Wednesday, August 15, 2018

VS Naipaul, RIP -- August 15, 2018
I was sorry to hear of the death of Trinidadian author VS Naipaul.  I haven't read any of his novels, but I enjoyed his short stories.  Many people complain that he was a bigot.  I would not have known it from his stories.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bags Three Airplanes in Less Than a Minute -- August 14, 2018

Hickory, NC Daily Record, 21-August-1918
French ace René Fonck was the highest-scoring Allied ace, with 75 confirmed victories. 100 years ago today, on 14-August-1918, he shot down three German airplanes in seconds.


Paris, Aug. 21. -- Lieut. Rene Fonck, the French aviator, who shot down three German airplanes on August 14, as announced officially Sunday, accounted for all three of them in the record-breaking time of 20 seconds.

Fonck went out escorted by two patrolling machines. After cruising for 10 minutes he spied four enemy two-seater battle planes flying in Indian file with only a few hundred yards between each. The French flyer fell upon the first enemy machine with his machine gun. It fell in flames in 10 seconds. Later he got his sights on the second machine with the same result. The third dodged sideways before Fonck could take aim and escaped, but by a swift turn of the rudder he dashed at the fourth airplane and sent it down to join the first two.

Lieut. Rene Fonck, recognized as the greatest French air fighter since Captain Guynemer, is credited with bringing down 60 enemy airplanes. Of these he downed six in one day in the course of two patrols.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Let's Stay Awhile -- August 13, 2018

New York Tribune, 25-July-1915
Southern Pacific advertised that people could take their luxurious Sunset Limited from New Orleans to San Francisco or San Diego by way of Los Angeles, or take a Southern Pacific steamship.  San Francisco was hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and San Diego offered the Panama-California Exposition.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Comic Book -- Did Spy Smasher Kill Hitler? -- August 11, 2018
I like Spy Smasher. He didn't have fancy powers. He just smashed spies. He had a cool uniform, too. Here we also see one of my favorite cover subjects, Axis leaders getting their comeuppance.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Dr Hugo Eckener 150 -- August 10, 2018

Washington Star, 21-October-1928
Dr Hugo Eckener, pioneer lighter-than-air pilot and promoter, was born 150 years ago today, on 10-August-1868.  He became a publicist for Ferdinand von Zeppelin's company and earned his pilot's license in 1911.  During World War One, he trained most of Germany's Zeppelin pilots.  After the war, Dr Eckener managed the Zeppelin company.  He toured Germany to raise money to build LZ 127, the Graf Zeppelin.

Eckener commanded the Graf Zeppelin on the first transatlantic passenger flight in 1928 and the first round-the-world airship flight

When the Nazis came to power, they nationalized the Zeppelin company and pushed out Dr Eckener.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ken Norton 75 -- August 9, 2018
Heavyweight champ Ken Norton was born 75 years ago today, on 09-August-2018.  I remember the wide-spread shock when he beat Muhammad Ali and broke his jaw.  When Norton was given the title in 1978 because of a complicated series of events with Ali and Leon Spinks, I thought he would hold it for a long time.  I was surprised when Norton lost the title in his first defense, against Larry Holmes.

I should have written something here when Ken Norton died in 2013.

"When I talk to youngsters today, especially those involved in athletics, I tell them to get their education first." -- Ken Norton

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Pulp -- Operator #5 -- August 7, 2018

Operator #5 was Jimmy Christopher, a secret agent of the United States.  The magazine is famous for series of 13 stories known as "The Purple Invasion,"  about a Nazi Germany-like country, the Purple Empire, that invades and conquers the US.

Monday, August 6, 2018

German Air Raid Fiasco; Zeppelin Downed in Flames -- August 6, 2018

Wheeling Intelligencer, 06-August-1918

100 years ago today, on the night of 05-06-August-1918, Peter Strasser, the most important proponent and strategist of Zeppelins in Germany's Imperial Navy, was killed when L 70 was shot down by a D.H.4 near the English coast.  Strasser and the rest of his crew were killed.  This was the last Zeppelin raid on Britain during the war.  


LONDON, August 6. -- The attempted raid by German Zeppelins in the east Anglian coast last night proved to be a complete fiasco, according to reports thus far received.
British fliers who are ever on alert along the coast were ready, for the visitors, and met them well out at sea, bringing down one in flames, damaging a second and driving a third away. What happened to the other two airships in the squadron is not disclosed in the official statement. The fact, however, that the report said "Zeppelins crossed the coast" is ground for the presumption that these did reach land.

There is no evidence as yet that they dropped any bombs and it is probable that their crews were kept busy protecting their ships against pursuing British airmen.

LONDON. August 6.-- In last night's raid on England by German airships one of the enemy craft, a Zeppelin, was brought down, it was Officially announced today.

"Another of the German airships was damaged, but probably succeeded in reaching its base."

The official statement relative to the air raids reads:
"Five enemy airships attempted to cross the coast last night, but while still at sea were attacked by royal air force contingents, co-operating with naval units.

"Three were engaged in action and one was shot down in flames 40 miles from the coast. Another was damaged, but probably succeeded In reaching base."

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Drydocking of the Oregon -- August 5, 2018

San Francisco Call, 27-April-1896
From the 27-April-1896 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Click on the image for a larger view. Oregon was a pre-Dreadnought battleship, built at San Francisco's Union Iron Works. When the Spanish-American War was on the brink of erupting, Oregon sailed around the Horn to the east coast in three weeks. This provided ammunition for proponents of a Panama Canal. Oregon served in the fleet that destroyed the Spanish fleet at Santiago de Cuba on 03-July-1898. In 1915 she visited the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Starting in 1925, she was preserved at Portland, Oregon as a museum ship. When World War II broke out, she was converted to a barge. 

How the Great Battle-Ship Was Handled at Hunters Point.
Went In on the Instant of Slack Water at Extreme High Tide.
The Tugs Monarch and Hercules Pushed the Mammoth Hull Safely Through the Gates.

With two-redstack tugs, the Monarch and Hercules, to work her along, the big battle-ship Oregon last night slipped into Hunters Point stone drydock and the falling tide grounded her gently in the chocks.

It was a ticklish bit of work, for if the ebb had caught her on the dock sill her steel back would have broken like a pipe-stem. The tide in that locality, when it reaches its highest point/does not stand the usual sixty or seventy minutes, but immediately begins its overflow, and should that great mass of 10,000 tons dead weight have come down on an insecure bed, beams and plates which fit to each other with the nicety of a watch's make-up would have been ruined beyond repair. With only a few inches to spare on each side of the bilges and under the keel the greatest care must be exercised regarding depth of water and the momentum of the great mass as it is* moved toward the dock gates.

The stone basin is 500 feet long, 115 feet wide at the top and 60 feet at the bottom, while the Oregon is 69 feet 3 inches in beam and as she stands draws about 23 feet of water. It was calculated that there would be almost 27 feet of water at high tide in the dock.

At 10 o'clock the Oregon, silent, white and ghostly in the bright moonlight, arrived off Hunters Point. Under her quarter were the two tugs holding her tightly against the still flooding, tide. Ahead of the majestic craft were the tugs Redmond and Rockaway standing motionless in the smooth water.

The big caisson had been removed, leaving a clear roadway into the dock, and everything was ready for the rush in when the water was at rest. On the pier-head the dock superintendent was watching intently the passing current and from time to time testing its flow by throwing chips out into the stream.

A large number of people came down to see the battle-ship come in to the dock that was a few sizes too small for her.

Captain George Harvey of the Merchants' Tug Company stood on the forward turret over the two monster 13-inch rifles and directed the two tugs. From time to time could be heard his shrill whistle as he jockeyed his 'great team for the start.

Superintendent Dickie of the Union Iron Works was stationed in the extreme forward part of the bow waiting for the vessels to cease their drift. The other tugs took their places between the dock and ship.

Presently the floating bits of wood thrown in the water stood stationary and Captain Harvey whistled "go ahead."

The stern of the battle-ship had swung toward the south, and Captain Shaw of the Redmond was directed to push the craft back into position.

The Redmond pressed her nose against the Hercules, which was on that side of the ship, and though she made the beams of her sister tug groan, her strong engine slowly jammed the Oregon; around until the shield on her stem faced the dock. Then the procession drew slowly in toward the gate.

Different currents threw her first one way. then the other, but the tugs backing, stopping and going ahead kept her pointing ever toward the center of the basin and soon her forefoot was in the threshold.

Would she go in? was the question each one asked himself. The men onshore watched the tide-gauge and those on the battle-ship watched her course.

As she drew in, so accurately had she been navigated that her smooth white flanks never touched the temporary wooden fenders, though there was only about five or six inches to spare on each side.

As the space became too, narrow for their entrance with the Oregon, the Hercules and Monarch let go, and the splendid battle-ship glided majestically into the basin, and the gate was closed behind her. To-day the great pumps will draw the water from under her and she will settle down on the blocks which will be adjusted to a nicety to catch her ponderous weight.

Then she will be cleaned and prepared for her trial trip and will prove her metal in speed. The test of the great thirteen inch guns and their sisters will come only when war sends them barking over the deep.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Eddie Jefferson 100 -- August 3, 2018

Eddie Jefferson, the father of vocalese, was born 100 years ago today, on 03-August-1918.  I loved listening to his music on KJAZ.  I remember when someone shot and killed him in 1979.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

James O'Neill Monte Cristo -- August 1, 2018

Alta California, 15-June-1884
Actor James O'Neill, father of playwright Eugene O'Neill, spent a significant portion of his career playing Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo.  O'Neill played the part over 6000 times between 1875 and the early Twentieth Century.  He grew sick of the role and felt that it stunted his growth as an actor, but the public demanded that he play the Count.

The ad above is for an 1884 week at San Francisco's California Theater.

Moving Picture World, 25-October-1913

In 1912, James O'Neill played the part in the first production of the Famous Players Film Company.  It was directed by Edwin S Porter.