Dallas comes together, staying apart

April 26, 2020

What happens when Dallas goes home, instead of going out?
Produced by The Well Creative Productions
Drone Videography – Cash Sirois
Edited By – Jason Seely

What did Dallas look like the night of Friday, March 20, 2020? It was the first night of the “shelter in place” protocols in Dallas to try to stop the COVID-19 virus.

I’m a sucker for interesting drone photography. I love a video done to a good piece of music, and even better when it seems the music and the moving pictures take each other in their arms and dance through three or four minutes, putting a smile on our faces.

TheWellDelivers.com (@TheWellDelivers) put this together, with drone photography by Cash Sirois, and music by a band I don’t know, The Bastards of Soul.

And it’s close to perfection.

KERA-TV, our local public station, uses the film in the interstices between the end of a program that doesn’t quite fill its slot, and the next program’s start. I looked for it under KERA’s name, but couldn’t find it. KERA has a couple of other films I really like, including “The Million Dollar Monarch,” and “The Chip that Jack Built,” a joyful honorific to the Jack Kilby who invented the integrated circuit and won a Nobel for it.

But it’s unfindable from KERA’s site, for me. I caught the credits on one of those showings, and found it by looking for Cash Sirois.

(I hope Raul Malo comes back soon, on a night I can see him.)

Last shot from the film by The Well Creative Productions.

A few other television stations have similar films about their cities. These could be a good geography exercise, or maybe part of a project if geography teachers still assign students to report on one state or city.

More likely, it’s just an enjoyable way to see some of the sights, and to get an idea of what it means to record history, to capture history in the making.

Have you seen other films we ought to know about?

Wash your hands. Cover your sneezes and coughs.

More:

  • The Bastards of Soul are a Dallas-origin band that’s been around about four years, with people who have been around a lot longer than that; read about them in the Dallas Observer
  • D Magazine story on the video, why and how
  • See below, another drone video of Dallas, released the same date the video above was shot; different views, different tone (shot earlier, you can tell by the colors of the buildings)
Nice drone shots of Dallas before the shutdown, from TappChannel4.

Disasters in U.S. schools: March 18, 1937, New London, Texas, gas explosion

March 18, 2019

Most high school history students don’t know about it.  Most high school history students in Texas don’t know about it.

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster. Photo from the New London Museum

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster. Photo from the New London Museum

I wonder, sometimes, how many Texans remember at all.

I wonder, too, if there are lessons to be learned from the New London tragedy, while the nation debates what to do to prevent recurrences of school shootings.

No one in New London, Texas, bore ill-will towards children, or schools, or other New Londoners. Some good came of the disaster, but as we’ve seen, with animosity towards schools and school safety in Texas today, and a lackadaisical approach to dangerous substance control and accident prevention in West, Texas, and other places, lessons learned were not learned well.

The deadliest disaster ever to hit a public school in the U.S. struck on March 18, 1937, when a natural gas explosion destroyed the new school building at New London, Texas, killing about 300 people — 79 years ago today.

The remains of the London School after the exp...

The remains of the London School after the explosion of March 18, 1937. Mother Frances Hospital archives

Noise from the blast alerted the town, and many people in the oilfields for many miles.  Telephone and telegraph communication got word out.  Oil companies dismissed their employees, with their tools, to assist rescue and recovery efforts.  Notably, 20-year-old Walter Cronkite came to town to report the news for a wire service.

Investigation determined that a leak in a newly-installed tap into the waste gas pipe coming from nearby oil fields probably allowed natural gas to accumulate under the building.  A spark from a sander started a fire in gas-filled air, and that in turn exploded the cavern under the school.  School officials approved the tap to the waste gas line to save money.  (Hello, Flint, Michigan!) Natural gas is odorless.  One result of the disaster was a Texas law requiring all utility natural gas to be odorized with ethyl mercaptan.

Though the Great Depression still gripped the nation, wealth flowed in New London from oil extraction from nearby oil fields.  The  school district completed construction on a new building in 1939, just two years later — with a pink granite memorial cenotaph in front.

