Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hereditary and Lineage Societies -- Who Knew? (September 30, 2014)

I recently received the latest issue of The SAR Magazine, the quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). I have been a member of NSSAR for several years, but I have to admit that I have never paid close attention to the contents of the magazine other than articles of interest to me. With the latest issue though I found some time on my hands on a rainy day and sat with a cup of coffee for a leisurely and thorough read of the publication. And for the first time I really noticed the advertisements and notices in the magazine.

Inside the NSSAR magazine I found notices for four different hereditary/lineage societies other than SAR.

There was a notice about the National Society Sons of the American Colonists . . . 

And there was the more specific National Society Sons of Colonial New England . . . 

Then there was the Order of the Founders of North America, 1492 - 1692, which was seeking charter members . . . 

And finally there was The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America . . . 

I knew, of course, that there were other hereditary/lineage societies out there, but seeing these four society notices made me curious about just how many more there might be and what kind of hereditary and lineage connections they might be honoring. This naturally led me to the Google -- and from there to Wikipedia. The "List of Hereditary and Lineage Organizations" entry in Wikipedia has some 238 such organizations more or less. Who knew?

There are many recognizable Societies, National Societies, and Orders made up of various Sons and Daughters, but there are also some surprisingly specific and perhaps esoteric organizations.  For example, there is the Hereditary Order of Descendants of Colonial Governors, the Cleveland Grays, the Order of Daedalians, the Aztec Club of 1847, the Bloodlines of Salem, the Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons & Daughters of the Kings of Britain, and -- perhaps my new personal favorite -- the Flagon and Trencher, which is a hereditary society comprised of women and men who can "trace ancestry to one or more licensed operators of an ordinary tavern, inn, public house, or hostel prior to July 4, 1776".  Have a look at the more than 200 other known hereditary/lineage organizations at the link above . . . your genealogy research just might help you qualify for membership in one or more of these esteemed organizations!

If this subject interests you and you want more information about various hereditary societies, you should also check out the website of The Hereditary Society Community of the United States of America here. The Hereditary Society Community website also has lists of organizations and provides known addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses to contact many of the organizations for membership or other information!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scan of the SAR emblem and the four notices from the author's personal copy of the Summer 2014 edition of The SAR Magazine Sons of the American Revolution, Vol. 109, No.1.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday, September 29, 2014

Military Monday (September 29, 2014) -- Everett S. Carpenter in the Rhode Island Militia: Part III

On January 19, 1946, my maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, was thirty-four days away from his 55th birthday. He had been serving in the Rhode Island Militia for a number of years and had attained the rank of Major.  World War II was over and he apparently was serving as the Commanding Officer of N Section of the Provisional Company of the Rhode Island State Guard Reserve when he decided to discontinue his service with the Militia.  His "Honorable Discharge" from the Rhode Island Militia with the rank of Major is shown above.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scan of the discharge paper from the original in the collection of the author. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (September 27, 2014)

The following are recommended for inclusion on your reading list this weekend: 

1.     And so they should! NEHGS recently got a shout out on Face The Nation when host Bob Schieffer asked documentarian Ken Burns, who just had his 14-hour opus on The Roosevelts aired on PBS, about his relationship to the Roosevelts.  Mr. Burns replied that he first learned he was related to the Roosevelts when NEHGS gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 that was accompanied by a professional rendering of his genealogy.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of The Bully Pulpit (about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft) and No Ordinary Time (about FDR and Eleanor), was also on the same show and explained that she too learned of her relationship to Sarah Delano Roosevelt when she received the same award from NEHGS in 2014.  You can watch the the shout out here.            

2.     Don't just discover your family history -- create it! Since this will be the last Saturday Serendipity in September, now is a good time to remind everyone that this coming week begins Family History Month, which comes around every October. In what may well be some shameless self-promotion, I would like to suggest you read my post of October 3, 2013 "Family History -- Memorializing Your Personal Experience of Big Events" and then resolve to take the time during October to write down some piece of history you experienced so your personal observations and emotions can be preserved for your descendants. You can see my most recent such effort here where I posted my personal experience of 9-11 as someone who was at the Washington Navy Yard on the day of the attacks. [If you take on this challenge in October, please post your writing on your blog if you have one and indicate it is your contribution to creating family history for your descendants during Family History Month 2014!]             

