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Archive for April, 2018

North Platte, Sutherland and Paxton, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on April 26, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2398; A Landing A Day blog post number 832.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (40o 58.350’N, 100o52.812’W) puts me in southwest Nebraska:

Here’s my local landing map:

All of the towns you see are teeny, with the exception of North Platte (pop 25,000).

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Sutherland Outlet Canal:

As you can see, the canal comes from (and discharges to) the South Platte River (21st hit); on to the Platte River (70th hit).  Although not shown, most readers are aware that the Platte makes its way to the Missouri (426th hit); on to the MM (931st).

I don’t have a worthwhile Google Earth (GE) Street View of my landing, but here’s a look at the Sutherland Canal:

Here’s a closer look at the Orange Dude’s perch:

And here’s what he sees, looking upstream:

And downstream (fishermen and all):

I think I’ll jump right to the major town near my landing – North Platte.  While pretty much hookless, I noted that Wiki listed one Henry Hill in its “Notable People” list, as “New York City mobster, worked as a cook in North Platte.”

So the fact that Henry and I share a last name probably influenced my decision to feature him. But he has an interesting story.

It seem appropriate to start off with this mug shot (from Wiki):

He doesn’t look too happy, eh?

He was born in 1943, and Wiki notes that he was “associated” with the Lucchese crime family, beginning in 1955.  Do the math.  The kid was only 12.

Wiki:

In 1980, Hill became an FBI informant, and his testimony helped secure 50 convictions, including those of mob capo (captain) Paul Vario and James Burke on multiple charges.

Hill’s life story was documented in the true crime book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi.  Wiseguy was subsequently adapted by Martin Scorsese into the critically acclaimed film Goodfellas, in which Hill was portrayed by Ray Liotta.

Henry became involved with local mobsters in his boyhood Brooklyn neighborhood, and one thing led to another . . .

I found this story of a heist particularly intereting.  From Wiki:

On April 7, 1967 Hill and Tommy DeSimone executed the Air France robbery.  Robert “Frenchy” McMahon became aware of several bags containing $60,000 each, stored in the Air France cargo terminal at JFK Airprt. McMahon proposed the robbery was initially proposed to Hill in January 1967.

The targeted money was stored in a strong-room inside the Air France cargo hold, permanently protected by a security guard. Hill determined that an armed robbery would involve unnecessary risk and would be unlikely to succeed; instead, Hill devised a plan to steal the keys to the strong room from a security guard who carried them at all times.

Hill conducted surveillance on the security guard during his leisure time and found the guard had a weakness for women. Hill and McMahon succeeded in getting the guard drunk before driving him to the Jade East Motel where he was introduced to a prostitute. While the guard was distracted, Hill retrieved the guard’s set of keys from his discarded trousers and had copies made before returning the original keys, thus leaving the guard and his employers unaware of any breach in security.

Hill entered the cargo terminal with Tommy DeSimone on April 7, 1967 following a tip-off from McMahon about a shipment of between $400,000 and $700,000 being made to the strong-room. Using the duplicate key, Hill and DeSimone stole $420,000 (equivalent to over $3.1 million in 2018) in cash from the strong-room, loading the money into a large suitcase.

They entered and exited the cargo terminal unchallenged and unnoticed while the security guard was on a meal break. No shots were fired and the money was not reported missing until four days after the heist.

Hill shared the take from the heist with senior Mafia members.

Enough about my Great Uncle Henry. Moving along to Sutherlane, I saw that Wiki identified M. Miriam Herrera as an author and poet.

From her website:

Miriam’s enigmatic ancestry compels her writing. As evidenced by her family’s uniquely hybrid practices and traditions, it is likely they descend from crypto-Jews or “conversos” from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. These “conversos” or converts to Catholicism, fled the Spanish Inquisition and came to live in the New World. Descendants of these conversos intermarried with the Native Americans and old Christians that populated the American Southwest. Miriam explores her crypto-Jewish, Chicana, and Native American identity in her poetry.

One of the poems on her website is “Kaddish for Columbus:  Prayer for 500 Years.”  What’s a kaddish, one might ask.  From Wiki:

The Kaddish is a hymn of praises to God found in Jewish prayer services.  The term is often used to refer specifically to “The Mourner’s Kaddish,” said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services, as well as at funerals.

I found the poem to be moving (but a little long given my readers’ short attention spans).  Although not at all kosher, I shortened the kaddish a little.  In the unlikely event that Ms. Herrera reads this post, my sincerest apologies . . .

