Saturday, October 20, 2018
THE GERMAN U-BOAT MENACE OF WORLD WAR II
In World War II the German's conquered France in 1940 and turned it into a major support system for its war against the Allies. On a trip to France my son-in-law Dr. Stephen Alan Bourque, professor emeritus of the School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Leavenworth, became interested in the untold story of what toll the war had taken on French civilians.
In his book, "Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France," he tells the story of the massive damage that was done to French civilians and cities in an attempt to contain the Nazi menace. He discovered the allies bombed 1,570 French cities and towns killing 68,778 men, women and children over the course of World War II. This was greater than the damage done to Britain by the German bombings and attacks with rockets. More than 100,000 French were injured, and 432,000 houses were completely destroyed.
Immediately on taking over France the Germans built giant bomb proof submarine pens in French ports to protect their subs. These ports were used to reload and repair the German U-boats after their fights in the "Battle of the Atlantic." One of the cities with a port supporting the U-boats that had been completely destroyed was St. Nazaire on the coast at the mouth of the Loire River.
The Allies bombed the area 200 times during the war and on one date in 1943, 413 British heavy bombers attacked the submarine pens. Despite this massive attack the pens were left intact due to the tremendous amount of cement used in their construction. On the other hand the bombs completely destroyed the city and killed French civilians, German soldiers and slave laborers who had been sent to work on the area.
The German U-boat pens in France survived heavy bombing the surrounding villages did not
These submarines (U-boats) were one of Germany's most dangerous weapons that took a tremendous toll on the supplies and troops being shipped from America to its Allies in England and Russia. The U-boats sometimes worked in wolf packs of as many as 20 subs attacking our convoys that consisted of 30 to 70 merchant ships with naval protection.
During the war the U-boats sank about 2,779 ships for a total of 14.1 million tons GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage). This figure is roughly 70% of all allied shipping losses in all theatres of the war and to all hostile action.
The most successful year was 1942 when over six million tons of shipping were sunk in the Atlantic. This resulted in heavy loss of life on both sides. The Germans lost 28,000 U-boat crew and 72,200 Allied sailors and merchant seamen were killed. It became clear that if the mass sinking's of supplies and troops couldn't be prevented the war would be lost.
My daughter Debra Anderson made a trip with her husband, the author, to see the pens that are open to visitors.
Here is one of her notes. "Steve wanted to see them for his research. The day started out cool but turned into a nice day. At St. Nazaire we went past the city to the west side to see the ocean."
"Steve wasn't sure where the submarine pens were, but knew that the city had been destroyed because of them. We then drove along the coast into the town. There were beaches and several monuments along the coast. We found a parking space and went exploring. Wow! We were at the submarine pens and they were so impressive. They were massive and had proved to be indestructible. Tons of cement. We walked around and took pictures. Just an amazing structure."
"There’s a photo with me in a dark area next to the water. It’s like a boat dock - a platform with a rectangular space for a boat to pull in or go out to the water. But it’s a covered area, and what was docked were submarines, not boats. It reminded me of a James Bond movie where the subs come into secret hiding places."
The number of merchant ships sunk peaked in 1942 with 1,150 ships sent to the bottom of the Atlantic. England was on the verge of starvation. The subs had to be stopped.
To do this the Allies had to coordinate their various forces and a central office was developed that took messages from the air, the ground and naval forces. With antisubmarine intelligence, electronic tracking and attack aircraft the allies set up their own Hunter-Killer Task Groups.
In World War II Germany built 1,162 U-boats, of which 785 were destroyed and the remainder surrendered (or were scuttled to avoid surrender) at the capitulation. Of the 632 U-boats sunk at sea, Allied surface ships and shore-based aircraft accounted for the great majority (246 and 245 respectively).
To see an U-boat in person go to the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago that has the captured U-boat on which we discovered a German M4 enigma coding machine. This was to be a gift without price, since now the Allies could decode German messages.
