Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Enjoy These Halcyon Days of Early Summer: 'A California 10 Day'

The next few days will bring some ideal, gorgeous, mild temperate weather to Southeastern Connecticut. Today reminded me of my beautiful past life spent in Northern California, first in San Francisco and then the North Valley area of Chico/Paradise.

We Northern California residents would call a day such as today, 'A Northern California 10 day'--meaning that temps are just right rising from the mid-60's in the morning to the mid-70's in mid-afternoon, not a cloud in the sky and the air quality near or close to a perfect 10. Ah, for those halcyon days of Spring and Summer in San Francisco.

So, get out en plein air, shuck off all your cares and worries and enjoy life as it is supposed to be.
Happy early summer to all, happy days of maximum daylight to all, bask in these days of 'daylight appreciation' as I discussed in a blog celebrating the summer solstice

Although, the above you tube video is a winter sunrise, a summer sunrise is equally as beautiful over the Sound in Stamford, CT.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A.B. Davis High School (Mt. Vernon, NY) Honored with B-17 and B-29 Bombers

Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" Bomber

As a result of the research done on my recent June 13th blog on legendary World War II pilot Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal, I have uncovered a unique underpublicized connection of our alma mater, A.B. Davis to the B-17 "Flying Fortress. It seems that Mt. Vernon library has some information and possibly a photo of a Boeing B-17E with following inscription painted on its rear fuselage: "Purchased by students of A.B. Davis."

The library purportedly has another photo of a B-29 "Super Fortress" and crew dedicated to our alma mater due to the High School's outstanding success in raising money for war bond sales. (See Richard Garfunkel's blog and Paul Court's response at

More on this subject after I contact the staff at the Mt. Vernon library.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Roddick's 2010 Dream to Win Wimbledon is Rudely Shattered

Andy Roddick (on the left) Congratulating Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan
on his stunning five set upset victory (Courtesy of Sang Tan/Associated Press)

Roddick is still chasing his first Wimbledon championship. The three-time runner-up fell yesterday to a virtually unknown player Yen-Hsuen Lu of Taiwan, ranked 82 in the world. The upset victory was 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 9-7.

Last year, in the summer of 2009, Roddick gained international fame in playing the longest match and longest fifth set (in number of games) in Grand Slam final history. According to Howard Fendrich's Associated Press article: "Roddick served almost impeccably and was broken only once in the 77th and last game of Federer's 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 victory." According to Fendrich, it was Roddick, the runner-up who was given the audience's acclaim despite Federer's claiming his sixth title at Wimbledon, his record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title and vanquishing Roddick for the third time in the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Tournament.

Records are meant to be broken. Barely a year later, the epic match of Isner versus Mahut (played from Tuesday June 22- Thursday June 24) took title to the longest match in terms of games: a record shattering 183 games-- far eclipsing Roddick's glory of last year. See my June 24th blog, The Greatest Match Ever.

Keep a stiff upper lip, Andy; there is the US Open coming up. You won it in 2003, you are currently ranked number 5 in the world and you can do it again. Remember records are meant to be broken.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Greatest Match Ever

"We just played the greatest match ever at the greatest place ever." (Nicolas Mahut)

183 games.

112 aces by John Isner 215 combined.

11 hours

Final score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 victory.

A tribute to both players is in order....more than just numbers. It is their sheer bravery!

Tennis Enters the Slipstream: The Marathon Isner- Mahut Match Enters its Third Day at Wimbledon

Nicolas Mahut (r.) asks umpire to suspend play as a
weary John Isner (l.) appears to agonize over the decision
(photo courtesy of The Telegraph of London)

At 9:11 PM London time, the umpire of the longest match in tennis history suspended play--so this unbelievable war of the wills enters its third day--just two minutes short of 10 hours. The match is tied at 59 -59 in the fifth set.

About 45 years ago, I thought I was watching tennis history at the US Open in Forest Hills when I saw an aging graceful Pancho Gonzales pull out a 5 hour plus fifth setter with a 31-29 win over his opponent. What an inspiring match to watch in person.

Tennis has now entered a slipstream of its own with a match that won't end. Both players are playing in a rarified level that only playing on immaculately groomed grass, great training, dedication and inbred sportsmanship can inspire.

Thanks to ESPNU, a network dedicated to College sports, we, here in America, were able to get continuing coverage until well past 5PM on the East coast.

We look forward to play resumption on Thursday, June 24th.

Every day is Father's Appreciation Day!

Yes, everyday is Father's Appreciation Day. We fathers are always working hard--every day-- to make our world a better, safer and healthier place for our children.

So, do we really merit a special day?