3.     The weekly survey that NEHGS runs in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter asked about the role of luck in genealogy research. This week there is a moving story in the Concord Monitor out of Concord, NH (where I lived for a few years in the 1960s) about a family's search for roots in Germany. The story wonderfully illustrates how great a little serendipity and luck can be.  Read the story and see some photos here.             

4.     Like many, I have a commute to and from work that is, frankly, ridiculous. Increasingly I ponder how much I hate the daily grind of it -- and while it leads me to ponder retirement more and more frequently, it also led me to wonder about the commutes of my ancestors and relatives.  Did they even have what would be considered in modern terms a "commute" to work?  And then I came across this piece at The Vault about a truly different and amazing commute by a group of employees at the CIA.  Have a read here.            

5.     If genealogy has some Holy Grail of ultimate discovery, it just might be the revelation of a commonality we all share. Well, Tim Urban at Wait By Why blog did not go on an intentional quest for such a Holy Grail, but he did do a world travel series and in each country he visited he asked people he met the "Genie Question."  "If you had a genie and were granted three wishes, what would you wish for?"  It turns out that we humans have a lot in common when it comes to answering the Genie Question.  You can watch a 5 minute 58 second video to see that we truly are more alike than different. Just go here  

6.     Barbara Poole at Life From The Roots blog has been continuing her series on Lowell, Massachusetts -- "There's A Lot To Like About Lowell!"  I dare you to look at Barbara's photo tour of Lowell and not want to visit this city next spring or summer!

7.     One often hears in genealogy, "You never know where you might find a new source of information for your family research."  This oft repeated adage came immediately to mind when I saw yesterday's post on the Holyoke, Mass blog.  Anyone looking for information -- and a photograph -- for Edward P. Griffin of Holyoke from just over 100 years ago, would probably not think to consult the monthly trade journal The Carpenter published by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.  You can read here why the March 1913 issue of The Carpenter would be a very fruitful (and perhaps disturbing) source of family history for any descendants of Mr. Griffin.

8.     Nancy Messier of My Ancestors and Me blog, provided an example -- and a humorous one at that -- of unusual bits of family history that can now be found through modern research tools like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and access to the web.  Read here Nancy's story of discovery of new humorous details about the character that was her  great grandfather, Henry Meinzen.

9.     Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings blog provides a very useful and informative review of  genealogy applications that have synchronization capability and mobile apps.  You can see his review here .

10.     If you use any of the family of Ancestry websites, then you REALLY should read Judy Russell's review of the change in Ancestry's Terms of Use for its three websites.  As always, The Legal Genealogist (the #1 Rockstar Genealogist for 2014!) has our back in delving into the details of the terms and pointing out the pitfalls and areas of concern.  Read Judy's review here. 

11.     UpFront With NGS blog had an interesting post on Banned Books Week, which takes place the last week of September each year. You can read the post and follow the links to lists of books that have been challenged or banned here. How many of these "dangerous" books you have read?  [I have read at least 24 of the 97 books on the list of 97 classic books that have been challenged or banned and 23 of the books on the list of books banned by various govenrments (with some duplication between the lists).]

12.     And finally (to end where this week's Saturday Serendipity began), if you have seen Ken Burns' latest documentary opus, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, you have a renewed appreciation for the influence the three most prominent members of this family had on American history in the 20th Century.  So how cool would it be to discover your own family's connection to one of the three highlighted Roosevelts?  Elizabeth Handler of From Maine to Kentucky blog has an interesting and well-documented post that does just that.  Go here to see the story.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Fotos (September 26, 2014) -- "The Kilties"

On Monday, May 30, 1921, my future maternal grandmother -- Ruth Eaton Cooke -- was a single woman 101 days shy of her 24th birthday. It would be five years and 111 days before she married Everett S. Carpenter (my future maternal grandfather) on September 18, 1926.

In the photograph above, Ruth Eaton Cooke is in the center of the line of seven young women dubbed "The Kilties."  She is fourth from the left and fourth from the right. 

This photograph is contained in an old book of photographs that my grandmother assembled after a trip to Peases Point, Mattapoisett in Massachusetts with a group of male and female friends. The friends are referred to as "The Crowd" in a group photograph she labeled in the album. Everett Carpenter is among the members of The Crowd.  Unfortunately, almost none of the other members of The Crowd are fully identified in the photo album.  Mostly they are identified by their initials and in many cases the silvery ink my grandmother used on the black album paper has faded beyond legibility. Still, the album stands as a moment captured in time showing young adults in the Roaring Twenties on a late spring vacation trip to Mattapoisett.