A captured German U-boat on display at the Field Museum in Chicago
NATIVE AMERICAN'S 13,000 YEARS AGO: PART 1
Recently I read "Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America" in which Craig Childs, the author, re-travels the routes that the original settlers to the American continent took. Many of these first Native American's came across the land opened between Asia and North America as the ice age was melting. Evidently they came in stages over thousands of years. Some may have come 20,000 years ago, but they didn't build enough numbers to leave historical remains until about 13,000 years ago. By then they were spread across the continent living among the tremendous number of giant animals that existed at that time.
I have visited a number of sites where the Clovis People left artifacts telling us about their life style: in California, Colorado, Missouri, Florida and Ohio. To take over this much area they had to reproduce in large numbers. Childs says the magic, minimum number for human colonization is one hundred and sixty people, more would be better. This means they came to this part of the world in large numbers to avoid the problem of inbreeding.
I believe what happened was that over the centuries they came in relatively small groups, at different times and different routes met and interbred until a 12,000 years ago they had pretty much taken over the continent.
These Native Americans over the years had developed excellent tools and ways of coordinating their attacks that mammoths became one of their chief foods and supply depot for other things they needed to survive.
The best nearby site for seeing a full-sized replica of a mastodon is at the Mastodon State Historical Site, 20 miles south of St. Louis on Interstate 55. The museum holds a large collection of bones, tusks and human artifacts from the Kimmswick Bone Beds, which are located a brief walk from the museum.
An Ice Age Mastodon
A dramatic finding was made there in 1979 when archaeologists excavated a spear point made by members of the Clovis culture (14,000 – 10,000 year ago) among the mastodon bones. This was early solid evidence that early Indians coexisted with these giant prehistoric beasts. This has now been confirmed numerous times.
In the Clan of the Cave Bear program we took in Colorado we learned about early man and his hunting skills. In an area near Fort Collins multiple spearheads have been found indicating the bringing down of a mammoth by native hunters. This gave another expert the opportunity to show us not only now to make spearheads, but also how to throw a spear with a spear thrower.
The first day at Yosemite National Park, the Elderhostel group we had joined took a walk with a naturalist, an expert on the Miwok Indians who had lived in the area. The naturalist demonstrated how the tribe’s members made fire, chipped arrowheads, constructed bows and removed the tannin from acorn meal. He almost had a heart attack starting the fire and cut his finger rather badly showing us how to chip an arrowhead.
We need to remember that there was no way to preserve information or to share it widely, so their tool kit developed over thousands of years without the advantages of books or metal.
Good stone weapons were needed for survival
Chipping was an art and over time the products improved and became almost perfect for the job of killing big game. Many museums have examples of Clovis spears and arrowheads. The spears heads are large and sharp and of course deadly. But they can't just be made anywhere. You must have special material and this if often hard to come by.
At Flint Ridge in Ohio on the 525-acre site, visitors can take trails past various quarries dug by the Indians. The first in the area to mine flint were the Paleo-Indians, who came here as long as 15,000 years ago.
In addition to weapons, other items made from flint included hide scrapers and drills. One of the displays pointed out that flint tools can be recycled — you just made a smaller item by flaking off pieces to create a new shape.
As flint was not readily available in many places, tribes such as the Adena and Hopewell had a source of trading goods. They were probably among our country’s first traveling salesmen as they took their valuable flint products around the country trading for copper, sea shells, food, hides, pottery and other items of worth.
Childs points out that Clovis was a way of working in stone that while developed in the East was almost identical coast to coast. Tool makers in some cases had to make long hundreds of mile trips to get the kind of stone they needed. The giant animals, including the Mammoths disappeared and other tribes replaced the Clovis. I talk about that in Story 2 on the Clovis Native Americans.
My daughter Debra admires an Ice Age giant sloth at the La Brea Tar Pits.
THE AUBURN, CORD, DUSESENBERG AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM
1937 Cord 812S
When I was a child in the 1930s, the most frequent cars I saw around me were Model A Fords and Chevies. These were mass produced, assembly line products from Detroit that many people could afford. But, there was something else on the road that looked different, and when I saw one, I stopped in wonder to admire it. That car was the Cord, produced in Auburn, Indiana. Individually made they were considered then and even more so now as not only cars, but as works of art.
