What Happened on May 20th – The Homestead Act

On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law.  This act was designed to grant public land to small famers at low cost.  Any application that was head of the household, at least 21 years of age and willing to settle the land for five years and then pay a small filing fee.  If they wished to obtain title earlier, they could after six months by paying $1.25 an acre.

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The idea of the Homestead Act was proposed much earlier in 1850 but southern congressmen didn’t want small famers to upset the Southern slave system.  After the passage of the Act on May 20, 1862, people raced to file land claims.  By the end of the Civil War, 15,000 land claims had been made.

The Homestead Act, combined with other factors, unleashed a movement of people that lasted into the 20th Century. In this photo, emigrants arrive at the Gates Post Office in Custer County in 1886.   Photo by Solomon Butcher. Wagon trains became the stuff of legends

The Homestead Act, combined with other factors, unleashed a movement of people that lasted into the 20th Century. In this photo, emigrants arrive at the Gates Post Office in Custer County in 1886.
Photo by Solomon Butcher. Wagon trains became the stuff of legends

Most homesteaders were farmers from Europe or the eastern United States with experience who wanted to leave the crowds behind.  By 1900, the claims reached 600,000 and 80 million acres of public land were issued.

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Claims continued to be made into the 20th century; however with the changes to American agriculture in the 1930s and 1940s, the small individual homesteads were replaced with much larger farms.

Bagg Bonanza Farm, ca. 1930s

Bagg Bonanza Farm, ca. 1930s

What Happened on May 19th – My Generation

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I think in every generation, people have had conversations about dealing with the gap between the generations.  I know I’ve been to business seminars where the keynote speaker discusses the fact that there are multiple generations in the workforce.  On May 19, 1965, Pete Townsend of the rock band, The Who was contemplating intergenerational conflict when he wrote My Generation.  The 1960s was probably one of the most significant periods for intergenerational conflict as it was a period where demographics and baby boom after the Second World War resulted in the largest generation of teenagers in history.  This large generation would set its own terms and this was no more so expressed than in the lyrics of “My Generation”.  The Who was about to split up but this song that Pete Townsend wrote on a train when he was twenty years old, kept them together and would be the catalyst to make them the most successful rock band of the era.

“My Generation”
People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

What Happened on May 18th – The Selective Service Act

The United States formally entered the First World War on April 2, 1917 and six weeks later on May 18, 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Selective Service Act.

The Selective Service Act, or Selective Draft Act, enacted on May 18, 1917, authorized the federal government to raise a national army.

The Selective Service Act, or Selective Draft Act, enacted on May 18, 1917, authorized the federal government to raise a national army.

In his war message to Congress, President Woodrow Wilson pledged all the nation’s material resources to help the allies (France, Britain, Russia and Italy) defeat the Central Powers.  The Allies needed fresh troops to relieve their exhausted men but when the United States entered the war, Wilson had no means to provide what was needed.

During 1916, Wilson made effort in war preparedness but at the time of Congress’s war declaration, there were only 100,000 troops and they were not trained or equipped for the war in Europe.  Wilson pushed congress for military conscription which they passed on May 18, 1917.  The Act called for all men in the U.S. between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for the draft.  Within a few months, 10 million men across the country had registered.

A truck full of men detained for not carrying their registration cards are shown in this 1918 poster

A truck full of men detained for not carrying their registration cards are shown in this 1918 poster

The first troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) began arriving in Europe in June 1917.  The rest of the newly conscripted men still needed to be mobilized, transported and trained so the AEF did not begin to play a substantial role until the summer of 1918.  The U.S. role in the interim was in the form of economic assistance to the Allies.  World War I ended in November 1918.  About 24 million men had registered for the Selective Service act.  Almost 4.8 million American served in the war and 2.8 million of them had been drafted.

Column of American troops passing by the Buckingham Palace, London, 1917.

Column of American troops passing by the Buckingham Palace, London, 1917.

Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge – Oh Those Wildwood Days

Submitted for Sunday Photo Fiction

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The Assignment: The idea of Photo Fiction is write a story of around 100-200 words (which is also called Flash Fiction) based on a photo as a prompt. In this particular photo fiction, the story must be based on the photo below.

Photo Credit: Al Forbes

Photo Credit: Al Forbes

 

The voice of Bobby Rydell crooned from the car sound system.

“Oh those Wildwood days, wild, wild, Wildwood days.”

