A Case of Cherry
January 21, 2011


Sample of Gong Show Acts

Sample of Gong Show Acts

On This Date in History:

Some of you may remember The Gong Show. People came on the show and the judges would give them a score. If the acts were really bad, a judge would stand up and bang a gong that meant the act was off the show. I think the winner of the show got something like $32.98 or some such odd, low number. America loved it for awhile as they loved to watch the stupid, crummy acts, not the good ones. We love competition but sometimes we seem to gravitate to the most preposterous or bad performances. One of NFL Films most popular team biopic is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that lost 26 games in a row and every game in a season…the only team to do so in modern times until the Detroit Lions joined them this year. And of course, there is American Idol and the infamous William Hung. He is probably more well known than most of the winners.

This is not new with America.

William Hung

Before the Gong Show and the Buccaneers and William Hung, there was the Cherry Sisters. They were so bad, they became a smash hit. The Cherry Sisters first took to the stage on this date in 1893 in Marion, Iowa. They received $250 for a one hour show. Pretty good money. In Marion, the folks must have been kind because it was in Marion that they got their only good newspaper review. When they took their act to Cedar Rapids, the local Gazette referred to their performance as “ultimate gall.” The paper also mentioned that people threw overshoes at the ladies. See…Iraqis did not invent the act of throwing shoes at people on stage. Not to outdone by their neighbors, the people of Dubuque tossed a tin wash boiler, turnips and sprayed them down with a fire extinguisher. I’m not sure what a tin wash boiler is but, who brings turnips to a show? The newspaper in Davenport, Iowa issued a warning to would be concert-goers. Rocks larger than two inches would not be allowed in the theatre! I guess Constitutional rights only go so far….one inch rocks were okay but two inches? Forget it!

Addie and Effie (One In Middle Not Jessie)

Eventually, the act was so bad, it became popular and the “The Celebrated Cherry Sisters” made their way to the big time of the Big Apple. Yup…they went to Broadway in 1896 under the guidance of none other than Flo Ziegfeld himself. People came to the theatre in droves just to hurl insults and garbage at them. Much like the Blues Brothers, the stage manager stretched a fish net across the stage to protect them from hurtling objects. But, it finally went too far.

These ladies were indeed modern women determined to move ahead the process of jurisprudence when they did a very late 20th century thing. They sued. The Des Moines Leader wrote a review that called “Addie” a “capering monstrosity of 35” and sister “Effie” “an old jade of 50 summers.” Not true…Effie lived until 1944. It was kinder to “Jessie” referring as a “frisky filly of 40.”

Hideous Creatures?

The truth is that Jessie died of typhoid in 1903 at age 31. It also called the sounds the sisters made “were like the wailings of damned souls.” I don’t know why they sued the Leader because Billy Hamilton of the Odebolt Chronicle in western Iowa called the ladies “three hideous creatures surpassing the witches of MacBeth.” I guess being a hideous creature and people throwing rocks and garbage was one thing but telling the public that Effie was 50 was too much. So what did the judge do? He had them perform in court and the case was closed. He ruled in favor of the newspaper saying that “Freedom of discussion is guaranteed by our fundamental law.” This was not just any court though…it was the Iowa State Supreme Court and, while the Sister’s act may be long forgotten, the case has become a textbook standard citation of First Amendment law under the moniker, the Cherry Case. I don’t know how much money the ladies made but if they pocketed $250 in Marion, Iowa they must have done pretty good in New York. Nevertheless, I doubt if they planned on being remembered in history for a lawsuit against a newspaper that ridiculed them mercilessly. Another case of unintended consequences.

Weather Bottom Line:  Told you there would be snow and the rest of the forecast will hold true as well with pretty cold temperatures through the weekend.  Snow White was driving to Louisville on Thursday and I told her that she would probably not get snow until about the time she it Lexington.  She reported that at the 75/64 interchange, she saw her first snowflake.  She took some issue with the conditions of I-64 on Thursday afternoon from about Shelbyville on in. Not sure why the road was not addressed since this storm was well known in advance.  On Monday, there is another chance for snow but this one probably won’t be as significant as the system is southern in nature and will be traversing the Dixie states well to our South.  Nevertheless, some over running moisture will bring at least some snow showers if not light snow  We may get back above freezing on Thursday afternoon.