Recently on one of our trips to Indiana, my wife and I were fortunate enough to stop in Auburn, Indiana, and visit the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Museum where the Cords with their sister/brother cars the Auburn and the Duesenberg are on display restored to all their original beauty.
The manufacture of these cars ceased in 1937 because the depression had seriously cut into their sales, and they became collectors’ items with a group of mechanics dedicated to keep them operational.
After closing down the factory 37 years later in1974, the museum was opened in the former headquarters of the Auburn Automobile Company, a three-story building that is an ideal setting for the 131 impeccably restored automobiles.
In 1997 the museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums, an award given to only 5% of all museums in the country. Added recognition came in 2005 when the museum was designated a National Historic Landmark joining an exclusive group that includes Mount Vernon and the White House.
The Cords with their Art Deco styling are what first caught our eyes as we entered, the Cords seem to be moving even when standing still and still made me think of rocket ships and science fiction. The L-29 Cord was 11 inches lower than the average production car of its day. This along with a 137 inch wheel base made it a very sleek looking vehicle.
Duesenberg a car for the rich and famous
The Duesenbergs are big, massive and look like they cost a fortune. We don’t remember seeing any as children, they were the automobiles of the rich and famous and Gary Cooper and Clark Cable drove them. The Duesenberg cost $15,000 when a Ford could be bought for $500.
The Auburn’s were the innovator in other ways. We studied one that amused us because it had the first seat back that lay down to create a bed, a solution for the fact that few motels existed in those days and a car that gave you a bed was one solution to getting a good night's rest on the road.
A radiator covered with a cleverly designed front, front wheel drive, and a hood that lifted from the front; all innovations that were copied by other manufacturers. In fact by 1936 Fords and Chevies were taking a stylistic look with curves that while not quite as arty as the Cords and Auburns improved their looks.
These cars still get attention. In 1951 the Museum of Modern Art named the Cord 810 as one of the greatest car designs of all times. This year, 2018, a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ sold for 22 million dollars.
In one of the films at the museum we noted that Jay Leno who is a famous as a classic car collector had some in his collection.
The Museum's Education Department offers schools a variety of study experiences, including science, technology, engineering, artistry and math.
The museum welcomes thousands of students each year including school study trips, scout, and other children’s groups.
Auburn is the center of a great collection of other museums, besides this one there are seven others open to visitors. Among them are The National Auto and Truck Museum, The Hoosier Air Museum, the Garrett Historical Railroad Museum and the Early Ford V-8 Museum.
Friday, August 3, 2018
GERMAN V2 BOMB HISTORIC SITES
I recently gave a talk based on the book, Beyond the Beach: The Allied War Against France, written by my son-in-law Stephen Bourque. The war with Germany was a disaster for France. They surrendered in seven weeks to Germany's blitzkrieg techniques. Britain lost much of its armaments but rescued most of its troops from Dunkerque. France became a base of operations for the Germans, and 40% of French manufacturing turned to producing war materials and weapons for Germany.
Something that is seldom talked about was the rain of bombs this brought upon the French population. Because the Germans were making so much use of French facilities, the Allies attacks on them caused must damage to non-military structures and civilian populations.
Day light bombing turned out to be inaccurate and the Germans could shoot down more planes, so Britain took to bombing at night doing carpet bombing in hopes it would destroy valuable factories making military equipment. That insured even more collateral death and damage.
The allies bombed 1,570 French cities and towns killing 68,778 men, women and children over the course of World War II. This was greater than the damage done to Britain by the German bombings and attacks with rockets. More than 100,000 French were injured, and 432,000 houses were completely destroyed.
During Allied attacks on Normandy during landings we bombed railroads, bridges and armored sites killing more French citizens, 10,000, than German soldiers, 7000.
