Reminiscing

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In any “job” or “career” there can be conflicts. Sometimes it’s all about workmanship, and other times it’s a personality conflict. Probably the most famous of these conflicts was the civilian-military confrontation between President Harry S Truman and General Douglas MacArthur who was in command of the US forces in Korea. When Truman relieved MacArthur of duty, in reality, firing him, it set off a brief uproar among the American public. Nevertheless, Truman was determined to keep the conflict in Korea a “limited war” at all costs.

General MacArthur was considered flamboyant and egotistical, and problems between him and President Truman had been brewing for months. The Korean War began in June of 1950, and in those early days of the war in Korea, MacArthur had devised some brilliant strategies and military maneuvers that helped save South Korea from falling to the invading forces of communist North Korea. As United States and United Nations forces began turning the tide of battle in Korea, MacArthur began to argue for a policy of pushing into North Korea to completely defeat the communist forces. Truman initially went along with the plan, but he was also worried that the communist government of the People’s Republic of China might take the invasion as a hostile act and intervene in the conflict. Thus began a battle of wills between the two men. MacArthur met with Truman in October 1950, and assured him that the chances of a Chinese intervention were slim.

Unfortunately, that “slim chance” materialized in November and December 1950, when hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops crossed into North Korea and throwing themselves against the American lines, driving the US troops back into South Korea. At that point, MacArthur requested permission to bomb communist China and use Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China. Truman refused these requests point blank, and a very public and very heated argument began to develop between the two men.

Then, in April 1951, President Truman fired MacArthur and replaced him with General Matthew Ridgway. The nation was outraged, but on April 11, Truman addressed the nation and explained his actions. Truman defended his overall policy in Korea, by declaring, “‘It is right for us to be in Korea.’ He excoriated the ‘communists in the Kremlin [who] are engaged in a monstrous conspiracy to stamp out freedom all over the world.’ Nevertheless, he explained, it ‘would be wrong—tragically wrong—for us to take the initiative in extending the war… Our aim is to avoid the spread of the conflict.’ The president continued, ‘I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons: To make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted; to see that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly jeopardized; and to prevent a third world war.’ General MacArthur had been fired ‘so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose and aim of our policy.'”

Nevertheless, MacArthur returned to the United States to a hero’s welcome. “Parades were held in his honor, and he was asked to speak before Congress (where he gave his famous ‘Old soldiers never die, they just fade away’ speech). Public opinion was strongly against Truman’s actions, but the president stuck to his decision without regret or apology. Eventually, MacArthur did ‘just fade away,’ and the American people began to understand that his policies and recommendations might have led to a massively expanded war in Asia. Though the concept of a ‘limited war,’ as opposed to the traditional American policy of unconditional victory, was new and initially unsettling to many Americans, the idea came to define the U.S. Cold War military strategy.”

The USS Miami (SSN-755) was a Los Angeles-class submarine of the United States Navy. Ships and submarines are commonly named after cities and people, and the USS Miami submarine was the third vessel of the US Navy to be named after Miami, Florida. The USS Miami was also the forty-fourth Los Angeles-class (688) submarine and the fifth Improved Los Angeles-class (688I) submarine to be built and commissioned. The Electric Boat division of General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut, won the contract on November 28, 1983. The keel was laid down on October 24, 1986, and USS Miami launched on November 12, 1988. She was commissioned on June 30, 1990 with Commander Thomas W Mader in command.

All that is fairly normal and mundane, but USS Miami was to have some much more “exciting” for lack of a better word, times in her future. USS Miami became the first submarine to conduct combat operations in two theaters since World War II, participating in Operation Desert Fox and Operation Allied Force. The submarine also became a movie star when she was featured in The Learning Channel (TLC) Extreme Machine episode on “Nuclear Submarines” but that was not even the craziest event in her history.

On May 23, 2012, at 5:41pm EDT, fire crews were called out with a report of a fire on the USS Miami. At the time, she was being overhauled at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. That would seem like a fairly safe place to be, but I suppose that anytime work is being done, accidents could happen. On that day, USS Miami was in the second month of a scheduled 20-month maintenance cycle. That meant that the “Engineering Overhaul” she was undergoing was extensive. The fire was a major one that injured seven firefighters. In addition, one crew member suffered broken ribs when he fell through a hole left by removed deck plates during the fire. The fire took 12 hours to extinguish.

