Sunday, March 28, 2010

Heros of Our Recent Fairfield County Storm

Thousands of Fairfield County residents--especially in Stamford and Greenwich --lost electrical power and heat during the most recent storm. Some families were without power from Sunday until the following Thursday.

Schools were cancelled for the full week and so many families checked into local hotels and the latter were rapidly filled. Many families in Stamford headed up north to Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Milford and New Haven to finally book a room or a suite to provide comfort, light, heat and showers for the family.

Our local librarian here in Stamford reported about some families that had to go further up the line, i.e. Route 91 north of New Haven, to Hamden 47 miles and one hour from Stamford to finally find lodging.

So, in view of these trying circumstances it is heartening to learn that the New Canaan library stayed open 24 hours during the crisis providing heat, light and temporary lodging for all those in the area!

Hats off to you, New Canaan

Friday, March 26, 2010

68th Reunion of Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders

Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and Capt. Marc A. Mitscher and the Crew
of Doolittle's Tokyo Raiders aboard the USS Hornet CV-8 enroute to Tokyo

A B-25 Mitchell Bomber Similar to the Ones Flown over Tokyo

My blog recently paid homage to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, organizer of the famous US air raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942.

80 airmen took off on a secret mission from USS Hornet aircraft carrier to bomb wartime munitions factories in and around Tokyo. This was done to boost the morale of the US armed forces which was humiliated by the early morning surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, a mere 5 months earlier.

To honor the the less than 10 crewmembers who are still alive, the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio will host commemorative festivities April 16-18 at Grimes Field

At least 20 North Americal B-25 Mitchell Bombers will fly in formation on April 18th beginning 1 PM. Public flights will be available as well as static displays. Sponsors of this free event include

Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and Allied Sales Company of Austin, Texas are sponsors.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lindbergh Receives Congressional Medal of Honor

President Coolidge and Col. Charles Lindbergh

In my dad's Grand Concourse Medical Office in the Bronx hung a framed front page from the New York times dated May 22, 1927 . Dad was very proud of this image. Although, he himself was not a pilot, he could easily relate to people who pushed the envelope to achieve greatness.
After all, dad himself, was an outstanding athlete who excelled in three sports in college, managed to graduate from City College in three years and graduated at the top of his class at New York Flower Medical School. Not too shabby.

Dad was a special man who inhabited his own rare atmosphere.

On this day in 1928, President Calvin Cooledge bestowed upon Charles Lindbergh the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to an American citizen.

The citation reads:
For displaying heroic courage and skill as a navigator, at the risk of his life, by his nonstop flight in his airplane , the "Spirit of St. Louis," from New York City to Paris, France, 20-21 May 1927. by which Capt. Lindbergh not only achieved the greatest individual triumph of any American citizen but demonstrated that travel across the ocean by aircraft was possible.
Lindy's feat just may have inspired me to earn my wings about 50 years later!
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

North Stamford: Winter 2010 Snowfall

We have been having a rough winter in Southern New England, especially here in Stamford and Greenwich.

So let's remember the winter of 2010 with this serene, sugar coated snow footage recorded in North Stamford after a recent snowfall.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

John Gilbert Winant: An American Hero in Wartime London

John Gilbert Winant standing
next to Winston Churchill

It is so rare lately that I can find time to read given the many demands on my time. And yet rarer is it that I find a book that is so enjoyable and well written as is Lynne Olson's Citizens of London. The book chronicles in great detail and many anecdotes the special relation ship that 3 Americans living in London-- John Gilbert Winant, Edward Murrow and Averell Harriman -shared with Churchill and Great Britain during England's living under the reign of terror of Hitler's bombing of London, especially during our country's declared neutrality.

After teaching popular history courses at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, Winant served his state in the House of Representaives.

In 1917, he joined the United States Army Air Service and served his country as pilot commanding the 8th Aero Squadron in France.

Upon returning from war, he was elected to the state senate and twice served as Governor of New Hampshire; he was subsequently tapped by Roosevelt to head the Social Security Board and then was elected to the International Labor Office in Geneva Switzerland.

Winant, a little known figure at the time was appointed by FDR as ambassador to England in March, 1941 to replace Joseph Kennedy who believed that there was no way Britain could survive a Nazi takeover (he famously said "England is lost" as he made his exit). When the bombing raids would start, he would flee London to the countryside.