Kaddish for Columbus:  Prayer for 500 Years

Author’s note:  Legend says Columbus was a Crypto-Jew escaping Spain’s Inquisition, along with a boatload of illegal Marranos, in hopes of settling in the New World.

I believe in my animal twin:
Together we bellow and embrace
in arms of darkened hills
winding above the Rio Grande,
along the Sangres and Santa Fe, up
to the Pajarito plateau.

I believe in the rattlers’ sect
Tribes who shed skin for sake of
divinity, and accept as fate
to be steered by a blackbird’s tail.

I meditate on the Boundless,
on the Inspiration
that looks upon sundown’s ruddy expanse
and bestows commandments:

“Roll in river
mud, inhale sage brush,
build your houses round,
clay red as the upper thigh
of a sun-burned woman—
Live! Live!”

(I trust in these words.)

I believe my Grandfather’s spirit,
looselegged in khakis,
still carries a rifle and hunting knife
north and south
along this same river valley.
I believe in the hemisphere
where there are no borders, no
papers required to prove his footsteps
on this land
for over five hundred years.

(I consecrate to his memory the number 500.)

I believe my grandfather
creates new Sabbaths,
when he looks in the river
at his rough, holy image. I believe
he’ll awaken my own
sleeping image with his
odd beauty:

Skin, all at once the color
of mountain snow, of river mud
and adobe.  Hair like cornsilk
or tail feathers of
a red-tailed hawk, and a soul,
shiny and tempered
as loot from Obsidian Ridge.

I glorify the shadow of spirits at dusk,
their aweful power
as they close in
flat-out run on hoofs
thumping
toward a wandering soul,
swept against a cliff
by force of animal will.

I swear, this tiny soul remembers
its first summer, holds
a breath under the breaking sky,
reveres blazes of pink, purple, gold
and covers its eyes
when a juniper bush
appears to catch fire.

At dusk, the earth’s veins
give up their color
to the Sangre
de Cristo mountains. The hills
put on purple veils and bow
to the sky.

Time to move over to Paxton.  The Notable People list has one name:  Josh Rouse, singer-songwriter. 

As is my wont, I slipped over to You Tube and checked him out.  Here’s “Come Back,” recorded live at the Stages on Sixth in Austin.  I really like this song!  The band is so tight – this sounds like a studio recording.

 

I’ve been a-waiting for the longest time
I want you to come back
Maybe if the sun would shine
It’d bring my happy back
In the dark
So tired of waking up and it’s dark
So tired of being stuck on my own here
Norway is cold dear
And here comes june
The sun is gonna shine in june
The doctor says I’ll feel better soon
Fills my vitamin D pills
He hands me the big bill

Cause I’ve been waiting for the longest time
I want you to come back
Maybe if the sun would shine
You’d bring my happy back
I’m gonna stay on this mountain high
Til you come running back
Don’t leave me hangin’ out on that line
I want you to come back
I want you to come back

I miss my serotonin
And my days are goin nowhere fast
And the language is so foreign
And I can never understand
Understand

Come back (x 11)

Yeah cause I’ve been a-waiting for the longest time
I want you to come back
Maybe if the sun would shine
You’d bring my happy back
I’m gonna stay on this mountain high
Til you come running back
Don’t leave me hanging out on that line
I want you to come back
I want you to come back
I want you to come back
I want you to come back
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Waiting for the longest time
Maybe, if the sun would shine . . .

Here’s “New Young,” which, not coincidently (and as attested in the final verse), reminds me of Neil Young:

 

Preparation for life in a small town
Now there’s a few things I know
Getting ready to downshift with my family
Say goodbye to rock and roll

Show me all the traps I’ve taken
I’ve been drawing maps and making
Plans, to move out to the country

Northern California’s nice
Driven through there many times, playing shows
Thought about my ways and me
My father telling New Orleans, where you’ll go

Show me all the traps I’ve taken
I’ve been drawing maps and making
Plans, to move out to the country

Thinking about the paths I’ve taken
Shoot me straight, and I’ll get turned around
Let’s move out to the country
To the country

Dreamed about Neil Young last night
Rolled out of bed and rubbed my eyes
I’ll never be that good, you know
I’ll never be that good, you know

 

So.  I went to Josh’s website, saw that he’s performing at the World Café in Philadelphia on May 13th, and bought tickets . . .