At first, the US Navy said that the blaze was caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner that was used “to clean worksites on the sub after shipyard workers’ shifts” that had sucked up a heat source that ignited debris inside the vacuum. However, on July 23, 2012, civilian painter and sandblaster Casey J Fury was indicted on two counts of arson after confessing to starting the fire. The reason for Fury’s actions really makes no sense to me. Fury said he lit rags on a berthing compartment’s top bunk so he could get out of work early…seriously!! That is insane, but then I guess any reason for arson has a degree of insanity attached to it. Still, this is the most bizarre reason I can think of. For Pete’s sake, tell your boss you need to be off early, or just quit. The consequences of this action were about to be heavy. On March 15, 2013, Fury was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $400 million in restitution. Casey Fury is still serving his 17-year prison sentence. He is scheduled to be released on August 4, 2027

For more than a year, the USS Miami’s fate was up in the air. Within a month of the fire, Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe advocated for repairing the submarine. Navy leaders asked Congress to add $220 million to the operations and maintenance budget for emergent and unfunded ship repairs in July 2012. In August, the Navy decided to repair the boat for an estimated total cost of $450 million. They planned to reduce the repair cost by using spare parts from the recently decommissioned USS Memphis and by repairing rather than replacing damaged hull sections, as had been done with another Los Angeles-class boat, USS San Francisco. Unfortunately, these plans wouldn’t work for the USS Miami which was newer and so the parts and such were not available. In the end, the repairs would have cost an estimated $700 million.

Finally, on August 6, 2013, the US Navy announced its intention to decommission USS Miami, because the cost was more than it could afford in a time of budget cuts. For the USS Miami it was a sad defeat. The sub was officially decommissioned on March 28, 2014, to be scrapped by the Ship-Submarine Recycling Program.

I think every kid has played with a yo-yo at one time or another, but the reality is that the yo-yo was not originally designed to be a toy. It was actually a weapon used in the Philippian jungle. The original yo-yo was not designed by, but rather was promoted by DF Duncan Sr who was also the co-patent holder of a four-wheel hydraulic automobile brake and the marketer of the first successful parking meter. In addition, he was the genius behind the first premium incentive where you sent in two cereal box tops and received a toy rocket ship. He was quite the success, nevertheless, Duncan is best known for promoting the first great yo-yo fad in the United States.

Duncan was not the inventor of the yo-yo. They have been around for over twenty-five hundred years…who knew. The yo-yo is hailed as the second oldest toy in history, second only to the doll. The yo-yo was made out of wood, metal, and terra cotta when used in ancient Greece. Around 1800, the yo-yo moved into Europe from the Orient. It was not always called a yo-yo either, of course. The British called the yo-yo the bandalore, quiz, or the Prince of Wales toy. The French used the name incroyable or l’emigrette. “Yo-yo” is actually a Tagalog word, the native language of the Philippines, and means “come back.” While it appeared on the European scene in 1800, it was actually in the Philippines, being used as a weapon for over 400 years. The Philippian version was large with sharp edges and studs and attached to thick twenty-foot ropes for flinging at enemies or prey. The fact that it was attached to a rope is truly about the only real similarity to the yo-yos of today.

In the 1860s, people in the United States started playing with the British bandalore, but it was not until the 1920s that Americans first heard the word yo-yo. That was when Philippian immigrant, Pedro Flores, began manufacturing a toy labeled yo-yo. With that, Flores became the first person to mass-produce toy yo-yos, at his small toy factory located in California. Duncan saw the Flores toy and liked it. He bought the rights from Flores in 1929, then trademarked the name “Yo-Yo” and a true fad was born. Of course, Duncan also made some improvements to the toy, first adding the slip string, which consisted of a sliding loop around the axle instead of a knot. With this revolutionary improvement, the yo-yo could do a trick called “sleep” for the first time. The original shape, first introduced to the United States was the imperial or standard shape, but later, Duncan introduced the butterfly shape, a design that reverses the halves of a traditional imperial yo-yo. The butterfly shape allowed the player to catch the yo-yo on the string easily, which expanded the tricks it could do. With that, the yo-yo gained the popularity most of us remember it for.

