Sunday, October 20, 2013


The Origins of Halloween

Halloween or All Hallows Eve, as it is sometimes referred to, is a lot different now than it may have been celebrated many centuries ago. With October 31st coming around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to find out what the origins of Halloween were.

Earliest Trace

Peter Tokofsky, an assistant professor in the department of folklore and mythology in UCLA states, "The earliest trace (of Halloween) is the Celtic festival, Samhain, which was the Celtic New Year. It was the day of the dead, and they believed the souls of the deceased would be available" .


Samhain (pronounced sah-win or sow-in) means "summer's end" by the Celts. In old Germanic and Celtic societies, what we call equinoxes and solstices marked the middles of the season, not the beginnings."  Therefore if there exist an autumnal equinox, winter solstice, spring equinox and a summer solstice, there are also the beginning of autumn, winter, spring and summer. All of these eight dates were important. Summer's end which meant the beginning of winter was an important time for people who survived on plants grown in the field and animals that were kept in pastures.  "This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death" It is most likely this reason that the Druids (Celtic pagans) believed that the spirits of those who died the preceding year roamed the earth the night of Samhain


The Druids celebrated this holiday "with a great fire festival to encourage the dimming Sun not to vanish" and people "danced round bonfires to keep evil sprits away, but left their doors open in hopes that the kind spirits of loved ones might join them around their hearths". On this night, "divination was thought to be more effective than any other time, so methods were derived to ascertain who might marry, what great person might be born, who might rise to prominence, or who might die" Also during the celebration, the Celts "wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes". Crops were burned and animals were sacrificed History Channel Exhibits.. The spirits were believed to be either "entertained by the living", or to "find a body to possess for the incoming year". This all gives reasons as to why "dressing up like witches, ghosts and goblins, villagers could avoid being possessed."

Roman Influence

By 43 AD, "Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory." For the 400 years they occupied Celtic lands, two Roman festivals: Feralia (the commemoration of the passing of the dead) and a day to honor Pomona (the Roman goddess of fruits and trees). The apple served as a symbol for Pomona and which might have been incorporated into Samhain by the practice of "bobbing for apples" 

Christian Influence

When "local people converted to Christianity during the early Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church often incorporated modified versions of older religious traditions in order to win converts." Pope Gregory IV wanted to substitute Samhain with All Saints' Day in 835, but All Souls' Day (Nov. 2nd) which is closer in resemblance to Samhain and Halloween today, was "first instituted at a French monastery in 998 and quickly spread throughout Europe"  In the 16th century, "Christian village children celebrated the vigil of All Saints' by doing the Danse Macabre. The Seven Brethren whose grizzly death is described in the seventh chapter of the deuterocanonical book of Second Macabees" is also said to have resulted in children dressing up in grizzly costumes to signify these deaths.

Modern Halloween

Halloween came to the United States when European immigrants "brought their varied Halloween customs with them". In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants including the Irish fleeing from the potato famine in Ireland in 1846. By combining Irish and English traditions, Americans began the "trick-or-treat" tradition. In the later 1800's the holiday became more centered on community and in the 1920's and 1930's, Halloween became "a secular, but community-centered holiday". In the 1950's leaders changed Halloween as a holiday aimed at the young to limit vandalism. This all led to what Halloween actually is like today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

William A. Clark

William A. Clark

Mark Twain portrayed Clark

as a disgusting creature

William Andrews Clark, Sr. (January 8, 1839 - March 2, 1925) was an American politician and entrepreneur, involved with mining, banking, and railroads.


Clark was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He moved with his family to Iowa in 1856 where he taught school and studied law at Iowa Wesleyan College. After working in quartz mines in Colorado, in 1863, Clark made his way to Montana to find his fortune in the gold rush.

He settled in the capital of Montana Territory, Bannack, Montana, and began placer mining. Though his claim paid only moderately, Clark invested his earnings in becoming a trader, driving mules back and forth between Salt Lake City and the boomtowns of Montana to transport eggs and other basic supplies.

He soon changed careers again and became a banker in Deer Lodge, Montana. He repossessed mining properties when owners defaulted on their loans, placing him in the mining industry. He made a fortune with small smelters, electric power companies, newspapers, railroads and other businesses, becoming known as one of three "Copper Kings" of Butte, Montana, along with Marcus Daly and F. Augustus Heinze.