Germany's V1 flying bomb was a "Vengeance Weapon" Hitler used against the British
Many of the bombing raids were against the V1 flying bomb an early cruise missile that Hitler intended as a "Vengeance weapon" against the British. He hoped to create terror in London as revenge for the bombing they were doing in Germany. From French bases 9,521 were launched, but with the use of antiaircraft, balloons on cables and fighter planes the Allies learned to shoot many of them down. Debra and Steve were able to visit a V1 missile site at Val Ygot near Ardouval.
For my talk Steve had sent me pictures of areas bombed and one large cement structure seemed especially important, "the blockhaus at Eperlecques." This is a massive cement structure built by the Germans with slave labor to house rockets V1 and V2. The blockhaus was practically imperious to bombs, even bombs developed specifically to destroy it. They did take a heavy toll on slave labor that was being used to construct it.
To avoid detection the V2 was shot off mobile launchers that could be moved around the northern part of France. The Allies spent much time and energy trying to find these sites and destroy them, but they could be set up so quickly that it was almost impossible to stop them.
The V2 rocket sites hurled bombs carrying a warhead of 2,200 pounds at 3,500 miles an hour at London. The V2 were so fast victims heard them incoming only after they had hit since they were faster than the speed of sound. When it exploded it could create a crater 30-40 yards wide and 15 yards deep.
The consequences of the V2 becoming successful had implications for its danger to targets as far away as the United States. Wernher von Braun was the German aerospace engineer developing this rocket technology. The German hope was that with a little more time they could develop rockets that would reach the United States. At the end of the war von Braun and his team escaped from Russia territory to surrender to the U.S. Army. Braun and his team went on to advance space science in America and help us reach the moon.
The V2 rocket did tremendous damage and given time may have reached the United States
My daughter Debra Anderson made a number of these research trips to France with Steve. They spent a lot of time in Northern France where many of these sites are located. She recommends visiting the blockhaus at Eperlecques, which has been converted into a museum. It's an impressive structure with descriptions written in English and French. On their trip, they flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport outside of Paris and drove two and a half hours north. You could also drive south 30 minutes from Calais on the English Channel. The museum has a website and you should find the location on the map before venturing out.
There are also missile sites at Siracourt, which is an hour south of Eperlecques and Val Ygot at Ardouval, another hour and a half west. The coastal towns in the area include Calais, Bologne-Rouen, and Dieppe, all of which are pleasant. Debra and Steve particularly enjoy visiting Rouen, which is rich in history. Claude Monet made numerous paintings of the cathedral there, and it has a plaza commemorating Joan of Arc. Getting off the beaten path can make for an enjoyable, and often surprising, adventure.
The Blockhouse where V1 and V2 rockets were kept was bomb resistant
A V2 rocket inside the Blockhouse
Thursday, August 2, 2018
THE WORLD'S SACRED PLACES: PART 1
I was reading "Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir" by Sally Quinn, a Washington Post journalist. In a chapter about her three week trip around the world called, "Great Faiths: A Journey to the World's Sacred Places," she reports how this gave her the opportunity to see the sacred places of many world religions. As I read the chapter I thought, "I've been those places, only it didn't take me three weeks, it took me 40 years."
Quinn had been to the Vatican in Rome before and had a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. This time she felt that the Vatican was one of the least spiritual places she had ever visited.
On my three visits over the years, I felt much more awe of the Vatican than Quinn. Much of it was related to the art work of Michelangelo. As the first visit that my wife and I took was off season , we practically had the Sistine chapel to ourselves. We had time to admire, discuss and appreciate the famous ceiling.
The second time we were there was in high season and we were pushed through with a mob and hardly had time to let the ceiling come into focus.
On the third visit the temperature was hottest on the date for 200 years and the crowd in line was slow as they were passing screening. I could feel my energy draining out. The inside of the Basilica was cool: the crowds were properly awed by the sheer size of the place and its profusion of art. People were lined up to rub St. Peter's foot and guides were lecturing in a diversity of languages.
