It’s always fun to find out that you are related to someone who is famous, and for me, it has been common knowledge for all of my life. The Spencer side of my family is full of aristocracy. Some are princes and princesses, and even future kings, and others were great strategists, like Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, who is my 15th cousin once removed. You will notice the hyphen, and while it isn’t in his name, it is nevertheless, correct. He was a product of grandparents who merged two wealthy family names, when his 4th great grandfather, Charles Spencer married Ann Churchill and they hyphenated the names. Later, family members either used the traditional Spencer name, such as Diana Spencer’s line, or they used the Churchill name, as Winston Churchill’s line did, even though they continued the Spencer part of the name in his line. People have often thought it was his middle name, but that is not so. I don’t know if they used the hyphen back then, but the names were both last names.
Churchill was born to Lord Randolph Spencer and his wife Jennie Jerome, on November 30, 1874. They were members of a prestigious family with a long history of military service and upon his father’s death in 1895, Winston joined the British Fourth Hussars. During the next five years, Winston Churchill enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he began serving in a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. Churchill foresaw a war that would bring with it a need for a navy that was ready, and well thought out strategies that would bring victory, and he worked to bring such a British Navy into existence. Churchill was a born strategist.
Winston Churchill’s military leadership took quite a blow during World War I, when he was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns in 1915, and he was excluded from the war coalition government. He resigned his commission, and volunteered to command an infantry battalion in France. In 1917, Churchill returned to politics. He became a cabinet member of the Liberal government of Lloyd George, a move that I suspect he would regret. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war. Then, in 1924 he returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of German and Japanese attacks. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill was called back to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced Neville Chamberlain, an ineffective military leader, as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a strong resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis. Churchill proved himself to be the best military leader Britain could possibly have had at a time when he was desperately needed. Today would have been Winston Spencer Churchill’s 142nd birthday.
For many years the United States and Russia, at one time the Soviet Union, have had an unusual relationship. Depending on what Russia is trying to do, they might be our enemy, or they might be our ally. I understand that different nations have different goals, different values, and different motives, but it still seems odd to me that in one war, we could be allies and in another war, we become enemies. It could seem a little bit like two childhood friends, who are best friends one minute and worst enemies the next minute. The only exception would have to be the fact that trust doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the characteristics of the relationship between the United States and Russia. I suppose that becoming allies then, becomes a matter of finding an enemy who is doing things you can’t accept, and another enemy who agrees with you on your dislike of the actions of the first enemy…if that makes sense. I think that my prior statement makes as much sense as the United States being an ally of Russia, but that is what they have been…sometimes. I think the most difficult part of that kind of relationship would have to be the point when the relationship turns from ally to enemy again, because it really is inevitable.
It is historical fact, that over the years the Untied States and Russia have found themselves on opposite sides of a war…even threatening to blow each other up with a nuclear bomb, but so far, both have also hesitated to take things to that level, because the start of that kind of war would likely bring inhalation, since each country has the ability to know that such an attack has started. It’s a good thing that technology has given us that ability, because if we had the nuclear bombs we now have and no way the know that an attack had commenced, one nation could easily wipe out another. Russia has often tested the United States when they have moved to attack weaker nations for the things they wanted, such as oil, food, and power. Their actions left the United States with no other options but to fight against the nation that was sometimes an ally. It has happened in the past, and it will happen again in the future, because Russia remains an enemy of Israel, and that at the very least, is a situation in which the United States would want to act. Israel has always been our ally…not a sometimes ally, and if we are able, we would protect them. At least I pray that we would.
The biggest factor to affect the relationships between countries is their leaders. Most of the history of the United States has found our leaders acknowledging and even embracing our longtime, and very important friendship with Israel. Nevertheless, some leaders, like our current president, have made it clear that Israel is in a precarious position in the world. I am thankful that our president elect has told us that he will be a friend to Israel and other nations that have been oppressed by power nations in the past. It remains to be seen, exactly where Russia will be in this scenario. It is my hope that they will be an ally, but I know that they are still an enemy of our friends, and that can only make us sometimes allies.