The songs of summer were nearly drowned out by the usual nagging chant from the back seat.

“Quiet down kids, I’m trying to enjoy the radio. We’ll be in Wildwood before you know it.”

“Dad, please can we, can we please?”

“Yeah Dad. Can we? There goes another ice cream stand. Can we please stop for ice cream cones?”

“Listen up kids. We’ll be in Wildwood soon and the array of junk food at your disposal and my wallet will be enough. Quiet down, I love these old summer songs.”

“And then those party lights wild, wild Wildwood nights.”

“It’s so hot Dad. Ice cream would be great right now.”

George smiled and looked over at his wife. He took his left hand off the steering wheel and pressed the button. “Ah the miracle of electric windows.”

“There you go kids. Fresh air never hurt anyone. We can even smell the salty sea air now.”

“Oh baby, every day’s a holiday and every night is a Saturday night.”

Exiting the Garden State Parkway onto Rio Grande Avenue, George began singing along.


 

What Happened on May 17th – Brown v. Board of Education

BrownVBoard

It was a unanimous decision by the United State Supreme Court on May 17, 1954.  In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the supreme court handed down its ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.  In this specific case, Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

This segregation had been the accepted norm in public facilities ever since the Supreme court of 1896 ruled that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cards didn’t violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection in the case, Plessy v. Ferguson.  Unfortunately for Linda Brown, the segregated school that she was forced to attend was far below the quality of a white school that was nearer to her home.

Linda Brown on the right and her sister walking to school in 1953

Linda Brown walking to school with her sister in 1953

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) came in to support Linda.  When the case reached the supreme court, future Supreme Court Justice, African American Thurgood Marshall was the head of the legal team.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Chief Justice, Earl Warren wrote the opinion for the case.  He wrote, “separate but equal” not only was unconditional in Linda Brown’s case, it was unconditional in all cases because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American Students.  A year later, the Supreme Court published guidelines for the integration with all deliberate speed.

Photo credit: Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and reuse restrictions may apply.

Photo credit: Kansas State Historical Society. Copy and reuse restrictions may apply.

As a result of Brown v. Board of Education, the civil rights movement of the 1950s ad 1960s was highly motivated to continue and ultimately led to the end of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

The World’s Outstanding Women (WOW): Daphne Du Maurier

WOMENS-symbol Throughout history women have made their mark in a wide variety of ways.  Each Saturday I plan to highlight one of these remarkable women.  There will be no limit to the areas of history that I may include; however as a guide I will look to the month of their birth, the month of their death or the month associated with their mark in history when I select them.  Is there an outstanding women in history you would like me to include?  I welcome your suggestions.  Would you like to guest blog one of the world’s outstanding women?  Let me hear from you.  To read previous posts in this segment, there is a menu at the top of my site.

Today an outstanding woman from the world of literature.  Meet Daphne Du Maurier.

Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne Du Maurier

Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning (13 May 1907 – 19 April 1989) was a Cornish author and playwright.

Early life

Daphne du Maurier was born in London on May 13, 1907.  She was the second of three daughters.  Her parents were the prominent actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and actress Muriel Beaumont.

Muriel Beaumont with, from left, Jeanne, Angela and Daphne Right: Gerald du Mauri

Muriel Beaumont with, from left, Jeanne, Angela and Daphne Right: Gerald du Mauri

Her grandfather was the author and Punch cartoonist George du Maurier, who created the character of Svengali in the novel Trilby.

Literary Career

These connections helped her in establishing her literary career, and du Maurier published some of her early work in Beaumont’s Bystander magazine. Her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published in 1931.

Regarded as her masterpiece, the novel Rebecca was published in 1938.  In the US, the novel was awarded the National Book Award for favorite novel of 1938.  In the UK, it was listed at number 14 of the nation’s best loved novel on the BBC survey, the Big Read.  Has there ever been a more scarier woman in a novel, then Mrs. Danvers?  She gets my vote.

Many of her novels, including Rebecca have been adapted for stage and screen.  Others that have been adapted were Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, Hungry Hill and My Cousin Rachel.  In 1963, one of her short stories became the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds.

In later years, she turned her craft to non-fiction including several biographies.  Among these were of her own ancestry including Gerald about her father.  In addition she wrote a few plays.

