Posted in Gallery, Hisbits, Sketches

Hoover And Truman

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes for your recovery.” These were the last six written words of former President Herbert Hoover. They were written to his friend, former President Harry Truman. These two, political opponents, from different parties, had formed a friendship that transcended politics.

When Herbert Hoover left office, he was perhaps one of the most unpopular men ever to exit the presidency. Yet, in 1946, because of his experience with Germany at the end of the First World War, Truman asked him to help to determine the food needs of occupied Germany. Hoover’s initiative led to a program that served 3,500,000 children.

This wasn’t the last role President Truman asked the former President’s help with. These requests help to rebuild Hoover’s reputation. The friendship was not one sided however. When President Truman left office, and experienced financial struggles, a financial package was offered to former Presidents by Congress, knowing Truman’s struggle.

Hoover did not need the money, but he accepted as to not embarrass Truman. This act, saved President Truman from financial embarrassment. These two men remained friends for the rest of their perspective lives.

Life is made up of friendships, not all as famous as these two men, but just as vital. I received a text from a friend today, just checking on us. That text meant more to me than he knew, just as these two men meant more to each other than their differences of opinion.

Posted in Hisbits

Mayberry Men

Mayberry elected Andy Taylor Sheriff, Mayors Pike and Stoner, and Sam Jones to the town council. Have you ever wondered about the men who served the fictional city? Each actor, in his own right, was an accomplished performer.

So much has been written about Andy Griffith, that I won’t repeat old material. What is interesting to me, as an amateur magician, is that he was one also. A friend of mine met him, and said he did a good three card monte, which he had carried with him. Andy certainly got a lot of magic out of a make believe little town, and shared it with all of us.

He chose a man born in Boston Massachusetts to be his North Carolina Chief Executive. The actor Dick Elliott, who played Mayor Pike had appeared in over 240 films since the 1930’s.  He was the man who told Jimmy Stewart to stop stalling with Donna Reed, and to “just go ahead and kiss her”.

Mr Elliott also performed with Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, and Red Skelton. He was as comfortable in the old west, appearing in Maverick, Sugarfoot, and Tales of The Texas Rangers, as he was with George Reeves in Superman. As if one Christmas classic wasn’t enough, he was a judge in Christmas In Connecticut.

In case you’re wondering, Mayor Pike didn’t lose an election, Dick Elliott passed away in 1961. They chose another veteran performer, though a little younger, to win Mayberry’s next election in 1962. That was Mayor Roy Stoner.

Parley Edward Baer may have been the second Mayor on the Andy Griffith Show, but he was the first Chester on Gunsmoke. Before the television show ever aired, it ran on radio from 1952 to 1961.  William Conrad was Matt Dillon, and Parley Baer was his Chester. A popular Mayberry barber played Doc by the way.

Though the Mayor Stoner character was a cold, calculating politician, the complex opposite of Andy, Parley Baer was a kind, caring man of Faith. He, a man strongly against racism, played a racist in a movie, to expose how evil hatred could be.  Parley was proudest of this role, because it taught a lesson against the evils of bigotry.

Parley Baer served many positions in his local Episcopalian Church in California. When his friend Howard McNear died, Parley gave the eulogy. Parley and his wife Ernestine were married for fifty four years, until his death at 88.

During Parley’s long career, he appeared on everything from Burns and Allen, to Mad About You. He even showed up on Dragnet, and Star Trek. Mayor Stoner may not have been one of my favorite characters, but I loved the man who played him.

When the time came for Andy to move on, he introduced us to Sam Jones, as played by Ken Berry. While younger people will know him as Vinton from Mamma’s Family, I knew him from F Troop as Captain Parmenter. Of course I remember when he co starred with Herby The Love Bug, in one of the few non Dean Jones outings.

Ken Berry was a hoofer, singer, actor, and a soldier. It was his Sergeant, Leonard Nimoy, yes that Leonard Nimoy, who encouraged him to go to Hollywood. Everyone from Lucille Ball, to Donald O’ Connor, and Mickey Rooney sang and danced with Ken. He even starred in productions of the theater musicals George M, and The Music Man.

