The news reported recently that the Trump family was the first to occupy the White House and not own a dog. While I think that is a win-win for dogs I do have a story about presidential dogs. This was originally published on an earlier version of my website but I think it’s time to bring it back for a second reading.
“Feller, a beautiful blond Cocker Spaniel, was an unsolicited 1947 Christmas gift to President Truman. The Trumans elected to give the puppy to the White House physician, Brigadier General Wallace Graham. Dog lovers around the country attacked the President as being anti-canine. Dr. Graham, soon tiring of the press and publicity, decided to get rid of the dog. He had Truman’s Naval Aide, Adm. James K. Foskett, take Feller to Shangri-La (Camp David). As the camp was not open to the press this seemed to end the Feller story, until now. The Admiral left Feller with the chief-in-charge, Quartermaster Chief George A. Poplin. When Poplin was transferred, Charles G. Ross, President Truman’s secretary, came to camp and told Poplin to leave the dog there. Poplin was relieved as chief-in-charge by Damage Control Chief Ralph O. Loften, who in turn was relieved by Chief Boatswain Robert W. Lyle. In 1953, while Chief Lyle was being transferred to Italy, he sought permission from Naval Aide Admiral Robert L. Dennison to take Feller. Permission was granted, provided that no mention be made that the dog once belonged to Truman. Robert gave Feller to his father, Archie Otis Lyle, who owned a farm just outside Greenfield, Ohio. There Feller lived for many happy years until he died of old age.
As a note of interest, when it became known by the camp crew that a member of the Truman family was to visit Shangri-La, Feller would be taken to a pet groomer in Thurmont just to be looking good in case the Trumans wanted to see him. They never did ask about the dog.”
The included video was shot by students of the Radio and TV class at McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio. McClain is where I graduated from and where I taught American History and Government for twenty-six years.
It was built for and gifted to the people of Greenfield by early twentieth century industrialist, Edward Lee McClain and literally is a one of a kind public school. In the late 1990s, when older public schools were being demolished and replaced with new modern facilities, the state of Ohio exempted McClain because of its historical importance.
If you read either of the stories I republished yesterday about Greenfield’s USS Arizona survivor, Jim Wise, you’ll understand the significance of this story from Stars and Stripes. It’s the story of two brothers who served on board the Arizona and on December 7, 1941, one lived and the other lost his life.
On its own the story is plenty interesting. But add in one of the brothers mentioning having saved the life of a man from Greenfield, Ohio, it takes on a whole deeper dimension. I don’t know if Jim Wise or his family ever knew who pulled him out of the Arizona but now, 75 years later, they do.
FOOTNOTE: Jim Wise is not mentioned by name but he was our only person on the Arizona so it has to be him. Also, as of yesterday there were only five remaining survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona.
Originally published on December 9, 2011. Republished here in honor of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
I saw your article on the USS Arizona and seaman James Wise and thought you might like some additional information from what was handed down to me. I’m his son, James L. Wise Jr., and grew up in Greenfield.
I always stop and reflect on December 7th about what all the men and women went through that horrible day. He was 19-years old and thought the US Navy was invincible, as they all did.
Usually at 12:55 pm our time, 7:55 am Hawaiian time, I try to stop what I’m doing and remember that solemn hour the attack started. By 1:10 pm our time, 8:10 am their time, it was all over for the USS Arizona. The battle only lasted 15-minutes for them.
Eddie Montgomery is always asking me whatever became of the stories I put together about Greenfield’s hot rod history? The answer is, they still exists but they’re just harder to find.
Digging around in various former websites I finally came across the link to the collection. Some of these I wrote but the majority were submitted by other locals with an interest in street rods and cars in general.
I don’t know how much is still valid but if you got any age on you you’ll probably get a memory scratched with these stories and photos.
My hometown made the national news and in a way that doesn’t reflect well on it. Our cross-country sports rival is known as the Indians and this past Friday evening we played our annual “county championship” football game against them. Our cheerleaders, not realizing the historical significance of the infamous “Trail of Tears” painted a large banner warning the Indians they were about to face Trail of Tears #2.