Michelangelo's Pieta was back on display. When I saw the statue of the young-looking virgin Mary holding the body of crucified Christ, we could get close enough to study it well. A vandal had damaged it and it was now back on display behind a transparent bulletproof shield. I didn't have the same sense of intimacy, but it remains impressive. I found the experience energizing and as I left the Basilica I was almost trotting with new energy.
Where Jesus was laid to rest after being taken off the Cross
In Jerusalem Quinn found the different Christian groups fighting over the right to scared space disheartening. The wailing wall had men's and women's spaces with curtains put up between the men and women's sides with a bat mitzvah going on the men's side. The women had brought chairs and were standing on them tip-toe trying to see the celebrating of the most scared day of the boy's life. Quinn found this short shift of women appalling.
On the other hand, I found the equality between the Muslim men and women we were working with in Palestine was very different from what we had experienced in some of other Muslim countries we had been in. They interacted freely with each other and our team members regardless of sex.
I was there during a tense period when very few Christians were coming to visit. This is site sacred to three great religions, Christianity, Islam and Hebrew.
Most of the religious sites were still open and our knowledgeable Muslim guide was able to give us a leisurely tour of them, including the 14 stations of the cross.
The Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross, is the path Jesus followed carrying the cross from where Pontius Pilot condemned him to Calvary where he was crucified. We saw where his body was laid out and the tomb where his body was placed.
The last five stations are within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest shrine to Christians. It also has the Chapel of Mary Magdalene, where Christ is said to have revealed himself after the resurrection.
The Temple Mount area in old Jerusalem has a number of sites holy to Jews and Muslims. Jews and Muslims traditionally see it as the place where Abraham offered his son in sacrifice. On this site Solomon built the first temple almost 3,000 years ago.
Twice the temples built on this site have been destroyed . The remains of one of the walls is called the Western Wall by the Jews and is known to outsiders as the Wailing Wall. Because of the danger of suicide bombers, we had to go through a security check to enter the area. The worshippers at the wall saying prayers could occasionally slip a piece of paper with a prayer on into a crevice.
Next to the wall is the third-holiest place in the world for Muslims, the Dome of the Rock, a shrine. The Muslim belief is that Muhammad made his ascent into heaven from here. I found the golden dome beautiful both during the day and at night as it reflected the light around it.
In a second story I continue with a discussion of religious sites in India and the Far East.
I and a colleague stand in front of the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock and Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
WORLD'S SCARED PLACES: PART II
Previously I discussed the Vatican in Rome and Jerusalem in Israel, two of the sacred places of the major world's religions, that Susan Quinn had visited on a great world tour. In this section I will focus on the rest of her three week tour. It took me about 40 years to final get to and explore these interesting sites.
I will start with India, a country with many holy places. Quinn went first to Sarnath, the Buddhist holy city where Buddha attained enlightenment. There are temples to him. Here Quinn began to appreciate what the trip was doing for her attitude toward religion. She could and would have access to it all.
After the chaos of the rest of India, I found Sarnath the quietest. It was the most peaceful place I had been; few beggars, little traffic. I was there on a religious occasion and monks were everywhere, and I was able to watch a ceremony at one of the monuments. Buddhism was pushed out of India by Hinduism and became a major religion in Japan, China, Tibet, and Thailand.
Outside the Buddhist Temple at Sarnath
Quinn found India's holiest city Varanasi and Ganges River where they wash their sins away-filthy, I agree. She rode a boat along the shore watching the bodies being burned on the ghats or steps. She was upset by the suffering of the mourners and when she got home talked her husband out of his desire to be cremated upon his death.
Varanasi is the holiest of the seven sacred cities for Hindus, a religion that is thousands of years old. People come here to die and have their bodies burned on the Ghats so they can stop the cycle of constantly rebirth and reach nirvana.
The city is loaded with temples and there is a claim that this is the oldest living city in the world. Shop keepers with whom I had tea on two occasions asked if they could share a story. One was the story of Ramayana, which sounded like something out of the brothers Grimm. The tale teller laughed hardily and became very excited.