Women’s Right To Vote Hinged On A Boy Listening to His Mother
August 19, 2010

How Could Anyone Oppose These Babes?

How Could Anyone Oppose These Babes?

These Guys Opposed the Chick Vote, But Wouldn't Show their Faces.

These Guys Opposed the Chick Vote, But Wouldn't Show their Faces.

On This Date in History:

We’ve had the health care debate  and people were complaining that one side or the other may have an organized or orchestrated effort.   Now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is suggesting that opponents to the mosque in New York City should be investigated to determine from whom their organized funding is coming.  Then, there is the argument as to whether the Tea Party is a “grass roots effort” or a co-ordindated national movement.   The charge of “organization” comes up quite often in politics and the proper response may be , “so what?”  The Sons of Liberty was an orchestrated movement against the crown.  The Civil Rights movement was organized. The women’s suffrage movement was organized, but so were opposition groups. It has happened throughout history. Organization is what gets things done…that’s why there are political parties.  But, even with organizations, sometimes success or failure relating to a given topic may fall to an individual.

Burn became women's best friend, thanks to mom

In the Summer of 1920, the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was very much in doubt. Only one more state legislature had to ratify the amendment but the remaining states were in limbo. It was called the war of the roses. Supporters of the amendment, the “Suffs” which was short for “suffragists”, wore yellow roses while those opposed, or the “Antis” clung to a red rose.

Febb Is An Unsung Heroine

On August 18 in Tennessee, a vote was taken and it resulted in a tie. Young legislator Harry Burn was from the “anti” county of McMinn and he wore a red rose. But, it seems young Burn got a letter from his mother Febb Ensminger Burn who told her son to” be a good boy” and help put the “rat” in ratification and so on the second vote  the changed his vote and the amendment passed.  On this date in 1920, when the sun rose, the suffrage movement finally succeeded and women had gained the right to vote. Burn said, “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow.” So, all you ladies out there should lift a glass to Febb….and hope the World Meteorological Organization doesn’t find out and call a hurricane Febb as it would most certainly make its presence known. But, truth be told, we should all perhaps thank Febb because the wisdom of women in the voting booth is most likely a necessary ingredient in making the nation a more perfect Union.

Weather Bottom Line: We really won’t have a warm front per se coming through today but just a return flow from the south as the old boundary washed out south of the region.  We most likely get up to around 90 or so today and then on Friday I suspect that, not only will we inch into the low 90’s but the humidity will again be an issue.  Saturday, a pre frontal trof will be lurking to our west so the prospects of it working in conjunction with higher heat and humidity to give us some afternoon t’storm activity will be enhanced.  The cold front itself will be creeping down here over night and then get bogged down in the region, either just to our north or south, either way, the mercury should be held down on Sunday with a chance of rain from time to time.

When a Sitting US Supreme Court Justice Was Charged With Murder
August 14, 2010

US Supreme Court Justice Had Troubles

US Supreme Court Justice Had Troubles

Sara Althea Hill

Sara Althea Hill

On This Date In History:

 US Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field was arrested for murder on this date in 1889 making him the only member of that body ever arrested for such a crime. The story goes back to a divorce case in which Justice Field ruled that the early 1880’s marriage between Sarah Althea Hill and wealthy mine owner and  US Senator William Sharon was invalid and she therefore was not entitled to any portion of his wealth of his estate following his death in 1885.  The court decision also declared the her new husband, David Terry, was also not entitled to the estate. David Terry was, like Justice Field, a former California Supreme Court justice. The courtroom erupted into a brawl with Terry at one point brandishing a Bowie knife.  Field ordered the couple jailed for contempt. The pair publically announced revenge on the Justice.

