Disaster Comes When Men Go To the Wrong House
January 26, 2011


Pinkerton Logo Coined the Term "Private Eye"

On This Date in History: A few years ago, Snow White and I were walking from Papa Johns Stadium and some event,,,probably a football game. We were walking back to the car and crossed the railroad tracks. Well, we were supposed to do that but I decided it would be faster walking the tracks. I started walking down the tracks and Snow White stopped, telling me to come back that it was against the law. Out of the darkness came a figure. It was a Pinkerton Man! Pinkerton Security provides the security for the railroad and he wrote me up. Snow White was right again.

Jesse and Frank James

Jesse and Frank James

Well, on this date in 1875 the Pinkertons got it wrong. The Pinkerton Detective Agency had been on the trail of Frank and Jesse James when it was hired by the railroads to catch the train and bank robbers. It was not an easy task. See, the James gang also had members of the Younger family and both the James’ and the Youngers had lots of friends and family in Missouri. Many of their relatives and friends had been partial to the Confederacy during the Civil War and considered the big railroads to be nothing but a bunch of Yankees. They thought the same of the Pinkerton Agency.

Allen Pinkerton Provided Security For Abraham Lincoln

Allen Pinkerton (left) Provided Security For Abraham Lincoln

Now, the men of the Pinkerton Agency were not too fond of the James Gang. Seems that one of their men, John W. Witcher, was found with a bullet hole in his stomach and much of his face eaten off by hogs. They thought for sure the culprits were members of the James Gang. The Pinkerton Agency must have let their animosity for the James’ get to them because, even though they weren’t entirely positive that it was the James Gang who killed Witcher, they went after them anyway. They had heard that Jesse and Frank often returned to their family farm. So, the Pinkertons waited until the sun went down and surrounded the James home. They threw some smoke bombs or flares into the home. To there surprise, there was a huge explosion. Jesse and Frank’s young half-brother was killed and their mother had her arm blown off. When the smoke had cleared, the Pinkertons found that Jesse and Frank were never there. Guess they should have knocked first.

Jesse's Mom Missing an Arm

Jesse's Mom Missing an Arm

After their keystone cops episode, the Pinkertons backed off a bit but they kept up the pursuit. They never got Frank and Jesse. Instead, Jesse was shot in the back of the head in 1882 by one of his own men, Bob Ford, who collected the reward money. Frank turned himself in shortly thereafter but no jury would ever convict him. He remained a law-abiding citizen until his death in 1915. As for his mother…she had quite the cottage business. Tourists could come by her house and for a small fee, they could hear of how the nasty railroad men and their disgusting Pinkertons persecuted her poor, innocent boys. Bet that performance was worth the price of admission.

Is This Floodwater?

Is This Floodwater?

On This Date in History:

On This Date in 1962, Jeffery Gordon Riley came into the world. Since that time he has come to be known as Flood Water, F-Water, Floods, F-Ditch, F-Dip, effrey and just plain F. Jeff Riley is a lot of things…and one of those things is a good friend to all who are fortunate enough to be able to call him a friend. Happy Birthday F.


FBI origins date back to Teddy’s Roosevelt’s attempt to keep in eye on Congress
January 8, 2011

Did Teddy Fancy Himself More Than a President?

Did Teddy Fancy Himself More Than a President?

Teddy Like Napoleon?

Teddy Like Napoleon?

On This Date in History: President Theodore Roosevelt had many crusades during his presidency and one was against corruption. He weilded power by liberally using the investigave arm of the Treasury Department, aka the Secret Service. Apologists of the practice suggested that the Secret Service was the federal government’s only trained investigative agency. Remember, this was prior to the creation of the FBI. But, opponents decried this use of federal resources as presidential thuggery, comparing the service to the secret police of Napoleon!

Livingstone Had His 15 Minutes

Livingstone Had His 15 Minutes

That little comparison probably came about since Roosevelt’s Attorney General was none other than Charles J. Bonaparte, Napoleon’s Great Nephew. Now, Congress was atwitter with rumors that President Roosevelt, in his zeal to crush corruption, used the Secret Service to create files on the private lives of Congressmen and that he meant to use them. Does this sound familiar? Remember the 900 FBI files that showed up in the Clinton White House and it was blamed on the former bouncer working in the White House, Craig Livingstone?

Anyway, Congress decided to take action and tried to restrict the reach of the Secret Service. Members of the House and Senate blasted away, claiming that Roosevelt was developing despotic powers by creating his own secret police force. Teddy fired back that he was simply using tools to fight corruption, even if the trail led right up to the doors of the Congress. The two side tossed verbal grenades at one another until on this date in 1909, Congress decided to defend its “maligned integrity.” (Is it only Congress thinks that Congress has integrity?) The House voted 212-36 to table, or formally ignore, that portion of the president’s annual address that assailed any restrictions on the Secret Service. It had not been since the days of Andrew Jackson that a president had received such a rebuke from the legislative body. It took a few years but eventually, it all got worked out. Congress restricted the use of the Secret Service but, partly due to Teddy’s use of the bully pulpit and big stick way of pushing for what he wanted, a bureau of investigation was formed in the Justice Department which later became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more commonly called simply the FBI.  While many histories point to Bonaparte’s creation of the Bureau in 1908 as the beginning, it was not until March 1909 that it officially came about as Congress, for its part, had staked out its position against any form of domestic spying.

J Edgar Hoover Confused?

J Edgar Hoover Confused?

Now, the funny thing about this is that the man who became the first head of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover and he held the post until his death in 1972. After 40 years at the helm, he had amassed so much power and had so much dirt on so many people, many people have suggested that Hoover actually held more power than any person in the United States. Presidents were afraid of what Hoover might have in his files. It has been revealed the the FBI pressured Martin Luther King, Jr during his Civil Rights protests with many historians suggesting that the pressure put on King was directly linked to Hoover’s own private prejudice. So, in effect, the very thing Congress was afraid of came to pass except the power was not so much in the hands of an elected official, the President, but instead on the man who led the agency.