This caught the attention of a local student who took a photo of the banner and posted the event online. The story was picked up by area news outlets and from there it went national. It’s no surprise the matter has become the subject of local discussion and our school board has scheduled a meeting to investigate what happened and hopefully use it as a teachable moment and not a lynching of those involved. I know many of the people involved and I know for positive that their purpose was not to make light of one of the most horrible incidents in America’s long and nasty history with Native Americans.
I went looking for information about the sexual misconduct of Newt Gingrich and found a Wikipedia article titled, List of Federal Political Sex Scandals in the United States. After finding what I was looking for I scanned the results from 1900 to the present. To be honest I was hoping to find that most sexual scandals involved Republicans and not Democrats. Here’s what I did discover:
1900-1969: There were only four scandals and half were D and half were R. I’m thinking there were lots more but they either didn’t get caught or didn’t get reported.
1970-1979: This decade witnessed six scandals, all involving Ds.
1980-1989: There were twelve scandals during the 1980s and once again there was a tie. Each party scored a six.
1990-1999: Fifteen of our elected officials got their tail caught in the ringer during this span of time with the Rs racking up an impressive ten scandals.
2000-2009: During this decade another fifteen politicians bit the dust with the winner being the Rs with a total of eleven adventures.
2010-2015: Only half way through the decade and we’ve already witnessed seven politicians misbehaving. The score so fare is four to three with the Rs in the lead.
Draw your own conclusions, make out of this what you will, but I’m pretty sure we’re destined to see these numbers increase until the politicians come to realize that today there are eyes and ears unlike anything they’ve ever known.
Look, the simple truth is that most of us have some racist tendencies but we make every effort to whittle them down and try to get better. There are too many, however, who are openly racists and seem to take some overt pride in it. Then there are those, lots of those, who say and believe things that really are racists but they don’t see themselves as being racists.
I remember being in an pizza parlor in Cincinnati once and a black family came in and sat at a nearby table. My mother, who I never thought of as being racist, said, “Huh, you wouldn’t think those people would like this kind of food.” I don’t think mom thought she was saying anything bad but in my mind she might as well of said, “Shit, I thought all they liked was fried chicken and watermelon.”
Yesterday the nation and world witnessed Kathy Miller, a Trump campaign leader from Ohio, claim that racism in America didn’t exist before president Obama came along. She went on to insist this nation had no racist past, no civil rights movement, no racial riots in Detroit in 1967, or no one named Rodney King was beaten by an out of control pack of Los Angeles cops in 1991.
I’ve been running a non scientific poll asking if Donald Trump was hurting the GOP. Everyone who has responded has agreed that his is.
With that in mind I came across this article at FiveThirtyEight about the death of the GOP. While I don’t make political predictions I find the history and arguments in this piece to be interesting. If the GOP may not be dying in name it certainly is no longer the party of Lincoln or Eisenhower. I think there is an argument for claiming it isn’t even the party of Reagan.
It remains to be seen just how much the GOP reflects today’s American society but if Hillary does win by the margins FiveThirtyEight and others are predicting it would certainly go a long way towards arguing the end of the GOP.
FACTOID: In 1942, the year of my birth, it cost $.27 cents to go to the movies. In the early 1950s a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Lyric Theater included a feature film, a serial, a cartoon, and a box of popcorn. Total cost, one thin quarter!
FACTOID: Japanese manufacturer, Funai, just announced it would manufacturer the last VCR tape player this month. The “duh” moment was their citing a declining market. There is now lots of young people who can’t tell you what VCR or VHS stands for.
The village of Highland will be marking its bicentennial in September of this year. Since many of us have connections to there it’s important that we share with them in their celebration. Here’s a flyer with all the details. I’m sure more will be made known as the date nears.