Today, disasters produce a wealth of litigation, tort suits trying to get money to make the injured whole, and to sting those at fault to change to prevent later disasters.  In 1937 official work cut off such lawsuits.

Three days after the explosion, inquiries were held to determine the cause of the disaster. The state of Texas and the Bureau of Mines sent experts to the scene. Hearings were conducted. From these investigations, researchers learned that until January 18, 1937, the school had received its gas from the United Gas Company. To save gas expenses of $300 a month, plumbers, with the knowledge and approval of the school board and superintendent, had tapped a residue gas line of Parade Gasoline Company. School officials saw nothing wrong because the use of “green” or “wet” gas was a frequent money-saving practice for homes, schools, and churches in the oilfield. The researchers concluded that gas had escaped from a faulty connection and accumulated beneath the building. Green gas has no smell; no one knew it was accumulating beneath the building, although on other days there had been evidence of leaking gas. No school officials were found liable.

These findings brought a hostile reaction from many parents. More than seventy lawsuits were filed for damages. Few cases came to trial, however, and those that did were dismissed by district judge Robert T. Brown for lack of evidence. Public pressure forced the resignation of the superintendent, who had lost a son in the explosion. The most important result of the disaster was the passage of a state odorization law, which required that distinctive malodorants be mixed in all gas for commercial and industrial use so that people could be warned by the smell. The thirty surviving seniors at New London finished their year in temporary buildings while a new school was built on nearly the same site. The builders focused primarily on safety and secondarily on their desire to inspire students to a higher education. A cenotaph of Texas pink granite, designed by Donald S. Nelson, architect, and Herring Coe, sculptor, was erected in front of the new school in 1939.  (Texas Handbook of History, Online, from the Texas State Historical Association)

Of about 500 students, more than 50% of them died.  Once the new school and memorial were built, and the law passed requiring utilities to odorize natural gas so leaks could be detected earlier, survivors and rescuers rather shut down telling the history.  A 1977 reunion of survivors was the first in 40 years.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion. Photo from the New London Museum.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion. Photo from the New London Museum.

Because of that scarring silence, the story slipped from the pages of most history books.

Trinity Mother Frances Hospital treated the victims; a 2012 film from the hospital offers one of the best short histories of the events available today.

New London, and the New London Museum, work to remember the dead and honor them.  Work continues on a film about the disaster, perhaps for release in 2013:

Now, more than 75 years later, the London Museum, across the highway from where the original school was destroyed, keeps alive the memory of much of a generation who died on that terrible day.

This video was produced by Michael Brown Productions of Arlington, TX as a prelude to a feature documentary on the explosion and its aftermath which is planned for
the spring of 2013.  . . .

www.newlondonschool.org/museum

What are the lessons of the New London Disaster?  We learned to remember safety, when dealing with natural gas.  A solution was found to alert people to the presence of otherwise-odorless, explosive gases, a solution now required by law throughout the U.S.  Natural gas explosions decreased in number, and in damages and deaths.  Wealthy schools districts, cutting corners, can create unintended, even disastrous and deadly consequences.  Quick rebuilding covers the wounds, but does not heal them.

Remembering history takes work; history not remembered through the work of witnesses, victims and survivors, is quickly forgotten — to the detriment of history, and to the pain of the witnesses, victims and survivors.

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion. Photo from Texas Bob Travels.

More:

Houston’s KHOU-TV produced a short feature on the explosion in 2007:

This is an encore post.
Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

New London’s 1937 school disaster, remembered on Twitter today

March 18, 2016

Bridge City resident Richard Schur's mother, Luna Louise Hudson, was a student at the New London School when it exploded on March 18, 1937. Hudson had missed school that day because she couldn't find one of her shoes, but her brother, Elisha, died in the explosion. Photo taken Wednesday 3/9/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise

Bridge City resident Richard Schur’s mother, Luna Louise Hudson, was a student at the New London School when it exploded on March 18, 1937. Hudson had missed school that day because she couldn’t find one of her shoes, but her brother, Elisha, died in the explosion. Photo taken Wednesday 3/9/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise, Beaumont, Texas

Some do work to keep the history alive. Good on them.