Mattapoisett is located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. It was originally settled in 1750 and was formerly a settlement of Wampanoag Indians. Mattapoisett is Wampanoag for "place of resting." For over 125 years Mattapoisett was a center for shipbuilding and whaling and the town supplied many of the whalers used along the East Coast in the early 1800s. After the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, the whaling industry slowly disappeared and Mattapoisett evolved into a popular summer vacation destination on Buzzard's Bay.

Peases Point is almost directly east of Ned Point Light and due south of Holly Woods on Buzzards Bay

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photographs from originals in the collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another Book Recommendation (September 25, 2014) -- "Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends"

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by author Richard Hite at our local history/genealogy library in Leesburg, Virginia -- the Thomas Balch Library.  [See my earlier post about this gem of a library here.] 

The Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia

Mr. Hite is the author of the recently published book Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2013). He is also currently the State Records Coordinator of the Rhode Island State Archives and Public Records Administration.

Sustainable Genealogy is a different kind of resource and one I find well-written and quite useful. I would recommend it for those new to genealogy research and to those seasoned researchers who enjoy fresh perspectives on how to do genealogy. The book, as described in a review on the back cover, is a "how not to," but I would add that it is a guide and not a rule book -- so like a good travel guide or birding guide, it provides easy to follow, concisely written, and engaging illustrations to drive home the advice and guidance being offered. The book is a paperback and its 11 Chapters and 110 pages are filled with good advice illustrated briefly, comprehensively, and pointedly from Mr. Hite's own genealogy research. He provides a number of tips for tyros and reminders for those who are experienced genealogy researchers, but who occasionally forget possible approaches to a nagging brick wall.  One quick example will suffice to illustrate the useful nuggets dispensed by Mr. Hite . . . 

If one is trying to nail down the original nationality of an immigrant ancestor, relying on the surname alone can be misleading. A Smith ancestor could at first appear to be of obviously English nationality (like Millers, Carpenters, Coopers, and other English occupational surnames); but the German equivalent for Smith -- the cognate "Schmidt" -- could be and often was the original surname for many Smiths whose name was anglicized upon immigration to America. If generations later one's Smith ancestors passed on the information that the family was English, can one rely on that essentially oral history? Mr. Hite cogently explains why one cannot do that without more research -- and he passes on the useful tip of examining the surnames of the surrounding neighbors of early immigrant ancestors and coupling that information with historical knowledge about how areas of America were colonized and settled by various ethnic/national groups and not others. It often turns out upon more detailed research, that one's supposedly English "Smith" ancestors were actually German "Schmidts" who became Smiths in America. Historical records disclose that they lived in an area well-known to have been settled largely by German immigrants and census and other data reveal that almost all their neighbors were Hasselbaums, Strassers, Osterbergs and the like -- Germans all.

I recommend Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends as a very useful resource and guide that would be a welcome addition to anyone's genealogy library.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Cover of Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction In Family Legends from the author's personal copy.

Photograph of Thomas Balch Library by the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday, September 22, 2014

Military Monday (September 22, 2014) -- Everett S. Carpenter in the Rhode Island Militia: Part II

My maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, served in World War I as has been discussed previously here at The Prism. He served for a time in France and ended his service on a courier mission back to Washington, DC in July 1919.  He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant at Camp Meigs in the District of Columbia on July 17, 1919.

After returning to his home in Rhode Island, my grandfather at some point joined the Rhode Island Militia. As the promotion paper shown above illustrates, Everett Shearman Carpenter was promoted to the rank of Major in the Rhode Island Militia on September 20, 1945 -- just over sixty-nine years ago.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scan of the original promotion certificate in the collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Monday, September 15, 2014

Military Monday (September 15, 2014) -- Everett S. Carpenter in the Rhode Island Militia

My maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter, served in World War I as has been discussed previously here at The Prism. He served for a time in France and ended his service on a courier mission back to Washington, DC in July 1919.  He was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant at Camp Meigs in the District of Columbia on July 17, 1919.