Somebody on Facebook posted a photo of a dung beetle rolling a ball of manure. It reminded me of something that we did back in the 1970s at Yankee Peddler Bicycles. Here’s the picture…
I responded with the following…
“Back in the Yankee Peddler days I read an article about the dung beetle being threatened in the Eastern US because of the dwindling supply of horse manure, it’s shit of choice. Norman Gingerich decided something should be done to save the beetle so he founded a movement to raise monies to buy Western horse turds and ship them east. Our trademark was a hand drawn image based on this photo. One change was the ball had the continents drawn on it so the ball of poop was the earth. We had a board of directors that included myself, Dave Allen and Bill Ingle of Ingle’s Greenhouse in Bainbridge. We also had brochures, flyers, and possibly t-shirts. Obviously it was a farce but Norman loved to have fun with things like this.”
Today Bobby Everhart emailed me a photo he took of the button we had made to promote the effort. Bob knows what is important in life and doesn’t throw it away. I thank him for that. Here’s the button…
A friend posted a link to a blog about identifying racism. After reading it I have a few comments to share from my personal experiences. First of all I am human therefore I have biases. Sometimes I let the cover define the book, therefore I can be prejudicial. Today I walked into the local Walmart store and my inner voice said, “Damn these people are ugly,” forgetting what I look like in a mirror. Therefore I can be bigoted. All of these are human characteristics and I’m pretty sure we all have them to a greater or lesser degree. I don’t know how we acquire them, just that we have them.
The blog’s author says that claiming to have best friends who are black is a potential sign of being racist. I’ve never made that claim but I do know of examples where such is true. Best I can say is that some of my favorite people are black but I can’t honestly say we are “best” friends. We just seem to like and enjoy each other when our paths cross.
Another thing the blog says is racist is claiming to be color blind. That beneath the skin we are all the same. Well, I don’t know if it’s racist or not but I don’t feel that way. I know enough about people to recognize that we are different. Black people have had a collectively different life experience than what I’ve had. There is such a thing as black culture and some times I don’t understand it nor feel totally comfortable in its presence. But the older I get the more I do understand and the more joy I receive from it. You can’t seek out great barbecue or delve into the history of blues music without coming nose to nose with cultural history that differs from your own. The key is to recognize it as being different, important, and not inferior.
You hear lots of people claim that we begin our lives on a level playing field and if we work hard enough we can overcome and be successful. That simply is not true for blacks or whites. The playing field in America has never been level and still isn’t. The reality is that our chances of success are directly reliant on chance, luck of the draw. The odds for or against our personal futures are directly connected to what family you were born into. If your parents were solidly middle-class or higher, you’ve got a much better chance of being successful than those who are born poor. Whites have a better change than blacks.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard whites defend themselves against being racist with arguments such as, “Don’t blame me, I never owned slaves.” That may be the case but it doesn’t protect one from being racist. In my case my great, great, great-grandfather did own slaves and it took a civil war to remove slave ownership from my family. While being the descendant of slave owners doesn’t cast guilt on me I am accountable to seeing it never happens again. Black culture and attitudes are in great part a consequence of over four hundred years of oppression. I can’t reverse that history but I can work to understand it and better our collective futures.
I’ll finish up with one I heard just this morning, one the blog calls “exhaustion and despair.” “I’m so tired of this and I’m just going to turn my TV off.” I don’t know if this is racist or not but it certainly isn’t contributing to any solution. We as a nation absolutely have to talk about the issues that divide and threaten us. Problems almost never solve themselves. The dialogue has to be both internal and external. We must sit down and have an honest and quiet conversation with our inner being just as we must have honest and open public conversations.
There are no innocents, black or white, because we are all human and display human traits. Our issues are the consequences of history that we didn’t make but have to live with. It is absolutely imperative for us all to understand that history and collectively try to reconcile it in such ways that allow us to be different, to have our differences recognized as being of value, while developing a sense that the doors of opportunity are truly open for all that wish to walk through.
Several months ago a number of area residents chipped in to help purchase a grave marker to honor the life of Mr. Wert Ash. I received word from Jay Hardy of Hardy Memorials in Greenfield, OH that the marker was installed on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. There has been speculation that possibly Mr. Ash was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. If so this was a great date to honor both his life and his service to America.
Thought is being given to hold a small memorial service in the spring of next year.
NOTE: Some time ago I wrote a story about Mr. Wert Ash. Click HEREto read and obtain some background.