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Today's words of Wisdom...
30. "If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around." ~ 38 Texas Proverbs
The new job here in South Texas has kept me really busy for the last several months now. Working as operations/marketing for an oilfield services company start up has been exciting and time consuming. I haven't been posting or producing podcasts as often as I'd like, but I will be back at it soon.
I'm working on some really neat things along with a possible syndication agreement with a terrestrial station to help spread the word about the best music/artists in Texas! Stay tuned!
On this day in 1933,
country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers, nicknamed "the Singing Brakeman,"
died in New York City at the age of thirty-five. Rodgers, born in
Mississippi in 1897, worked as a brakeman on railroads throughout the
South and learned songs from black railroad workers, who also taught him
to play the banjo and the guitar. A severe case of tuberculosis,
contracted in 1924, forced Rodgers to retire from the railroad. In 1927
he signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company, and his
records catapulted him to almost immediate fame. He recorded 111 songs
altogether and sold twenty million records between 1927 and 1933.
Rodgers enthralled radio, recording, and stage audiences with his
performance of songs that seemed to catalogue the varied memories and
experiences of small town and rural Americans. To seek relief from
tuberculosis, Rodgers moved to the Hill Country and in 1929 built a
$50,000 mansion in Kerrville, but left there to live in a modest home in
San Antonio in 1932. Among the many performers who either knew or were
influenced by Rodgers are Mance Lipscomb, Freddie King, Ernest Tubb,
Lefty Frizzell, Tommy Duncan, Kenneth Threadgill, and Bill Neely.
"Goat-gland" doctor dies in San Antonio
May 26, 1942
On this day in 1942, John
Romulus Brinkley, controversial medical charlatan, died in San Antonio.
Although Brinkley never earned a diploma he was licensed by the state of
Arkansas and set up a medical practice in Milford, Kansas. In 1918 he
began performing his controversial "goat gland operation," designed to
restore male virility and fertility by the implantation of goat glands.
"Doc" Brinkley became extremely wealthy. In 1923 he constructed the
first radio station in Kansas, KFKB, and in 1928 was attacked for
diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medicines over the radio.
Consequently, in 1930 he lost both his medical and broadcasting
licenses. He responded by entering the governor's race, hoping to
appoint new members to the medical board. He came extremely close to
winning. In 1931 he received authority from Mexican officials to build a
powerful transmitter at Villa Acuña, Mexico, across the river from Del
Rio, Texas. Two years later he moved his entire medical staff and
facilities to the Roswell Hotel in Del Rio. He used his station, XER, to
entice his listeners to visit his clinic or buy an array of expensive
gimmicks. Estimates are that he took in $12 million between 1933 and
1938. During this period his conspicuous display of wealth--a lavish
mansion, expensive cars, planes, yachts, and diamonds--was second to
none. In 1938 he moved his medical activities to Little Rock, Arkansas,
but maintained his residence in Texas. About that time he lost a libel
suit, fought numerous malpractice suits, and battled the Internal
Revenue Service over back taxes. In 1941 he was forced to file for
Historic clash leads to unionization of Texas farmworkers
May 26, 1975
On this day in 1975, a
confrontation occurred between union organizers and El Texano Ranch, in
Hidalgo, Reynosa, Mexico. The event led to a spontaneous strike during
which a ranch supervisor fired upon the strikers and their supporters.
The strike lasted throughout the melon harvest and spread to the
Trans-Pecos and Panhandle. Many strikers were arrested. As the strike
continued, a core of Valley farmworkers supported the foundation of the
Texas Farm Workers Union as a local that would be accountable to them.
The TFWU was established under the leadership of Antonio Ordendain in
Travis estate advertises for return of escaped slave
May 26, 1837
On this day in 1837, the
executor of William Barret Travis's estate placed a notice offering
fifty dollars for the return of an escaped slave named Joe in the Telegraph and Texas Register.
Joe, born about 1813, was one of the few survivors of the battle of the
Alamo on March 6, 1836, in which his master was killed. Accounts of
Joe's departure from the Alamo differ, but he later joined Susanna W.
Dickinson on the way to Gen. Sam Houston's camp at Gonzales. Joe was
brought before the Texas Cabinet and questioned about events at the
Alamo. He was then returned to Travis's estate near Columbia, where he
remained until April 21, the first anniversary of the battle of San
Jacinto. On that day, accompanied by an unidentified Mexican man and
taking two fully equipped horses with him, he escaped. Presumably Joe's
escape was successful, for the notice in the Telegraph and Texas Register ran three months before it was discontinued. Joe was last reported in Austin in 1875.
I wrote and posted this last year... always remember what the Armed Forces of the United States of America go through to protect this great country of ours. God bless and watch over them all.
It was 1968, I was eight years old. I knew that my real dad lived in California, and hadn't heard from him in years. Living with my grandparents in New Braunfels, Texas, I knew he was not going to be in the picture so as a small boy, I made the best of it.