Have we learned? How do we explain the explosion in West, Texas? How do we explain the general lack of attention to school facilities nationally?

Did we forget?


Forgotten disasters in U.S. schools: March 18, 1937, New London, Texas, gas explosion

March 18, 2016

Most high school history students don’t know about it.  Most high school history students in Texas don’t know about it.

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster. Photo from the New London Museum

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster. Photo from the New London Museum

I wonder, sometimes, how many Texans remember at all.

I wonder, too, if there are lessons to be learned from the New London tragedy, while the nation debates what to do to prevent recurrences of school shootings.

No one in New London, Texas, bore ill-will towards children, or schools, or other New Londoners. Some good came of the disaster, but as we’ve seen, with animosity towards schools and school safety in Texas today, and a lackadaisical approach to dangerous substance control and accident prevention in West, Texas, and other places, lessons learned were not learned well.

The deadliest disaster ever to hit a public school in the U.S. struck on March 18, 1937, when a natural gas explosion destroyed the new school building at New London, Texas, killing about 300 people — 79 years ago today.

The remains of the London School after the exp...

The remains of the London School after the explosion of March 18, 1937. Mother Frances Hospital archives

Noise from the blast alerted the town, and many people in the oilfields for many miles.  Telephone and telegraph communication got word out.  Oil companies dismissed their employees, with their tools, to assist rescue and recovery efforts.  Notably, 20-year-old Walter Cronkite came to town to report the news for a wire service.

Investigation determined that a leak in a newly-installed tap into the waste gas pipe coming from nearby oil fields probably allowed natural gas to accumulate under the building.  A spark from a sander started a fire in gas-filled air, and that in turn exploded the cavern under the school.  School officials approved the tap to the waste gas line to save money.  (Hello, Flint, Michigan!) Natural gas is odorless.  One result of the disaster was a Texas law requiring all utility natural gas to be odorized with ethyl mercaptan.

Though the Great Depression still gripped the nation, wealth flowed in New London from oil extraction from nearby oil fields.  The  school district completed construction on a new building in 1939, just two years later — with a pink granite memorial cenotaph in front.

Today, disasters produce a wealth of litigation, tort suits trying to get money to make the injured whole, and to sting those at fault to change to prevent later disasters.  In 1937 official work cut off such lawsuits.

Three days after the explosion, inquiries were held to determine the cause of the disaster. The state of Texas and the Bureau of Mines sent experts to the scene. Hearings were conducted. From these investigations, researchers learned that until January 18, 1937, the school had received its gas from the United Gas Company. To save gas expenses of $300 a month, plumbers, with the knowledge and approval of the school board and superintendent, had tapped a residue gas line of Parade Gasoline Company. School officials saw nothing wrong because the use of “green” or “wet” gas was a frequent money-saving practice for homes, schools, and churches in the oilfield. The researchers concluded that gas had escaped from a faulty connection and accumulated beneath the building. Green gas has no smell; no one knew it was accumulating beneath the building, although on other days there had been evidence of leaking gas. No school officials were found liable.

These findings brought a hostile reaction from many parents. More than seventy lawsuits were filed for damages. Few cases came to trial, however, and those that did were dismissed by district judge Robert T. Brown for lack of evidence. Public pressure forced the resignation of the superintendent, who had lost a son in the explosion. The most important result of the disaster was the passage of a state odorization law, which required that distinctive malodorants be mixed in all gas for commercial and industrial use so that people could be warned by the smell. The thirty surviving seniors at New London finished their year in temporary buildings while a new school was built on nearly the same site. The builders focused primarily on safety and secondarily on their desire to inspire students to a higher education. A cenotaph of Texas pink granite, designed by Donald S. Nelson, architect, and Herring Coe, sculptor, was erected in front of the new school in 1939.  (Texas Handbook of History, Online, from the Texas State Historical Association)

Of about 500 students, more than 50% of them died.  Once the new school and memorial were built, and the law passed requiring utilities to odorize natural gas so leaks could be detected earlier, survivors and rescuers rather shut down telling the history.  A 1977 reunion of survivors was the first in 40 years.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion. Photo from the New London Museum.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion. Photo from the New London Museum.