About a year later, Field and his bodyguard, US Marshal David Neagle, were riding on a train to San Francisco. Also on the train were Sarah and David Terry.  At a stop in Stockton, California the Terrys spotted Field in the station dining room. David approached Field while Sarah went back to the train. Dave slapped the Justice and Neagle identified himself as an officer, pulled his revolver and told Dave to stop . David Terry started fumbling with his jacket. Neagle fatally shot David Terry as his wife came running up with a satchel holding a loaded gun.  Neagle and Field were arrested on a murder charge.

Ironic End for David Terry

Ironic End for David Terry

Now, I’ve wondered why Field and Neagle would go for their guns so quickly over a slap. I mean, most men would’ve punch him out like John Wayne.  It’s because  Terry had a history of violent behaviour and this was not the first time that Terry had pulled a gun on a public official in the past and fatally used it.   Prior to the Terry pulling a Bowie knife in the 1888 courtroom incident, back in 1856 Judge Terry stabbed a city of San Francisco official (again using a Bowie knife) and then, in 1859,  Terry was arrested for  killing a United States Senator.  Terry had been the Chief Justice of the California Supreme court but  was ousted from the bench following an election loss.  Senator David C Broderick was a colleague of Terry’s in the Democratic party. But, David Terry was a Southerner by birth and was pro-slavery while Broderick was against that institution. Terry had some unkind things to say about the faction in the Democratic party whom he felt had kept him to win election as Chief Justice of the CA Supreme Court. Broderick responded by saying unkind things and the pair ended up in a duel, which the sitting US Senator being gunned down by the former state supreme court justice. Terry was arrested but later released.

Like Terry years before, California’s Governor ordered Field  released from jail but Field’s story proved more interesting. That’s because the case against Neagle ended up…in the US Supreme Court that ruled in a landmark decision that since Neagle was acting under federal authority, he could not be subject to California law. I suppose that is why no one ever asked the Texas justice system to charge the ATF agents with anything in the Waco/ Branch Davidian case several years ago. Field recused himself from the case but the court ruled 6-2 in his favor and it may be the only case in which a sitting Supreme Court Justice was actively involved in a situation that set a legal precedent.

Weather Bottom Line: I think that we may be seeing the first slight hint of the change in season approaching..but don’t shut down your air-conditioner just yet.  First,  a cold front that I expected to come through Saturday night will not do so for about 24 hours but a line of storms ahead of the front should come rumbling through here Saturday evening  or night and there may be some strong storms going on.  I believe that the SPC has us in a slight risk for Severe Thunderstorms on Saturday.  The drier, cooler air lags behind that line though so Sunday will again be hot and there will be scattered storms as the front itself comes through.  On Monday its far enough south that the rain chances abate and we knock about 10 degrees or so off the high and low temperatures.  Here’s where the hint of a season change comes…there is a secondary boundary that looks intersted in coming down our way behind the initial front.  We see that often in the winter time with a front followed closely by an arctic push. This ain’t arctic but it is drier and cooler air.

Trouble is, it’s still summer so the second push really won’t get too far through our area.  The first front will get caught up in the influence of what’s left over from Tropical Depression 5 which went in around New Orleans and will do a loop to the east then south and then along the Gulf Coast before showing up in NW Louisiana and interact with the frontal boundary.  It should help to toss up a bunch of moisture too that will over run the front.  The second push will approach our area and get hung up.  The old boundary and the remnant of TD 5 will move north and the two will merge as a stationary boundary.  What all of this means is that most of the week ahead looks like a week of highs in the upper 80s with a decent chance for scattered showers and t’storms after Monday.  At least we won’t be talking about 100 though…and  my sunflowers need the rain.

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.