Donald Duncan saw huge potential in the yo-yo, and he worked out a deal with the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to get free advertising in Heart’s newspapers. Duncan traded advertising for competitions that required the entrants to bring a number of new subscriptions for the newspaper as their entry fee.

The first Duncan Yo-Yo was the O-Boy Yo-Yo Top, the toy with a big hit with people of all ages. Duncan’s massive factory produced 3,600 yo-yos every hour making the factory’s hometown of Luck, Wisconsin the Yo-Yo Capital of the World. Duncan’s early media blitzes were so successful that in Philadelphia alone, three million units sold during a month-long campaign in 1931. Nevertheless, as with most toys, the next big thing comes along and the sales drop. The yo-yo was no exception to the rule. Basically, yo-yo sales went up and down as often as the toy, however, it is said that in order to recover their losses in the 1930s, Lego company decided, after being stuck with a huge inventory of yo-yos decided to salvage the unsold toys by sawing each yo-yo in half and using them as wheels on toy trucks and cars.

John Joseph Merlin, who was actually born Jean-Joseph Merlin, was a Belgian clockmaker, musical-instrument maker, and inventor. Born on September 6, 1735, in Huy, a town in what was then the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and is now in Belgium, Wallonia. His parents Maximilien Joseph Merlin (a blacksmith) and his wife Marie-Anne Levasseur. Merlin’s parents had married in 1732, and Merlin was the third of six children. Sadly, his mother died when he was eight. His father remarried at least once, to Marie Therese Dechesalle in 1743, and had another child, Charles Merlin. The family moved several times. From ages 19 to 25, Merlin lived in Paris, where he was involved in the Paris Academy of Sciences.

He moved to England in 1760. He began working with a man named James Cox in 1766, creating automatons such as Cox’s timepiece and the Silver Swan. He really took to the work, and by 1773 he was designing and making innovative keyboard instruments. In 1783, Merlin decided to do something new, so he opened Merlin’s Mechanical Museum in Princes Street, Hanover Square, London, which became a meeting-place for the gentry and nobility. At this point, Merlin expanded his horizons, and in addition to his clocks, musical instruments and automata, he invented inline skates…in the 1760s.

Merlin invented inline skates, which he called skaites. Merlin’s skaiteshad two wheels in the 1760s. The skaites were mentioned by Thomas Busby’s Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes (1805). The mention was not would have been exactly complimentary either, because it mentions an accident Merlin had while demonstrating his skaites.

“One of his ingenious novelties was a pair of skaites contrived to run on wheels. Supplied with these and a violin, he mixed in the motley group of one of Mrs Cowleys’ masquerades at Carlisle House; when not having provided the means of retarding his velocity, or commanding its direction, he impelled himself against a mirror of more than five hundred pounds value, dashed it to atoms, broke his instrument to pieces and wounded himself most severely.”

In case that all sounded a little confusing, let me simplify. Basically, Merlin didn’t practice using…or rather stopping, his skaites before he demonstrated them. His “stumbling” start aside, Merlin went on to invention other things, including a self-propelled wheelchair, a prosthetic device for “a person born with stumps only,” whist cards for the blind, a pump for expelling “foul air,” a communication system for summoning servants, a pedal-operated revolving tea table, and a mechanical chariot with an early form of odometer. Merlin died in Paddington, London on 8 May 1803. His collection was sold to Thomas Weeks of Great Windmill Street. Weeks died in 1834, at which time Merlin’s creations were auctioned off with Weeks’ other possessions. One of Merlin’s automatons, a dancer with an automated bird, was bought at the auction by Charles Babbage for 35 pounds. He had seen it as a child at Merlin’s Mechanical Museum.

My niece, Chantel Balcerzak has been having a wonderful year. Her daughter, Siara Kirk and Siara’s husband, Chris bought that house next door to Chantel and her husband, Dave earlier this year. They quickly renovated the house, because they were having a baby boy named Nathaniel Andrew Kirk on January 15, 2024. It has been so nice for Chantel and Dave to have them living right next door, because Chantel and Siara are very close. Now that baby Nathaniel is a couple of months old, Siara is getting ready to go back to work, he will be spending his days with his grandma and his daddy. While it will be really hard on Siara, she knows that her sweet boy will be is good hands and having fun. I have always thought it would be cool to have my grandchildren live within walking distance of me. Of course, that doesn’t always work out, but the most important thing is to be close to them in hearts, if not in distance. One is as important as the other. I’m so excited for Chantel to have this precious time with her newest grandson.