Because of that scarring silence, the story slipped from the pages of most history books.

Trinity Mother Frances Hospital treated the victims; a 2012 film from the hospital offers one of the best short histories of the events available today.

New London, and the New London Museum, work to remember the dead and honor them.  Work continues on a film about the disaster, perhaps for release in 2013:

Now, more than 75 years later, the London Museum, across the highway from where the original school was destroyed, keeps alive the memory of much of a generation who died on that terrible day.

This video was produced by Michael Brown Productions of Arlington, TX as a prelude to a feature documentary on the explosion and its aftermath which is planned for
the spring of 2013.  . . .

www.newlondonschool.org/museum

What are the lessons of the New London Disaster?  We learned to remember safety, when dealing with natural gas.  A solution was found to alert people to the presence of otherwise-odorless, explosive gases, a solution now required by law throughout the U.S.  Natural gas explosions decreased in number, and in damages and deaths.  Wealthy schools districts, cutting corners, can create unintended, even disastrous and deadly consequences.  Quick rebuilding covers the wounds, but does not heal them.

Remembering history takes work; history not remembered through the work of witnesses, victims and survivors, is quickly forgotten — to the detriment of history, and to the pain of the witnesses, victims and survivors.

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion. Photo from Texas Bob Travels.

More:

Houston’s KHOU-TV produced a short feature on the explosion in 2007:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Bob Reitz remembers Dallas — this afternoon!

May 10, 2014

Caption from the Dallas Morning News blogs:  This aerial photo shows the Casa View shopping village and the surrounding area in 1957, three years after Bob Reitz moved into the neighborhood with his family at age 7. Reitz is presenting a talk titled

Caption from the Dallas Morning News blogs: This aerial photo shows the Casa View shopping village and the surrounding area in 1957, three years after Bob Reitz moved into the neighborhood with his family at age 7. Reitz is presenting a talk titled “A Time We Once Shared” from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Dallas’ White Rock Hills Branch Library. File 1957 / Staff Photo

Steve Blow writes columns for the local section of the Dallas Morning News Wednesday he featured one of our veteran Scouters from Wisdom Trail District here in the southwest corner of Dallas County.

Dallas and Scout historian Bob Reitz - Photo by Ed Darrell

Dallas and Scout historian Bob Reitz

Bob Reitz is also the curator of the Jack Harbin Boy Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom, a surprisingly great store of Scout history.  Among many other things he does well, Bob is a historian of great stories.

This afternoon, May 10, he’s telling stories of Dallas in his growing up years in the “middle-middle class” neighborhood of Casa View, east of downtown.  Bob’s got two hours (it will seem like one or less) at the White Rock Hills Branch Library, starting at 2:00 p.m. (9150 Ferguson Rd, 75228 (map))

You ought to go.

Below the fold, Steve Blow’s column, should it disappear from the DMN site.

Read the rest of this entry »


Forgotten disasters in U.S. schools: The New London, Texas, gas explosion

March 18, 2013

Most high school history students don’t know about it.  Most high school history students in Texas don’t know about it.

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster.  Photo from the New London Museum

New London School, New London, Texas, before the 1937 disaster. Photo from the New London Museum

I wonder, sometimes, how many Texans remember at all.

I wonder, too, if there are lessons to be learned from the New London tragedy, while the nation debates what to do to prevent recurrences of school shootings.

The deadliest disaster ever to hit a public school in the U.S. struck on March 18, 1937, when a natural gas explosion destroyed the new school building at New London, Texas, killing about 300 people — 76 years ago today.

The remains of the London School after the exp...