Pardoned Murderer Receives Justice
February 16, 2010

Famous Photo of John Wesley Hardin

On this date in History:  These days, there are many who are upset with the criminal justice system in that violent offenders get released early or paroled for heinous crimes.  One young man was known to have killed several people.  He had a couple of arrests warrants for murder following him around as he went from state to state before he was apprehended.  However, he escaped from jail.  On his 21st birthday, he got into an altercation with another man who fired a shot at him.  The gunman missed but the birthday boy did not as he shot the man dead.  Afraid of being arrested again, the man fled.  A few years later, the fugitive was finally caught in Florida and brought to trial.  In this case, there was an argument for self defense so when he was sentenced he only received a life term instead of the death penalty.  15 years later, the man was given a pardon.  But, this is not a tale from the 21st Century or even the 20th Century.  No, the criminal justice system has had it’s flaws for a long time because the suspected multiple killer was pardoned on this date in 1894! 

"Gentleman" wanted for killing at least 40 men

John Wesley Hardin has been described by many as the “meanest man in the west.”   It is also said that Hardin was the “archetype of the shootist.” It all began when he was just 15 years old in 1868.  He killed a former slave and became a fugitive from the law.   A couple of years later, he was in Waco Texas when he was arrested for murder.  But, in this case, Hardin didn’t do the deed.  But, he didn’t like his chances with the jury so he escaped.  Of all places, he fled to Abilene, Kansas which was under the charge of the famous lawman Wild Bill Hickok.  As it turns out, Hickok was rather taken in by Hardin so he left him alone.  But, in one of the more famous incidents of the old west, Hardin became so agitated with snoring coming from the hotel room adjacent to his that he fired two shots through the wall.  Yup…he killed a man for snoring.  Well, old John Wesley knew that friendship only went so far and he figured that Wild Bill couldn’t stand for that so he fled before Hickok had a chance to confront him. 

Don't Mess with the Texas Rangers

It was on May 26, 1874 that Hardin celebrated his 21st birthday in Comanche, Texas and shot the man in self defense.  But, it wasn’t just any man.  It was the Brown County deputy sherrif.  And it wasn’t just some flatfoot who tracked him down in Florida.  It was the Texas Rangers who caught him in Pensacola in 1877.  During his 3 year flight, it is thought that Hardin was responsible for the death of 5 other men.  In a very ironic twist, after John Wesley Hardin received his pardon, he turned to the law instead  of running from it.  He became a lawyer.  Perhaps he finally grew up by the age of 41 and decided to follow the lead of his father, who had been a Methodist minister and an attorney.  But a man who is suspected of killing at least 40 men no doubt has a long list of enemies.  Someone finally caught old John Wesley Hardin when he was shot in the back and killed, most likely as revenge for someone he had killed in his short but eventful life.  This account claims that he was shot in the back of the head by a constable who’s son had gotten into an argument with Hardin over a game of dice.

John Wesley Hardin's Life Ended Like His 40 Victims

The tale of John Wesley Hardin now lives in the annals of history but he is not remembered for how he died.  Instead, he is known for those he killed.  It’s not a tall tale but a confusing one.  The outline of the story that I’ve provided is true but the order may be wrong.  This story says that he killed the man for snoring in El Paso, not Abilene, and has other different stories.   This one has many discrepencies though it tells of his killing the former slave but says he was a policeman, Hardin was 18 at the time and that his peace with Hickok was after he drew down on the fast draw marshal.   There are many other stories about Hardin but all of them are the narrative of a serial killer and at the end he gets legally released  from prison.  Perhaps the illustration of John Wesley Hardin is not his list of victims, but instead paints a picture of a criminal justice system that has been flawed for a very long time.

Who’s That Girl? Anastasia? How Not To Be A Lawyer
July 16, 2009

Do You Know This Girl?