Afterwards a guide took us to a ceremony where over a hundred men in yellow robes chanted and sang while pilgrims circled the chanters.
Ganges River in Varanasi where Hindus wash their sins away.
Several of us from my group got up early to watch bodies being burned on the Ghats. We were able to see the preparation, the burning and the discard of the remains into the Ganges. We were again reassured that the Ganges destroys bacteria upon contact and destroys bones in three days.
Kyoto, Japan, is the capital of Zen Buddhism the concepts of which resonated with Quinn, and she had a truly spiritual experience. Its emphasis on nature, beauty, and gratitude led her to mediate every day since she was there.
The basic rules are simple. In a silent place sit quietly, and let go of your thoughts. Focus just on your posture and your breathing. Keep your back straight. Release your ego and your unconscious mind and them melt away. Merge with the universe.
When I was traveling with a group of psychologists, several of whom felt that Zen Buddhism meditation was a much better treatment for addiction for some people then Christian based AA. Meditation continues to be a part of some therapists treatment package.
I visited many shines in Kyoto, one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in the world. The U.S. did not bomb Kyoto during the war because they had no war plants here.
The most impressive place we visited was the Zen Temple, the Golden Pavilion with the top two floors covered in gold leaf, with a beautiful pond and surrounding gardens. I bought a large photo the Temple for framing and it hangs in one of our bedrooms.
Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan
Quinn next went to two places I have not been, Lhasa, Tibet, and Addis Ababa. She liked much about Tibet and struggled with some of the concepts. For example, "the only way to alleviate suffering is not to want."
She didn't get to the holy place in Addis Ababa and went next to Cairo, Egypt. She found the pyramids and the Sphinx disappointments. They were dirty, disintegrating and surrounded by beggars. She wondered what the sun gods were thinking. I too was disappointed when I saw what number 1 on the Hillman World Wonders list was like in person. I found many other places in Egypt more interesting.
While Quinn goes on to Istanbul, the last stop she talks about is Yerevan, Armenia (officially still Turkey) to see the sacred mountain of Armenia, Mount Ararat.
What did she learn from her trip? "I saw that there were so many ways to practice one's faith, and that they should all be respected." The people on the trip with her were astounded by the similarities in basic tenets of the religions, even though the rituals might be different.
I also appreciate that my adventures have allowed me to visit most of the major religious sites around the world.
Quinn found the Sphinx and pyramids a disappointment
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
THE MUSEUM OF TRANSPORTATION: ST. LOUIS
In the last 150 years we have made unbelievable gains in how we move ourselves and our stuff around. These advances in transportation are on display at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County. The Smithsonian Institution recognizes this museum as, "one of the oldest and best collections of transportation vehicles in the world."
A railway car pulled by a mule, 5 cents a ride.
It's more than transportation that we learned about on our visit. For example, we saw a small railway car from 1870 which was pulled by a mule. The fare was a nickel, the driver was paid nine and a half cents an hour and three cents was spent each day in the winter to put straw on the floor to help keep the riders warm. In the interests of its welfare the mule only worked six hours a day.
Next to the railway car was a large produce truck that sold fruit and vegetables as it moved around St. Louis streets. This was a productive way of life until 1950 when supermarkets came into being and the peddlers went out of business. Different kinds of buggies and sledges were the older forms of getting around.
A horse drawn hearse
A collection of travel outfits of the old days along with travel equipment are on display. We were most impressed with the heavy fur coat that protected drivers against the winter winds given the openness to the air of old forms of travel.
We moved up the hill, past the Miniature Train Station where rides are available to the Lindburg Automobile Center. Having personally owned cars manufactured as far back as 1929, I always find these sections especially interesting.
A beautiful white 1923 Stanley Steamer was on display next to a old Pierce-Arrow motorcycle. The Steamer had a large water tank or boiler for an engine. It claimed it could run on anything that burned, was quiet, had few parts and didn't require gears. In the early 1900 they were more popular than gas engines. Companies stopped making them after 1924.