My mom brought home a man who I only knew as "Mr. Martin". She said he was a salesman with one of the major radio stations in San Antonio. That was cool, he always had new records that my mom would play and enjoy. She seemed happy, and they were spending a lot of time together. After several months, she came home one day and said that they had gotten married on a recent trip to Mexico. That was great, I had a dad!
As I grew up, I began to learn some about "Mr. Martin", he was a tough guy, from the farms of Missouri and Oklahoma and I knew a little about his career in the Army and that he was a prisoner of war with the Japanese for over three years during World War II, as a kid I didn't really understand the true meaning of it all.
Living with him over the years, it was tough. Mandatory and strict rules governed the household, never leaving a morsel on your plate, and reminded to be thankful for everything you had. As a kid, you put up with the moods, the alcohol, the punishment, not knowing one moment to the next what was in store.
He never talked about his imprisonment when I was young, I only heard about how tough it was, struggling to understand why I seemed a target of his anger at times. The years passed, we moved from town to town, never spending more than a year or two in the same place, until we returned to New Braunfels in my Jr. High years at 13. I was getting old enough, and beginning to understand. Still he would not discuss it.
As he aged, the bitterness of a young lifetime being taken from him, began to show. He aged quickly, his health deteriorating, the Malaria he'd contracted overseas was a constant battle. Flashbacks became more apparent as he slept. Then we had a talk one day, I was 18 and getting ready to move from home.
As we sat drinking a beer on the back porch of our home in New Braunfels, he opened up.
He began with a statement, "I hope to hell you, or your children will never have to go through what I went through." He enlisted in the Army in his teens, he wanted to serve his country. It was the right thing to do. He cut straight to the point.
They had made it to the islands of the Philippines, where the Japanese had a stronghold. He told of many days and nights crawling through the jungles, the mud, the heat pursuing the enemy. Bouts of near starvation, dehydration, and they kept on fighting. The fear of Japanese soldiers walking within feet of their hidden positions, never knowing when a bullet may claim his life or that of his friends and fellow soldiers.
He told stories of eating just about anything that crawled, trapping rain water and dew to have something to drink. He told of the trecks through the jungles for weeks on end, fatigue, hunger, thirst his constant companion. The battles, he'd lost count of the numbers he'd had to kill, and this is a person in their early twenties.
Probably the most gruesome, and telling tale, was about a battle with a group of Japanese just before his capture. They were nearly overrun, and hiding behind a small hill. The Japanese were known to take opium and other drugs before battle, making them seem invincible, similar to the Kamakazies of the air. He sat up in the chair and leaned forward, looking at me straight in the eye. "We had these Japanese soldiers coming straight at us, there were probably ten of them and only a couple of us. We fired our machine guns at them, nearly cutting them in half, but they continued to crawl toward us. We continued to fire until they were no longer moving." he said. He had tears in his eyes, reliving the moment in his head. He sat back in his chair, took a deep breath, and said, "How do you handle something like that? It's called survival."
Then it happened, their positions were overrun. The Japanese began to round them up, some of his fellow soldiers resisted, and were shot on the spot right in front of him. Others, too weak to march, were shot as well. His only thoughts were that of getting back home some day, it kept him going.
They were taken to a camp where they were imprisoned, conditions brutal, small bamboo cages and makeshift cells where they were crowded in like animals. He told a story of being placed in a bamboo cage and sunk into the cesspool of filth, with only his head above the level of the "water" to breath. He recounted the Japanese soldiers pulling out his hair for attempts at pain, he pulled it out himself by the handful handing it to them laughing. He bore the scars of interrogation from knives and cigarette burns on his arms and chest, never giving in.
This went on for days, weeks, and what would eventually turn into years. As he sat telling me these stories, I could tell he was reliving every moment in his head, over and over again. A man in his winter years, returning to the horrors of youth, remembering what had happened and realizing who he was.
He mentioned briefly the Bataan Death March. A move from one area of the Philippines to another, where thousands had started the march, with only smaller numbers finished. He told of men collapsing along the way, dying in their tracks or shot by the Japanese for being weak. He told of feeling the earth tremble as the bombs were dropped on Japan, even though they had no idea what it was at the time... this was a man who had lived through the horrors of history, and survived. I finally knew who this man really was.
I sat there speechless. I never knew a thing about all this. Growing up, I just thought he was mean, bitter old man that didn't want anything to do with kids. I always thought it was him against me, I never measured up, I was never good enough, never able to please him. I understood now that what this man had seen in war left a mark on his soul for a lifetime. The terrors of war, the thoughts of life and death at the hands of another. The pain, the agony that was endured, and he and those like him survived.
He never wore his service as a badge for all the world to see. He went on with life as best he could, never displaying the medals and ribbons he'd earned, they were only reminders of what he'd experienced. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I became aware that he was one of three that raised the first American flag over Japan after the surrender... I've posted the article below.