It is partly for this type of abuse of power why the framers of the Constitution did not allow for a provision for a federal police force. Well, after Hoover’s death, it was determined that no one could ever hold that type of power again and so the FBI director cannot serve for life any more but instead is limited to a ten year appointment. So, it could be said that Congress didn’t get it close to right until some 65 years after it wrestled with Roosevelt about domestic spying….keep in mind that Congress’ concern was not so much with the feds spying on your average joe….no…it was concerned with spying on them! The public certainly cannot be privy to the skeletons in the closet of its elected officials. This link will also tell you of Hoover’s own closet full of secrets that may have made him thankful that there was not a bureau of investigation for investigating the bureau of investigation. This link claims Hoover’s closet was clean…mostly….you be the judge if you care.

Weather Bottom Line:  Believe the forecasts Louisville…looks cold with snow off and on for the next 5 or 6 days.  Most models toss out a few inches total through Wednesday but I could create a scenario for more than that.  Either way, I’m not so sure that the mercury doesn’t go above freezing nearly a week.  I love it when all that ice that forms on the rocks along the freeway, like on 71 just in side the Watterson.  Looks like frozen waterfalls.

It’s Takes a Hard Days Night to Imagine that John Lennon has been Gone for 30 years
December 8, 2010


On This Date in History: John Lennon was shot and killed on this date in 1980. I remember I was in my dorm room at Jester Hall at the University of Texas at Austin. 13th floor…methinks it was room 1325. Gary Hindman was my roomate. I called him Captain America. It was a Monday night because Howard Cosell announced the shooting toward the end of Monday Night Football.

Public Gathers Outside The Dakota

Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, lived in an apartment in New York called The Dakota. A bunch of people were hanging around waiting to catch a glimpse of the couple. Mark David Chapman was a messed up guy who got into reading JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. He related to the protagonist of the novel about disaffected youth. Chapman lived in Hawaii and decided that he would shoot Lennon since he mused that Lennon was a phony. He bought a gun in Hawaii and flew to New York. He called his wife to tell him what he was going to do but she did not report it or say anything because she did not believe him. Chapman was unable to purchase ammunition for his gun in New York so he flew to Atlanta where he bought dum-dum bullets and a copy of Catcher in the Rye. He returned to New York and when Lennon and Ono emerged from The Dakota, he shot him in the back and then twice in the shoulder. I read some report that claimed Lennon lost 80% of his blood.

Chapman Mugshot Dec 9 1980

An interesting thing about Lennon’s death is that the reporting and public reaction were similar to that when JFK, RFK and MLK were assassinated. It mirrored what would happen a few months later when President Reagan was shot…I was in Jester Hall then too. But those guys were all politicians. He was a musician but one who had an influence perhaps on par with presidents. Now, Chapman at the last moment pleaded guilty instead of copping an insanity plea. He was given 20 years to life….

Here’s the kicker….he went to Attica Prison where in 1970 the famous riot broke out and Lennon became inspired to write Attica State, aka Free All Prisoners Everywhere. Chapman became a born-again Christian in prison and does evangelical writing.

Here’s a detailed sketch regarding the death of John Lennon on December 8, 1980.

Worst Outlaw in the History of the American West Inspired Others
November 13, 2010

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

Al Jennings-Worst Outlaw in the West

On This Date in History: Al Jennings was born in 1863 Virginia. His father was aTemple Houston-the one in the middle judge and Al began practicing law in the Oklahoma Territory in 1889. Al’s law-partner, brother Ed Jennings, was shot to death in October 1895 by another lawyer named Temple Houston, who was the son of famous Texan General Sam Houston. When Houston was acquitted, Al and another brother Frank vowed vengeance. They took off after Houston but never caught up to him. So, what does any good lawyer who fails at a vengeance killing do? Join a gang. He and Frank robbed a Santa Fe train with their new found friends in 1897. Well, they tried to rob a train. This may be where the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes from because these guys tried to get the guy in charge of the mail car to open it up but he refused, just like Woodcock did with Butch. But, instead of blowing up the rail car, these desperados got chased away by the conductor.

Temple Houston

Temple Houston

They tried again. This time they piled up railroad ties across the tracks. instead of stopping, the engineer opened up the locomotive at full throttle and simply plowed through the obstruction. They then tried to rob an express office but a simple phone call from the office brought the town sheriff and a bunch of armed men. The would be robbers fled with nothing. Then they tried a bank but someone must have blabbed because when they arrived, the bank was surrounded by numerous armed men. The bumbling robbers left empty handed. So, they gang decided to return to what they knew best…train robbing!


Cabinet Saloon Where Temple Shot Ed

In another probable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid inspiration, they tried a 3rd time when they flagged down a Rock Island passenger train and tried to blow up the two safes on board in a box car. The safes did not open but they did manage to blow up the box car. They did get $300 from the passengers though. But, they got no more chances. They were caught and sentenced to 5 years in prison…except for Al, who got a life sentence for robbery with intent to kill.

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Jennings Mugshot 1902

Al goes to prison and who does he share a cell with but a guy named William Sidney Porter. After spending time listening to the tales of Jennings, Porter was released and took up the profession of a scribe, taking the pen name, O. Henry. O. Henry is considered one of the finest American short story writers of his time. Through his short stories, Henry managed to rehabilitate the image of Jennings and, On This Date in 1902, Al Jennings was released from prison after his sentence was commuted to 5 years by none other than President William McKinley. Jennings returned to Oklahoma to practice law. So, what does a lawyer who was a terrible train robber do? Why run for office. Not just any office…why not county attorney! In 1912, he ran on the promise that “when was a train robber, I was a good train robber. And if you choose me, I will be a good prosecuting attorney.” Obviously, Al had developed a politicians ability to stretch the truth and it helped because he won the nomination but lost the election. He ran for Governor in 1914 but opposition by newspapers left his campaign in third place when the votes were counted. So, where does a failed train robber and failed politician go? Why to Hollywood!