Plagiarism Accusations

Some of du Maurier’s works have had some accusations of plagiarism:

  • When Rebecca was published in Brazil, there was an accusation that the 1934 book, A Sucessora by Brazilian writer Carolina Nabuco had the same main plot and sections with the exact dialogue.  Du Maurier and her publishers denied the claim, pointing out that the plot was quite common.  Du Maurier was accused of having access to the Sucessora when it was sent to France before it was published.
  • The short story, The Birds was accused of being plagiarized from a novel by Frank Baker.  Du Maurier had been working as a reader for Baker’s publisher, Peter Davies.
  • There are similarities between her 1959 short story Ganymede (in the anthology The Breaking Point) and the theme of Thomas Mann’s semi-autobiographical 1912 novella Death in Venice.

Personal life

She married Major (later Lieutenant-General) Frederick “Boy” Browning in 1932, with whom she had three children:

Daphne du Maurier and children at Menabilly the inspiration for Manderley

Daphne du Maurier and children at Menabilly the inspiration for Manderley

  • Tessa (b. 1933) married Major Peter de Zulueta, whom she divorced; she later married David Montgomery, 2nd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1970.
  • Flavia (b. 1937) married Captain Alastair Tower, whom she divorced, before marrying General Sir Peter Leng.
  • Christian (b. 1940) became a photographer and film-maker. He married Olive White, who was Miss Ireland 1962.

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Du Maurier died on 19 April 1989, aged 81, at her home in Cornwall, which had been the setting for many of her books. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered at Kilmarth.

To read more about her and for a listing of her literary works, there is a website dedicated to her HERE

What Happened on May 15th – Medal Honor Awarded to Air Force Sergeant

Medal of Honor_Levitow

On May 15, 1970 (possibly May 14th), at the White House, President Richard Nixon presents Sgt. John L. Levitow with the Medal of Honor.  Here is why he earned the nations highest award of valor in combat:

  • Heroic action performed on February 24, 1969, over Long Binh Army Post in South Vietnam.
Long Binh Army Base

Long Binh Army Base

  • He had been an Airman 1st Class and was the loadmaster on a Douglas AC-47 gunship.
  • His aircraft had been supporting several Army units that were engaged in battle with North Vietnamese troops when an enemy mortar hit the aircraft’s right wing, exploding in the wing frame.
  • Thousands of pieces of shrapnel ripped through the plane’s thin skin, wounding four of the crew.
The AC-47, Spooky 71, that John L. Levitow saved from disaster

The AC-47, Spooky 71, that John L. Levitow saved from disaster

  • Levitow was struck forty times in his right side and even though he was bleeding heavily from these wounds, he threw himself on an activated, smoking magnesium flare, dragged himself and the flare to the open cargo door, and tossed the flare out of the aircraft just before it ignited.
  • His actions saved his fellow crewmembers and the gunship

Airman Levitow was one of only two enlisted airmen to win the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam and was one of only five enlisted airmen ever to win the medal, the first since the Second World War.

 

John Lee Levitow, an AC-47 gunship loadmaster, became the lowest ranking Airman ever to receive the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during wartime.

John Lee Levitow, an AC-47 gunship loadmaster, became the lowest ranking Airman ever to receive the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism during wartime.

This is the Medal of Honor citation

Medal of Honor

LEVITOW, JOHN L.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, 3rd Special Operations Squadron

Place and date: Long Binh Army Post, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1969

Entered service at: New Haven, Connecticut

Born: 1 November 1945, Hartford, Connecticut

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Levitow (then A1c.), U.S. Air Force, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while assigned as a load master aboard an AC-47 aircraft flying a night mission in support of Long Binh Army Post. Sgt. Levitow’s aircraft was struck by a hostile mortar round. The resulting explosion ripped a hole 2 feet in diameter through the wing, and fragments made over 3,500 holes in the fuselage. All occupants of the cargo compartment were wounded and helplessly slammed against the floor and fuselage. The explosion tore an activated flare from the grasp of a crew member who had been launching flares to provide illumination for Army ground troops engaged in combat. Sgt. Levitow, though stunned by the concussion of the blast and suffering from over 40 fragment wounds in the back and legs, staggered to his feet and turned to assist the man nearest to him who had been knocked down and was bleeding heavily. As he was moving his wounded comrade forward and away from the opened cargo compartment door, he saw the smoking flare ahead of him in the aisle. Realizing the danger involved and completely disregarding his own wounds, Sgt. Levitow started toward the burning flare. The aircraft was partially out of control and the flare was rolling wildly from side to side. Sgt. Levitow struggled forward despite the loss of blood from his many wounds and the partial loss of feeling in his right leg. Unable to grasp the rolling flare with his hands, he threw himself bodily upon the burning flare. Hugging the deadly device to his body, he dragged himself back to the rear of the aircraft and hurled the flare through the open cargo door. At that instant the flare separated and ignited in the air, but clear of the aircraft. Sgt. Levitow, by his selfless and heroic actions, saved the aircraft and its entire crew from certain death and destruction. Sgt. Levitow’s gallantry, his profound concern for his fellow men, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