I’ll close with GE photo by Tim Goldsberry, taken a few miles southeast of my landing:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2018 A Landing A Day

 

 

 

 

 

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Eureka, Nevada (third time around)

Posted by graywacke on April 15, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2397; A Landing A Day blog post number 831.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (39o 45.422’N, 115o40.753’W) puts me in central east Nevada:

My local landing map shows that I landed in the boonies:

I won’t both with a streams-only map, because there are no streams anywhere close by.  Instead, here’s Google Earth (GE) shot of my “watershed”:

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of Newark Valley, which contains no streams and goes nowhere.  The lowest areas are yellowish.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking north (and yes, you can see my yellow landing pin if you look closely):

 

See the largest mountain peak in the range to the west of my landing?  That’s Diamond Peak, and here’s a Wiki shot from the top of the mountain, looking up Newark Valley:

I get another look at my landing using Google Earth (GE) Street View:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I had the OD look southwest.  That’s Diamond Peak in the distance:

It’s time to jump right to the town of Eureka.  This is the third time this blog has featured Eureka (two early landings back in 2009). From my April 2009 post:

Eureka is (guess what?) a mining town that had boom years back in the late 1800s, with a population that made it to 10,000. Times change, markets change, and the ore runs out.  So, a few pictures will have to do . . .

Here’s one of nearby Diamond Peak:

And a Diamond Valley sunset:

The unavoidable Main Street shot:

And this, of an early 1900s Eureka resident:

Route 50 through Nevada is touted as “America’s Loneliest Highway.” Here are a couple of pictures to support that position:

I’ll close with this overview of Eureka:

And then, from my August 2009 post:

So, I apologize, but this is going to be an uninspiring post. I’m just going to present a few pictures of Eureka that I didn’t post last time. Here goes, starting with a picture of the somewhat-famous Eureka Opera House:

And this, of the Jackson Hotel:

And just because I like this picture so much the last time, here’s the lady from Eureka in the early 1900s:

I’ll close with this old truck shot from outside Eureka:

This time around, I’ll present this historical marker:

Here’s the text:

Eureka!  A miner is said to have exclaimed in September 1864 when the discovery of rich ore was made here – and thus the town was named.  Eureka soon developed the first important lead-silver deposits in the nation and during the furious boom of the 80’s had 16 smelters, over 100 saloons.  A population of 10,000 and a railroad – the colorful Eureka and Palisade – that connected with the main line 90 miles north of here.

Ore production began to fall off in 1883 and by 1891 the smelters closed, their site marked by the huge slag piles at both ends of Main Street.

Just to round things out, here’s the ubiquitous lady on the horse:

I’ll close with this 1950 shot of Main Street, from RainesMarket.com (their self-guided tour):

It sure makes me feel old, realizing that the above photo and I were created in the same year . . .

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2018 A Landing A Day

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Jamestown, North Dakota

Posted by graywacke on April 7, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2396; A Landing A Day blog post number 830.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (47o 0.757’N, 99o22.267’W) puts me in central southeast North Dakota:

My local landing map shows my usual VP* of small towns; in this case anchored by the sizable Jamestown (pop 15,000):

*veritable plethora

My streams-only map doesn’t show much in the way of streams:

What it does show are a lot of so-called “prairie potholes.”  (Type “Grenville” into the search box to see my Grenville ND post, where I provide an excellent explanation of this unique landscape).

As one might suspect in this case, drainage from my landing pretty much just flows into the nearest pothole, and goes nowhere from there.  I used Google Earth (GE) to verify:

Note that my landing elevation is 1886 (feet above sea level), and that runoff from my landing flows directly west into the pothole, at elevation 1870.  Further note that elevations all around the pothole are much higher.  Ergo:  water goes in, but doesn’t go out.

My regular readers could write the next sentence (or something very much like it) for me:  “Of course, I checked out each of the little towns on my local landing map, and (as you can tell by the post title), they are all:”

This entire post will be based on Wiki’s list of “Notable People” from Jamestown.  I’ll start with Willis Downs – Philippine-American war Medal of Honor Recipient.

First, a little about the Philippine-American war, from Wiki:

The Philippine–American War was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States that lasted from February 4, 1899, to July 2, 1902.

The Filipinos saw the conflict as a continuation of the Filipino struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution; the U.S. government regarded it as an insurrection.  The conflict arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the Spanish–American War.

Fighting erupted between forces of the United States and those of the Philippine Republic on February 4, 1899, in what became known as the Second Battle of Manila. On June 2, 1899, the First Philippine Republic officially declared war against the United States.  The war officially ended on July 2, 1902, with a victory for the United States.