Isn't every day a Father's Day?

June 20, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hail to the First Day of Summer and to Daylight Appreciation

Enjoy the next few days because beginning today, Tues and Wednesday there will be an amazing 15 hours and 6 minutes of daylight each day as we celebrate the summer solstice. This is when the suns rays hit hit the northern hemisphere most directly.

So get out and enjoy these beautiful days, the longest days of the year.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

TGIF: It's Willie Nelson Singing 'On the Sunny Side of the Street"

The lyrics are delightfully inspiring and a perfect pick me upper for the weekend, especially if you have had a hard week.

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

Can't you hear the pitter pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be complete
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade with my blues on parade
But I'm not afraid..this rover crossed over

If I never had a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade with them blues on parade
Now I'm not afraid...this rover has crossed over

If I never made one cent
I 'll still be rich as Rockefeller
There will be goldust at my feet
On the sunny side side of the street

Monday, June 14, 2010

Remembering the Notable Jazz Pianist Hank Jones: The Great Jazz Trio of 1977

Max Gordon, the owner of the Village Vanguard brought together 3 of the most versatile jazz performers for two nights in February of 1977: Hank Jones on piano, Ron Carter on bass and the youngest Tony Williams on bass.

Together they melded into one of the most potent and magical trios of all time: so much so that Gordon hailed them as the Great jazz dream trio. Their six hours of recording have been cut into three CD albums released by Test of Time Records.

Sadly, on May 16, 2010, Hank Jones passed on in a hospice in the Bronx. His great music will live on forever.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Robert Rosenthal: Legendary Pilot of World War II

Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rosenthal
(June 11, 1917 - April 20, 2007) was a legendary World War II, B -17 Bomber pilot. Among his memorable missions include:
  • On a mission to Munster, Germany, Rosenthal's B-17 returned safely to base, missing two of four engines, the intercom and oxygen system. In Edward Jablonski's book on the B-17, "Flying Fortress" the author describes this mission:
"Thirteen planes from the 100th group took off for Munster; only one, Rosie Riveters returned...." and "....except for Rosie's Riveters, not one of the 100 planes (emphasis mine) had succeeded in reaching the target. They were attacked just as the formations were approaching the IP (initial point) , just when the P-47s (fighter escort) had to turn around (due to inadequate range). Without fighter escort, the Fortresses were now open to to attack....Over Munster, Rosenthal completed his bomb run; his two engines (out of four) were already out, both waist gunners were wounded, one seriously. the interphones were out and the oxygen system was shot up; a rocket had gone through the right wing, ripping a large hole in the skin. The flak was heavy as the plane dropped its bombs."
  • In a September 1944 mission, his B-17 was shot down over Germany. Rosenthal, broke his arm and nose. After his rescue by Free French forces, he immediately returned to duty.

  • On February 3, 1945, Rosenthal led a mission of 13 B-17's to bomb Berlin. His bomber group was the first one to bomb Berlin.
Rosenthal was born in Brooklyn N.Y. was a graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School. He was working at a Manhattan law firm when on December 7, 1941, the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor. The very next day, he enlisted in the United States Army and the rest is history. He flew a total of 53 missions and is a highly- decorated pilot in the Eight Air Force in the United States Army Air Forces.

He won sixteen awards including the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC, the second highest military decoration, shown at left) for "extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against the enemy," the Silver Star (with cluster for gallantry in action), the Distinguished Flying Cross (with cluster) , the Air Medal (with seven clusters) and the Purple Heart (with cluster).

The blogger wishes to thank, Richard J. Garfunkel's RJGPublicthoughts for some of the information published herein (see blog on The A.B. Davis High School Flying Fortress- August 25, 2006)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stamford's Gene Wilder-stage and screen actor, director, screenwriter and author- Celebrates His 77th Birthday Today

Today we salute Gene Wilder best known for his performances with Richard Pryor in four films Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991). With writer/director Mel Brooks, Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Young Frankenstein.

His wife Gilda Radner (star actress of Saturday Night Live) died of ovarian cancer in 1989 and Wilder founded Gilda's Club to promote cancer awareness in her memory; in 1998, he collaborated on the book Gilda's Disease with oncologist Steven Piver in which he discusses his personal experiences with his wife's illness.

Wilder has a close connection with Stamford and its Avon Movie Theater; here's what he has to say on its testimonial blogs: "I came to Stamford in 1982 and there was only one movie theater--next to 'Hookers Hideout'-were I could see all the great foreign and domestic films that usually played in the 'art' houses. When they finally sold that old theater, I felt that even though I loved Stamford (italics mine), I was living in an artistic wasteland. Now comes the new Avon movie theater. To be able to see 'Random Harvest" with Ronald Colman and Charlie Chaplain and Cary Grant is like being allowed to visit heaven ...and the popcorn is good too."