Regardless of the role, Ken Berry kept smiling. The man who starred in a pilot about adopting children, adopted two of his own. As an adopted Dad, It makes me like him even more. Ken Berry was a class act, who used his skill and agility to make others laugh. In the process, he stepped his way into a lot of hearts. After all, it was him that Andy picked to  take over Mayberry. What better recommendation could you have, than Sheriff Andy Taylor’s?

Posted in Hisbits, Holidays

Washington At The Forefront

He created, and awarded three of the badge of merits, that would become the Purple Heart. His name was General George Washington. Today, on what we call President’s Day, we celebrate Washington’s birth.

The day, now widely regarded as an honor to all the men who followed after, began as the office did. It all started with George Washington. One stalwart American, a simple Virginian Veteran, laid out the course every other leader would follow.

From Lincoln to Roosevelt, each of our Presidents have attempted to follow in his footsteps. His goal was to do his best, and for that I am truly grateful. That’s all any of them have attempted to accomplish.

Yet, rather than dwell on any’s mistakes, I prefer to look what they’ve accomplished. The Stars and Stripes still fly, we can truly still sing from sea to shining sea, and liberty still beats in every American heart. That is the gift of Washington.

He painted something far greater than the portrait on our medals, coins, and bills. He painted the idea that every American, whether their beginnings were humble or great, can achieve the American Dream. A vision, not based on prosperity, but of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

His gift, like his presidency, was not of a fully formed idea, but the space to complete the ideals they fought for. He wasn’t only our first President, he was the veteran of a war that could have taken everything from him. Yet he believed in it so deeply, he embraced the call. 

So today, as each American builds their own mental amount Rushmore. As we all assemble our favorite President’s lists, may they all have one thing in common. May each begin like our Purple Heart, and the granite monument, with Washington at the forefront.

Posted in Hisbits

In Honor Of 41

America’s house has seen many leaders, each has left something behind. As a group, they were as diverse from one another as could be, yet they all had one thing in common. Each stood on America’s porch, guarding those within, beckoning to those without, and guarding against any danger.

Today, we said goodbye to President George H. W. Bush, or as his family referred to him, 41.  He was standing at the porch, when the Berlin Wall fell, when Communism in Russia, closed it’s doors. Today, we honor his time as guardian of our country.

Posted in Hisbits

Hisbits: World War 1

Whether the first bullet hit him or his wife, I’m not sure. Either way, the blood soon covered the hole exposed in both the bodies and the fabric which the assassin’s weapon caused.

A very real, and very deadly secret society, known as the Black Hand, personally selected six men to ensure the success of the plot. Princip was the name of the man who ended the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.

The two, one victim and the other murderer, were loyal to their countries. Archduke Ferdinand to Austria, being the heir to the throne. Princip, to both Serbia, and a Slavic section of Austria that longed to be free from the Austro-Hungarian empire. Like the echoes that were to come, Sophie was the first innocent casualty, many more would follow.

The Slavs and Serbia shared a common genetic history, one that enhanced the desire to join together into one greater unit. The name of that goal was to be a nation known as Yugoslavia. Itself, now a ghost of history past.

It may well have stayed a story on the other side of the world, had it not been for the demands of the territories involved, and their friends. Austria demanded justice, issuing an ultimatum to the Kingdom Of Serbia.

No less than the head of the Serbian Military Intelligence, Dragutin was behind the plot. Perhaps this was the reason that Serbia only partially complied with the demands. Austria, along with their ally Germany invaded Serbia.

Russia, an ally of Serbia, prepared for war. Germany’s two leaders, Kaiser Wilhelm, and his Prime Minister Von Bismark, saw the opportunity to invade Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

Russia attacked both Austria, and attempted to invade Germany. Unsuccessful, they were violently repelled by the German war machine. While only a small part of Northern France was occupied by Germany, the costs of the war on it would be deadly.

At war’s climax, 1.4 million French soldiers would give their lives, in a short time, 4% of the entire population of France was gone. 27% to 30% of their entire military would be killed in a war that began with one bullet.

Great Britain, an ally of France, declared war on Germany. Before the War, Great Britain was in trouble itself. Political problems divided the country. As horrible as the bloodbath known as the Great War, before it’s sequel was, it unified Britain.