Since I’m not in the manufacturing trade, especially where wooden shingles are concerned, I had no idea that there was a trade called shingle weaving. I would assume that if shingle weaving is still done today, it is probably done by machine, because I would think that this rather dangerous occupation is one that not too many people would voluntarily put themselves into. Shingle weaving, for those who don’t know, was an extremely dangerous process in which the shingle weaver hand-fed pieces of raw wood onto an automated saw. Despite the danger of the profession, the industry was a large one throughout Washington and Oregon and by 1893 Washington state alone had 150 mills which converted Western Red Cedar into shingles and shakes for the roofing and siding of American homes. The workers normally worked ten hour shifts, standing in front of two steel saw blade disks whirling at a speed of two hundred rounds a minute. With his left hand he is feeding blocks of cedar wood into the saw, and with his right hand, he is examining the wood that came out of the left saw for knot holes to be cut out by the saw blade disk in front of him. The worker cannot stop what his right hand and his eyes are doing to see where his left hand is, creating a situation whereby his left hand could easily be cut up or even off, if he doesn’t have a good feel for where his hand is at all times in relation to that left saw blade disk. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the concerns the workers had.
On May 1, 1916, the workers decided that they weren’t receiving enough pay for this very dangerous occupation, and the mill owners disagreed, so the Everett Shingle Weavers Union went on strike. The strike was quickly settled, in favor of the mill owners, at all but the Jamison Mill. It was at this point that the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) got involved. A 1909 IWW strike in Spokane had cost the city over $250,000, a great deal of money at that time, so when the IWW came to Everett, the city government quickly became quite nervous. When IWW organizer and speaker James Rowan arrived in Everett on June 30, 1916, Everett became the home of the IWW’s newest Free Speech Fight. The fight, while starting out relatively peacefully, escalated when Rowan chose the corner of Hewitt and Wetmore, where public speaking was illegal, to begin his work…even though free speech was legal at other corners. I’m sure his plan was to provoke the city government in any way he could, and maybe to bring in the press. Speakers were arrested and released, keeping the jail busy for a month and a half. The delicate balance of the negotiation process continued until August 19, 1916, when violence broke out at the Jamison Mill. It was Strike Breakers against the picketers, which is usually how those things go. The mill owners didn’t have to be involved, because when people ran out of money, they had little choice but to go back to work. Those left, didn’t like the line crossing strike breakers. The police didn’t get involved, because they said the fight was on private property, and so didn’t concern them.
On October 30, all that changed when 41 IWW members came by ferry to Everett, to speak at the now notorious corner of Hewitt and Wetmore. The Sheriff and his deputies beat these men, took them to Beverly Park, and forced them to run through a gauntlet of “law and order” officials, armed with clubs and whips. After that horrific incident, the IWW organized a group of 300 men to board the steamers Verona and Calista from Seattle and head north toward Port Gardner Bay, on November 5 for a free speech rally. The event ended in gun battle now known as the Everett Massacre, in which 5 strikers and 2 vigilantes calling themselves “citizen deputies” were killed and approximately 45 others wounded. The vigilantes met the IWW free speech protesters, who were on the Verona, at the dock. As the gunfire ensued, the men on the Verona ran to the opposite side, almost capsizing it. Some fell off and drown. Few of the men on the Verona had weapons, and so were defenseless. The vigilantes who were inexperienced in this type of fighting, were careless in their aim, and so in the end, many of the vigilantes who were killed or wounded were shot in the back by their own group. The massacre, also known as Everett’s Bloody Sunday, was the bloodiest battle in Pacific Northwest labor history.
From the time the United States first declared their independence, there was a dispute over the border between the United States and its northern neighbor, Canada. In 1818, the situation finally got to a point whereby a final decision had to be made. It was determined that a convention needed to be held to handle the dispute. The convention, known as the London Convention, Anglo-American Convention of 1818, Convention of 1818, or simply the Treaty of 1818, was to discuss fisheries, boundary and the restoration of slaves between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Treaty of 1818 was signed during the presidency of James Monroe, and it resolved the boundary between the United States and Canada, then owned by the United Kingdom, once and for all. The treaty allowed for joint occupation and settlement of the Oregon Country, known to the British and in Canadian history as the Columbia District of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and also took in New Caledonia, near Australia.
It was ultimately decided that the boundary line should be a straight one, because it would be easier to survey. The prior boundaries were based on watersheds, and were difficult to survey. The treaty marked both the United Kingdom’s last permanent major loss of territory in what is now the Continental United States and the United States’ only permanent significant cession of North American territory to a foreign power. Britain ceded all of Rupert’s Land south of the 49th parallel and west to the Rocky Mountains, including all of the Red River Colony south of that latitude, while the United States ceded the northernmost tip of the territory of Louisiana above the 49th parallel.
