God Bless America, The History

Irving Berlin God Bless America, The History
Irving Berlin

Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing “God Bless America” on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.

Here are the facts… The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of “GOD BLESS AMERICA”. But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song.

The time was 1940. (Ed Note: Wikipedia has its first public singing occurring in 1938 on Kate Smith’s radio show.) America was still in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we’d have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.

This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.

Kate was also large; plus size, as we now say, and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”. Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her time.

Kate was also patriotic. It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring . She had hope for America , and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote “White Christmas”) and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.

He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before – way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America . Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years, the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.

This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, “You’re In The Army Now.” At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it’s Ronald Reagan.

To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry….. and for many generations of Americans to follow.

Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you’ll enjoy it and treasure it even more.

Many people don’t know there’s a lead in to the song since it usually starts with “God Bless America …..” So here’s the entire song as originally sung….. ENJOY!

Hat tip Bob Small

VJ Day 70th Anniversary

VJ Day 70th Anniversary
This actually happened on Sept. 2.

Today, Aug. 14, 2015 is being called the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II as that was when Americans heard that Japan, inspired by the atomic bombings of two of its cities, announced it would surrender.

That the war ended without an invasion of the islands spared the lives of millions, mostly Japanese and other Asians, but many young Americans, British, Australians and New Zealanders as well.

It should be noted that the United States commemorates the war’s end — as does China — on Sept. 2 when Emperor Hirohito signed the surrender papers on the USS Missouri but this was the day Japan announced it would quit.

The Brits celebrate it Aug. 15 as that was the date upon which they heard the announcement due to time zone differences.

It should be further noted that the Soviets did not end their assaults on Japanese occupied Manchuria and Korea until Sept. 2.

VJ Day 70th Anniversary


William Lawrence Sr Omnibit 5-25-15

The South won the first, Fort Sumter, and last, Palmito Ranch, battles of the Civil War. Off the Internet
Searching the globe for tidbits of information and enlightenment

The South won the first, Fort Sumter, and last, Palmito Ranch, battles of the Civil War.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas, occurred May 12-13, 1865 more than a month after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Historians today are still confused as to why it was fought. Union Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana is believed to have been the last man killed in combat.

The final Confederate unit to surrender was the 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles stationed in Doaksville Indian Territory and commanded by Brigadier General Stand Watie. They did it on June 23, 1865


Capitol Bean Soup As Per Chef Bill Sr.

Joseph Cannon Capitol Bean Soup
Congressman Joseph Gurney Cannon, the father of Capitol Bean Soup.

Chef Bill Sr has gotten a query regarding one his favorite dishes — the U.S. Capitol Bean Soup. The dish is served every day in all 11 Capitol dining rooms at the demand, according to legend, of Speaker of the House Joseph G. Cannon.

Cannon, a Republican, represented various parts of Illinois from 1873 until 1923 with a two-year hiatus coming when he lost the 1912 election.

He served as Speaker from 1903 until 1911 and was the man who graced the first cover of Time Magazine on March 3, 1923.

The story is that one day during his Speakership,  he sat for lunch, looked at the menu and shouted “Thunderation, I had my mouth set for bean soup! From now on, hot or cold, rain, snow or shine, I want it on the menu every day.”

And so it came to be.

Here is the recipe courtesy of Soupsong.com Capitol Bean Soup As Per Chef Bill Sr.

  • 1 pound dry white beans, soaked overnight (or quick soaked)
  • 1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, with leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • [Senate version: add 1 cup cooked mashed potatoes]
  • salt and pepper to taste

Strain the water from the soaked beans and put in a big pot with 3 quarts of water and the ham bone or ham hocks. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Stir the veggies and herbs into the pot–and  the mashed potatoes for the Senate version–and cook over low heat for another hour–until the beans are nicely tender.

Remove the bones from the pot then  the meat into  bits and return that to the pot. Discard  the bones.

For authenticity crush a few of the beans in each bowl to thicken the broth.

Capitol Bean Soup As Per Chef Bill Sr.

Sounds 6000 Years Old

The languages of Europe, India and Central Asia are mostly descended from the Proto-Indo-European language spoken 6,000 years ago. Sounds 6000 Years Old

Scholars have been trying to figure out what it sounded like and think they have come close.

Here is the parable of the sheep and the horse as it might have sounded in 4,000 B.C. with the translation below it.

A sheep that had no wool saw horses, one of them pulling a heavy wagon, one carrying a big load, and one carrying a man quickly. The sheep said to the horses: “My heart pains me, seeing a man driving horses.” The horses said: “Listen, sheep, our hearts pain us when we see this: a man, the master, makes the wool of the sheep into a warm garment for himself. And the sheep has no wool.” Having heard this, the sheep fled into the plain.

Sounds 6000 Years Old

Carlisle Moody: Handguns Stop Murders

In the days of old when knights were bold murder was pretty common.  In 13th century Europe, the rate was 22.68 per 100,000 rising to 40.79 per 100,000 by the 15th century. Carlisle Moody: Handguns Stop Murders

It was as though every place in Europe was Chester, Pa. Well, maybe not that bad. Figure Detroit or New Orleans.

But then something happened. In the 16th century the rate tumbled back to 20.28 per 100,000.

Carlisle Moody of the College of William & Mary says that the year the trend changed was 1505 and what happened was the handgun, namely the wheel lock pistol which by that year had become common enough to make a social impact.

The pistol put the little guy (and gal) on a equal footing with the big, strong, armor-plated club/knife/ax wielding thug.

Moody says the likely inventor of this device was Leonardo Da Vinci  which would make Leonardo the father of the handgun. Thank you Leonardo.