After returning to his home in Rhode Island, my grandfather at some point joined the Rhode Island Militia. As the promotion paper shown above illustrates, Everett Shearman Carpenter was promoted to the rank of Captain in the Rhode Island Militia on June 3, 1943.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scan of the original promotion certificate in the collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday Serendipity (September 13, 2014)

The following are recommended for inclusion on your reading list this weekend: 

1.            If you are going to be traveling to do some genealogy research, it could be handy to know what museums are in the area that might be a fruitful source for research.  UpFront With NGS had a post about a tool that will do just that for you -- the U.S. Museum Explorer.  You can find museum resources within selected miles of a zip code and then you can narrow your search by type of museum to include historical societies, historic preservations, etc.  

2.            As Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots blog illustrates in Part 2 of her photo tour of Lowell, Massachusetts, Lowell is a very interesting city.  While there probably are other cities that have shown similar pride in and memorialization of the ethnic groups that have contributed to the building of their community, I have to say I am not aware of them.  Barbara shows us the pride and recognition Lowell has for the people who have built the city.  Other cities and towns should take note! See Barbara's newest photo tour of the City of Lowell here. There is a lot to like about Lowell
. . . and one of the things is that Lowell likes its people a lot!

3.            James Tanner has an interesting and informative post at  Genealogy's Star blog about the importance of learning the meaning and use of sourcing in genealogy research. I like his reference to the often difficult lesson in the study of the law that distinguishes between evidence and proof.  In genealogy terms, sources are the bits and pieces of evidence that must be collected, analyzed, and evaluated before they can then be logically assembled into a mosaic that becomes a recognizable drawing for a well-supported conclusion (what in the law would be called proof).  You can have a read here

4.            UpFront With NGS also posted a very interesting piece about genetic testing and the possible unintended consequences that can result.  The piece links to two articles well worth reading if you or anyone in your family is interested in doing genetic testing for genealogical purposes.  You can read the piece and access the links to the two stories here.  

5.            And speaking of uses for DNA testing, how about possibly identifying who Jack the Ripper actually was?  Judy Russell of The Legal Genealogist blog had a post this past Sunday that discusses the claim that The Ripper has been identified after more than 100 years.  Read Judy's post here.  

6.           Lastly, how could one not mention a blogger extraordinaire when he reveals seven facts about himself to his 100,000+ readers a month and then, amazingly, honors your blog with a mention as one of the 15 blogs he admires?? I am speaking, of course, about Randy Seaver. He of "One Lovely Blog" known as Genea-Musings.  Learn seven things you probably never knew about this premier genealogy blogger (who I am proud to say is a recently discovered very distant cousin).  You can find links to -- and brief descriptions of -- some the blogs Randy admires here.  Randy was limited to 15 blogs, but as he said, he could surely name "hundreds more." So THANK YOU Randy -- much appreciated!! 

Oh, you can also go to Randy's blog and see a photo of "Charlie" his fifth grandchild and third grandson.  Charlie arrived yesterday and has already made his debut on Facebook!    
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fotos (September 12, 2014) -- Two Of The Four O'Kane Brothers

Edward F. O'Kane (L) and Daniel Joseph O'Kane, Jr. (R) circa 1923

My late father-in-law, Daniel Joseph O'Kane, Jr., was the oldest of the six children of Daniel J. O'Kane, Sr. and his wife, Nora C. [Hayes] O'Kane. Daniel and Nora had four boys and two girls. Pictured above are the two older brothers -- Daniel and Edward -- both now deceased.

Dan was born in June 1919 and his brother Ed was born in January 1921.  Both were born in New York.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Scan of a photograph in the family collection.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001 Thirteen Years Later -- A Personal Remembrance (September 11, 2014)

The Pentagon during rescue operations following 9-11

The World Trade Center towers disappearing on September 11, 2001

The crash crater of Flight 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

I have written before about the importance of memorializing and preserving our personal experience of clearly historic events.  You can see that post here

Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the horrendous events of September 11, 2001 -- now known simply and forever meaningfully as "9 -11." On that infamous day I was at work at the Washington Navy Yard within perhaps an hour's walking distance of the Pentagon. Not long after that terrible day, I sat down to write about my personal experience of that national catastrophe so I could preserve my observations for my children and descendants in keeping with the thoughts in the post referenced above.