The war and occupation by the U.S. changed the cultural landscape of the islands, as people dealt with an estimated 200,000 to 1,500,000 total Filipino civilians dead, disestablishment of the Catholic Church in the Philippines as a state religion, and the introduction of the English language in the islands as the primary language of government, education, business, industry, and among families and educated individuals.

Estimates of the Filipino forces vary between 80,000 and 100,000, with tens of thousands of auxiliaries. Most of the forces were armed only with bolo knives, bows and arrows, spears and other primitive weapons which were vastly inferior to those of the American forces.

This war apparently was far from America’s finest moment.  Continuing from Wiki:

Throughout the war, American soldiers and other witnesses sent letters home which described some of the atrocities committed by American forces. For example, In November 1901, the Manila correspondent of the Philadelphia Ledger wrote: “The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog…”

Wow.  Well, anyway, here’s the citation for Jamestown’s own Willis Downs:

“With 11 other scouts, without waiting for the supporting battalion to aid them or to get into a position to do so, charged over a distance of about 150 yards and completely routed about 300 of the enemy who were in line and in a position that could only be carried by a frontal attack.”

I would never second-guess or criticize Mr. Downs.  But considering the historical context . . .

And there’s another Medal of Honor Recipient from Jamestown (this one for the Vietnam war) – Michael Fitzmaurice. 

Here’s his citation (from Wiki):

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Fitzmaurice, 3d Platoon, Troop D, distinguished himself at Khe Sanh.

Sp4c. Fitzmaurice and 3 fellow soldiers were occupying a bunker when a company of North Vietnamese sappers infiltrated the area. At the onset of the attack Sp4c. Fitzmaurice observed 3 explosive charges which had been thrown into the bunker by the enemy. Realizing the imminent danger to his comrades, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, he hurled 2 of the charges out of the bunker. He then threw his flak vest and himself over the remaining charge.

By this courageous act he absorbed the blast and shielded his fellow-soldiers. Although suffering from serious multiple wounds and partial loss of sight, he charged out of the bunker, and engaged the enemy until his rifle was damaged by the blast of an enemy hand grenade.

While in search of another weapon, Sp4c. Fitzmaurice encountered and overcame an enemy sapper in hand-to-hand combat. Having obtained another weapon, he returned to his original fighting position and inflicted additional casualties on the attacking enemy.

Although seriously wounded, Sp4c. Fitzmaurice refused to be medically evacuated, preferring to remain at his post. Sp4c. Fitzmaurice’s extraordinary heroism in action at the risk of his life contributed significantly to the successful defense of the position and resulted in saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers.

These acts of heroism go above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit on Sp4c. Fitzmaurice and the U.S. Army.

I’ll also mention briefly the following (more-or-less from Wiki):

Richard Hieb – Space Shuttle astronaut – Technical specialist on three Shuttle missions.

He logged He over 750 hours in space, including over 17 hours of EVA (space walk), traveling over 13 million miles.

Louis L’Amour – Writer of cowboy novels – He wrote 100 novels, over 250 short stories, and (as of 2010) sold more than 320 million copies of his work.

By the 1970s his writings were translated into over 10 languages. Every one of his works is still in print.

Rhonda Rousey – MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter – Even I heard of her, back in 2015, apparently.

She won 12 consecutive MMA fights, six in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), before suffering her first loss, to Holly Holm in November 2015. She won 11 of those fights in the first round.

In May 2015, two magazines ranked Rousey as the most “dominant” active athlete.  In September 2015, voters in an online ESPN poll selected Rousey as the Best Female Athlete Ever.  Later that month, she claimed to be the UFC’s highest paid fighter, male or female.  In 2015, she was the third most searched person on Google.

I’ll finish up with Miss Peggy Lee.  From Wiki:

Norma Deloris Egstrom (1920 – 2002) known professionally as Peggy Lee, was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer, and actress, in a career spanning six decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman’s big band, she forged a sophisticated persona, evolving into a multi-faceted artist and performer. During her career, she wrote music for films, acted, and recorded conceptual record albums that combined poetry and music.