Besides being a grandmother, Chantel is an amazing artist. We have several in our family. I, however, am not one of them. Nevertheless, I very much appreciate the work of those artists around me. Chantel has a kind heart, that sees the beauty around her. Her home reflects the beauty that is in her spirit…and a beautiful spirit it is. Chantel has a gentleness that not everyone possesses. It is just a part of who she is. Some people just seem to belong in a gentler time…and Chantel is one of those. Even her home reflects that. I always think that her home has a Victorian flair to it. Personally, I love the Victorian era designs. I’m not sure exactly what Chantel’s design style of choice is, but I think that whatever you might call it, I would call is very pretty. She has even helped Siara with the decoration of her new home. Siara shares many of her mom’s artistic abilities. They have decorated a few places together, and both are very capable.

Chantel has truly embraced the role of grandmother. She as several other grandchildren too, and she enjoys spending time with all of them. Chantel is young at heart. I think she always will be. That has made her a great mom and grandmother. Chantel is my first niece. She was always a sweet little diva, and fashionista. Maybe it was her artistic abilities showing themselves at a very young age. I’m sure it was. Chantel hasn’t really changed all that much over the years, after all. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sports at the Olympics have changed over the years. Things have been added that we would never have expected, and some didn’t even seem like they were a sport exactly. One of those strange “sports” that were once a part of the Olympics was the Tug-of-war. It is sport-like I guess, so that at least puts it in the right classification. It is comprised of two teams, who go against each other, so in that way, it fits too. Still, it has always seemed more like a revenge battle than an Olympic sport to me. Nevertheless, once a sport is voted in by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it becomes an official sport in the Olympics. There are requirements, of course. The IOC requires “that the activity have administration by an international nongovernmental organization that oversees at least one sport. Once a sport is recognized, it then moves to International Sports Federation (IF) status.” A sport can be taken out of the Olympics too, and probably just as easily.

Tug of War was part of the Olympic schedule between 1900 and 1920. It was part of 5 different Summer Olympic Games. It seems such an odd thing to have a Tug-of-war…a school battle game as a serious part of such prestigious games. Nevertheless, here they were. The nation to win the most medals in Tug-of-war was Britain, having taken five medals. They were followed by the USA with three.

Tug-of-War was removed from the Olympic Program after the 1920 Games along with 33 other sports. The reason behind the removals was that the IOC decided there were too many sports and too many participants competing, so the decision was made to remove a number of sports, and unfortunately, one of those was Tug-of-War. I’m not sure why that seems sad to me, except that it had persevered up to that point, only to be pulled out of the Olympics…THE OLYMPICS!! Somehow, it seems unfair. Such a big event, and to think that this sport that Tug-of-War was dropped from the Olympic program. Nevertheless, after Antwerp 1920, it was dropped. Leading up to the 1920 removal, was the 1912 Olympics when a number of countries withdrew from the Tug-of-War competition. That meant that the only match that occurred was between Great Britain and Sweden. The battle was a hard-won victory for Sweden, who eventually won after the British team sat down in the second pull, leading to their disqualification. That was the end of it. It just seems so sad to me…because at one time, it was an accepted event, a worthy battle, and now it was over.

Over the centuries, there have been many exploratory expeditions all over the world. Some were privately financed, while others were financed by groups, governments, kings and as in the case of the 1955 to 1958 expedition to Antartica, the Commonwealth of England. The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (CTAE) was an expedition that successfully completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica, by way of the South Pole. It was also the first expedition to reach the South Pole overland for 46 years. t was preceded only by Amundsen’s expedition and Scott’s expedition in 1911 and 1912. Antartica is a fierce, snow and ice covered, wilderness, which makes me wonder why anyone would want to be on an expedition there. Nevertheless, I suppose that it’s the adventure of it that attracts so many to attempts it.

Traditionally, polar expeditions of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration were private ventures, and the CTAE was no exception, even though it was supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States, Australia and South Africa, as well as many corporate and individual donations, under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth II. The expedition was headed by British explorer Vivian Fuchs and included New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary. The group from New Zealand included scientists who were participating in International Geophysical Year research while the British team were separately based at Halley Bay.