Since I periodically produce a hardback book of my blog posts using Blurb (thank you for the tip cousin Heather Wilkinson Rojo!), on this 13th anniversary I want to share an excerpted version of my experience of 9-11 via this post for current readers and for purposes of preserving my experiences in a coming new volume of a hardback print copy of Filiopietism Prism

*     *     *     *     * 

            On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was employed within the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of the Navy.  The office in which I worked was located on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in a building that sits close to Admiral Leutze Park, a beautiful expanse of manicured lawn and trees that serves as a ceremonial field for the Navy.  The Yard itself is located in southeast Washington along the Anacostia River.  The Yard is less than two miles as the crow flies from the U.S. Capital and less than five miles from the Pentagon, which is across the Potomac River in Virginia.  Our office had moved to The Yard from a high-rise building in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia just four years before 9-11. Our former Crystal City office was perhaps a mile down the road from the Pentagon and was certainly within easy walking distance of that epicenter of U.S. military power. I had been in the Pentagon on business many times before and after our move to the Navy Yard.

             As usual, on September 11, 2001 I drove into D.C. from our home in western Loudoun County, Virginia. The distance from our home to where I parked my car on the Navy Yard was almost exactly 50 miles. My commute took about an hour since I usually left the house before 5:00 AM each morning. That morning was dark, clear and dry when I left the house.  The temperature was about 60◦ F.  As is my habit, I listened to National Public Radio as I drove in to the office.  The traffic was quite light due to the early hour, but later that morning it would be much heavier than it had been for months because school had resumed and the school buses and parents dropping children at school had recently been added to the later commuting traffic.  There was nothing unusual about the commute in to work that morning.  The early weather report promised a beautiful day and the early traffic report mentioned all was clear with no accident alerts and no congestion points of note.

By the time I arrived at The Yard dawn was still about 45 minutes away, but it was obvious we were going to have one of those lovely late summer days of sun, blue skies, and reasonable humidity.  The temperature was in the mid-60s as I walked the hundred or so yards from my parking space to the building where my office was located.  I could hear a few birds starting the day with some desultory calls and I saw a couple of the resident squirrels scampering through the sparsely wooded slope leading down to our building from Leutze Park.  I felt it was going to be a gorgeous day and I recall thinking I would rather be hiking up on the Appalachian Trail along the Blue Ridge Mountains just west of our home than sitting in the office all day – but I had an assigned task to perform that morning.

            Our office holds a weekly Senior Staff meeting each Tuesday morning. In 2001 the meetings began at 9:00 AM.  This particular Tuesday, the leader of the team I worked on was unavailable to attend “Sr. Staff” because he was flying out of Washington Dulles Airport that morning bound for San Diego, California on a business trip.  I had been asked to fill in for him and to represent the team at the Senior Staff meeting.  As the start time for Sr. Staff approached, the early promise of a beautiful day was confirmed.  My walk next door to get coffee revealed a wonderfully sunny day with a very few high clouds.  The temperature was a crisp and comfortable 70◦ F with low humidity.  I really wished I could have been hiking that day instead of at work.

            Members of the Senior Staff gathered in the large conference room just down the hall from the entrance to our office suite a few minutes before 9:00 AM.  At that point nothing unusual had been reported and everyone chatted easily around the huge table as we waited for the meeting to begin. When the meeting began sharply at 9:00 AM, the Director of our office sat at the head of the table furthest from the hallway entrance and his Deputy sat on the side to his immediate left.  The rest of us were seated randomly along both sides of the table at the same end. The light chatter as the meeting got underway gave the meeting a somewhat informal air.

            The Deputy began the meeting and was just wrapping up discussion of some administrative item that I cannot recall, when there was a quick knock on the side entrance to the conference room and an immediate entrance into the meeting by a colleague. He entered and offered a quick apology for the interruption before he announced fairly calmly . . .

            “I thought you all should know that another plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York -- and I am leaving now for home, which some of you might want to do also.”

            There were immediate questions asked as our colleague hovered briefly in the doorway holding the door ajar.
            Another plane?”  “What kind of planes?”
            The answer was that he was not sure, but it looked like it was not a small Cessna or commuter plane as originally thought and the most recent report talked about passenger airliners.  He said folks in the office were beginning to call home and to spouses at work and were surfing the Internet for more information.

            The office had a large-screen TV in the moot courtroom in our office suite and the Director and Deputy both had very small TVs in their offices where they could monitor C-SPAN as well as cable news channels.  The meeting was immediately adjourned and all of us left to return to our offices.  Little did any of us know the drama and the trauma that was still unfolding.

