Category Archives: History

Cuban Crisis: 50 Years Ago Today

Fifty-years ago, on October 22, 1962 I was at sea and headed for a rendezvous with other US Navy destroyers somewhere off the coast of North Carolina. The president of the United States was on national television telling the American public about the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles just ninety-miles from the coast of Key West, Florida and that such was not to be tolerated. The cold war never came closer to becoming the last hot war in human history and thousands of us sailors were headed towards ground zero.

As a radioman with a top-secret cryptography clearance, I was privy to our operational Continue reading Cuban Crisis: 50 Years Ago Today

Oh Say Can You See?

Ron Coffey mentioned on his blog about Jose Feliciano’s singing of the Star Spangled Banner at a Detroit Lions game in 1968. Feliciano, a gifted blind guitar player/singer from Puerto Rico, decided to do a changed up rendition of the anthem and the traditionalist in the crowd didn’t take kindly to it.

The late 1960s were a time of change and controversy and much of the disagreement was centered around America’s involvement in Vietnam. I was teaching high school at Villa Park, CA, a pretty upscale and conservative community in the heart of Orange County, and there wasn’t a lot of tolerance for anyone with a liberal, anti-war train of thought. Most of the students at VP were against the war while most of their parents were hard-core America, love it or leave it types. One of the easiest ways to arouse the Continue reading Oh Say Can You See?

Romney/Ryan and the Kennedy Question

I’ve rolled this thought around for several years and have been reluctant to discuss it for fear I would come across as being bigoted. But, couple of days ago I came across an article at The Daily Beast that gave credibility to my concerns so I decided to break my silence.

Most people know that John F. Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic elected to the presidency of the United States. Catholics had never fared well in presidential competition for many reasons but chief among them was the fear that a Catholic president couldn’t act independently of the Vatican (the Pope). If a conflict developed between the dictates of the church and the needs of the nation, a Catholic leader would bow to the church.

Kennedy broke through this bias in 1960 and became our first, and only, Catholic Continue reading Romney/Ryan and the Kennedy Question

Getting Out the Vote

For all the years I taught US History and Government a major topic was expanding the franchise in America and increasing the voter turnout. It is one thing to have the right to vote and yet another to get people to exercise that right.

Voter franchise history is America has been a rough road. In the beginning voting was something reserved white males who owned property. Somehow it was thought that unless one had a vested financial interest in the nation they couldn’t make good political choices. And women, well forget that. They weren’t considered inferior for nothing. Obviously, it was believed, the mind of a woman couldn’t hardly deal with the complexities of political issues.

Expanding the franchise has involved political struggle, civil war, great protest movements that some times resulted in violence, drawn out court battles, acts of Continue reading Getting Out the Vote

No Peace in Palestine, says Mitt

Well, the second piece of video from a private Romney fundraiser has been released and in this one he is heard saying that peace in the Mid-East is impossible because the Palestinians just don’t want peace, “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.”

In what I viewed as a rambling overview of possible Mid-East scenarios, Romney gives no mention to the part played in the unrest by the history of the original partition of Palestine following WWII, the often brutal suppression of Palestinians by the Israeli military and police, and the constant encroachment onto Palestinian lands by Jewish settlements.

The United States has held an overtly and consistent pro-Israeli view since the 1947 divide of Palestine into two nations, Israel and Palestine. In fact, it was the US, using the Soviet Union’s absence from the talks, that forced a yes vote on the UN’s decision to Continue reading No Peace in Palestine, says Mitt

Why is the Arab World so Easily Offended?

“Modernity requires the willingness to be offended. And as anti-American violence across the Middle East and beyond shows, that willingness is something the Arab world, the heartland of Islam, still lacks.” This is the opening paragraph of an editorial appearing in the Washington Post that every American should spend a little time with.

Authored by Fouad Ajami, it contains enough Islamic and Arab history to provide insight into what we in the West have so often witnessed over the decades.

Click HERE for complete article.

Lie, Buy, and Deny

I have the Power Of Attorney for an older friend, Charles, who is in a nursing home. Recently, Charles had become very concerned about getting a State ID. I told him that although he no longer drove, his driver’s license was still good for another year to use as identification. I told him it was a waste of $24.00 but he was insistent about getting a state ID. I took him to the BMV and the Clerk there told him he could wait another year as his driver’s license was still good. Finally, he said, “I heard on television that they won’t let me vote without a State ID.” The Clerk and I both reassured him that he couldn’t be denied his right to vote.

For years, I have encouraged him to cast absentee ballots but he wants to vote in person. I told him that I would take him to the Board of Election and he can still vote as he would if he were going to a precinct polling place, but he could do it early.  Continue reading Lie, Buy, and Deny

The Rewriting of History

As a historian I know there is really no such thing as absolute truth in history. What we think has taken place in our past is almost totally based on how others perceived what they experienced and then took the time to somehow pass along to others.

That we arrive at differing accounts of history is to be expected. Many people can be eye witnesses to an event and not agree on exactly what it was they witnessed. They can also disagree on the significance of what they experienced. I, for example, was smack dab in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. You couldn’t have been any closer without actually being on the island of Cuba itself. When the whole think was over and I had time to read the newspaper and magazine accounts of just how close the world came to nuclear annihilation I was shocked. I was a Radioman and privy to top-secret Continue reading The Rewriting of History

One Small Step and a $100 for Me!

