring the bell was roughly twice the size it should have been for a bell of that size. Nevertheless, the damage was done. The bell remains flawed to this day. A lighter hammer was fitted, and the bell was rotated slightly so that the hammer no longer hits the cracked section. The clock uses penny weights to keep the time accurate.
I have been to and inside the Statue of Liberty, and it is a place I’ll never forget. I was a teenager at the time, but I can still vividly picture the inside, as well as the outside. I think the thing that most stuck in my head is that to go up into the statue was a rather tight corridor. The arm was closed when we were there, but we didn’t really know why. For a time, especially after 9-11, no one was allowed to go into the Statue of Liberty at all, for fear of another terrorist attack.
Prior to the 9-11 concerns, the Statue of Liberty was examined by French and American engineers for structural stability in 1982, as part of the planning for its centennial in 1986. Following the examination, it was announced that the statue was in need of considerable restoration. Careful examination had revealed that the right arm had been improperly attached to the main structure. It was swaying more and more when strong winds blew and there was a significant risk of structural failure. This is information that I’m thankful I didn’t have when I went up into the statue in 1973. I recall being disappointed that we couldn’t go up in the arm then, but apparently they knew of the issues even then. Of further concern, the head had been installed 2 feet off center, and one of the rays was wearing a hole in the right arm when the statue moved in the wind. All the problems warranted the repairs done in 1984. She also got a nose job and her arm was shifted slightly to a better position. This information, though not well know, was really bad news, when you think about it. The statue had been standing in this place for 96 years by the time these flaws were discovered. Imagine what could have happened, especially with the arm improperly installed. The armature structure was badly corroded, and about two percent of the exterior plates needed to be replaced. Although problems with the armature had been recognized as early as 1936, when cast iron replacements for some of the bars had been installed, much of the corrosion had been hidden by layers of paint applied over the years. The whole statue was literally a ticking time bomb. Following the repairs, the statue would be much safer and could again be used, but that was not the end of her secrets.
Most people think that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the nation of France, and while it did come from France, it was actually partly a gift from the manufacturer in France (not the French nation). on top of that, Americans had to pay for the pedestal and partly contributed to the cost of the statue itself. Fundraisers were held in Boston and Philadelphia, in order to win the right to have the statue, but in the end, it went to New York. I’m sure many people who helped with the fundraising were very disappointed. This was another secret of the Statue of Liberty that I did not know.
My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a woman with a sweet, loving spirit. Many times, the youngest child is the most spoiled, but while Allyn received the least amount of discipline, it was not because she was spoiled. Our mom, Collene Spencer told us once that the reason Allyn got less spankings was because her spirit was just so grieved by a simple tongue lashing, even a couple of disciplinary words…that mom didn’t have the heart to spank her much. If Mom told her something as simple as “that was naughty,” Allyn was heartbroken. She felt so awful…about so small a transgression. Oh, to have that kind of a gentle spirit…that kind of a heart for God and doing what is right.
That spirit has never left Allyn. She is such a giver. She wants to do anything she can to help the people around her…whether she knows them, whether they are family, or not. She gives of her time, as well as her abilities. There is a softness in Allyn’s spirit that I just love. That little girl, who had such a soft heart, who always wanted to do what was right, the one that my sisters and I always said was always good, hasn’t changed one bit. She still does whatever she can to make life easier for those around her. She is a helper, as I’m sure those she works with will attest. She doesn’t quit until the job is done. Allyn has worked in medical administration for years now, and while her company name has changed, she has been at the same place for a long time. Today, she works for Wyoming Medical Center. She is well liked there, and well respected by her co-workers and subordinates alike. Her position is in supervision in the billing department, and she enjoys it very much. She likes the people she works with, and they all work well together.
As much as Allyn loves her job, her first love, after God that is, will always be her family. She is wife to Chris, mom to Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock. She is a beloved mother-in-law to Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore. She is also grandma to Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, as well as Jonathan Sawdon and Hallie Moore who both live in Heaven. Allyn’s family is the most important thing on this earth to her. She loves each and every one with all her heart…and they love her. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Jake Harmon has grown into such an incredible husband, dad, and above all, an incredible man of God. As his great aunt, I have known Jake all his life. Like most kids, there were good times and bad times. The teenaged years are tough on most kids…and their parents, but like Jake, most kids get through those tough years and move on with their adult lives. That doesn’t always mean, however, that they become something great. Many kids go on to live a mediocre life. Jake was not one of those kids.
Jake has always been good with kids. I think it’s largely because he is one of the funniest guys I know. These days, Jake drives a school bus for a living, and I can see how that job is perfect for him. I have seen bus drivers who are grouchy, and who obviously wish they had a different job. Jake is not one of those drivers. I can totally imagine that his bus would be “the fun bus” to ride on. Jake has had other jobs before, but none of them really suited him as well as this one.
Jake has also become the youth pastor at the Mountain View Baptist Church, that he and his wife Melanie attend. Melanie tells me that Jake has grown so much more with the youth group at their church, and I have noticed that too. Spiritual and personal growth don’t only happen at the church. They spill over into everyday life too. The church’s teens have grown to love Jake so much and love being around him. Jake isn’t stuffy and serious, but rather fun-loving and silly. Jake is so funny, in fact, that the youth group can’t get enough of his silliness. While Jake is a funny man in most of his life, there is a serious side to him too.