I remember well two songs by Peggy Lee.  First, this, “Fever:”

 

Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
I get a fever that’s so hard to bear

You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever! in the morning
Fever all through the night

Sun lights up the daytime
Moon lights up the night
I light up when you call my name
And you know I’m gonna treat you right

You give me fever
When you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever! in the morning
Fever all through the night

Everybody’s got the fever
That is something you all know
Fever isn’t such a new thing
Fever started long ago

Romeo loved Juliet
Juliet, she felt the same
When he put his arms around her
He said, “Julie, baby, you’re my flame

“Thou giveth fever
“When we kisseth
“Fever with thy flaming youth
“Fever! I’m afire
“Fever, yea, I burn, forsooth.”

Cap’n Smith and Pocahontas
Had a very mad affair
When her daddy tried to kill him
She said, “Daddy, oh, don’t you dare!

“He gives me fever
“With his kisses
“Fever when he holds me tight
“Fever! I’m his missus
“Daddy, won’t you treat him right?”

Now you’ve listened to my story
Here’s the point that I have made
Chicks were born to give you fever
Be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade

They give you fever
When you kiss them
Fever if you live and learn
Fever! till you sizzle
What a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn

 

The second of her songs that I knew is “Is That All There Is?”  I’ll start with this quip about the meaning of the song, posted on PeggyLee.com:

 

I remember when I was a little girl
Our house caught on fire
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face
As he gathered me up in his arms and
Raced through the burning building out to the pavement
And I stood there shivering in my pajamas and
Watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over, I said to myself
“Is that all there is to a fire”

Is that all there is
Is that all there is
If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was twelve years old
My daddy took me to a circus
“The Greatest Show on Earth”
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads
And as I sat there watching
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don’t know what
But when it was all over, I said to myself
“Is that all there is to a circus”

Is that all there is
Is that all there is
If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And then I fell in love
With the most wonderful boy in the world
We’d take long walks down by the river
Or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes
We were so very much in love
And then one day, he went away
And I thought I’d die, but I didn’t
And when I didn’t, I said to myself
“Is that all there is to love”

Is that all there is
Is that all there is
If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep

I know what you must be saying to yourselves
“If that’s the way she feels about it
Why doesn’t she just end it all”
Oh, no, not me
I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment
Cause I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
That when that final moment comes and I’m breathing my last breath
I’ll be saying to myself

Is that all there is
Is that all there is
If that’s all there is, my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

This is a poster child for songs known as “haunting.”

I’ll close with three GE pics.  First this, by Akhil Bhaskaran Nair, of the world’s largest bison statue (in Jamestown):

And this, by Eric Pearson, of the world’s largest sandhill crane statue (in Steele, just off my local landing map to the southwest).

Here’s Main Street in Pettibone – the town closest to my landing – by Debra Clark:

I’ll close with this sunset shot on Jamestown Reservoir, by Justin Heubrock:

 

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2018 A Landing A Day

 

 

 

 

 

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Okemah (revisited) and Clearview, Oklahoma

Posted by graywacke on April 1, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2395; A Landing A Day blog post number 829.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (35o 24.897’N, 96o 9.579’W) puts me in central east Oklahoma:

A quick word about my use of the term “central east,” above.  “East Central” means the eastern part of the state and central from a north-south perspective.  “Central east” means in the central part of the state, but towards the east.

Here’s my local landing map:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Bad Creek; on to the North Canadian (19th hit); on to the Canadian (50th hit).

Not shown (but known by most readers) — the Canadian discharges to the Arkansas (132nd hit); on to the MM (930th hit).

Google Earth (GE) had no Street View shots of my landing worth anything, but I was able to get a look at the Bad, just south of Pharoah:

And here’s a not-so-bad shot of the Bad:

You can tell by the title of this post that I’ve been in Okemah before (my October 10, 2009 post), so I already knew that Okemah is the birthplace of Woody Guthrie.  Just because I’m lazy, I’ll borrow some from that post:

From WoodyGuthrie.com:

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. His father – a cowboy, land speculator, and local politician – taught Woody Western songs, Indian songs, and Scottish folk tunes. His Kansas-born mother, also musically inclined, had an equally profound effect on Woody.

Woody’s birthplace:

In 1931, when Okemah’s oil boomtown period went bust, Woody left for Texas. In the panhandle town of Pampa, he fell in love with Mary Jennings, the younger sister of a friend and musician named Matt Jennings. Woody and Mary were married in 1933, and together had three children, Gwen, Sue and Bill.

If the Great Depression made it hard for Woody to support his family, the onslaught of the Great Dust Storm period, which hit the Great Plains in 1935, made it impossible. Drought and dust forced thousands of desperate farmers and unemployed workers from Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgia to head west in search of work. Woody, like hundreds of “dustbowl refugees,” hit Route 66, also looking for a way to support his family, who remained back in Pampa.