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew In Hollywood

Jennings with Fatty Arbuckle's Cousin Andrew

O. Henry had encouraged him to write so he went out west and ghost wrote several movies, several of which were supposedly based on his life. The westerns portrayed him as being more treacherous than Billy the Kid, robbed more men than Jesse James and was a participant in nearly 25 face to face shootouts. I would say that there wasn’t much mystery in who the ghost was behind those scripts. Al continued this sort of thing the rest of his life as he was behind many of the B-movie westerns through the 1950’s with the lame scripts that were as phony as the image Jennings created for himself. To perhaps illustrate the level of Al’s position in Hollywood, the photo to the left is not of Al with star Fatty Arbuckle, but instead Fatty’s cousin, Andrew. Nevertheless, it was an interesting and certainly long life for Al, who did not pass away, for real, until 1961. He lived through Reconstruction, the Indian Wars, the closing of the frontier, two world wars and the dawn of the space age. So much to write about yet he chose to write about…himself…and most of that was not true, except his name, Al Jennings. Here is a biography, which is really funny.

When Teddy Roosevelt Gave a Speech After Being Shot In Chest By Would Be Assassin
October 15, 2010

If Not For The Case For The Spectacles of Teddy Roosevelt (like this set auctioned in 2005) the Name of John F. Schrank Might Be As Well Known as that of John Wilkes Booth

On This Date in History: Lost to much of the pages of history are attempted assassinations. (Here is a list of failed presidential assassinations) President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 was a former President who was running to get his old job back. He had filled the term of the assassinated President McKinley and finished his own term in 1908. In deference to the precedent set by President Washington, Teddy Roosevelt decided against running in 1908, instead promoting his Vice-President William Howard Taft who won handily. Teddy was not happy with the way in which Taft ran things and decided to challenge him for the Republican nomination for the 1912 election but power interests in the party which had fared better with Taft than Roosevelt, backed Taft and Roosevelt did not get the Republican nomination at the 1912 Republican Convention. So, he formed his own party, the Progressive Party, which came to be known as the “Bull Moose Party” after TR’s tough-guy bull-moose image. Roosevelt ended up getting more votes than Taft but the pair split the Republican vote which led to the election of Woodrow Wilson as President.

While on the campaign trail prior to the election, on October 14, 1912, Theodore Roosevelt got into a car after dining at a hotel in Milwaukee. He was headed to give a speech. When he turned to wave to the crowd, a shot rang out from the .38 caliber revolver in the hand of John F. Schrank. Schrank, a Bavarian-born immigrant, had been stalking Roosevelt since at least September 1912 when he left New York in pursuit of his prey .  It was reported that the assailant felt that no one should get more than two terms as president and had also been having dreams of William McKinley.  His dream supposedly occured on the September 6 anniversary of the assassination of President William McKinley which vaulted the then young Vice-President Roosevelt into office.  His dream was said to have involved McKinley in a coffin.  McKinley suddenly sat up straight and pointed to Roosevelt who was dressed like a monk.  The dead president floating around Schrank’s head then said, “This is my murderer. Avenge my death!”  So. Schrank did his best to follow the orders of the ghost in his dream.  When Roosevelt turned to the crowd from his car, it opened up an opportunity for Schrank to shoot the candidate at close range.

Chest X-Ray of Teddy Roosevelt Shows Location of Bullet That Was Never Removed

The shot struck Roosevelt squarely in the chest. But, in his breast pocket, Teddy had the thick,  folded up 50-page text of his planned 90 minute speech.  It must have been some pocket because, in addition to the 4-dozen sheets of paper the pocket also contained a metal spectacle case.  The bullet was slowed by the eye-glasses case and the thick manuscript.  The bullet, however, entered his body but it did not penetrate his heart. Initially, Roosevelt did not realize that he had been shot.  Once he had discovered that he was indeed the victim of a gunshot wound he still insisted on giving his speech. Using his experience as an avid hunter as a guide, he reasoned that since he was not coughing up blood, then no major organs were damaged.  Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt and had not been assassinated so, when he arrived on the podium. Teddy proudly showed the crowd the hole in his speech and thundered, ” it would take more than that to kill a Bull Moose!”   While the speech (text of speech) was abbreviated, most accounts report that Mr. Roosevelt still spoke before the crowd for 80-90 minutes and rebuffed attempts to get him to conclude the speech so he could go to the hospital for attention.  

Mrs. Medill McCormick and TR daughter Alice Roosevelt Longwell Leaving Mercy Hospital Oct 15, 1912 After Visting the Original Bull Moose

Only after he concluded his speech did Roosevelt finally go to the hospital in Milwaukee and reluctantly allowed for a tetnus injection.  On This Date in 1912, the former president was in Chicago’s Mercy Hospital where he stayed for observation for 8 days. the bullet was found lodged in tissue such that it would be more dangerous to attempt its removal.  The slug remained in Roosevelt’s body for the rest of his life.  After making the determination that the bullet would stay where it was,  Teddy was  released  from Mercy Hospital on October 23.  Both Woodrow Wilson and William Howard Taft suspended their campaigns until Roosevelt was released but they were back on the campaign trail with  just a little more than a week before the election.  While his opponents were back on the stump, TR was prevented from making important campaign stops.  Some speculate that his absence from the campaign trail in the critical final days may have influenced the election results.  In any event, Roosevelt was unable to convince enough Republicans to swing his way and the GOP vote was split between he and Taft.  While he received 88 electoral votes to the sitting president’s 8, Wilson skated to victory with 435 votes from the Electoral College.  However, Wilson’s popular vote total was about 6.3 million while, collectively, Taft and Roosevelt collected 7.6 million votes.  