The remains of the London School after the explosion of March 18, 1937. Wikipedia photo

Noise from the blast alerted the town, and many people in the oilfields for many miles.  Telephone and telegraph communication got word out.  Oil companies dismissed their employees, with their tools, to assist with rescue and recovery efforts.  Notably, 20-year-old Walter Cronkite came town to report the news for a wire service.

Investigation determined that a leak in a newly-installed tap into the waste gas pipe coming from nearby oil fields probably allowed natural gas to accumulate under the building.  A spark from a sander started a fire in gas-filled air, and that in turn exploded the cavern under the school.  School officials approved the tap to the waste gas line to save money.  Natural gas is odorless.  One result of the disaster was a Texas law requiring all utility natural gas to be odorized with ethyl mercaptan.

Though the Great Depression still gripped the nation, wealth flowed in New London from oil extraction from the nearby oil fields.  The  school district completed construction on a new building in 1939, just two years later — with a pink granite memorial cenotaph in front.

Today, disasters produce a wealth of litigation, tort suits trying to get money to make the injured whole, and to sting those at fault to change to prevent later disasters.  In 1937 official work cut off such lawsuits.

Three days after the explosion, inquiries were held to determine the cause of the disaster. The state of Texas and the Bureau of Mines sent experts to the scene. Hearings were conducted. From these investigations, researchers learned that until January 18, 1937, the school had received its gas from the United Gas Company. To save gas expenses of $300 a month, plumbers, with the knowledge and approval of the school board and superintendent, had tapped a residue gas line of Parade Gasoline Company. School officials saw nothing wrong because the use of “green” or “wet” gas was a frequent money-saving practice for homes, schools, and churches in the oilfield. The researchers concluded that gas had escaped from a faulty connection and accumulated beneath the building. Green gas has no smell; no one knew it was accumulating beneath the building, although on other days there had been evidence of leaking gas. No school officials were found liable.

These findings brought a hostile reaction from many parents. More than seventy lawsuits were filed for damages. Few cases came to trial, however, and those that did were dismissed by district judge Robert T. Brown for lack of evidence. Public pressure forced the resignation of the superintendent, who had lost a son in the explosion. The most important result of the disaster was the passage of a state odorization law, which required that distinctive malodorants be mixed in all gas for commercial and industrial use so that people could be warned by the smell. The thirty surviving seniors at New London finished their year in temporary buildings while a new school was built on nearly the same site. The builders focused primarily on safety and secondarily on their desire to inspire students to a higher education. A cenotaph of Texas pink granite, designed by Donald S. Nelson, architect, and Herring Coe, sculptor, was erected in front of the new school in 1939.  (Texas Handbook of History, Online, from the Texas State Historical Association)

Of about 500 students, more than 50% of them died.  Once the new school and memorial were built, and the law passed requiring utilities to odorize natural gas so leaks could be detected earlier, survivors and rescuers rather shut down telling the history.  A 1977 reunion of survivors was the first in 40 years.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion.  Photo from the New London Museum.

New London School shortly after the March 18, 1937, explosion. Photo from the New London Museum.

Because of that healing silence, the story slipped from the pages of most history books.

Trinity Mother Frances Hospital treated the victims; a 2012 film from the hospital offers one of the best short histories of the events available today.

New London, and the New London Museum, work to remember the dead and honor them.  Work continues on a film about the disaster, perhaps for release in 2013:

Now, more than 75 years later, the London Museum, across the highway from where the original school was destroyed, keeps alive the memory of much of a generation who died on that terrible day.

This video was produced by Michael Brown Productions of Arlington, TX as a prelude to a feature documentary on the explosion and its aftermath which is planned for
the spring of 2013.  . . .

www.newlondonschool.org/museum

What are the lessons of the New London Disaster?  We learned to remember safety, when dealing with natural gas.  A solution was found to alert people to the presence of otherwise-odorless, explosive gases, a solution now required by law throughout the U.S.  Natural gas explosions decreased in number, and in damages and deaths.  Wealthy schools districts, cutting corners, can create unintended, even disastrous and deadly consequences.  Quick rebuilding covers the wounds, but does not heal them.