They not only had an ally to save, they had an enemy to despise. 850,000 lives would be sacrificed by the United Kingdom of Britain, Scotland, and Ireland to save France. A man named Winston Churchill helped to develop the military vehicle known as the tank.

The power of Britain’s military wasn’t enough. No matter how proudly the Union Jack flew over British vessels, they needed another ally. That’s where the Dough Boys came in.

This was the term used to describe the American Army and Marine soldiers that, as the popular song said, went “Over There” to fight for France’s liberation. The phrase was taken from a fried dumpling soldiers would consume which became what we now call the doughnut.

The reason our soldiers joined the fight sounds like a scene out of a summer movie. A German U-Boat, what you and I would call a submarine, sank the British cruise ship Lusitania, with 128 American passengers onboard.

America, who had been neutral, had enough. Even the peace loving President Woodrow Wilson, was now ready for war. To wearied soldiers on the battlefield of France, 10,000 Americans a day arrived to take up their rifles. The Yanks, as they were also called, against the soldiers of the combined forces of Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire.

It could have been billed like an Ultimate Fighting Championship, Black Jack versus the Black Hand. General Black Jack Pershing, the only American General ever to go on to share the same rank with General Washington, lead the conflict.

As bombs burst around them, from the foxholes of the French and Belgian countrysides, heroes were forged, and villains began their dark journey. Among the heroes was a young corporal named Harry S Truman. Among the villains, another corporal, by the name of Adolph Hitler.

Before Hitler would attempt his annihilation of the Jews, and Truman would fight to champion both their cause, and their homeland, they were soldiers. Men, joined in a conflict, which began between two men, and an innocent spouse who gave her life by her loved one.

The war that only lasted four years resulted in over 17 million giving their lives. Of that number, only 11 million were military, the rest were civilians. We lost 744,000 of our countrymen to the conflict that ignited between two kingdoms, half a world away. Not all that were hurt died, the estimated list of dead and wounded combined was at least 38 million people.

This Great War, this horrible conflict, did more than result in reorganizing borders, propelling future leaders, and altering an entire globe. The horrible black cloud that was World War 1, would position men and women which would fight, an even greater conflict.
Had World War 1 not occurred, we may not have had a Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson to answer Pearl Harbor, or stand beside of Churchill.

There may not have been a Harry Truman who risked his entire reputation to stop Japan, controlled not by it’s Emperor, or it’s people, but by warlords. The same Truman would sign the paper recognizing Israel as a free nation for the first time since the Roman Empire.

The question is not was War necessary, but what the result of it was. America began a journey that freed not just France, but inspired countries across time zones and continents to follow the example of Washington, and Lincoln. This conflict, this Great War, this horrible conflict, need never be forgotten, but viewed as the forging of an even greater purpose. One that would be only begin to be revealed some twenty years later in it’s second installment.

Posted in Hisbits

Hisbits: A King, Otto, And Oldenburg


History is filled with excitement. Too many can get bogged down by dates, and terms. However, there are so many interesting stories involved, for example.

He was the grandson of William The Conqueror. He fought his cousin the Empress for control of the kingdom. Lastly, he married a woman who would become a general to rescue him.  He was Stephen The First of England.

Otto fought the city of Worms. He backed an Emperor, securing his son’s release from a hostage situation. He also laid siege to Vienna. He was  Otto II of Bavaria.

Christian I Of Denmark, became King of Denmark at 22, King Of Norway at 24, and King of Sweden at 31, and Duke of Schleswig at 34.  He brokered a deal between Charles the Bold and Emperor Maximilian. Finally he established the House of Oldenburg, and his descendant, Harald V rules Norway today.  

History is filled with interesting characters, noble events, and moral lessons. If you have a problem with dates, learn the stories. They will teach you more than a number, they’ll impart wisdom, adventure, and inspire you to learn more.

Posted in Gallery, Hisbits, Holidays, Inspirational Collections, iPaintings

They Made Them Laugh

Jack Benny, while Bob Hope received well deserved recognition for entertaining the troops, Jack was a close second. In fact, it’s my understanding that only Mr Hope had more performances than Jack’s for the troops, both reaching into the thousands. 