Fuchs took the Danish Polar vessel, Magga Dan and went for additional supplied, returning in December 1956. The southern summer of 1956–1957 was spent consolidating Shackleton Base and establishing the smaller South Ice Base, located about 300 miles inland to the south. The winter of 1957 found Fuchs at Shackleton Base. Then, finally, he set out on the transcontinental journey in November 1957. The twelve-man team traveled in six vehicles, three Sno-Cats, two Weasel tractors, and one specially adapted Muskeg tractor. While they traveled, the team was also tasked with carrying out scientific research including seismic soundings and gravimetric readings. This was, after all a scientific expedition.

Hillary’s team began setting up Scott Base. This was going to be the final destination for Fuchs. It was located on the opposite side of the continent at McMurdo Sound on the Ross Sea. Using three converted Ferguson TE20 tractors and one Weasel, which had to be abandoned part-way, Hillary and his three men…Ron Balham, Peter Mulgrew, and Murray Ellis…were responsible for route-finding and laying a line of supply depots up the Skelton Glacier and across the Polar Plateau on towards the South Pole, for the use of Fuchs on the final leg of his journey. The remaining member of Hillary’s team carried out geological surveys around the Ross Sea and Victoria Land areas. The Hillary team was not originally supposed to travel as far as the South Pole, but when the supply depots were completed, Hillary saw the opportunity to beat the British and continued south, thereby reaching the Pole…where the US Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station had recently been established by air, on January 3, 1958. While he wasn’t supposed to go, Hillary’s party became the third team to reach the South Pole, preceded by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and Robert Falcon Scott in 1912. Hillary’s arrival also marked the first time that land vehicles had ever reached the Pole. It was a great historic moment.

Fuchs’ team finally reached the Pole from the opposite direction on January 19, 1958, where they met up with Hillary. From there, Fuchs continued overland, following the route that Hillary had forged to get to the South Pole. Then, Hillary flew back to Scott Base in a US plane. He would later rejoin Fuchs by plane for part of the remaining overland journey. The original overland party finally arrived at Scott Base on March 2, 1958, after having completed the historic crossing of 2,158 miles of previously unexplored snow and ice in 99 days. A few days later the expedition members left Antarctica on the on the New Zealand naval ship Endeavour, headed for New Zealand, with Captain Harry Kirkwood at the helm.

Although large quantities of supplies were hauled overland, many forms of resources were used in the expedition. Both parties were also equipped with light aircraft and made extensive use of air support for reconnaissance and supplies. US personnel working in Antartica at the time provided additional logistical help. Both parties also used dog teams for fieldwork trips and backup in case of failure of the mechanical transportation. The dogs were not taken all the way to the Pole. In December 1957 four men from the expedition flew one of the planes…a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter—on an 11-hour, 1,430-mile, non-stop trans-polar flight across the Antarctic continent from Shackleton Base by way of the Pole to Scott Base, following roughly by air the same route as Fuchs’ overland party. For his accomplishments, Fuchs was knighted. The second overland crossing of the continent did not occur until 1981, during the Transglobe Expedition led by Ranulph Fiennes.

There are wars between nations, and then there are wars between gangs. The Lincoln County War of 1878 was the latter. The war started when John Tunstall was murdered. John Tunstall’s murder was really the culmination of the ongoing conflict between two factions who were competing for profits from dry goods and cattle interests in the county. James Dolan dominated the older and more established faction, operating a dry goods monopoly through general store referred to locally as The House. The other faction was run by English-born John Tunstall and his business partner Alexander McSween, who opened a competing store in 1876, with backing from established cattleman John Chisum. The Tunstall-McSween faction gathered lawmen, businessmen, Tunstall’s ranch hands, and criminal gangs to their assistance. The Dolan faction was allied with Lincoln County Sheriff Brady and aided by the Jesse Evans Gang. The Tunstall-McSween faction organized a posse of armed men, known as the Lincoln County Regulators, and had their own lawmen consisting of town constable Richard M Brewer and Deputy US Marshal Robert A Widenmann.