Moneyless and hungry, Woody hitchhiked, rode freight trains, and even walked his way to California, taking whatever small jobs he could. In exchange for bed and board, Woody painted signs and played guitar and sang in saloons along the way, developing a love for traveling the open road—a lifelong habit he would often repeat.

If I’ve made you curious about all things Woody, there’s much more at the WoodyGuthrie.com website, which you can look up on your own.

As mentioned above, Woody moved to Pampa, Texas.  Guess where else I’ve landed?  Here are some excerpts from my July 24, 2015 post:

I found a NY Times article, (Aug 12, 2012 by Lawrence Downes) entitled “As Woody Turns 100, We Protest Too Little.”  Here’s the opening few paragraphs (after the iconic picture from the article):

In October the Kennedy Center will throw a centennial party for Woody Guthrie, a star-studded concert with tickets topping out at $175. It will be America’s ultimate tribute to a beloved troubadour. “Through his unique music, words and style,” the Kennedy Center says, “Guthrie was able to bring attention and understanding to the critical issues of his day.”

Poor Woody. The life and music of America’s great hobo prophet, its Dust Bowl balladeer, boiled down to this: He brought attention to the critical issues of his day.

Maybe that’s what happens to dissidents who are dead long enough. They are reborn for folk tales and children’s books and PBS pledge drives.

They become safe enough for the Postal Service. “For a man who fought all his life against being respectable, this comes as a stunning defeat,” Arlo Guthrie said in 1998, when his father was put on a 32-cent stamp.

Will Kaufman’s book “Woody Guthrie, American Radical” tried to set the record straight last year. The sentimental softening and warping of Woody’s reputation began early, even as he was dying, in the 1960s.

But under the saintly folk hero has always been an angry vigilante — a fascist-hating, Communist-sympathizing rabble-rouser who liked to eviscerate his targets, sometimes with violent imagery. He was a man of many contradictions, but he was always against the rich and on the side of the oppressed.

So for today’s post, I thought I’d feature his far-and-away most famous song, “This Land is Your Land.”  I’ll start with this, from Wiki:

On the typescript submitted for copyright of “This Land Is Your Land,” Guthrie wrote:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

Here’s a 1944 version of Woody singing (of course) “This Land is My Land (lyrics below):

 

This land is your land, and this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I follered my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
All around me a voice was a-sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
A sign was painted, said “Private Property.”
But on the back side, it didn’t say nuthin,’
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun come shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

Although not in the above version, here are some other verses that Woody periodically included:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

From Wiki:

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940.  He used an existing melody, a Carter Family tune called “When the World’s on Fire.”

The song was written in critical response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” as Guthrie was becoming tired of hearing Kate Smith sing her rendition on the radio in the late 1930s.  Initially titled “God Blessed America for Me,” he renamed it “This Land Is Your Land.”

I didn’t realize that Woody didn’t write the music!  So, here’s the Carter family song (lyrics below):

 

Oh, my loving mother, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

I’m going to heaven when the world’s on fire
And I want God’s bosom to be my pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Oh, my loving brother, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Oh, my loving sinner, when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

Don’t you want to go to heaven when the world’s on fire
Don’t you want God’s bosom to be your pillow
Tide me over in the Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages cleft for me

The line, “Rock of Ages cleft for me” rings familiar, but I had to go to Google to find out why.  It’s a hymn, which I now realize I occasionally sang in my father’s church when I was growing up. 

Here’s a rendition of the hymn by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  At least pay attention to the intro, where he explains the hymn’s history:

 

Here’s a Wiki picture of the original Rock of Ages, where Rev. Toplady found shelter in a “cleft” in the rock:

When I think about Tennessee Ernie Ford, I think about his most famous song, “Sixteen Tons.”  It struck me that this song (written in the 1940s)  was a song that Woody Guthrie might have sung.  A little bit of internet research showed that Woody did in fact sing it but I couldn’t find any audio.

Tennessee Ernie didn’t write the song; Merle Travis did, so I’ll present Merle’s version (lyrics below):

 

Some people say a man is made outta’ mud
A poor man’s made outta’ muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number 9 coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin’, better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you, then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

Moving right along.  You may have forgotten by now, but the town of Clearview is titular.  Here’s a short You Tube video about the town that tells all you need to know.

 

I’ll close with this GE pic by Gary Smallwood of downtown Pharoah:

 

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

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