Schrank Lived His Lonely Final 31 Years in a Mental Hospital Only To See the 2 Term Tradition Broken By Teddy's Cousin

Wilson went on to be re-elected in 1916, again with less than a majority of the popular vote.  He took in 49.2% of the vote and became a two term president never to receive a majority of the popular vote by a narrow 277-254 electoral victory over his Republican opponent, Charles E. Hughes.  18 times in US presidential elections has the winner not received a majority of popular votes since the popular vote was first reliably recorded in 1824.  So, it’s not that unusual.  However, only Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland and Bill Clinton served two terms and never received a majority of the popular vote.  For his part, Schrank was whisked away to a mental institution where he remained for the rest of his life.  Apparently, no one came to visit him. His health began to fail in 1940 shortly after he learned that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 5th cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, was going to run for a 3rd term as President of the United States. Schrank died at the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconson on September 16, 1943; about a year before FDR was elected to a 4th term.

Would You Believe A Deposit from Divinity in Your Bank Account?
September 7, 2010

Do you believe that God would put money into your account if you asked?

 On This Date in History:  When Stanton Lee Powers went to a County Bank branch in Santa Cruz, CA  he had but $1.17 in his account.  The 40-year-old artist had a tough time making ends meet on his Social Security disability payments and the few pen and ink drawings that he managed to sell.  He said that when he went to the automatic teller machine on that early fall evening, he began to pray.  As he told the story, when he finished his prayer, he checked the account balance and the machine said he had $1600.  Two days later, on this date in 1982, he returned to the same machine and prayed again before checking his balance.  This time, his account balance had mushroomed to over $5 Million.    Powers then made a withdrawal.

Powers' Claim Was Akin To God Turning the ATM Into a Winning Slot Machine

But, he didn’t just take the money and run.  Instead, he contacted a lawyer and his counsel did a brief analysis of the facts.  Needless to say, the lawyer decided that more research was in order.  But, before he got too deep into the case, he had Powers sign an agreement that stated that the lawyer would receive a third of the proceeds of any future movie, book or tv deals that may come about in relation to the “Miracle of the Automated Teller.”    Then, the lawyer had the artist take him to the teller machine in question.  A balance inquiry revealed that over $5 Million was still in the account and so the lawyer told Powers to withdraw some cash.  They went to another machine and repeated the procedure and they continued the process over the next few days.  A total of about $2000 was withdrawn from the miracle account. 

ATMs love to eat the card of a cheat

They say that glory is fleeting and, in this case, the miracle didn’t last long either.  The bank froze Powers’ account and the next time that he tried to withdraw money, the machine ate his card.  The counsel responded by demanding that the bank prove that the money in the account had not appeared due to Divine intervention.  He argued that if the Lord could turn water into wine and feed 5000 people with a basket full of bread and fish, then putting $5 Million into Stanton Lee Powers’ account should not be a problem.   But bank officials weren’t about to give up $5 Million on Faith alone.  One banker said, “It’s the first time I’ve heard of God being active in this type of thing”  while another noted that, in order for the deposit to be valid, then there had to be wire transfer or check from God in the record.  Stanton Lee Powers was charged with grand theft.

Do You Trust Your Money With God or Trust God with your Money?

At the trial, Powers changed his story.  He explained that he met a psychic named Fortune who told him things about his past life that he had told to no one.  She told him that she could rid his life of all obstacles. Powers told Fortune that he had “visualized the color green flowing into my (Powers) aura” and she told him that was the color of “self-love.”  The fortune teller suggested that, since he was in touch with his aura that he should turn up his “shock roots” and “experience a havingness machine.”   I’m not sure if Powers told Fortune or not, but the state of transcendence felt by Powers may have been helped just a bit by 16 Ritalin pills, a few codeine tablets and 10 or 12 wine coolers.    It was after having popped the pills and visiting Bartles and James, as well as Fortune, that Powers visited his “havingness machine” which just so happened to belong to County Bank.    Powers shared the story of his windfall from his “havingness machine” with some people who told him that no one would believe the story and he should merely claim that it was cash from God instead of advice from Fortune.

I guess that Powers first lawyer got out of the game when he found out that the cash machine was empty because he didn’t represent the starving artist at the trial.  But, his new attorney thought that the truth would set Powers free as he surmised that no jury could hold Powers responsible for his actions.  However, the prosecutor showed how Powers had actually entered large deposits on the cash machine keyboard without actually depositing much money at all.  Because there was a bank holiday, the bank had not reconciled the account, thus, the phoney deposit amount remained in the machine when Powers made his withdrawals.  He then blamed a glitch in the computer for having deposited over $5 Million into the account without putting a hold on it. 

In the end, one might say that justice was passed out in the court of state as well as a higher judging authority.  In spite of what Powers’ trial lawyer thought, the artist was found guilty.  However, the sentence was lenient as the court took his mental condition into account.   He had to pay the bank back the money and peform 750 hours of community service, which is did by teaching art classes to senior citizens.   Power said that he lost all of his money and all of his friends.  He also suffered the indignity of being rear-ended by hit and run drivers four times.  I guess God doesn’t take kindly to those who fraudulently use his omnipotence as much as banks don’t like defrauding their teller machines.  

Follow the Path of Truth

Nevertheless, it brought to mind an experience that I had when a very devout lawyer that I met told me that he had prayed for a new car and he wanted a Triumph TR 6 but he didn’t have the money.  Then one day, the money appeared in his account and that is how he came to own the snazzy sports car.  I told him that I thought that he should have notified the bank because it was obviously a mistake.  But, he said he did all of that and the bank let him keep the money.  I asked him why God would provide him with a fancy, somewhat expensive car and he said it was because He wanted him to have it.  Now, I certainly do not claim to know the Will of the Almighty and perhaps He really did want this young lawyer to have a sports car and maybe He did, in fact, put money into his bank account.  I never knew what happened to the lawyer I knew 30 years ago. But, after learning how County Bank reacted to the miracle money of Stanton Lee Powers and his ultimate fate, I wonder how the young lawyer has faired and if he’s been rear ended a few times in his life.  For me, honesty and integrity is all that I have and if I scuttle that then, I am nothing. 