Live on, oh legend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remembering Anglo-American Aviator, Connecticut Student and Poet John Gillepsie Magee, Jr.

Anglo-American Pilot John Gillespie Mcgee, Jr.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1922-1941), whose birthday we celebrate today, was an Anglo-American aviator and pilot who composed the poem inspired by aviation flight. Here it is:

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Ray Haas is producing a video based on the life of John Gillespie Mcgee: here is a You Tube clip on the movie

Mcgee attended Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connectiuct; then, in 1939, he was accepted on a scholarship to Yale University (where his dad was a chaplain); however he elected to cross the border to Canada to commence flight training. Within a year, he was sent to England and joined the No. 412 Fighter Squadron, RCAF, which was located at Digby, England.

On December 11, 1941, Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee was flying a Spitfire V which collided with an Oxford trainer from Cranwell Airfield. The mid-air occurred over the village of Roxholm situated between RAF Digby and RAF Cranwell about 400 feet above ground level at 11:30 AM.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stamford Resident: Gutzon Borglum Created the Mt. Rushmore Monument

A resident of Stamford from 1910-1920, Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) is best know for carving the statues of the Presidents situated on Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. From left to right are Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Borglum acquired 600 acres in North Stamford in the area of Wire Mill Road and called his property Borgland. He built an enormous studio made of local granite (with a huge fireplace); the room was so large it could accommodate his larger works.

In 2000, The Stamford Museum and Nature Center hosted an exhibition called "Out of Rushmore's Shadow: The Artistic Development of Gutzon Borglum"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Harold I. June: A June Man Who Co-Piloted Admiral Richard Byrd's Plane Across the South Pole

Harold I. June, The Stamford Man Who Piloted Admiral Byrd
Across the Antarctic's South Pole

What better way to initiate on-- June 1, 2010 -- my tribute to Stamford's finest than remembering a local native and attendee of Stamford High School, Harold I. June (12 February 1895-22 November 1962) ; he was honored 80 years ago this month on June 26, 1930 by the City of Stamford with a grand motorcade, speeches, lunches, dinners, etc.

Born in Stamford in 1895, he attended Bangall (country school ) 1902-1906 and completed ninth grade at age 11 and attended Stamford High School for one year. Thereafter, he followed a technical/vocational career as a machinist for a local firm, The Mianus Motor Works and became their salesman and road repair man at age 15, based in Providence, Rhode Island.
From 1912-1917,, he became engineer for Harold S. Vanderbilt including all the Vanderbilt boats. and then in 1919 became Vanderbilt's chief engineer.

Requesting transfer to Pensacola Air Station, in 1922, he earned his Aircraft Radio Operator and Radio Theory and Instruments qualification in 12 weeks. Then in 1923, he finished first in a class of 60 aviation pilots (only 38 finished).

We will fast forward his career to November 29, 1929. (Richard Byrd had established a base camp called "Little America" on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica in 1928 and scientific expeditions were conducted by snowshoe, dog-sled, snowmobile and airplance, of which there were three) Copiloting and acting as radioman, June, accompanied by Byrd and pilot Bernt Balchen and photographer Ashley Mckinley, flew the Ford Trimoter, the Floyd Bennet, to the South Pole and back in 18 hours and 41 minutes. According to Wikipedia:

"They had difficulty gaining enough altitude, and they had to dump empty gas tanks, as well as their emergency supplies, in order to achieve the altitude of the Polar Plateau. However, the flight was successful and it entered Byrd {and June} into the history books. After a further summer of exploration, the expedition returned to North America on June 18, 1930.

Here is a letter sent to June by Mayor William Graves, Mayor of Stamford upon his return to the United States.

The author is deeply indebted to the Stamford Historical Society for much information contained herein and as a source for the images.
Source Image (1)
Source Image (2)
Source Image (3)
Click here to view the author's adventures in earning his own wings and a list of other blogs on various aviation topics.

June is the Month to Celebrate Stamford's Finest

Seal of City of Stamford
Motto: The City that Works

June is traditionally graduation month for America's students. So, it is appropriate time to celebrate well known Stamford, Connecticut alumnae and residents who have left their mark in their fields.

So look for brief introductions and links to personalities as colorful and diverse as Eugene O'Neil, Senator Joe Lieberman, Mort Walker , William Buckley, Gene Wilder, Joe Scarborough and Harold I. June, Stamford's "Best Known Traveler."

So stay tuned to my blog for weekly updates.