 

The Familiar @SSFFS_Project #flashfiction

Submitted for the Short Story and Flash Fiction Society – Flash Fiction #8

Requirement – Write a flash fiction story between 200 -700 words that is a horror story using the serene photo prompt below.

 

The Familiar

Charlotte stood at the window and looked out at the path. No matter what her husband Mike tried, that path, the symbol of their family tragedy would never fade away. Charlotte felt that there would never be any growth in the foliage and she would have to see that path as long as they lived in the house. The path mocked her daily.  It had been a spring day just like today.  Mickey, Charlotte and Mike’s four year old son was playing in the yard one minute and the next he was gone.  It had been his birthday that day. They hadn’t known it would be his last. Left behind was that path. The police tried to help but soon the case was as cold as winter.  Every few weeks, Charlotte would check in; however there was never any leads.  When Mickey first disappeared, they had thought maybe an animal dragged him off into the hills; but Charlotte stopped believing that two years ago.

Two years ago another child on the other side of the county had disappeared. The case was very similar to Mickey’s disappearance.  That child, a little girl named Alicia, had been four years old as well.  Mickey would be seven today.  The events of three years ago caused Charlotte to be extremely careful with her daughter.  Carrie, now four years old, was never permitted out of the house without her but of course like most children, she like to test the boundaries.

Charlotte was brought out of her memories by the slamming of the back door. Soon her daughter came into view and Charlotte saw her racing towards that path.  By the time she ran downstairs and reached the backyard, Carrie was gone.  She entered the path, a place Charlotte usually avoided, and an all too familiar feeling of dread came over her. Soon she heard her daughter laughing and talking to someone.  After running a few yards, Charlotte came upon Carrie sitting on the ground. She was gesturing and laughing.

“Mommy you finally get to meet my friend.  We’ve been best friends forever.”

Charlotte saw no one and this scared her more than she could imagine.  “I don’t see anyone Carrie. Let’s go back to the house now.”

“He’s right there, ” said Carrie pointing ahead of them. “Can’t you see his funny pointed tail?”

Charlotte lifted Carrie into her arms and began to run back down the path.

When they were back inside, Charlotte scolded Carrie. “I told you to never leave the house. I don’t want you talking to your new friend.”

“He said you may not be able to see him.  Mommy what is a familiar?”

“What?”

“My friend said that I am his familiar.”

Twitter Handle: @ma_holloway

The Sullivan Brothers – A Tribute

Originally posted on Pacific Paratrooper:
? The Sullivan Brothers “We stick together.” ? Friday, November 13, 1942 Off the shores of Guadalcanal The yellow-black smoke of battle had cleared from the skies as the sun set in the South Pacific on that fateful day in November.  The deep swells of the ocean, however, still bore…

This Week in #WW2 – Sir Winston Churchill Appointed Prime Minister

THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

Sir Winston Churchill Prime Minister

It is May 10, 1940 and the appeasement of Adolf Hitler has failed.  Just hours before the German invasion of France, the British have no confidence in Neville Chamberlain and he resigns.  A meeting was held between Chamberlain, Lord Halifax, Winston Churchill and David Margesson, the government Chief Whip which resulted in the recommendation of Winston Churchill.  As a constitutional monarch, George VI asked Churchill to be prime minister of which he accepted the post.  He was 65 years-old when he became Prime Minister but the war would energize him.  This energized uplifting spirit inspired the people of Great Britain.

Winston Churchill giving his famous 'V' sign—on 20 May 1940, just ten days after Churchill became Prime Minister

Winston Churchill giving his famous ‘V’ sign—on 20 May 1940, just ten days after Churchill became Prime Minister

Some of his well known quotations:

  • Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
  • I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.
  • We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.  
  • Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.  
  • Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.  
  • A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.  
  • I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.  
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.