Romanov Family

Romanov Family

Cellar Where Execution Took Place

Cellar Where Execution Took Place

On This Date In History: The Romanov Royal Family in Russia met its doom. Czar Nicholas II was put in a bad spot as he was not really trained to be the Czar. He took the throne in 1896 and was pretty aloof. He got the Russians into a war with the Japanese in 1905 and his fleet got totally annihilated in a naval battle north of Japan. Then he goes and gets them into WWI in 1914 when his army is completely ill-equipped for modern warfare. They had lots of guys but they were more suited for a war in 1814 instead of 1914. The only reason they got into it was a stupid treaty with the Serbs. The people had gotten angry in 1905 and forced the Czar to create the Duma, a form of Congress. But he kept on dissolving the Duma whenever it came up with some sort of reforms. So, in 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out. In July 1918 they captured the royal family and on this date in 1918, the family was lined up for a photograph and then gunned down.

What about the girl?

Anna 1953, Anastasia 1916

Anna 1953, Anastasia 1916

Rumor was that the whole family was killed except for Anastasia, the young daughter. During the 20th century, several women showed up in Europe and even the United States claiming to be Anastasia. The most convincing of these Anastasias was a woman, Anna Anderson, who moved to the United States and died there in 1984. In 1991, the bodies of the Royal Family were exhumed only to find that Anastasia was indeed not there. However, DNA comparisons between Anna Anderson and the Royal Family proved she was not Anastasia. So, the question remains…..what happened to Anastasia?

 HOW NOT TO MAKE YOUR LEGAL CASE Clement Vallandigham was a member of Congress from Ohio prior to the Civil War. He was against slavery but also was for the Constitution as he saw it, he with the “states rights” argument made by the South and also agreed that it was A-Okay for any state to secede whenever it wanted. After the war began, he lost his Congressional seat but he kept up his rants. General Ambrose Burnside (of sideburn fame) issued General Order Number 38 which declared an intolerance to the “habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy” with the district of Ohio. Vallandigham in 1863 made a speech claiming that the war was not being fought to save the Union but instead was being fought to “free the black man and enslave the white.” That didn’t sit well with the authorities and he was arrested. The drawing to the left is supposedly of his arrest, though it’s unclear whether or not he was taken into custody in his skivvies. I suspect that is a political statement by the artist. Long johns or not, eventually, President Lincoln had him banished to the Confederacy.

After the war, he returned to Ohio and became a successful lawyer. Obviously, being successful doesn’t require a lot smarts. On This Date in 1871, Vallandigham was preparing a clever defense for a murder suspect, He was planning on showing in open court how the victim could have possibly shot himself with his own gun, accidentally. While he strategized, the hours of his days on earth dwindled. Because on the very next day, old Clement was demonstrating to some colleagues what he was going to do in court the next day. He went to presumably empty pistol from atop a dresser and pressed it to his chest. He discharged the weapon. To his great surprise, he grabbed the wrong gun. See, the other gun on the dresser was the empty one. Vallandigham exclaimed “my God, I’ve shot myself!” and down he went to the floor for the count.

The ploy may have paid off even though the jury didn’t get to see the dramatic demonstration. The suspect was acquitted of the murder charge.

babe ruth

In Baseball People have been suspicious about the big home run totals of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and there have been revelations of steroid use by sluggers such as Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi,  Rafael Palemero and now Manny with his women’s fertility drug.  Barry Bonds total of 73 home runs is 22% more than Babe Ruth’s 60. On this date in 1920, Ruth hit his 30th home run to break his record of 29. He ended up with 54 home runs for the year, breaking his record by 86%!!! Beer and Hot Dogs are suspected as the key to his unfathomable success.

Weather Bottom Line:  Global Warming enthusiasts will have to hide this weekend around here.  We may not get out of the low to mid 70’s and most likely not out of the 70’s at all…in mid/late July. The front that could have brought the ruckus showed itself yesterday afternoon to just move through here today pretty quietly.  Now, on Friday, a second cold front will come down and lower the 850 temps to below 10 for the weekend.  That will translate into very cool nights and very mild afternoons.  The trof is progged to be very deep and maybe make it to the Gulf Coast.  Tis possible there may be a few t’storms on Friday afternoon with the passage of the second front but the real story will be the mild air.  It will begin to modify Monday but temperatures should remain below seasonal averages at least into the middle of next week.