Of course, the prior border from the Great Lakes to the east coast, was already established, so it isn’t straight, but the northwestern border is a straight line. I always thought that was odd, and didn’t know why it was that way. I don’t know if I was not paying attention in history class, which was not my favorite subject in my youth, although I don’t really know why it wasn’t, because now I find it quite fascinating. It’s interesting to find out that the northern border was simply a matter of convenience, and a bit of the barter system, if you will. In order to solve the border war, of sorts, Canada (United Kingdom) gave a little, and the United States gave a little. The end result was a clear cut border, and really, peaceful neighbors. I think the was a good way to settle things.
Many things that used to be illegal, are legal today…things like inter-racial marriage, marijuana (now legal in some states), and booze…believe it or not. Booze went from being legal, to being illegal in 1920, and back to legal in 1933. During those years while it was illegal, as with any law, there were those who broke the law and did it anyway. With booze, the problem, like with marijuana…because it was illegal, was no legal source for it. Enter the Bootlegger. Bootleggers, made their own booze and sold it on the black market of the day. The booze, often called Moonshine, was probably stronger than what booze would have been if it had been regulated and made legally, but an illegal product, is made to different standards, and often contains a much higher concentration than if it were legal.
There have been a number of shows and movies that have almost romanticized bootlegging, but in reality, it was a highly dangerous occupation…if it could be called that. I’m sure there were a few non-violent bootleggers…until they had to become violent to protect their stash and their territory. Men like Roger “The Terrible” Touhy, Al Capone, and Roy Olmstead (nicknamed the “King of the Puget Sound Bootleggers”), did everything in their power to bring liquor to those who wanted it…for a price, of course. They had to make a profit and hazard pay was essential too. Early bootleggers smuggled European liquor in, but that quickly became very dangerous, so the bootleggers started to make their own. Every time the prohibition officers caught a bootlegger, the liquor was disposed of…often into the sewer drains. Prohibition officers went everywhere. They were in the cities and the country…anywhere that their intel indicated that a bootlegger had a still in the area. The Temperance Society insisted that they remove every drop of the “demon liquor” from this country. They were convinced that liquor was the root of all evil…so to speak.
The bootleggers quickly became Mob leaders with their own gangs, and crossing them quickly became very dangerous. They would even frame or kill their competition, in fact it happened often. Al Capone framed Roger Touhy for kidnapping by his bootlegging rivals with the help of corrupt Chicago officials, was serving a 99-year sentence for a kidnapping he did not commit. He was recaptured a couple of months later. The two men hated each other bitterly, and when it was finally proven that Touhy had been framed, he was released. Three weeks later as he walked into his sister’s house, Touhy was gunned down. Right before he died, he said, “I’ve been expecting it. The b*******s never forget.” No arrests were made. I wonder if anyone really tried. Those were dangerous times, and one gang often retaliated against another. Even after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, bootleggers did not become extinct, because there were still counties and cities who continued Prohibition. Where there is a law, there are lawbreakers.
Hot air balloons have been around for a long time, and there have been multiple uses for them. Hot air balloons have been used for everything from travel, recreation, escape, war, and even spying. It was the latter reason that brought President Abraham Lincoln to a field outside Washington DC on October 4, 1861. Those were tumultuous years, with the Civil War in full swing, and both the Confederate and the Union armies were experimenting with the idea of using hot air balloons to gather military intelligence. It was probably a good idea, but there was enough danger involved with this idea, that it proved to be impractical in most situations.
I don’t think most people who were presented with the idea of using hot air balloons in a war situation, were very sold on it. Several firms had been talking to the War Department about balloons, but Thaddeus SC Lowe, who had been working with hydrogen balloons for several years, and was convinced that they could be a useful tool for collecting intelligence, was the primary figure in that quest. He had conducted trials in April 1861 near Cincinnati, Ohio, with the support of the Smithsonian Institution. On April 19, 1861, he took flight for a trip that would take him to Unionville, South Carolina, where he was immediately jailed by the Confederates, who were convinced that he was a Union spy.