Remembering history takes work; history not remembered through the work of witnesses, victims and survivors, is quickly forgotten — to the detriment of history, and to the pain of the witnesses, victims and survivors.

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion

New, New London School and granite cenotaph memorial to the victims of the 1937 explosion. Photo from Texas Bob Travels.

More:

Houston’s KHOU-TV produced a short feature on the explosion in 2007:


Great obits, tribute: The Scoop on obit author Amanda Lewis

March 13, 2013

The Scoop, a blog of the Dallas Morning News, followed up on that great obit of Harry Stamps.  Reporter Eric Aasen tracked down Amanda Lewis, Stamps’s daughter, and the author of his obituary, which the Biloxi Sun-Herald judge “best ever.”

Harry Stamps and his daughter, Amanda Lewis

Harry Stamps with his daughter, Amanda Lewis, at her wedding in Dallas. Lewis wrote the great obituary for her father published last week in the Biloxi Sun-Herald. Photo from Amanda Lewis, via The Scoop

“He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.”

Lewis tells The News she started writing the obituary Thursday morning, when she began the long drive from Dallas to Mississippi. She says her mother had given her some highlights, some bullet points in order to write the standard small-print farewell. But that’s not the kind of obituary she wanted to write.

“I don’t understand why people do a résumé for an obituary,” says Lewis. “It never captures the spirit of the person. My dad had such a big spirit. He had such a big personality. And I didn’t think listing where he went to college and his résumé would do him justice. I liked the idea of setting it up as kind of a contrast where at first you think it’ll be a pretentious obituary — everyone’s great when they die in an obituary — and then I tried to use what would have been his sense of humor to describe my dad. And clearly it worked. I was pleased with it.”

So was everyone else.

Aasen had a couple of great photos to add  (and it ran in this morning’s edition of the newspaper, too).

My father told the story of attending the funeral for a woman who had a bit of a checkered past, as he would euphemistically tell us, and who did not get along with everyone.  He said the pastor, delivering a eulogy, talked of fine Italian tapestries, famous for brilliant colors and even silver and gold used as thread.  “In every fine Italian tapestry, there are black threads woven in, to contrast with the silver and gold,” the pastor said.  “And so it was with the life of this woman.”

Some tributes to the departed capture their spirit — think of Teddy Kennedy quoting  a paraphrase of Bernard  Shaw at the funeral of his brother Robert.  Tributes provide deep, lasting memories, or change events on their own, sometimes.

Harry Stamps’s obit was a great oneI’ve posted two others that I think produced more smiles than tears, and I know there are other obituaries out there that are worthy of reading, spreading the news about, and perhaps, emulation.   Know of any?

More:


Great obits: Val Patterson, Salt Lake City

March 12, 2013

A nice guy by all reports – but not a Ph.D.

Not that he cheated to get it.

It’s a great story, and it unfolded only in the obituary he wrote for himself.  The obituary ran in The Salt Lake Tribune, from July 15 to July 22, 2012.

Val Patterson

Obituary

1953 – 2012

Val Patterson

Val Patterson, 1953-2012

I was Born in Salt Lake City, March 27th 1953. I died of Throat Cancer on July 10th 2012. I went to six different grade schools, then to Churchill, Skyline and the U of U. I loved school, Salt Lake City, the mountains, Utah. I was a true Scientist. Electronics, chemistry, physics, auto mechanic, wood worker, artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic. I had a lot of fun. It was an honor for me to be friends with some truly great people. I thank you. I’ve had great joy living and playing with my dog, my cats and my parrot. But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole, is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane. I loved her more than I have words to express. Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely. Over time, I became one with her, inseparable, happy, fulfilled. I enjoyed one good life. Traveled to every place on earth that I ever wanted to go. Had every job that I wanted to have. Learned all that I wanted to learn. Fixed everything I wanted to fix. Eaten everything I wanted to eat. My life motto was: “Anything for a Laugh”. Other mottos were “If you can break it, I can fix it”, “Don’t apply for a job, create one”. I had three requirements for seeking a great job; 1 – All glory, 2 – Top pay, 3 – No work.