Weather Bottom Line:   Temperatures warmed up on Labor Day but it was still rather dry and that lack of moisture will most likely limit our rain chances on Tuesday as a cold front slips through.  Compression may work with a southwesterly flow to take us up to 90 but I doubt if we’ll get much in the way of rain.  If memory serves correctly, September is climatogically the driest month in Louisville so that’s not too surprising.  The front will overnight lows for the rest of the week in the low 60’s and highs in the low to mid 80’s with relatively low humidity so you can probably save on your air conditioning bill.  But, our much needed rain is not in the cards at this time except for maybe some help from Tropical Storm Hermine that came ashore late Monday night south of Brownsville.  That moisture may eventually work its way up through Texas and into the Midwest and then eventually into the Ohio Valley but that is several days away if it does occur.  So, while we need some rain, you may as well enjoy the nice stretch.

Black Bart Was Not As Ferocious As Ralphie Made Him Out To Be
July 23, 2010

Ralphie on the prowl for Black Bart with his Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun

On This Date in Criminal History: Do you remember the movie A Christmas Story in which Ralphie wants a BB gun and has visions of shooting Black Bart? It leads one to believe that Bart was some desperado. Well, in the 1870’s there was a dime novel that was loosely based on a true story. The writer called his main character Bartholomew Graham who took the name of “Black Bart” because he wore black clothes, had black long curly hair and a dense black beard. In real life, there was a man named Charles Bowles  who was born in England in 1829 who immigrated to New York in the United States a few years later with his family.

Dapper Black Bart

Dapper Black Bart

As a young man, the real Charles Bowles changed his name to Charles Boles and, in 1849, he and his cousin went to California to seek their fortune in gold. They failed and, a few years later, came back. Charley Boles tried again with his cousin and his brother. Not only did they fail again, but the brother and cousin both died from an illness. Charley eventually returned and got married. After spending time in the Union Army and serving with distinction, Charley again went out west, this time to Montana where he set up a mining site that depended on water. Some men from Wells Fargo offered to buy his claim and he refused. The men reacted by cutting off his water and Charley had to abandon his mine but said in a letter to his wife,”I am going to take steps.” No one knew what he meant.  For quite some time, the last letter his wife received from him was in 1871.

Bart Often Left a Nasty Poem Behind For the Wells Fargo Boys

On this date in 1878 a Wells Fargo stagecoach was robbed of $400. It wasn’t the first time that a stagecoach from Wells Fargo had been robbed. It is believed that the culprit first began robbing stagecoaches in 1875 because, each time, a poem that intimated the perpetrator was going to strike again. It was signed “Black Bart”. Bart robbed Wells Fargo stage coaches numerous times throughout the late 1870’s and early 1880’s. He wore a flour sack on his head and never fired a shot, though on a few occasions, shots were fired at him. There was never any mayhem or extreme violence. On November 3 1883, Bart made a mistake when he left behind a handkerchief as he made his escape following what would be his last stagecoach robbery. The Pinkerton Detective Agency was able to track the hanky from a laundry mark to an elderly man in San Francisco named Charles Bolton. Bolton admitted that he indeed was Black Bart, but he disputed his reputation as being an outlaw by telling the Pinkertons. “I am a gentleman.” It was also learned that Bolton was really Charles Boles, who years before vowed to “take steps” against the company who forced him to abandon his mining claim. His wife, who had thought he was long since dead, found out that Boles was alive when she learned of his arrest.

Wanted Poster Promises $1000 in Gold For Bart

Just 18 days after his arrest, Black Bart found himself in California’s San Quentin Prison to begin serving his 6 year sentence.  His prison number was 11046.  But, he denied being Charles E. Boles or Black Bart.  Instead, he insisted his name was Charles E. Bolton.  The prevailing thought was that he was trying to protect the family that he had long since abandoned.  However, he wrote letters to his wife.  There is no record of his having received any visitors while he was in prison though rumors ran about, supposedly arising from a letter he wrote to his wife, that a wealthy man had become interested in his condition.  Speculation is that this mystery man, if he did exist, may have helped secure his early release.  Officially, he was released after 4 years and 2 months for good behavior which was a relatively new procedure.  Reporters came calling at his release and again he insisted his name was Charles Bolton and his life of crime was behind him, though reporters tried to get him to say something different.  I guess 19th century reporters did the same thing as today’s journalists when a subject doesn’t say what they want him to say. 

By This Time, Black Bart Insisted He Was Charles Bolton

Bart returned to San Francisco where officials of Wells Fargo kept close tabs on him. He wrote his wife that he was tired of being shadowed by the boys from the bank and felt demoralized.  He wanted to get away from everyone.  He never returned to his wife but in 1888 a man answering Bart’s description checked into a hotel in Visalia and then vanished.  In his room was found a can of tongue, a can of corned beef, coffee, crackers, sugar and a jar of jelly.  There were also two neckties and a set of cuffs that had a laundry mark that read F.X.O.7.   Speculation is that he was trying to throw up a smokescreen for the boys at Wells Fargo.  If he did, it worked.  The last time anyone saw him was February 28, 1888.  The 1892 city directory listed Mary Boles as the widow of Charles E. Boles, which may indicate that she knew something. Or maybe she just gave up.  If the 1917 obituary in a New York newspaper regarding Civil War Veteran Charles E. Boles was indeed that of Black Bart, he would have been 88 years old.  Either way he lives on each Christmas with Ralphie.