A 1920's Pevely Milk Wagon was a look back into my past. In the 1930's few people had refrigerators and glass bottled milk was delivered daily. One horse pulled the wagon and that horse knew the way. That is, the driver would take a batch of bottles and deliver to a number of houses and the horse would walk around the corner and know where to meet him.
An 1890's horse-drawn hearse had glass sides so the coffin could be viewed by the mourners as it was towed down the street to the graveyard. Since the coffin was to be on view, people would often put more expensive adornments on it than they could afford.
Further up the hill was the Roberts Pavilion with more than 70 locomotives and many train cars. According to the museum brochure this is the most complete collection of American rail power in the world. Frankly it was too much to see and understand. After walking through several old passenger cars and looking in some others, we moved on.
Special attention is paid to Owney, the traveling dog in a contest where you hunt for Owney posters throughout the museum and you win small prizes such as a museum coloring book or a free bag of popcorn. Owney was a mutt who wandered into an Albany, New York post office in 1888, and he ended up riding trains carrying mail. In nine years he traveled 140,000 miles around the United States. Later his friends at the post office arranged for him to travel around the world on a steamship. In July, 2011, Owney was honored on a U.S. first class Forever Stamp.
The museum is very interested in providing educational experiences for all grade levels. Classes can be arranged for school groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Produce trucks took the place of today's supermarkets.
A Stanley Steamer, note the large water tank in the front.
SUNKEN CITIES: EGYPT'S LOST WORLDS
The artifacts were rescued from deep in the waters off the coast of Egypt
When earthquakes and high tides came to the Mediterranean area 1200 years ago, Egypt lost two great seaside cities into the depths of the water. Very busy workers in the last seven years have been recovering thousands of artifacts. The result is a traveling exhibition called the "Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds." Now the exhibition for the first time is in America at the St. Louis Art Museum.
Even the names of the cities had been lost to historians. Now we know not only their names but are awed by the richness of the combined Egyptian-Greek culture that had existed there.
The largest city was Thonis-Heracleion where much of the trade with Greece was carried out. This is where the new Pharaoh would come to be legitimized by the Gods. Nearby was Canopus, a city that drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean to its many shrines.
We arrived in the morning to find the exhibit already crowded. The tickets gave entry times so they could control the large number of people eager to see the unusual display that had already been to the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, the British Museum in London, and the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
A movie introduced us to what we were to see by taking us to the depths of sea four miles off the coast of Egypt where we got to watch the divers discover the treasures that seeming lay randomly in the muck and sludge of the bottom. It took seven years of underwater excavation led by Franck Goddio, president of the European Institute, for Underwater Archaeology to gather the artifacts for this exhibition.
The Sacred Bull Apis, when Apis Bull died all of Egypt morned.
We were about to see excavated material that included colossal statues, inscriptions and architectural elements, jewelry and coins, ritual objects and ceramics.
Continuous films were playing on screens around the exhibition about the underwater world where the artifacts were found. In the film they would find an object, examine it and bring it to the surface. On the wall nearby the TV screen we would find the discovered object on display.
The earliest statues found were done in the Egyptian style, leg forward, arms to the sides. Over the years of interaction the Greek influence became apparent: more body movement, more expressive faces, and hair styles were different. But something else was happening-- the Egyptian Gods were beginning to blend with the Greek and taking on other names.
For example, the Egyptians worshipped Hapy, the God of the Nile flooding. Based on Hapy the Greeks created and venerated Neiles. Neiles had thick curly hair, a heavy beard and wore a himation, a kind of cloak.
Some artifacts are more striking than others. One is the life-sized statue of the sacred Bull, Apis, who represented the god Ptah, a powerful oracle and source of prophecy. A real bull was chosen by the priests as a representative, and when he died the nation mourned.
A section of the exhibition focuses on the Osiris, God of the afterlife, that introduced me to some new information about him. There had been an annual water procession between Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus commemorating the murder and resurrection of Osiris.