The highly volatile situation came to a head on April 4, 1878, in what became known as The Gunfight at Blazer’s Mill. The shootout was between the Lincoln County Regulators and buffalo hunter Buckshot Roberts. The Regulators, led by Richard “Dick” Brewer, included Billy the Kid and Charlie Bowdre. They began the process of hunting down anyone believed to have been associated with the murder of John Tunstall, which had initially sparked the Lincoln County War. Still, the conflict had been long in the making. Roberts had already been implicated in crimes associated with the “Murphy-Dolan” faction. Nevertheless, the reality is that he probably had nothing to do with the ongoing range war.

Blazer’s Mill located on a hillside between Lincoln, New Mexico and Tularosa, was owned by a dentist named Dr Joseph H Blazer. It was more than just a mill. The property included a large two-story house, a large square office building, a sawmill, a grist mill, several one-story adobe structures and houses, a post office, a general store, and a number of corrals and barns. I suppose it was rather a local hang out. The Regulators had killed Sheriff Brady and Deputy Hindman three days earlier, and they were in Blazer’s Mill to have a good meal at Mrs Godfrey’s Restaurant. The Regulators, who were there that day included Brewer, Bowdre, William McCarty (aka Billy the Kid), Doc Scurlock, Frank McNab, George Coe, Frank Coe, John Middleton, Jim French, Henry Newton Brown, Fred Waite, and several others who were not as well-known.

Not everyone was ready for this war. In fact, Buckshot Roberts wanted no part of the Lincoln County War. He had even made plans to leave the area. He sold his ranch and was just waiting for the check from his buyer. On April 4th, 1878, Roberts rode his mule into Blazer’s Mills. He was there to collect his check, but he was shocked to discover that the Regulators entire upper echelon was there, eating lunch in a nearby building. After killing Sheriff Brady just three days earlier the men had left the area around Lincoln, New Mexico after killing Sheriff Brady just three days earlier, but had brazenly stopped to have dinner at Mrs Godfrey’s Restaurant, before leaving the area. One of the Regulators…Frank Coe, was sitting with “Buckshot” Roberts on the steps of the main house. Coe was trying to talk Roberts into turning himself in. Roberts refused. He figured that if he turned himself in, he would be killed by the cowboys, out for revenge.

Meanwhile, Regulator chief, Dick Brewer was growing very impatient with the stand-off, so he He had given him a chance to surrender, and now he was done waiting. When Roberts saw the armed cowboys coming for him, he jumped up with his Winchester ready to fire. Roberts and Charlie Bowdre fired at the same time. Bowdre hit Roberts in the stomach and Roberts’ shot hit Bowdre’s belt buckle, actually severing his gun belt and knocking the wind from him. Roberts was seriously wounded but kept pumping bullets at the Regulators as he headed to the doorway. In the shootout, John Middleton was seriously wounded in the chest. Doc Scurlock was grazed by one slug and another struck George Coe in the right hand, costing him his trigger finger. Finally, when Roberts’ rifle clicked, Billy the Kid knew it was empty, so he ran from cover to finish off the Roberts, but instead, he was knocked senseless by the barrel of Roberts’ Winchester.

By this time, Roberts was desperate, so he barricaded himself in the house. He ignored both his painful wound and the Regulators’ repeated gunshots, armed himself with a single-shot .50-70 Government Springfield rifle belonging to Blazer, thought to be a Sharps rifle which belonged to Dr Appel and readied himself for the next round. The Regulators were stunned by everything that had taken place. They didn’t expect this turn of events, and they could only tend to their wounded and keep trying to get Roberts to come out. Nevertheless, none of them dared to approach their enemy’s fortress. Finally, Brewer circled around the main house, and took cover behind some stacked logs and opened fire on the room where the wounded man was laying on a mattress in front of the barricaded doorway. Roberts saw a cloud of gun smoke from the log pile. He opened fire when Brewer put his head up again, striking the cowboy in the eye. The Regulators, finally admitted defeat, pulled out, and left the area. Buckshot Roberts died from his wounds the next day. In the end, Roberts and Dick Brewer were buried side by side near the big house where the gunfight occurred. George W Coe, who survived the Blazer’s Mill fight, died in 1934.