            As I left the meeting I caught up with colleagues who were hurrying to leave and I asked why they were going.  They mentioned that the crashes at the World Trade Center appeared intentional and perhaps an attack.  The news said that authorities did not know if this was limited just to Manhattan or if other cities were also being targeted, particularly Washington, DC.  I asked if they really thought they would be able to get anywhere on the roads if there was some question about DC being attacked too. I went to our moot courtroom to turn on the large-screen television there.
            The entire office was out in the halls talking, surfing the Internet on their computers, or on their way to watch the TVs in our suite.  Some folks were preparing to depart for home or were already on their way out the door. I decided the roads would be chaos and that if there was an attack involving sites in DC, then emergency and police vehicles would need the roadways as clear as possible.  Besides, my sons were 15 and 17 years old and in school 50 miles west of DC.  My wife was about 30 miles west of DC where she was employed as a Special Ed teacher and I was sure she would not be going anywhere due to the responsibility she had for students – many of whom had working parents who could not pick them up at school even if they wanted to.  There was little I could do for my family and I felt they were completely safe at the moment. I decided to stay on The Yard until the true status of events and conditions became more clear.
            Once the TV in the moot courtroom was turned on, a truly unbelievable scene was revealed.  The twin towers of the World Trade Center were in flames with gaping holes and black smoke pouring out of them.  Debris (and maybe some bodies?) could be seen falling out of the buildings.  The street scenes of the panic and running had both an unreal feel to it and, it has to be said, a somewhat familiar look after all the disaster movies that had been so popular over the years.  One had to constantly remind oneself that what was being shown on TV was real and was actually happening at that very moment in New York.  The mood of the office was one of somber shock mixed with feelings of complete helplessness as we became witnesses to horrors we could only watch from afar in real time.

            And then it got even worse!

Not long after we began watching TVs and checking news reports on radio and the Internet, we entered a period of about a half hour where events seemed to truly tumble out of control and the media had problems keeping up with reports of mounting disasters.  The media reported on President Bush’s whereabouts – he was in Sarasota, Florida visiting Emma Booker Elementary School when the attacks happened.  We got reports that for the first time in history all air traffic in the country had been ordered halted.  New York, which was still thought to be the only location of actual attack, closed all tunnels and bridges in and out of the city.  And then at about quarter to 10:00 we heard the first report that a plane had just crashed into the Pentagon, which was less than five miles away from where we were sitting at The Yard!
The TV reporting was in what could best be described as a controlled panic trying to confirm the reports flooding in before airing them, but events were clearly spinning out of control.  Not long after this someone came around saying fires were being reported on the Mall in DC and that martial law was being imposed!  [This proved to be utterly untrue.]  We heard that the White House and the Capitol were being evacuated.  There was a report of a car bomb outside the State Department in the Foggy Bottom area of the city. [Also untrue.] People in the office tried unsuccessfully to raise folks in various Navy and Marine Corps offices over at the Pentagon.  Cell phones began to be jammed by the overload of calls and news reports asked people to try to limit calls on cell and land lines.  The Navy Yard was secured and no one was allowed in or out.  People were lined up for blocks inside the brick wall-enclosed Navy Yard sitting in their cars with nowhere to go.  Some of our folks returned to the office. [It was revealed later to an emergency preparations committee I sat on at the Navy Yard, that people employed on The Yard who did not have cars or who walked or took public transportation to work, had gone down to the river when they were refused exit at the gates.  By the river there was a section of cyclone fencing that ran the last few yards of the Navy Yard border and out into the shallows of the Anacostia River.  A crowd of people pushed over a section of fence in their desperation to get off the Yard and left on foot.]

And then, just before 10:00, we watched in paralyzed disbelief as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed upon itself while the whole world watched live.   The billowing smoke and debris flew out from the site and down the streets creating a real panic in those on the ground and even in the voices of the news commentators.   Within minutes the scene took on a post-apocalyptic look with everything and everyone covered in a grey/white powder of destruction.  It looked like what I imagined the outskirts of a city hit by a nuclear blast would look like.  People were running for their lives, disoriented, panicked, shocked and choking for lack of breathable air and water.  We could only stare in silence.