Between 1884 and 1888, Clark constructed a 34-room, Tiffany-decorated, multimillion dollar home, incorporating the most modern inventions available, in Butte, Montana. This home is now the Copper King Mansion bed-and-breakfast and museum.

Political career

Clark served as president of both Montana state constitutional conventions in 1884 and 1889.

Clark yearned to be a statesman and used his newspaper, the Butte Miner, to push his political ambitions. At this time, Butte was one of the largest cities in the West. He became a hero in Helena, Montana, by campaigning for its selection as the state capital instead of Anaconda. This battle for the placement of the capital had subtle Irish vs. English, Catholic vs. Protestant, and Masonic vs. non-Masonic elements. Clark's long-standing dream of becoming a United States Senator resulted in scandal in 1899 when it was revealed that he bribed members of the Montana State Legislature in return for their votes. At the time, U.S. Senators were chosen by their respective state legislators. The corruption of his election contributed to the passage of the 17th Amendment. The U.S. Senate refused to seat Clark because of the 1899 bribery scheme, but a later senate campaign was successful, and he served a single term from 1901 until 1907. In responding to criticism of his bribery of the Montana legislature, Clark is reported to have said, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale."

Clark died at the age of 86 in his mansion at 952 Fifth Avenue in New York City, one of the 50 richest Americans ever.

In an 1907 essay Mark Twain portrayed Clark as the very embodiment of Gilded Age excess and corruption:
He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag; he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs. To my mind he is the most disgusting creature that the republic has produced since Tweed's time.


William married Catherine Louise "Kate" Stauffer (1840 Pennsylvania - 1893 New York).  They had the following children;
  • Mary Joaquina (May) Clark Culver Kling de Brabant (January 1870 Montana - December 19, 1939 New York)
  • Charles Walker (Charlie) Clark (November 3, 1871 Montana - April 3, 1933 New York)
  • Unnamed son (1874 - 1874)
  • Jessie Clark (1875 - 1878)
  • William Andrews Clark, Jr. (March 29, 1877 Montana - June 14, 1934 California)
  • Paul Francis Clark (January 1880 France - 1896)
  • Katherine Louise Clark Morris (May 11, 1882 Montana - c. 1974)
After Kate's death, William married the woman who had been his teenage ward, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle (March 10, 1878 Michigan - October 11, 1963 New York). They claimed to have been married in 1901 in France. Anna was 23 and William was 62.  They had two children;
  • Louise Amelia AndrŠ¹e Clark (August 13, 1902 Spain - August 6, 1919 Maine); died of meningitis
  • Huguette Marcelle Clark (June 9, 1906 Paris, France - May 24, 2011 New York City).

William Andrews Clark, Jr.

Clark's son, William Andrews Clark Jr.. founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1919, left his library of rare books and manuscripts to the regents of the University of California Los Angeles. Today, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library specializes in English literature and history from 1641 to 1800, materials related to Oscar Wilde and his associates, and fine printing.

Huguette Marcelle Clark

Born in Paris, France, in June 1906, Huguette (pronounced: hyoo-GETT) was known as a reclusive heiress, who was the younger daughter of former U.S. Senator William A. Clark's children with his second wife, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle. She was reportedly "devastated" by the death of her sister in 1919, but in the mid-1920s she was a fixture in the society pages of New York City newspapers as one of America's most eligible young women. She made her society debut in 1926, one year after her father died. In 1928 she married William MacDonald Gower, the son of a business associate of her late father. Their marriage lasted less than one year and in 1930 she traveled to Reno, Nevada, to obtain a quick, uncontested divorce: a photograph taken of her the day her divorce became final was the last image ever made public. She retreated to her magnificent 42-room Manhattan apartments on New York's Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street, overlooking Central Park, and lived in isolation with her mother. In 1988, she moved out of her apartment and lived the remainder of her life, voluntarily, in New York City hospitals.

In February 2010, she became the subject of a series of reports on after caretakers at all three of her residences had not seen her in decades despite the fact she controlled a net worth estimated at $500 million, including a $24 million estate in Connecticut, and her Fifth Ave. apartment valued at $100 million. It was later determined that she was in the care of a New York City hospital. Building staff reported that she was frail but not ill when she left her Fifth Avenue co-op in an ambulance in the late 1980s. In August 2010, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office initiated a probe into her affairs managed by her accountant, Irving Kamsler, and her attorney, Wallace Bock. Recently Bock submitted a legal response to a petition filed by three of her relatives seeking to have an independent guardian put in charge of her affairs. In that filing he states that in 1988 Huguette Clark voluntarily decided to live at Mount Sinai Medical Center before being transferred to Beth Israel Medical Center where she died on the morning of May 24, 2011. She was 104.