For what it’s worth, the authoritarian types didn’t like them from the beginning. The first gun control law happened  in 1517 when Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I declared “Inasmuch as certain persons in our territories of Lower Austria are in the habit of carrying self-striking hand-guns that ignite themselves which we are on no account prepared to allow . . .our nobles, stewards, administrators, chief justices, mayors and judges should under no circumstances permit such guns to be carried.”

Still handguns didn’t disappear and the trend continued. In the 17th century  the murder rate dropped big to 7.84 per 100,000. Moody says the big year was 1621 when the flintlock — which became the standard firearm for the next two centuries  — entered general use.

Moody notes the cost of firearms was rarely prohibitive for the masses. In 1699, a pair of pistols cost 5 shillings or about $41 in today’s dollars.

The European murder rate continued to fall reaching 1.18 per 100,000 by the 20th century. In Britain, by 1920 it had fallen to .84 per 100,000. That was the year The Firearms Act was passed essentially ending the English right to bear arms. Since then the British murder rate has risen to 1.44 (as of 1999) and the assault rate has exploded from 2.39 per 100,000 to 419.29.

Some other tidbits: Moody says London had a homicide rate of .26 per 100,000 in the 1820s before the first world’s first police force was created in 1829. It now has a rate of 2.28 per 100,000.

Carlisle Moody notes that three out of every four murder victims before 1850 would have survived with today’s medicine. He says, however, even dividing by four would not affect the pattern regarding the previous century murder rates.

Moody’s paper can be found here. The math is there to back up his claims to other academics and doesn’t have to be followed to get his point.

Hat tip James Delingpole of Breitbart.com.

Carlisle Moody: Handguns Stop Murders
Carlisle Moody is a member of the Economics Department at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

Carlisle Moody’s paper is titled Firearms and the Decline of Violence in Europe: 1200-2010.



Springfield 1922 Advertisement

The below advertisement appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1922 for building sites in Springfield, Delaware County, Pa.

It called the town “The Leading Suburb and noted it was just 12 minutes and one fare from the Sixty-ninth Street Terminal.

It boasted that it has been developed with “substantial stone highways and cement sidewalks winding through the rolling hills for over a mile along the westerly side of the Media Short LIne.”

It described it as a “fast-growing development” and called attention to the three stone passenger stations on the trolley line.

The developer, A. Merritt Taylor of the Springfield Real Estate Co., sold building lots of between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet that contained “ample space for fruit trees and flowers”.

He noted that there were “a few especially desirable hill-top locations of exceptional size and commanding extended views”.

He also noted that he had “two well-designed old farm houses in poor repair which can be converted into unusually attractive homes at moderate cost”. The farm houses were surrounded by old shade and fruit trees.

The properties started at $1,500 and he had an agent daily opposite Springfield (presumably Springfield Road) station.

Hat tip FullHistory.com

Springfield 1922 Advertisment

Springfield 1922 Advertisement

Foxcatcher Movie Review

We just caught Foxcatcher at Regal Edgmont Square 10, which was just a mile or so from where all the action happened.

Steve Carell nails John du Pont. He deserves an Oscar.

Was the movie entertaining? Well, it was like spending 134 minutes with John du Pont.

That would be a no.

Thanks for 134 minutes of misery, Mr. Carell.

You should be investigated by the Senate Democrats.

Some observations, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is told on his initial helicopter ride to Foxcatcher that du Pont would have been piloting himself had he not been providing tactical assistance to the “Newtown Square” Police Department. That should have been Newtown Police Department as Newtown Square is the postal address not municipal name.  When police are shown, however, the shoulder patches are correct as are the names on the cars which even have the color scheme we remember.

Yes, du Pont did at times provide aerial assistance to the Newtown Police.

The mansion used was in Leesburg, Va. as the actual site was torn down in 2013.  You would not see the background hills in Newtown Square.

We don’t remember as much snow on the ground when the Jan. 26, 1996 shooting of Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) happened. Ruffalo was also very good, by the way.

There was no mention of the Villanova University controversy or the sexual harassment suits by the wrestlers, nor was there of his short, unhappy marriage to Gale Wenk

There is one scene where John’s mother, Jean Liseter Austin du Pont (Vanessa Redgrave) is pushing du Pont to give away his toy trains. He never did. Below is a shot of his train set from his Nov. 26, 2011 estate sale. For what it’s worth, yesterday, Dec. 9, was the fourth anniversary of his death.

DuPont Train Set Foxcatcher Movie Review

Foxcatcher Movie Review

Remember Pearl Harbor

Today, Dec. 7 marks the 73rd anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Navy fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

It’s “a date which will live in infamy,” said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the time.

This act was the catalyst which drew the United States into World War II, ultimately leading to the victory of Allied powers around the globe.

For  information about the attack visit here.

Hat tip Jim Cox.

Remember Pearl Harbor

Remember Pearl Harbor

William Lawrence Sr. Omnibit 11-21-14

William Lawrence Sr. Omnibit 11-21-14

The English Parliament remained in session without a break from 1640 to 1653. That’s why it’s called “The Long Parliament.”

It was called into session by Charles I and wound up cutting off his head.

It’s kind of an appropriate Omnibit for today.

It should be noted that those responsible for Charles’ execution were themselves executed when the Royalists returned to power in 1660, some by being hanged (to near death), drawn (removal of bowels while still alive) and quartered (cut in pieces after death).

One of those subject to such was Major-General Thomas Harrison, who remained cheerfully unrepentant during his ordeal. He reached over and smacked his executioner during the disemboweling, which cause his head to be prematurely removed.

It seems much aggravation could have been avoided if Parliament merely impeached Charles.

Long Parliament Has Lessons For Today