These men recognized the quality of laughter, and it’s need on the battlefield. I’ve heard people criticize the publicity received for these performances, but I don’t recall the critics doing so from the frontlines.  Which brings me to a quick point.

Neither man tried to make themselves appear as scholars, they were comedians. They didn’t mind getting laughed at, or criticized. I’m sure they didn’t like it, but they looked past it to the need. The need will always be greater than the criticism you face. An the voice of those you help, will always drown out those who complain about your efforts.

Posted in Hisbits, Holidays, Inspirational Collections

As Beautiful As A Flower

“As beautiful as a flower…” That’s what the city of Canton, China said of our flag in 1784. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams described it as having a new constellation. It flew monumentally above Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson, before they were ever committed to granite at Rushmore.  

It is a glowing, and growing light, flying ahead of great men and women, pointing towards a better future. That has always been the truth, from thirteen small colonies to fifty states, I love the history of our country.  When I think of it, I visualize a cold Valley Forge, a solemn Gettysburg, France’s Argonne Forest, and D Day.  

Heroes, some well known, others known only by their actions. My heart swells at the thoughts those American GI’s opening the doors of Auschwitz, making hope a reality.  I also think of a tea party in Boston, a harbor in Hawaii, and two towers in New York. 

Each generation would have challenges to answer, hardships to endure, and tragedies to overcome. Many of which, had not been faced by those before them. America, named for an Italian mapmaker, has always been a trailblazer. 

She strives to be as noble as the lady in her harbor. As brave, as those men at Iwo Jima. An as wise as the bearded gentleman from Kentucky, Illinois, or Indiana. 

Like Lincoln, all of America’s children, have little bits of each part of our country in us.  Each of us, can hear, in our mind’s ear, our favorite singer’s renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. All go to some lyric, person, or event that causes patriotism to swell in our hearts on this day.

I’m reminded of Cohan and Cagney, and those Yankee Doodle Boys. A red haired comedian, of great articulation, Mr Skelton, and his Pledge Of Allegiance. Or two other baggy pants comedians, Benny and Hope, who both entertained more troops than any other person.

I think of statesmen and soldiers first, but then those civilians who risked their lives, fortune, and future traveling to entertain those soldiers in far flung regions of the globe. Men and women, not in uniform, did what they could, to make other Americans’s lives a little better. 

They did so, because they recognized the greater sacrifices those they were serving were making. During sad days, they paired laughter with bravery. Our country, like all, has its valleys, but oh how beautiful our mountains. Flaws are only final, if we don’t rise above them.

We continue to climb, planting the seeds of freedom. Working to shine liberty’s torch into new areas, and keeping in our minds what this banner means.  For it is more than a symbol of what was, or a promise of what could be. It’s something that is always with each American.

It is a constant reassurance, that if they did it, we could grow into it also. It’s a consistent star charting us to new endeavors. An finally it’s a monument to the fact that God has blessed this land, and it’s our duty to seek His providence on it for many years to come.

Posted in Hisbits, Holidays, Inspirational Collections

July 3, 1775

On July 3, 1775, George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  We talk a lot about July 4th, but we don’t always appreciate July 3.  Leadership made tomorrow a reality, it laid the foundation of freedom, through sacrifice.

There was no guarantees when Washington accepted this post. He faced obstacles, people trying to take his position, impossible odds, and a massive foe.  Why did he accept, because since 1767, he had taken a stand against tyranny. 

Washington certainly did not accept for the position, it was more a target than an honor. He said yes because America needed him. He said yes, because he believed he could make a difference. He said yes, because he believed in what he was fighting for.

General Washington began the hard work of training and preparation.  If you read the accounts of the war, it was anything but easy.  It was truly a miracle that thirteen colonies stood fast against an empire, to form a republic.

Our country was founded by men called to liberty, beginning the journey of freedom, which we continue. Tomorrow we will listen to anthems penned as promises. Patriots,  propelled to better the lives of those around them. Providing America the possibility of not just a better future, but a future at all.

This week we celebrate freedom, today let us celebrate the leadership and sacrifice of those who chose to make it possible. They said we will fight today, so tomorrow we could say it’s Independence Day!