Sitting down and writing this today, I feel I've only told part of his story. The rest is buried with him and my mother Virginia on holy ground at Ft. Sam in San Antonio. He departed this world back in 2002 at the age of 82, and my mom joined him in the afterlife in 2004. They're together always, she knew him, and always loved and cared for him. Me, now at fifty, really understanding the man I grew up with, who I called "Daddy-O", and writing this tribute to him at this special time. My children have grown up to go into the service of our country, and I hope they never have to experience this in their lifetime. They make me proud, and I'm sure he's looking down upon them, watching over them, and very proud of them for the decisions they've made.
The next time you think life is too tough, or you've been dealt a bad hand, can't seem to go on or feel you're not getting out of life what you think you deserve... think of men and women like this. Those that have fought and died for your freedoms and realize the importance of what we have here in the United States of America.
Please take a moment to remember them this Memorial Day weekend. There are those out there still "walking the wall" every day, to make sure we're safe here at home. My connection to it all came from the efforts of POW #123. Thanks Daddy-O, rest in peace.
First American Flag to Fly Over Japan presented by Clifford M. Omtvedt, 515th CA (Anti-aircraft)
After Swedish Red Cross officials notified Japanese officials at Mukaishima Prisoner of War Camp that a verbal offer of surrender had been tendered by the Japanese high command, Japanese guards at Mukaishima Prisoner of War Camp relinquished their role as captors. The starving, now former prisoners of war, marked their camp with large letters, P.O.W. American bombers began dropping supplies soon after.
A group of eight to ten men set to work feverishly on an American flag, tearing the red, white and blue parachute silk into stars and stripes. On August 18, 1945, four days after the Japanese accepted verbally, American surrender terms, and four days before the first American troops set foot on Japan's mainland, the flag was completed. Sgt. Clifford Omtvedt of Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Cpl. Charles Branum of Sikeston, Missouri; and Sgt. Rhodun Martin Bussell of Silver City, New Mexico were the delegated Color Guard to raise the first American Flag to fly over Japan. The flag-raising was accompanied by “To the Colors” on a confiscated Japanese bugle.
On September 13, 1945, the liberated prisoners were marched to the port of Onomichi with Omtvedt carrying the Flag and bugle at the head of the column.
In 1952, Omtvedt made a gift of the Flag and bugle to the United States Government. Receiving the historic items as the Government's official representative was the former senior American officer of the prison camp, Colonel [then a major] Ralph T. Artman. The Flag was displayed for many years at the Pentagon before it was gifted to the Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia upon its opening in 1963.
On this day in 1861, Sarah
Seelye enlisted in Company F, Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry
Regiment, under the alias Franklin Thompson. She was one of a number of
women who disguised themselves as men to enlist in the Civil War. She
had run away from home at age seventeen, disguised as a boy, to avoid an
unwanted marriage. After enlisting in the Union army in 1861, she
served for nearly two years as a male. Ironically, in her secret-service
duty she penetrated Confederate lines "disguised" as a woman. She
deserted the army and resumed life as a female in 1863. She later
published a fanciful, but highly successful, account of her experiences
in the army, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (1865). She and
her husband moved to La Porte, Texas in the early 1890s. On April 22,
1897, Sarah Seelye became a member of the McClellan Post, Grand Army of
the Republic, in Houston. She was the only woman member in the history
of the GAR.
First meeting of Texas Division of United Daughters of the Confederacy
May 25, 1896
On this day in 1896, the
Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy met for the
first time in Victoria. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was
established in 1894 by the merger of state groups in Georgia, Missouri,
and Tennessee. The Texas Division was organized by Kate Cabell Muse, who
had earlier organized a local chapter in her hometown, Dallas. The
Texas Division has been active in marking historic locations and holds
annual memorial observances to remember not only Confederate veterans
but veterans of all wars. The division formerly sponsored the Texas
Confederate Home and the Confederate Woman's Home and each year awards
thousands of dollars in scholarships to descendants of Confederate
veterans. It also maintains the Texas Confederate Museum.
American Academy of Arts and Letters honors black Texas poet
May 25, 1966
On this day in 1966,
Melvin B. Tolson received the annual poetry award of the American
Academy of Arts and Letters. Tolson, born in Missouri in 1898, was only
fourteen when his first poem was printed. He began teaching English and
speech at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1924, and remained there
for twenty-three years. Several of Tolson's poems were published in Modern Monthly and the Modern Quarterly in the late 1930s, and in September 1941 the Atlantic Monthly
published his prize-winning "Dark Symphony," which was later set to
music by Earl Robinson and performed by Paul Robeson. Tolson wrote a
weekly column about black life in America for the Washington Tribune from 1937 to 1944. In the latter year his first collection of poetry, Rendezvous with America,
made its appearance. In 1947 Tolson joined the faculty of Langston
University in Oklahoma, where he remained until his retirement in 1964.
Also in 1947, Tolson was named poet laureate of Liberia, inspiring his Libretto for the Republic of Liberia (1953). In his last book Tolson returned to the world of Harlem with The Curator (1965), the first part of a projected work, Harlem Gallery. He died in Dallas in August 1966.