Several of the statues show Osiris waking from the dead. One of them has him on his stomach with his head just raised as he comes back to life. The figures of Osiris were often made of symbolic ingredients, such as soil from the Nile River. These figures were then used during rituals that recreated and celebrated the god's death, dismemberment, reassembly, and resurrection.
The rituals were to insure the yearly flooding of the Nile, so necessary for the life of Egypt. The overlap of his murder and resurrection with our own Christian story startled me.
The exhibition will be at the St. Louis Art Museum until September 9. Visitors are charged for entry to the exhibition except tickets are free on Friday's. The museum is open until 9 pm.
Osiris, God of the Nile, shown in his rebirth.
TRUMAN'S LESSONS IN DECSION MAKING
A reproduction of Harry Truman's oval office at the Truman Library and Museum in Kansas City.
On a recent visit to the Harry S Truman Library and Museum in Independence we had trouble finding a parking space. This had never happened to us before. Two large school buses were also present. As we entered the lobby, we found ourselves among many tall good looking men dressed in suits. What was going on?
A guard told us these were 150 army majors who are presently assigned to advanced training in Leavenworth at the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. Frankly they looked much too young to be majors. He said they were here to study Truman's decisions that had been so historically important.
As we took our own tour, it became evident that many events had prepared Truman to make a series of critical decisions that were major factors in U.S. and world history. His decisions were not appreciated at the time he made them. When he left his office, his rating by the public was very low with only around 30% approving his decisions. He left the presidency with many thinking he was a failure.
With the passage of time his decisions began to look much better and the most recent ratings by professional historians place him as number 6 as one of our great presidents, just below Thomas Jefferson and just above Dwight Eisenhower.
His first major decision was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. This is still debated, but most military experts agree it saved many American lives that would have been lost as the result of an invasion of the Japanese homeland.
At the entrance to the post war exhibition we stepped into a dark area of ruined buildings and ominous wind sounds. In a number of crevasses TV's were showing the results of the destruction of the war and the poverty and hardships of the survivors. We were introduced to the chaos of what the war left behind.
Truman had seen the punishment of Germany after WWI which set the stage for Hitler. After WWII Truman worked on a number of programs to insure Europe was safe from communism and that the economies could be helped to rebuild. The Marshall plan was an important element in providing funds and supplies to help the European economies.
The Truman Doctrine established support to free countries like Greece and Turkey that were in danger of becoming a part of the communist bloc. Truman helped form NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to defend Europe against a Soviet attack. This also included the Berlin Airlift to bring supplies by air to a Berlin that had had its road supply routes cut off by Russia. Obviously Europe owes it present good state of affairs to Truman's foresight.
The Democratic Party was split over Truman during his Presidency.
Some of his early decisions were controversial and in the elections of 1946 the Congress and the Senate became Republican and very resistant to his liberal programs.
More was to come. Truman racial integration of the military was a major step forward and he would have done more against segregation, but the resistance was too great.
Against the advice of his secretary of state, George C. Marshall, he decided to recognize the new nation of Israel moved in part by the horrors of the Holocaust and the thousands of displaced Jews in Europe. A less noble factor was that this decision would unite Jewish Americans behind him in the 1948 presidential election that he was expected to lose.
Then came the North Korea communist attack on South Korea. Truman drew a line and General Douglas MacArthur did some clever moves that brought China into the war. A disagreement led to firing of MacArthur, a very unpopular decision despite the fact it prevented a full out war with China.
In 1950 Truman approved the development of the H-Bomb and a month later the Cold War arms buildup.
Decisions, decisions: his administration had more important decisions to make than practically any other president in history. This is emphasized by two special features of the museum; small theaters where visitors can sit exposed to the decisions Truman had to made and record their own reactions.
The first one says: "Enter this interactive theater to see now Truman handled some tough election year decisions. Register your own opinions about presidential decision making."
There is much more to see and interact with at the Truman Museum, but this should make it clear why the U.S. army officer training program exposes officers in training to understand the decision making of Harry S Truman.