Clarkdale, Arizona

Clarkdale, Arizona, named for Clark, was the site of smelting operations for Clark's mines in nearby Jerome, Arizona. The town includes the historic Clark Mansion, which sustained severe fire damage on June 25, 2010. Clarkdale is home to the Verde Canyon Railroad wilderness train ride which follows the historic route that Clark had constructed in 1911.

Clark County, Nevada, and art collection

Clark's art collection was donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. after his death, greatly enriching that museum's holdings of European as well as American art. The Clark donation also included the construction of a new wing for the Corcoran, known appropriately as the Clark Wing.

The city of Las Vegas was established as a maintenance stop for Clark's San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. The Las Vegas area was organized as Clark County, Nevada, in Clark's honor.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Former Army Capt. William Swenson of Seattle to receive Medal of Honor
Captain William Swenson
United States Army
Awarded the Medal of Honor

The White House announced Monday that former Army Capt. William Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal Valley, ending years of controversy over his nomination.

Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011 for his actions in the same battle.

Swenson was serving as an embedded trainer and mentor to Afghan border police when U.S. and Afghan troops walked into an ambush in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 8, 2009.

Swenson was on a different mountainside than Meyer when the ambush happened, but he, like Meyer, went into gunfire again and again during the six-hour battle to evacuate the wounded and recover the dead. As the battle raged on, Swenson’s repeated calls for support went unanswered.

Swenson will be presented the medal by President Barack Obama at the White House on Oct. 15, making him the sixth living recipient of the award for actions in Afghanistan.

“It’s a monumental event for me, for my family and for my teammates,” Swenson said in an Army press release. “This day also means lot to those I served with.”

Four U.S. troops were killed in the battle, and a Department of Defense investigation released months later found that negligent leadership and the command’s refusal to provide air support directly contributed to their deaths.

Meyer and two other Marines have been honored for their valor during the operation, but Swenson – who was first nominated for the Medal of Honor in 2009 – had not received any award for his actions.

Many believed the delay was an effort to kill the nomination after Swenson was publicly critical of the command’s decisions during the battle. In 2011, after officials said the original nomination had been lost, Marine Gen. John Allen, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, resubmitted the paperwork.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and Marine combat veteran, wrote a letter in 2012 to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, expressing concerns that Swenson’s nomination might have been “unfairly derailed by what appears to be nothing more than bureaucratic influence and arbitrary reasoning.”

Hunter called the fact that Swenson’s nomination had been lost “troubling.”  On Tuesday, Hunter praised the decision to award Swenson the medal, calling him “an American hero who exemplifies the extraordinary bravery and selflessness of our nation’s military over more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan.”

Hunter said Swenson’s medal is “especially important because not only is Capt. Swenson finally receiving the recognition he should have received years ago, but it goes a long way to restoring the integrity of the Medal of Honor process.”

Swenson was commissioned as an Army officer on Sept. 6, 2002. He separated from the Army on Feb. 1, 2011, and lives in Seattle.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

* Age: 85.
* Occupation: Pensacola News Journal editor emeritus. Bowden, now retired, started at the Pensacola News Journal is 1953 as a sports reporter. He worked his way through the ranks, serving as sports editor, editorial page editor and editor at the paper.
* Highlights: Wrote series of editorials calling for the creation of Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach " and which includes parts of Mississippi " to preserve the beach area for future generations. Also helped establish the Pensacola Historic District and worked on numerous preservation projects.
* Hometown: Altha, Fla.
* Family: Mary Louise Bowden, wife. Two children, Steven Bowden and Randall Clark Bowden.

As long as the Gulf of Mexico caresses the shores of Pensacola Beach, as long as turtles and sea oats and sand dunes have a white sand beach to grow upon, J. Earle Bowden's legacy will be secure.

The Northwest Florida visionary, one of the area's most prominent and respected figures, has worked for decades to preserve Northwest Florida’s history and environment. He is known as the "Father of Gulf Islands National Seashore" for his work to save miles of Gulf beaches from development, spearheading the authorization of a federal park that came to fruition in 1971. Bowden helped establish the Pensacola Historic District, has been honored as the state's Historic Preservationist of the Year and campaigned to protect Pensacola.