Bonnie Spaghetti Model Track 18Z 7.23.10

Bonnie Spaghetti Model Track 18Z 7.23.10

Weather Bottom Line:  Tropical Storm Bonnie (See satellite loop below)  is stirring up more in the media than it is in the Gulf or South Florida.  I got an email from my cousin’s husband in Fort Lauderdale, Fred Flintstone, who said they had about a half inch of rain…they get more than that in a run of the mill thunderstorm.  The problem for Bonnie is that there is a huge upper level low in the center of the Gulf and that is serving to just beat the crap out of the upper wind flow…its disrupting or shearing the winds aloft such that Bonnie cannot get any upper support and without that, you do not get a hurricane.  Centered over the northern part of the Dixie states is a big ridge.  It has expanded north and is why the Ohio Valley is so h0t today and will be in the upper 90’s with dewpoints in the low 70’s again on Saturday. 

Bonnie Spaghetti Intensity Model 18Z 7.23.10

Between the upper low with its counter clockwise flow and the clockwise flow of the area of high pressure will be the track of Bonnie.  It will be shot out like a cannon with the help of both of the other systems flow.  That is another reason why Bonnie will not be much of a storm.  It’s moving so fast, even if the upper conditions were good (they’re awful), it would not have time to develop. In fact, I bet it gets downgraded  to a depression as it comes off of Florida and then there is a fair chance that it will not reach tropical storm status again.   And with that speed, its not likely to produce any crippling rain when it does make landfall late Saturday night or early Sunday morning in the north central coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, the flow around the high will break down with the advance of a cold front into the Ohio Valley.  That will raise the prosects for rain and t’storms in our area.  The moisture from Bonnie will then wrap around and move up the Mississippi and Ohio Valley and continue to bring us rain.  I suspect that the biggest threat for Bonnie will be the rainfall that it brings in, say the Tennessee Valley or perhaps the Ohio Valley early next week.  Our temperatures will be reduceds somewhat starting Sunday….so we only have to deal with a heat index of 105 to 110 for today and tomorrow.

Click image for Western Atlantic 2 day satellite loop

John Dillinger’s Infamy Lives With Rumors FBI Did NOT Get Their Man
July 22, 2010

Dillinger's 1930 Ford Model A Sold for 165K in January 2010

On This Date in History: A funny thing about American history is that not only do we tend to celebrate heroes, but Americans also seem to celebrate the villains. George Washington was arguably the most important man in US history yet more people probably know about Billy the Kid than General Washington.   Movies are made about the exploits of Al Capone yet, the life of President US Grant, who shows up on the fifty dollar bill is either misrepresented or totally obscure to most Americans.  Some years ago, I had the opportunity to see the Bonnie and Clyde “death car”  though from the linked site, it may have been a fake. This guy  claimed it was the real thing and hauled it around in an 18-wheeler and charged people to come and look at it.   I didn’t pay but, since I was in the news, I got to see it up close, complete with bullet holes.  I was suprised at how small it was.  But, this guy got the tv station to give him free advertising as the tv station wanted to capitalize on viewers fascination with criminals of the past.  Of course, there was a famous movie with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty about Bonnie and Clyde.  Also, there was a recent movie about John Dillinger starring Johnny Depp.  Like Billy the Kid and Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger had a relatively short crime career yet he remains an icon in the international imagination.  Just this year, like the Bonnie and Clyde “death car” complete with bullet holes, a John Dillinger getaway car was sold at auction for $165,000.  July 22nd is a watershed day in the history of John Dillinger as it was supposedly the end of him.  But, there are those who think that it was only the end of his public life and not his real life.  Either way, as long as Hollywood and historians write about Dillinger and other criminal figures from the past, they will never die and their legends and myths may actually grow.

dillinger-wantedIn the late 1920’s and 1930’s, lots of gangsters roamed the countryside. Public Enemy Number One was determined by the Bureau of Investigations, which in 1935 became the FBI. In 1934, the man who held the title was John Dillinger. While it didn’t take him long to top the list, he had to learn his trade through trial and error like any good craftsman. On June 10, 1933, Dillinger pulled his first bank job in Carlisle, IN. Two weeks later, he tried again but this one was botched in Monticello, Indiana. It is interesting that there is very little information available regarding the attempted hold up of a Marshall Fields in Monticello by Dillinger and William Shaw. I suppose its because it was a failed attempt and Americans only like to hear about wins, not losses.

McNutt Thought Dillinger Capable of all Sorts of Things after long prison sentence

McNutt had a bad feeling about Dillinger due to a harsh sentence

An interesting thing about Dillinger is that, even though he was Public Enemy Number 1, his career as a criminal didn’t really last all that long. He was put in jail in 1924 following the beating of Mooresville, IN grocer Frank Morgan by Dillinger and his good friend Edgar Singleton. They had been out boozing it up and jumped the guy. Dillinger got caught when, a few days after the assault on September 6, 1924, Dillinger brought attention to himself by inquiring as to the well being of Mr. Morgan. As it turns out, Morgan couldn’t identify his attackers, but Dillinger was tricked into confessing. Meanwhile, his buddy Ed pled not guilty. Ed was out of jail after a couple of years while Dillinger got 10-20 years for assault and 2-14 years for conspiracy to commit a felony. Some scholars think that the difference in sentences is what pissed off Dillinger and led him on a life of crime. Indiana Governor Paul McNutt thought that the sentence was so harsh that it might cause Dillinger to do anything once he was out of jail. Victim Morgan and the sentencing judge both thought that the sentence was pretty tough. By 1933, the pair joined 182 townfolk lobbying to let Dillinger loose and on May 22, 1933 John Dillinger was set free.

Some Hoosiers Made Certain that They Were Not Mistaken for Dillinger But Did the FBI Still Get the Right Man?

That’s the odd part. He was set free on May 22 1933 and within a few weeks, he was committing or at least trying to, commit worse crimes than he had done prior to his initial incarceration. Did prison create John Dillinger?  The fact that Dillinger failed in Monticello, IN was probably more associated with his lack of experience than anything else, but one can’t know for sure. Even Monticello doesn’t want to talk about it. In any event, Dillinger went on to amass some $359, 322 in loot taken and that made him the marked man at the top of the list.