Val Patterson

Val Patterson, 1953-2012

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest.  Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters “PhD” even stood for. For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I’m sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work. Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again. To Disneyland – you can now throw away that “Banned for Life” file you have on me, I’m not a problem anymore – and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this.

To the gang: We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America. The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for “a buck a year” – before Salt Lake got ruined by over population and Lake Powell was brand new. TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives. We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody – we did a good job at that.

If you are trying to decide if you knew me, this might help… My father was RD “Dale” Patterson, older brother “Stan” Patterson, and sister “Bunny” who died in a terrible car wreck when she was a Junior at Skyline. My mom “Ona” and brother “Don” are still alive and well. In college I worked at Vaughns Conoco on 45th South and 29th East. Mary and I are the ones who worked in Saudi Arabia for 8 years when we were young. Mary Jane is now a Fitness Instructor at Golds on Van Winkle – you might be one of her students – see what a lucky guy I am? Yeah, no kidding.

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the “thief” now – for stealing so much from her – there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

If you knew me or not, dear reader, I am happy you got this far into my letter. I speak as a person who had a great life to look back on. My family is following my wishes that I not have a funeral or burial. If you knew me, remember me in your own way. If you want to live forever, then don’t stop breathing, like I did.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, July 22nd from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, casual dress is encouraged.

Online condolences may be offered and memorial video may be viewed at www.starksfuneral.com.

These little snippets of history delight historians, though many of them are so fantastic they make newspaper obit writers frazzled trying to track down the facts.


Great Obits: Amos Schuchman, New York City

March 12, 2013

Amos Schuchman

Amos Schuchman, photo from the New York Daily News, via BizPac Review

Another great obituary.

It was a paid notice (most obituaries are paid notices, by the way), published February 2, 2013 — and it offered Amos Schuchman one last dig at The New York Times:

Amos Schuchman's obit, loved everything about NYC except the NY Times

“[Amos Schuchman] Loved his family, his birth and adopted countries, finance, skiing, opera, ballet and biking in Central Park. Loved everything about NYC, except the New York Times.”

“Loved everything about NYC, except the New York Times.”

Amos Schuchman’s children wrote, “His fearless heart still beats within all of us.  Shalom, Saba.”

Sometimes obituaries really capture the deceased person’s spirit.  Schuchman’s smiling now.

(No, I don’t share his view of the newspaper.)

More:


Great obits: Harry Weathersby Stamps, Long Beach

March 12, 2013

Alerted by a Tweet from Matt Soniak:

Several blogs and other sites, and the Biloxi Sun-Herald, say this is the best obit ever.  It’s a very good one, in any case.

Harry Stamps and wife Ann, in Long Beach, Mississippi

Photo from the SunHerald: PHOTO COURTESY AMANDA LEWIS Harry Stamps stands with wife Ann at their Katrina-damaged home in Long Beach. Stamps wears his famous grass-stained Mississippi State University baseball cap Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/2013/03/11/4521106/best-obit-ever-harry-stamps-obituary.html#storylink=cpy

At the Biloxi SunHerald.com:

Harry Weathersby Stamps

December 19, 1932 — March 9, 2013

Long Beach

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal–just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.

View & sign register book @ www.bradfordokeefe.com
Read more here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sunherald/obituary.aspx?n=harry-stamps&pid=163538353&fhid=4025#fbLoggedOut#storylink=cpy

Yeah, but wouldn’t it have been funny to have held the funeral at the local links?  Just give the address, say nothing about golf, and don’t let anyone mention the venue.  They’d have talked about it for years.


Writing down the history: NAACP wants your story about Dr. King

January 20, 2013

I get earnest, interesting e-mail, too.  Ben Jealous from the NAACP wrote today:

NAACP

Ed,

Tomorrow, we pay homage to one of America’s most righteous defenders and promoters of civil and human rights: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King was an incredible man who changed the course of American history. He inspired millions to stand up in peaceful protest against discriminatory laws and fought for the greater good of all humanity.