In the end, Lowe had it right. The hot air balloon could be instrumental in winning a war. He became the head of the Union’s Balloon Corpsin 1861 and served effectively during the Peninsular campaign of 1862. With the views provided from his balloon, Lowe discovered that the Confederates had evacuated Yorktown, Virginia, and he provided important intelligence during the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia. He had a good working relationship with George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, but had difficulties with McClellan’s successors. Generals Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker were sadly not convinced that balloon observations provided accurate information. I guess they just didn’t have the same vision as Lowe had. Lowe became increasingly frustrated with the army, particularly after his pay was slashed in 1863. Feeling that army commanders did not take his service seriously, Lowe resigned in the spring of 1863. The Balloon Corps was disbanded in August of that year. Lowe later became involved in building a railway in California. He died there in 1913 at age 80.
I find it very sad to think that if a person had some ailments or injuries in this day and age, they would likely have lived through the episode, but in days gone by, and for President McKinley, that was not to be the case.
On September 6, 1901, while standing in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, McKinley was approached by Leon Czolgosz, a Polish-American anarchist carrying a concealed .32 revolver in a handkerchief. Czolgosz shot McKinley twice at close range. One bullet deflected off a suit button, but the other entered his stomach, passed through the kidneys, and lodged in his back. When he was operated on, doctors failed to find the bullet. That in and of itself was a very serious situation, but I believe it would have been survivable. Unfortunately for President McKinley, the doctors of that time had few, if any antibiotics to fight infection, and gangrene soon spread throughout the president’s body. McKinley died eight days later, on September 14, 1901. Czolgosz was convicted is of murder and executed soon after the shooting.
These days, there have been a number of people who have had injuries far more grave than President McKinley had, and yet they have come through with flying colors. I think it is irrelevant what a person’s politics are or whether you think President McKinley was a good president or a bad president, because this really isn’t about politics at all. The reality is that this man died largely because of a lack of modern medicines that could have easily cured the gangrene he had from the shooting, or in most cases, prevented it all together.
None of us likes to pay for the cost of some of the life-saving drugs that have been developed, but it is partly that cost that helps to pay for the research that goes into these new medicines. Whether we pay for them by donations before development or cost after development, really makes no difference. I know many people think that the drug companies gouge the patient, and I suppose that could be true to an extent, but which one of us has what it takes to find a medicine that cures some of the diseases we can cure today, that were a death sentence in years gone by?
The United States and Russia have long been frenemies, truth be told, but in October of 1962, no one would have called them that. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the two super powers to the brink of a nuclear conflict. As we all know, that would have been devastating for the inhabitants of the earth, and in the end, both countries agreed that we could not let things escalate to that level again. In June of 1963, American and Russian representatives agreed to establish a “hot line” between Moscow and Washington DC. The idea was to speed communication between the two governments to prevent an accidental war.
By August of 1963, the system was ready to be tested. American teletype machines were installed in the Kremlin and at the Pentagon. Many people have thought that the machine at the Pentagon was actually in the White House, but that is incorrect. The two nations exchanged encoding devises so that they could decipher the messages. This would allow the two nations to message each other in a matter of minutes. That would be somewhat slow in today’s high tech world of cell phones and texting, but in those days, it was state of the art. Once received, the message would have to be deciphered, which did slow things down a bit, but again, at that time, it was state of the art. The two teletype machines were connected by a 10,000 mile long cable with “scramblers” along the way to ensure that the messages could not be intercepted by unauthorized personnel.
On August 30, the United States sent its first message to the Soviet Union over the hot line: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890.” The message was chosen because it used every letter and number key on the teletype machine in order to see that each was in working order. Moscow returned a message in Russian indicating that every key had worked properly. In the end, the hot line was never needed to prevent war, but instead has become a novelty item, used as a prop in movies about nuclear disaster. Fail Safe and Dr Strangelove were two movies that utilized the machines. The reality was that the two superpowers had come so close to mutual destruction back in 1962, that neither had much stomach for the proposed threat. They understood that communication was key in stopping a nuclear war. Of course, that has not stopped other nations from threatening to use nuclear weapons against other nations of the world. The Cold War ended a long time ago, but the “hot line” is still in operation between the two superpowers, and has since been supplemented by a direct secure telephone connection in 1999.
Anytime a group wants to change something in their nation, there is controversy. It really doesn’t matter what the change is, or whether it is good or bad for the country, there will always be people who are against it. The Women’s Suffrage movement, was no different. For more that seventy years, women had been fighting for the right to vote. From the founding of the United States they had not been allowed to vote, and I think originally it was simply because women were viewed as fragile and really to be protected. It didn’t really occur to the men that women could understand politics, wars, and government matters. They were to delicate. That opinion was largely accepted by the women too, until about 1849…73 years after our nation gained its independence from Great Britain. Then some of the women started thinking that they were are smart as the men, and should be allowed to vote too. They were right, of course, but their victory would not come without a long, hard battle. For many years the women who were fighting to vote were look at as somehow being bold, and well simply not very refined. Proper women were encouraged to avoid them. The men heckled them. Everyone thought of these women as being somewhat trashy.