Jake is a giver. He sees a need, and he strives to meet that need. Recently, he started a ministry through their church called “Christ-Like Neighbors.” The purpose of the ministry is to help anyone with things they need done…like moving, lawn work, cleaning, or anything really that they need. The ministry, which includes Jake’s wife, Melanie, has helped quite a few people so far. Jake has such a heart for God and trying to bring people to the Lord. In addition to having a heart for God, Jake has a big heart when it comes to his family. He is an amazing dad and husband, and his family is very blessed. Their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx are a full of fun as their dad…and just as ornery, too. Teasing is a fact of life, and they all love to play and pick on each other. It makes for a funny, noisy household, but that’s part of the fun. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Shergar was a racehorse with the possibility for a great future as a stud horse following his 1981 retirement, but that future was cut short on February 8, 1983, when he was stolen. Shergar was born on March 3, 1978. He was an Irish-bred, British-trained thoroughbred racehorse. Shergar’s owner, The Aga Khan, sent the horse for training in Britain in 1979 and 1980. Shergar began his first season of racing in September 1980 and ran two races that year. He won one and came second in the other. Then, in 1981 he ran in six races, winning five of them. He was an amazing horse. In June that year, he won the 202nd Epsom Derby by ten lengths, which is the longest winning margin in the race’s history. Three weeks later he won the Irish Sweeps Derby by four lengths; a month after that he won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by four lengths. In his final race of the year he came in fourth, and the Aga Khan took the decision to retire him to stud in Ireland. I suppose that like many sports, there is a short window of opportunity with a racehorse, although it seems to me that Shergar had a very short career, but a promising future in stud service to breed racehorses.
In 1981 he was retired to what was then the Ballymany Stud in County Kildare, Ireland. Then, in 1983 he was stolen from the stud, and a ransom of £2 million was demanded. The ransom was not paid, and soon the negotiations were broken off by the thieves. In 1999 a confidential informant, formerly in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), stated that they stole the horse. The IRA has never admitted any role in the theft. After Shergar’s Epsom Derby win, the Aga Khan sold 40 shares in the horse, valuing it at £10 million. Retaining six shares, he created an owners’ syndicate with the remaining 34 members. Shergar was stolen from the Aga Khan’s stud farm by an armed gang on February 8, 1983. Negotiations were conducted with the thieves, but the gang broke off all communication after four days when the syndicate did not accept as truth the proof they provided that the horse was still alive. In 1999 Sean O’Callaghan, a former member of the IRA and probably the confidential informant, published details of the theft and stated that it was an IRA operation to raise money for arms. He said that very soon after the theft, Shergar panicked and damaged his leg, which led to him being killed by the gang. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph concluded that the horse was shot four days after the theft, or right at the time they stopped negotiations.
Whatever happened to Shergar, there have never been any arrests in the case. Shergar’s body has never been recovered or identified. Some people think it is likely that the body was buried near Aughnasheelin, near Ballinamore, County Leitrim. The Shergar Cup was inaugurated in 1999 in honor of Shergar. His story has been made into movies, several books, and two documentaries. Shergar was a great horse, and should have been allowed to live out his life, but people who only wanted to make money to to buy arms, in an effort to bring mass destruction, couldn’t allow this beautiful horse to live. Anytime a horse is stolen, it is traumatic for the horse. Their schedule is disrupted, they don’t know the people who are taking care of them now, and it is possible that care is not what it should be. The panic that happened to poor Shergar should never have happened. I have no doubt they killed that poor horse, but we will never know for sure.
As disastrous fires go, the Great Baltimore Fire comes in historically as the third worst conflagration in an American city, surpassed only by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. There were other major urban disasters that were comparable in cost, but not fires. These were the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and most recently, Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico coast in August 2005.
On February 7, 1904, a small fire was reported at the John Hurst and Company building on West German Street at Hopkins Place, The site is currently the Royal Farms Arena in the western part of downtown Baltimore. The fire started at about 10:48am, and quickly spread. It wasn’t long before the fire surpassed the ability of the city’s firefighting resources, and calls for help were telegraphed to other cities. By 1:30pm, units from Washington, DC were arriving on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Camden Street Station. Officials decided to use a firebreak in an effort to halt the fires progression. They dynamited buildings around the existing fire. Unfortunately, this tactic was unsuccessful. The fire continued to rage and spread until it was finally brought under control about 5:00pm on February 8, 1904.
In the end, the fire engulfed a large portion of the city that evening. The culprit for starting the fire is believed to have been a discarded cigarette in the basement of the Hurst Building. When the fire was finally out after burning for 31 hours, an 80-block area of downtown Baltimore, stretching from the waterfront to Mount Vernon on Charles Street, had been destroyed. More than 1,500 buildings were completely leveled, and some 1,000 severely damaged, bringing property loss from the disaster to an estimated $100 million. No lives were lose in this disaster…miraculously, although some reports did claim one man died, but that was not confirmed. The fire raged from North Howard Street in the west and southwest, the flames spread north through the retail shopping area as far as Fayette Street and began moving eastward, pushed along by the prevailing winds. Amazingly, it narrowly missed the new 1900 Circuit Courthouse…now known as the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse. The fire passed the historic Battle Monument Square from 1815 to 1827 at North Calvert Street, and the quarter-century-old Baltimore City Hall of 1875 on Holliday Street; and finally spread further east to the Jones Falls stream which divided the downtown business district from the old East Baltimore tightly-packed residential neighborhoods of Jonestown…also known as Old Town and newly named Little Italy.” The fire burned as far south as the wharves and piers lining the north side of the old “Basin,” now the “Inner Harbor” of the Northwest Branch of the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River facing along Pratt Street. Also spared was Baltimore’s domed City Hall, built in 1867. The Great Baltimore Fire was the most destructive fire in the United States since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, It destroyed most of the city and caused an estimated $200 million in property damage.