About this time I finally remembered that my sister was still working in New York City even though she lived in New Hope, PA.  She worked for the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a think tank devoted to advancement of sexual and reproductive health in the U.S. through research, policy analysis and public education.  She commuted to NYC by train, but I was not exactly sure of her schedule or precisely what her route was to get there, but I was pretty sure she went through the subway station at the World Trade Center at some point in her commute.  I began to worry about her, but was not able to call her or other family to inquire about her.  [As it turned out she was ill that day and had not gone in to work.]

Just before 10:30 as many of us stood in the moot courtroom watching the aftermath of the collapse of the south tower spreading across the big-screen TV, the north tower fell in on itself and collapsed in a second billowing rush of smoke and debris.  It was over in 10 seconds of live horror.
But the terror was not over yet!

About 15 or 20 minutes after the second tower came down, we heard news about another airliner crashing somewhere in Pennsylvania.  The airliner had left Newark, NJ bound for San Francisco, but when it reversed course somewhere over Pennsylvania, it was speculated that the plane was on its way to Washington, DC – possibly targeting the White House.  We listened and watched not believing this was all actually happening on such a beautifully clear September day.   And then it was driven home for every one of us when we learned a mass evacuation of Washington was ordered somewhere around quarter to 11:00.

Not too long after we heard about the airliner crash in a field in Pennsylvania, the gates to the Navy Yard were reopened so that people could leave.  By 3:00 PM almost everyone in our office of about 40 people was gone.  I assumed the traffic jams were going to be monumental and so I decided to stay later than my usual departure of anywhere from 3:30 to 4:00 PM.  I left the office a little before 5:00 PM that day as I recall.  I closed and locked the suite door after making the rounds of all the offices.  I think I was the last to leave, but I am not positive because people could have been in restrooms outside the suite or in an associated office suite down the hall.

When I went outside to walk the hundred yards or less to my car, the weather was sunny and fairly warm, but still felt crisp due to the low humidity.  There were no other people in sight and my car was the only one on Kidder Breeze, the block of parking spaces opposite Leutze Park.  In the distance I could hear the occasional wail of an emergency siren.  As I drove to the exit gate I routinely used, there was a guard on duty, but no evidence of anyone else on foot or in a vehicle.  I left The Yard, turned left onto M Street -- and did not see another car anywhere.  I decided to take a route across the city to the Potomac River and the 14th Street Bridge that I did not take very often because I expected the Southeast-Southwest Expressway leading onto the bridge to still be heavy with traffic and I wanted to get as close to the bridge as I could without getting caught in a traffic jam.

On this day, I decided to abandon my usual route to the 14th Street bridge into Virginia and chose instead to run the length of M Street going west until it became Maine Ave. near the Arena Stage and ran past the fish market on the left just before the Expressway overpass.  Driving under the overpass and taking a left just before the Federal Communication Commission building, I could reconnect to Maine Ave. west and take the jug handle exit that passed under the Engraving & Printing Bureau building feeding me right onto 14th Street SW and the bridge across the Potomac.
It turned out to be an eerie drive because I saw almost no other vehicles on the road and very few pedestrians.  It was like a science fiction movie . . . a city virtually abandoned.  Not only were there no traffic jams, I seemed to have the roads entirely to myself.  I drove steadily, but slowly, not knowing what I might eventually come across.  I tried listening to NPR on the radio, but I could not concentrate on the words and flood of news, so it became mere background noise to the otherwise quiet drive across the city to the bridge.

 As soon as I came up the dip of 14th Street near the Jefferson Memorial and up onto the bridge I saw jet-black smoke still billowing out and floating above where the Pentagon was located on the other side of the bridge.  There were no other vehicles on the bridge and I felt disoriented.  I suddenly realized I drove almost the entire length of the bridge just looking at the black smoke above the Pentagon and did not attend to whether any other cars or trucks were around me.  I wondered if I would even be able to exit onto Route 110 since it passed immediately beside the Pentagon, albeit on the side opposite the impact.
The exit onto Route 110 was completely open and still not another car in sight.  I slowed and hesitated until I could see down the exit ramp to make sure it was not closed below.  I expected to see a police car blocking the merge onto Route 110, but it was empty and no vehicles were to be seen.  I exited slowly and merged onto 110 to begin passing behind the Pentagon.
The light brown sandstone of the four-story Pentagon loomed to my left and above it the black smoke still billowed upward looking inky and sinister.  I lowered the window.  I could smell nothing unusual and could hear no sirens or traffic noise or anything else when I lowered the radio to silence.  I watched the black smoke as long as I could as I passed the Pentagon and then looked in my rearview mirror as I approached Rosslyn and had a different angle back at the Pentagon.  I never had a view of the impact side, but in the rearview I was able to see what looked like rooster tails of white occasionally appear against the black.  I assumed they were still directing water into the smoldering building.  [I later learned that in one of those quirks of history, the finalized contracts for construction of the Pentagon and the groundbreaking for the building took place on September 11, 1941 – exactly 60 years to the day before the terrorist attack of that morning!] 