On his arrival in Bristol, England he immediately endeared himself to the British people by declaring that there was "no other place I'd rather be than in England now." He quickly made friends with King George VI and Winston Churchill. Unlike Harriman who lived in the luxurious Dorchester Hotel with its posh underground shelters, 5 star European cuisine and live orchestral music, Winant chose to live with minimal amenities at 3 Grosvernor Square where, to the consternation of the chambermaids, he subsisted on civilian wartime rations.

What is most poignant in Olson's fine reportage is that during nightime Nazi war raids, Winant would wander the streets and stop ordinary London citizins and ask them what he could do to help them.

This memorable US citizen was one of two to be made an honorary member of the Order of Merit--the other was General Dwight Eisenhower.

Follow this link to see Lynn Olson author of Citizens of London interviewed on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show
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Friday, March 12, 2010

898 Summer Street: A Downtown Stamford Architectural Gem

This building, located at the corner of Summer Street and North Street is an an example of a post civil war Victorian "cottage" (a cottage was defined as a house with fewer than two servants). Built about 1875, it features the popular mansard-roofed French Second Empire style to emulate the chic Parisian style of this era; this style was very popular in the USA during the presidency of Ullysses S. Grant (1869-1877).
The building is surrounded by office buildings and the Northfield cemetery to the rear. According to one local historian, Alan Burnham 898 "lends considerable dignity to the neighborhhood."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Elizabeth Nichols: Heroine of Stamford

We celebrate Elizabeth Nichols who saved Stamford from the British in 1798. She is buried in historic Northfield Cemetary.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3/3/66: The Birth of the Buffalo Springfield Group amidst LA Gridlock

Buffalo Springfield from ( r.) : Stephen Sills, Dewey Martin,
Bruce Palmer, Richie Furay, Neil Young

Unusual events occur on Los Angeles freeways and thoroughfares.

Michael Douglas (Falling Down, 1993) plays an unhinged man who commits violence after abandoning his car in a hot summer day's LA freeway gridlock.

I recall many an early morning, smog -filled trip on Route 5 as I traversed, snail-like, the 55 mile trip from Woodland Hills to Santa Ana area. The traffic at 7:30 AM was so heavy, the smog kept getting progessively thicker as we crawled most of the way and I inevitably began to doze off as my Mercury passed the exit to LAX. The trip was interminable and seemed to last forever!

Enough to unwind someone with unsteady early in the day.

So, it came as a surprise and delight to learn that such a gridlock traffic jam on Sunset Blvd. on this day 44 years ago today brought together an amazing band that became the Buffalo Springfield.

Neil Young had set out for Los Angeles to hook up with Stephen Sills. After spending a week in LA looking for Stills, he was just about ready to head up to San Francisco.

Stuck in traffic on Sunset Blvd. in his white van , Young along with Au Go Go Singers alumnus Richie Furay and record producer Barry Friedman suddenly spotted Young's 1953 Pontiac hearse driving by in the opposite direction. They made an illegal u-turn and pulled alongside Sills and they all jumped out into the street. After hugging and shouting at eachother, the four knew they had to unite in putting together their band.

About a month later on April 11, 1966, the new group debuted at The Troubadour in Hollwood.

They called themselves the Buffalo Springfield after a steam roller parked in front of Friedman's home with the name Bufallo Springfield Roller Company on the side.

The rest is his history.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moe Berg's Birthday: Scholar, Big League Baseballer, Spy

Three biographies have been written on his life!

He has appears to have followed three careers as well!

He began as a scholar par excellence with degrees from Princeton, Columbia Law School and graduate studies in philosophy at the Sorbonne. And he was fluent in 7 languages!

Next, he was a big league catcher for the Chicago White Sox, playing in 663 games ins 15 seasons and hitting .243 for his lifetime. Not a great player just a competent standby catcher.

Finally, Moe Berg (March 2, 1902-May 29, 1972) is best known as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA). In 1934, he accompanied Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on a baseball tour to Japan. One day, before a game, he climbed to the top of the tallest building in Japan and with his Bell and Howell 16MM motion picture camera took pictures of downtown Tokyo, its business district, its industrial section and its harbor. Here's an excerpt from one of his biographers:

He [Moe Berg] bluffs his way up onto the roof of the hospital, the tallest building in Tokyo at the time. And from underneath his kimono he pulls out a movie camera. He proceeds to take a series of photos panning the whole setting before him, which includes the harbor, the industrial sections of Tokyo, possibly munitions factories and things like that. Then he puts the camera back under his kimono and leaves the hospital with these films," says Nicholas Davidoff, a Berg biographer.

This footage may have been used by General Jimmy Doolittle (see blog for Dec. 14, 2009) in planning his famous April 1942 bombing raid over Tokyo in 1942.