Cars are an important part of life these days, and really for many years now. So, what would you do if your ability to buy a car suddenly stopped…like hitting a wall? My guess is that you would start taking really good care of the car you had, because you wouldn’t know how long it would be before you could buy another car. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro imposed a ban on the import of cars from abroad. This made it almost impossible for Cubans to get their hands on new cars, meaning that if they wanted a car, they had to make do and mend the vehicles that were already on the island. Basically, the Cuban people became a nation of mechanics. It was a necessity if they wanted to have a car.

In a way I find it almost strange that Castro didn’t take away the cars they had, but I guess he wasn’t concerned about them driving, just that he didn’t want any imports from the United States. The problem was that there are no car manufacturers in Cuba, so the only way to buy a car was to import it. Of course, Castro and any of his chosen people could still import vehicles, just not from the United States. These kinds of things happen between governments, and as usual, it’s the people who suffer, not the government. In this case, I’m not so sure that “suffer” is the right word. Cuba has a huge collection of classic cars, because the people became, not only great mechanics, but they also became experts at restoring and caring for classic cars.

In 2014, after 55 years of not being able to, Cubans these days, are free to import foreign cars again. Unfortunately, the cost is so high that it makes imports impossible for all but the wealthiest members of society. Now you will see some newer cars on the roads, but they tend to be owned by taxi companies or car hire firms. The general population continues to drive to the old classics that they have driven for the last 55 years. While the cars in Cuba are all old, they do have value. All classic cars do, but those that are as well preserved as the ones in Cuba, might just have more value than their owners really know about…on the open market anyway. Whether they will ever be placed on the open market or not is a different story.

I am of the opinion that most of the United States is populated by good people, who are trying to lead decent and respectful lives. I’m sure there are those who would disagree, and when faced with evil doers, it is sometimes hard to see the good because of the bad, but I think we can agree that the people who agreed with the northern states during the Civil War, far outnumbered those who agreed with the southern states. the Union had a distinctive advantage over the Confederates. There were more states and more soldiers in the Union Army. So, the Confederate Army had to find a way to get ahead of their enemies. Confederates sometimes relied on technical innovation to aid their cause, in the face of such limited resources compared with the Union Army’s sheer numbers and resources. The Union had $234,000,000 in bank deposit and coined money while the Confederacy had $74,000,000 and the Border States had $29,000,000. The Union Army had 2,672,341 soldiers, as opposed to the Confederate Army, which had between 750,000 to 1,227,890 soldiers.

Given the obvious lop-sidedness, especially in the naval conflict, the Confederates could not hope to match the Union in sheer tonnage of ships produced. They didn’t have the funds or the resources to build as many ships as the Union. Many people would actually assume that either the Confederates would lose the war quickly, or it would be mostly fought on land. The Confederates, however, did come up with two famous Confederate naval innovations…the ironclad warship, CSS Virginia and the submarine, HL Hunley. The HL Hunley was built in 1863. Who would have thought there would be a submarine built that early on.

Of course, the Union wasn’t sitting around doing nothing while the Confederates dominated the water. They were busy too. The USS Monitor was built around the same time the Virginia was being retrofitted with iron plating, and those two ships actually clashed at the Battle of Hampton Roads. While the Confederates did get in the war ship game, the superior Northern industrial capacity allowed them to build more than 80 ironclads. The North also built a submarine, called the USS Alligator. It was designed by French engineer Brutus de Villeroi, who had, amazingly, been working on submersible craft for some 30 years. Contrary to what we might think, the concept of a submarine was not a new one. In fact, there was even a primitive one employed in the American War of Independence. The submarines were a far cry from the huge 20th-century submarines of today.

The Alligator was based on an 1859 prototype and was commissioned in 1861 as part of the same flurry of naval innovation that saw the creation of the ironclad Monitor. The Alligator featured an innovative air-purification system that used limewater to remove carbon dioxide and keep the air breathable for long periods. The Alligator was manned by a 16-member crew, which was later reduced to eight. Also unusual is the fact that USS Alligator had oars to maneuver with. I suppose that wouldn’t seem unusual in its day, but it certainly does today. Sent out on a mission to remove obstructions in Charleston Harbor in advance of an attack by a Union ironclad fleet, the Alligator ran into trouble in the form of a gale on April 2, 1863, while being towed to nearby Port Royal, South Carolina. It was in the storm, and its wreckage was never recovered…but the hunt is ongoing.

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