Dillinger Death Made Headlines Nationwide

Dillinger Death Made Headlines Nationwide

On This Date in 1934, the Bureau got their man when it gunned down Public Enemy Number 1, John Dillinger. Bureau agent Melvin Purvis got a tip from brothel operator Anna Sage who gave information concerning Dillinger’s whereabouts under the threat of deportation to her native Romania on morals charges. Sage is the original woman in red, which has been also called the lady in red. The story is that she attended the Biograph Theatre in Chicago and when she emerged, she was identified from her red dress and thus the man whom she was with was to be considered Dillinger. She came out and the agents promptly shot her date. That was that, the headlines were trumpeted across the nation and the photo above was circulated to prove that Dillinger was indeed dead.

But….a supposed authority on the history of American Crime, Jay Robert Nash, says the FBI got the wrong guy. Nash says the man who was killed outside of the theatre was really a patsy. James Lawrence was considered a low level thug who was used by Sage and a crooked Indiana detective to unwittingly stand in for Dillinger. If you notice, the dead guy looks similar to the Dillinger photo on the left, but to me he looks a bit more like Jackie Gleason than the lean looking photo of the alive version of Public Enemy Number 1. The FBI claimed that Dillinger had plastic surgery and that explains any discrepancies. But the Cook County autopsy report was supposedly lost for 30 years. After it was found, the claim is that the dead guy is not the same height or weight of Dillinger. Dillinger had blue eyes whereas the corpse had brown eyes. The corpse was missing a distinguishing birthmark and had more teeth than the notorious bank-robber. Evidence showed the dead guy had a rheumatic heart. Had Dillinger had such a condition, he would have been prevented from being in the Navy.

FBI stands by their story that this man in the Cook County morgue in 1934 was indeed John Dillinger

The FBI, of course, stands by their story and claims the record, including fingerprints, support the truth that the G-Man got his man!!! I dunno…but I do know that Dillinger was never spotted again. Seems to me that if he were alive, it would be unlikely that he “went straight.” But then again, the guy was dead, they couldn’t interrogate him to determine if he was in fact Dillinger and they certainly couldn’t read him his Miranda rights. Back in those days it was “shoot first and ask questions later”….kinda like that good neighbor in Texas. Anyway, if you see a very old man that looks like the alive version of Dillinger, call the authorities immediately.

Weather Bottom Line:  Today will be more of the same with scattered t’storms though I do not see any major features either in the minds of the computer models nor in the reality of the radar.  Friday and Saturday will be very hot…I saw the weather channel claiming 99 for one of the days but that will be tough with dewpoints in the low 70’s.  But, mid 90’s seems hot enough and with that type of moisture, it will feel even hotter.  Sunday, the ridge should break down to allow for an elevation in rain/t’storm chances perhaps as early as Saturday night and, if not, then certainly Sunday.  The boundary should come through sufficiently to catch a break from the heat on Monday but it may move back as a warm front on Tuesday bringing rain chances and a return to higher temps and humidity.

Too Old To Be Guilty
July 10, 2010

If we followed the logic of a 1787 Philadelphia judge, old folks could rule the dinner table and the streets

On This Date In History: In May 1787, an old woman in Philadelphia was grabbed and attacked by a group of people who cut her head in an ancient tradition of bleeding out any spells she may have cast. They thought she was a witch. This year there has been a heat wave in the Eastern United States.  The media tends to latch on to Global Warming  these days but the truth is, it has happened before.  In early July 1787, a big heat wave was going on in the city of Brotherly Love. Dogs and horses died. The fields were dry and tempers grew as hot as the weather. No word on whether anyone blamed Global Warming in 1787.   However,  at the same time, 55 men were gathered in Independence Hall arguing over the forming Constitution. If you look at the painting of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to the left, you will note the central figure is General Washington. Just about every painting you see will feature the Father of the Country prominently. That is because he is largely credited with holding the conventioneers together. Not by words but simply by his presence. His silent, strong leadership was what everyone looked toward to get them through the turmoil. Another person in Philadelphia did not have the General to save her.

Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love

The old woman who was tormented in early May was a German known as Korbmacher. During the heatwave, a little boy died. Some on the streets of Philadelphia chose to blame her and attacked her again On This Date in 1787. The Pennsylvania Evening Herald story read, “We are sorry to hear that the poor woman who suffered so much some time ago, under the imputation of being a witch, has again been attacked by an ignorant and inhuman mob. On Tuesday last she was carried through several of the streets, and was hooted and pelted as she passed along. A gentleman who interfered in her favour was greatly insulted, while those who recited the innumerable instances of her art, were listened to with curiousity and attention.”

Korbmacher Means Basket Maker In German

Eight days later, Korbmacher, which means basket-maker, was dead and the Philadelphia Witch Hunt was over. The newspapers wrote that they hoped justice would be done to those who had perpetrated such a beating on a person, let alone an old woman. Well, a trial did get underway as several people said they would testify against some of the alleged attackers. Three things are interesting about the trial. First was it was held just prior to Halloween also known as All Hallows Eve or Witches Eve. Second, there is no record of the results of the trial. The third, and perhaps most intriguing is the commentary about the innocence of Korbmacher from the bench by the judge:

Judge: Old ladies are innocent

Judge: Old ladies are innocent

“what! that a poor wretch whose sorrows and infirmities have sunk her eyes into her head, and whose features are streaked with the wrinkles of extreme old age, should therefore become an object of terror, and be endowed with the powers of witchcraft — it is an idle and absurd superstition! If, however, some damsels that I have seen, animated with the bloom of youth, and equipped with all the grace of beauty, if such women were indicted for the offence, the charge might receive some countenance, for they are indeed calculated to charm and bewitch us. But age and infirmity, though they deserve our compassion, have nothing in them that can alarm or fascinate our nature.”