Dr. King’s spirit lives on. After his assassination, millions of people picked up the torch and continued to fight for a better future, carrying our shared movement for social justice into the present day.

To celebrate his life and legacy, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us how Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impacted your life and your work.

Did you take part in marches, rallies, and activist work in the 1950s and 1960s? Tell us about it. Have you heard stories about friends or family members who marched with or met Dr. King? We want to hear them.

And if, like me, you weren’t yet born in the 1960s, we want to hear from you, too. Tell us how Dr. King’s work and message has inspired you to fight for civil and human rights today.

Together, we can build a portrait of the impact Dr. King has had on NAACP supporters and America at large. I hope you’ll help us by sharing your story today:

http://action.naacp.org/Impact-of-MLK

Thank you,

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP

Crowd-sourcing history.  Great idea.  I hope they get a great product.  Why don’t you contribute?

More:  

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. Photo from the U.S. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine, via Wikipedia


Quote of the moment: Walter M. Miller, Leibowitz’s shopping list

October 22, 2011

Cover of Miller's Canticle for Liebowitz

Cover of Miller's Canticle for Liebowitz

“Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels—bring home for Emma.”

– Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz


Memphis Public Library assembling history of 2011 floods

June 28, 2011

Here’s a good idea:  The Memphis Public Library is putting together an archive on the 2011 floods in the area, we learn from the Memphis Daily News:

St. Mary’s Senior Helps Library Build Flood Archive

St. Mary’s Episcopal School student Ellery Ammons is devoting her summer break to helping the Memphis Public Library & Information Center build an archive documenting the Mid-South floods of 2011.

Ammons, an employee of the Shelby Forest General Store owned by her parents, is also a Girl Scout, working toward her Gold Award.

Recognizing the need to document this year’s historic deluge, the high school senior decided to take on the tasks of soliciting, cataloging and archiving community photos to create the 2011 Flood Collection.

She plans to create a digital archive of flood photographs to provide future generations with an accurate record of the floods that ensued when the Mississippi and its tributaries overflowed in Memphis and the surrounding areas this past spring.

Library digital projects manager Sarah Frierson said she’s delighted to have the extra hands in the history department, saying the collection “will be a wonderful complement to the library’s existing Mid-South Flood Collection, which documents the floods of 1927 and 1937.”

The Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., is seeking photo donations to add to the 2011 Flood Collection. Donations, which will become part of the library’s permanent collection, can be brought to the history department on the main library’s fourth floor or e-mailed to Flood2011.Photography@gmail.com.

– Aisling Maki


Terrible plunge of BBC News

May 28, 2011

BBC Radio News logo

BBC Radio News logo

3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time.  In Barcelona, Spain, London’s Wembley Stadium, Manchester United and Barcelona(Spain) tangle for the Champions’ League trophy.

BBC News?  This is the order of the stories:

  • In Afghanistan, the national police chief was murdered by a suicide bomber
  • In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was fined $90 million for interfering with business by cutting phones and internet
  • Yemen’s got trouble
  • Palestinian independence got support from the Arab League, meeting in Doha, Qatr
  • U.S. President Obama ended his tour of Europe in Poland, with a pledge of friendship
  • In Moscow, Russian, gay rights demonstrators were attacked by a mob led by people who said they are members of the Russian Orthodox Church
  • Barcelona leads Manchester, 3 to 1, with minutes to play

I’m not usually one to complain, but doesn’t it appear BBC News has its priorities wrong in this order of stories?


The Egyptian Revolution will be Tweeted as well

February 12, 2011

Not only broadcast, but Tweeted, too.  From Dave Does The Blog:

RT @mhegi: Uninstalling dictator COMPLETE – installing now: egypt 2.0: █░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ #egypt #jan25 #tahrir#

Hey, I’m not that tech savvy — I had to think about that for a minute myself.  Quick:  Can you define “hashtag” to your grandmother?

Shouldn’t it be more like “Egypt 10.0?”

Update:  The actual Tweet:


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