On a hot July, 1969 evening I took a small black and white TV to my night job at a gas station in Whittier, California. Like maybe billions of other people I wanted to witness something that had never happened in the history of all mankind, a human footprint being pressed into the surface of the moon.

Sometime during the night I sat alone in the station’s sales room watching fellow Ohioan, Neil Armstrong, take that, “…one giant leap for mankind.” A few minutes later I walked out to the parking lot and stared at the moon trying to grasp the reality that there was one of us bounding around up there gathering rocks. For people of my generation this was another of those, where were you moments.

That fall I began my senior year as a history major at Cal-State Fullerton. For an oral history project I took an inexpensive tape recorder and conducted an interview series of Continue reading One Small Step and a $100 for Me!

Would America Still Like Ike Today?

There’s a meme or poster going viral on the Internet at the moment containing a quote from former Republican president, Dwight David Eisenhower. Ike’s words contain significant worth but the referenced poster doesn’t contain the complete quote, which I believe is needed.

Bear in mind that these words were spoken by the military genius who led us through the Second World War, guided us out of Korea, and formulated Cold War policies that helped contain and eventually defeat global communist expansion.

It was also Eisenhower, the general and president, who cautioned us against exactly Continue reading Would America Still Like Ike Today?

After Seven Generations It’s No More!

Many of you have no personal recollection of old fashion general stores like those that dotted the landscape of days gone by. Places where whole communities went for the staples of life and to exchange news, rumors, and generally get their social fix.

When I conceived this blog I wanted it to be a sort of virtual general store where people could come and go, sit for a spell, and exchange news and views. That’s why I chose the name Chapman’s General Store. I want writers to stop by, take a seat, and occasionally spit on the warm pot-bellied stove and watch the steam rise into the ether. That’s also why I don’t have any real sponsors, I don’t want anyone to get their business reputation scalded by any steam that may occur.

Gray’s Store, Adamsville, RI

I’m writing this because of a sad news story I came across this week. The oldest, continuously operating, general store in America just closed its doors. Adamsville, Rhode Island’s Gray’s Store, after 224 years and seven generations of family operation, is closing its doors. Gray’s is not the last, just the oldest. But, the last can’t be too far away.

Just yesterday I was chatting with a friend in Eastern Kentucky and it was mentioned that in that remote area the Walmart in a neighboring county now filled the role of the country general store. Area residents now drive to Walmart on Saturday and spend a good part of the day meeting with friends and neighbors and swapping stories and getting caught up on local happenings.

Somehow I can’t picture Walmart ever installing a glowing pot-bellied stove back in the sporting goods or hardware sections of their stores. Just ain’t the same!

Random Thought: Smooth Bore Muskets

When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the smooth bore musket. The inaccuracy of the smooth bore musket is what made it necessary for huge lines of men to assemble in close proximity to the opposing side and fire massive volleys of lead at each other. I’m pretty sure none of the founding fathers envisioned a day when one lone gunner could walk into a crowded theater and lay waste in numbers exceeding what it took a couple hundred men to do in 1791.

Republicans I Admire

This list is an outgrowth of a statement I made in support of John McCain’s recent support of long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin. Abedin has been attacked by Michelle Bachmann and other right-wing figures as being a Muslim-American woman who is part of a Muslim Brotherhood, “…conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government.”

In an address on the floor of the US Senate McCain said:

“I have every confidence in Huma’s loyalty to our country, and everyone else should as well,” he said. “All Americans owe Huma a debt of gratitude for her many years of superior public service. I hope these ugly and unfortunate attacks on her can be Continue reading Republicans I Admire

“You Have a Story for Everything”

My granddaughter, Hannah, just paid me one of the greatest compliments possible. She said, “Grandpa, you have a story for everything.” That is a comment I heard a number of times while teaching and it always made me smile large.

I have always loved real-life stories. I can remember my dad telling me stories about growing up in the South and about his favorite uncle, uncle Arthur. I remember back in the late 1940s my uncle Homer sitting with me on his back steps and teaching me to tell time and all about the moon and the stars.

I remember the old men and veterans who sat under the overhang at the Elliott Hotel telling stories about the World Wars and the countries they had visited and the sights they had witnessed. Continue reading “You Have a Story for Everything”

America Needs a Military Draft or National Service Requirement

When I get together with people my age, those who are still breathing, the one thing many of us have in common is military service. And the thing most of us vets can agree on is that nothing had a greater positive effect on our lives than our military experience.

That was certainly true in my case. As I’ve written about in the past, it gave me a chance to grow up, experience responsibility, develop some leadership skills, see some of the world, and develop a better picture of self and self-worth. When I was discharged and decided to go to college I was not the half-wild and undisciplined creature I was when walking out the doors of high school.

Being a veteran made me eligible for GI Bill of Rights benefits which made it easier to pay for college and having a college degree ensured I would have a more financially successful Continue reading America Needs a Military Draft or National Service Requirement