As the view of the Pentagon faded from my rearview mirror, I was driving slowly by Arlington National Cemetery and then the Iwo Jima Memorial just out of view on my left.  I knew the world had changed and as I merged onto to Route 66 and the highways that would take me home, I thought our country was surely headed for war somewhere.  I spent the rest of my trip thinking about my teenage sons and what this could possibly mean for them.

                                               *     *     *     *     *

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photograph of the Pentagon during rescue operations is in the public domain as a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. Government as part of the person's official duties. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks#mediaviewer/File:Aerial_view_of_the_Pentagon_during_rescue_operations_post-September_11_attack.JPEG 

Photograph of the collapsing World Trade Center Twin Towers from http://noarmycanstopanidea.com/prosecutors-pushing-for-2014-trial-for-911-case/  Photographer unknown.

Photograph of the crash crater of Flight 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania from http://photos.al.com/alphotos/2013/09/911shanksvillejpg.html  Photographer unknown.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rin Tin Tin and TV Memories (September 10, 2014)

Other than The Mickey Mouse Club, my favorite TV show when I was a young boy was The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. The show ran from 1954 to 1959 and I especially remember watching in on the old, round-screened, black & white TV at my maternal grandparents home in Cumberland, Rhode Island during our visits there. The show was about a young boy named Rusty who was orphaned in a Indian raid and subsequently got adopted by soldiers at the frontier Fort Apache.  Rusty and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers in weekly adventures involving the wisdom, strength, and heroism of Rin Tin Tin (not unlike the basic storylines for the episodes of the contemporary TV program, Lassie).

Today it is especially appropriate to recall Rin Tin Tin not just because the dogs who played the dog character in movies, radio series, and television programs entertained millions of children and adults from 1922 on, but mostly because Rin Tin Tin was a product of World War I and today happens to be the birthday of the original dog named Rin Tin Tin!

As explained in today's Writer's Almanac, an American soldier named Leland Duncan was stationed in the Meuse Valley of France in 1918.  He was ordered to enter and search a shelled German encampment in Lorraine, France to assess the damage and while inside one of the ruined buildings he discovered a female German shepherd with her two days-old pups.  Duncan rescued the two pups and named them "Rin Tin Tin" and "Nanette" after the finger puppets that soldiers carried around as lucky charms.  Sadly, Nanette died before Duncan got home to California, but the male pup that Duncan called "Rinty" became a much loved pet.  To learn the rest of the story behind the original Rin Tin Tin's rise to stardom, go to the Writer's Almanac link provided above.

At this point there have been some 12 generations of dogs descended from the original Rin Tin Tin and the current representative of this canine genealogy still makes public appearances and keeps alive the brand started 92 years ago.

Finally, another reason to remember Rin Tin Tin on his birthday is that my maternal grandparents had a special mug that was kept at their home for many years.  It was a child-size mug in which milk was served -- in turn -- to me, my three siblings, and my six cousins whenever they visited my grandparents and then my grandmother after my grandfather passed away.  The mug was a pink colored, plastic mug with the picture of Rusty and Rin Tin Tin on it. I am sure one of the ten grandchildren must have that mug today . . .  and if he or she happens to read this, please be sure to fill it up with milk and raise a mug tonight in memory of the original Rin Tin Tin and those visits to with Grandma and Grandpa Carpenter! 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photograph of the main characters from The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin in 1956 is apparently in the public domain as it was published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1977 without a copyright notice. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rin_Tin_Tin_main_cast_1956.jpg  From left, the characters are: Lee Aaker ("rusty"); Rin Tin Tin; James Brown ("Rip Masters"); and Joe Sawyer ("Biff O'Hara").  Photographer - - Robert R. Blanch of Minneapolis, MN.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _