Archive for the ‘History’ Category

“In the end, I think I went to war because it seemed like the safest thing to do.”

March 21, 2018

Kidder, Tracy. My Detachment: A Memoir (p. 44). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A World War II Anecdote

October 14, 2017

While doing some research about a relative’s experience in World War II, I came upon this interesting story that has nothing to do with my relative but which I want to capture:

Before leaving Cabanatuan [as prisoners of war] we were ordered to complete a form covering our work skills. We steadfastly refused to do so for several days until finally our Senior Officer asked us to comply with their wishes. To show us that he was not asking us to do anything he would not do, he read his BIO to us. We quickly perceived that he had told nothing truthful. He said he was a Texas cotton farmer, for example, when all of knew he was a Virginian and a lifetime military man. Taking a clue from this, I filled out the blanks on my paper, completely absent of truth, writing that I was an electrician with 12 years of practical experience.

Bert Riggs copied my BIO with a few changes in locations, states, etc. When we arrived in Mukden, we were given a highly technical test dealing with electrical circuitry and Ohm’s Law, a theory developed by George Simon Ohm, a German Physicist. When I looked at my paper, I wrote on the front, “See back page” and then I entered: “This is entirely out of my field. My line is installing electrical circuits in a home, winding motors, and installing ground wires”. Monday morning I was taken to the MKK. factory and turned over to the Japanese in charge of the Electrical Shop. A little later, Bert Riggs joined our gang. Can you imagine the type of electrical excellence we contributed to MKK.? It is said that the 150 “Domi Americans were credited with $3 million dollars in damage to the factory, before we left for Kamioka, Japan.

George Smiley

October 9, 2017

My family has watched the BBC adaption of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” several times, often during Christmas visits.  My older brother has read all the books, so after many years I followed suit, reading all of them a couple of years ago.   And now, this;

1. Bagehot – – To understand Britain, read its spy novels – – The nature of the establishment, the agonies of decline, the complicated tug of patriotism: spy novels explore what makes Britain British

2. George Smiley is back. Really? – – “A Legacy of Spies”: John le Carré’s latest, maybe last, venture – – The old masters, John and George, puzzle their watchers

“[He] reported a malfunction, not a strike…His coolness had saved the world from nuclear apocalypse.”

October 2, 2017

Midnight and counting – – Stanislav Petrov was declared to have died on September 18th – – “The man who saved the world” was 77

“Alferd Packer, you voracious, man-eating son-of-a-bitch. They was only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate five of them.”

September 20, 2017

Michener, James A.. Centennial: A Novel (p. 957). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Alferd Packer, who is buried in my home town’s cemetery, was a favorite character of my friends and I as we grew up in Littleton, Colorado.

The context for the quote:

Alferd Packer had been a mountain guide, as mixed up as the spelling of his first name, and late in 1873 for a grubstake he volunteered to lead a hunting party of twenty into the western mountains. When a blizzard struck he got lost with five of the members. The party was snowbound for three months. They ran out of food, so Packer, as the man responsible for the leadership and survival of the group, began eating his fellow sportsmen.

When the spring thaws came Alferd Packer returned, picking his teeth and showing no signs of ordeal, but later the skeletons of his companions were found, each skull showing signs of having been smacked with the sharp edge of an ax.

The macabre episode might have passed unnoticed into history as one more macabre affair along the Continental Divide, except for the memorable charge made by the judge when he sentenced Packer. Whether the judge actually said these words cannot now be proved, but they have passed into the folklore of the state, providing Colorado with its one indisputable folk hero. Said the judge, “Alferd Packer, you voracious, man-eating son-of-a-bitch. They was only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate five of them.”

This affair made Packer the patron saint of the Republican party . . . . .

Michener, James A.. Centennial: A Novel (p. 957). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.