James W von Brunn probably wishes his judge was the the 1787 Philadelphia judge

So according to the judge…Korbmacher was innocent simply because of her age.   If we used this judge’s logic today, then the 88-year-old man who killed a bunch of people at the Holocaust Museum in Washington would be set free because of his age.  Carrying out the judge’s logic in 1787, if  Korbmacher  had been young in the “bloom of youth” well then she may very well be guilty of being a witch because everyone knows that young women have a way of putting men under their spell!!!  How’s that for justice? All of this on the same streets that were at the very time witness to the construction of the very document that governs justice for all for this great nation. This witch tale is not remembered by most but it did make its way into a book that was reviewed by The  Spectator.  The author of the book was surprised to find that there is nothing in the record to show that any of the members of the Constitutional Convention made any notes related to the Philadelphia Witch Incident because it was widely reported at the time.  It’s too bad that General Washington didn’t go for a stroll at the hour of Korbmacher’s demise…his presence alone could have done what the Constitution could not.

Weather Bottom Line:  The biggest benefit of the Friday’s front was the rain.  We needed it as we are behind both in the near term and also for the year.  The second best thing about it was a slight reduction in humidity levels.  Dewpoints in the mid to upper 60’s have brought some relief.  The heat was brought down a bit but we’re still going to be lurking around the 90 degree mark for the weekend.  This front represented a change in the long wave pattern: i.e. the jet stream.  The ridge that had been limiting rain activity will be broken down such that for at least the first half of the week, disturbances will be allowed to move in that will initiate rain and t’storm activity and also afternoon heating will be enough to support afternoon and evening storms.  That is something that we haven’t seen for a  few weeks so the prospects for rain will be enhanced for several days, which is a good thing.

Cats Saved by Illinois Governor
April 23, 2010

Stevenson Spared Illinois Scenes Like This

Adlai E. Stevenson

On this date in History:  Adlai Stevenson is well known as a two time presidential candidate nominee who lost on both occasions.  He was also the Ambassador to the United Nations during the Kennedy Administration.  Stevenson rose to prominence as the Governor of Illinois and was known for his wit as well as his legislative initiatives in the Land of Lincoln including improving education.   But, Stevenson’s greatest bit of executive prowess may have come with his opposition to Illinois Senate Bill number 93.

Bill Tips His Hat to Adlai

Officially, Senate Bill No. 93 had the title of  “An Act to Provide Protection to Insectivorous Birds by Restraining Cats.”  It became known unofficially as “the cat bill.”  Perhaps this is where Berkely Breathed got the inspiration to name one of his characters, “Bill the Cat.”  The bill called for fines on owners who let thier kitties wander free off their property.  It also allowed for anyone to capture or “imprison” any cats at large and one could call the cops to pick up the fugitive feline.  All across the state, anyone could set traps with the purpose of catching wandering kitties.   The bill had been argued in the legislature several times in the post war years but it eventually passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was presented to the Governor.

Illinois Cats Roared with Approval

Well, Stevenson was an adept politician and he knew that cats could not vote.  But, he knew that catowners certainly had the right to vote.  And the birds in question generally were of the free variety, not any owned by voters.  So, Stevenson determined that it would not be prudent public policy to deem a cat crossing a highway or walking across someone’s property line as a public nuisance.  Stevenson seemed to have a good grasp on the behaviour of cats because he noted that it was the nature of cats to roam unescorted.  He did allow for the fact that many cats resided in the residence of some people but he did not think it was appropriate for the occasional feline foray into the great outdoors to prompt “a small game hunt by zealous citizens — with traps or otherwise.”

Cat Shows It's Enthusiasm

Stevenson also took a pragmatic view as he noted that the legislation would no doubt lead to unrest in the form of recrimanation and enmity as well as the unbridled discord that would surely erupt should a citizen turn a neighbor’s pet over to the cops.  He also added:

“If we attempt to resolve [this problem] by legislation, who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age-old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the state of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.”

Rats No Longer Supported Stevenson

Nowwhere did Stevenson speak of the number of cat-loving, cat-owning members of the electorate but I’m sure he was quite aware that a threat to a citizen’s cat could mean a threat to a potential vote in an future election.  So, on this date in 1949, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson vetoed the bill that was designed to protect birds from cats.  It did not help him at the presidential polls against President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.  Perhaps his loss was a direct result of his veto of the bill adversely affected a certain population that far outnumbered the number of cats in the state and across the nation.  Rats, mice and other rodents were certainly turned-off by Stevenson’s actions.

SPC Moderate Risk Sat AM to Sun AM W. KY

Weather Bottom Line:  I warned a few days about about the severe potential in our area for this weekend.  The Storms Prediction Center has been expanding its outlook each day for the past 3 days and have now expanded the moderate risk for severe weather to include a good chunk of Western Kentucky.  The idea here is that a number of super cellular storms develop along the Texas-Louisiana border.  These storms then would track northeast with more developing with the heat of the day.    My guess is that the extent of the moderate risk area to the northeast has to do with the increasing dynamics associated with a large scale event and the potential of the super cells be relatively long lived, thus being able to make their way into Western Kentucky.  As for Louisville itself, the sun going down before the storms get here is the reason why the Louisville Metro area is under a slight risk and that area is more expansive east than west. 

SPC 30%-45% risk for Severe Weather Sat AM to Sun AM

Tornadoes would be most likely in the Southwestern part of the state and with the loss of afternoon heating, that threat will diminish as the true dynamics will be situated farther south.  However, what happens when you get a big storm falling apart, they tend to simply collapse and when that happens, there is an enormous, short lived down draft which can cause significant damage.  I would speculate that, while tornadoes are possible in the Louisville Metro Area, the greatest risk will be from strong winds and hail.   This system will lurk and so rain chances will carry into Sunday, though I think the risk for severe weather will have shifted south and east.