I can’t say for sure, just what it was that finally tipped the scales in favor of the women’s right to vote, but quite possibly it had something to do with the “squeaky wheel getting the oil” in the end. Nevertheless, like anything worth fighting for, you continue to fight until you win, or until there is no hope of winning. For the women of the United States, the battle would be won. Changes are sometimes tough to swallow…especially when we think they are morally wrong. It doesn’t matter what day and age we live in, or what the issue is, someone, somewhere is going to be against the new idea. There will be battles that should be won and those that probably shouldn’t. Nevertheless, like it or not, once a new idea is made law, it usually stays law, unless the law is changed later on. Thankfully, for women everywhere, the right to vote was not repealed, and it will always be our right.
On this day August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is adopted into the United States Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. Women could vote now and forever. People born since 1920, which is most of us, have no concept of the enormity of that amendment. It changed the face of politics, government, and campaigning forever. Not only could women vote, but they could run for office too. And that idea has been up for debate ever since.
There are people in this world who achieve great things, and then they are so humble about it that they tell almost no one. That seems to be the case with my nephew, Jason Sawdon. Jason, who is married to my niece, Jessi Hadlock Sawdon is a trooper with the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He is part of the accident investigations team, but he patrols as well. Apparently, he is pretty secretive too, or else I was somehow left out of the family loop. On June 24th, 2016, the Wyoming Highway Patrol Association Awards Banquet was held near Dayton, Wyoming. The banquet is to recognize members of the patrol for individual and group achievements and actions in the prior year. The awards at this banquet were for 2015.
The WHP District Captains were given the task of reviewing and evaluating the performance of their respective employees and then asked to nominate a Trooper to be considered for the “Trooper of the Year” award. They were asked to look at leadership qualities, the Trooper’s activities, the Trooper’s professionalism during the performance of his or her duties, the Trooper’s reputation within the agency, the public’s perception of the Trooper and how well the Trooper reflects the eight core values of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. My nephew, Jason was nominated for the award, and then declared the winner!!
Now, I was looking for some other information on the Wyoming Highway Patrol website, when Jason’s face suddenly appeared on a scrolling banner. I quickly went back to that page, and was shocked to see that he had been awarded the “Trooper of the Year” award for 2015. I had no idea why we all weren’t told…or if I was just hiding under a rock…but somehow, I didn’t know it. Not telling everyone would be completely typical of Jason, so I guess it was a secret award. Well, Jason, the cat is out of the bag now, because, I am so proud of your accomplishments, that I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops…or at least write about it in my blog.
Jason’s district captain gave him a glowing nomination. I thought you might all like to hear part of what he had to say, so here is an excerpt. “This Trooper views their position as a State Trooper as a position of a true public servant. They maintain a positive outlook, even through difficult situations, and are a credit to the agency. They maintain a strong work ethic and contribute in a wide variety of activities. This Trooper has initiated public speaking and safety events within their division, they set a positive example for their peers, and actively strives to increase highway safety. They actively seek ways to help the division meet goals by voluntarily adjusting their shift in order to provide enforcement during times and areas of concern. Not only is this Trooper productive in terms of quantity, their quality is surpassed by none. They strive to always “do the right thing for the right reason.” They successfully and aggressively enforce state statute while maintaining the respect of the community they strive to protect and serve; as well as the respect of all who know and work with them. They remain actively involved in teaching and participating in academy classes and regularly pushes themselves and their peers toward success. This Trooper demonstrates great courage, humility, and maturity as they fulfill their obligations. They are a strong example of a Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper, in their actions, appearance, values, and character. They are a leader amongst their peers and a great asset to the division, the district, and the Patrol.”
I am so proud of the accomplishments of our family’s own Wyoming Highway Patrol “Trooper of the Year” for 2015, Trooper Jason Sawdon. Congratulations Jason!! We are so happy for you. You are an asset to the WHP and to law enforcement in general, and a wonderful asset to this family. Next time…don’t be so modest. You deserve the praise!!