And he used a unique bully pulpit to push for Pensacola at every turn: the pages of the Pensacola News Journal, where the writer and cartoonist used well-crafted prose and morale-building cartoons to push for a better tomorrow.

It was 60 years ago this fall when Bowden first came to the Pensacola paper to work in the sports department. But his passion for writing and Pensacola would propel him to the paper's top position - editor. And even today, 15 years after he retired, he still is the Pensacola News Journal editor emeritus. And he still occasionally sends in an editorial cartoon and a well-spun column for publication.

"They pay me with a little gasoline to get to the PNJ and back," said Bowden, 85, from his home in Cordova Park. "I sure don't do it for the money. I just feel like it's a way to keep in touch with the paper. Because it has been my life."

These days, the world of journalism is different from the day when Bowden stepped into the PNJ, when hot metal presses ruled and the Internet wasn't yet a dream. It was decades before Twitter, Facebook and social media sites delivered journalism right to your phone in paragraph-long information nuggets. Bowden always has been known for delicate prose, poetry even, layering his stories with colorful adverbs and adjectives and wonderfully wandering sentences that evoke emotion as much as they relay information. Bowden working in the age of Twitter and 140-character pronouncements? No, that wouldn't work.

"I don't care about writing 140 characters," he huffed from his study, the walls blanketed by numerous awards, honorary degrees, pictures and cartoons that detail his 60 years in journalism. "That would be hard for me to do."

Early years

Bowden is from the Panhandle community of Altha, a town of about 400 to 500 people near Blountstown between the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers, which was the basis for his 1979 memoir "Always the River Flow." He was a budding artist even then, inspired by the illustrations of Norman Rockwell and others. He even wanted to attend art school in Chicago, but got cold feet and attended Florida State University instead.

He has wanted to study art, but became disillusioned because most of the art studies revolved around the "fine arts."

"That was fine," Bowden said. "But I wanted to illustrate books and magazines like Rockwell."

He drifted toward journalism, finally earning a bachelor's degree in 1951.

He then joined the U.S. Air Force, and served as a military journalist at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, writing for the base paper called The Planesmen. But as the Korean War ended, Bowden, then an officer, was given a choice. Stay in indefinitely or get out of the military.

Bowden, married with a small child, made a decision.

"I wanted to go home and do journalism," he said.

He lined up a job with the Panama City News Herald, but that job fell through when he was delayed in New Jersey for two weeks. But management in Panama City referred Bowden to their "sister paper" in Pensacola, the Pensacola News Journal, which then had a morning and evening paper, and Bowden’s career was set. He was hired as a sports reporter for $65 a week with an extra $10 a week for his cartoons.

The newsroom wasn"t that big," he said. "There were metal desks all gathered together. The first person I saw was Pat Lloyd (longtime News Journal writer) putting on rouge. There were a lot of characters there in those days."

Preservation interest

Bowden worked his way through the ranks, becoming editorial page editor in 1965. It was there that Bowden found his pulpit for change.

He wrote about history and Pensacola's need to preserve it. He wrote about the environment and how we should cherish and protect it.

"I always thought that was what an editor was supposed to do," Bowden said. "Get out and lead the town."

Bowden did, pushing for progressive measures that would protect what already was best about the area for generations to come.

He had written about the need for preservation of Civil War sites in Northwest Florida when the idea came to him that long-term preservation was needed at Pensacola Beach.

"So I wrote an editorial about how we had the best beaches in the world and these historic sites and how we needed to protect them,"Bowden said of the initial 1965 editorial calling for beach preservation.

Soon, he received a call from U.S. Rep. Bob Sikes, who offered to put a bill together to preserve the seashore from development.

The debate raged for about five years, Bowden said. Still, he led the charge, constantly hammering the community with pro-seashore editorials.

"There was a lot of resistance," Bowden said. "A lot of people thought it was a federal land grab. The Santa Rosa Island Authority resisted it. The Chamber of Commerce resisted it. There were a bunch of young lawyers here that wanted to develop the land. Now, some of those same people tell me that the Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of the best things we have."

Seashore legacy

Even today, Bowden's legacy at the Gulf Islands National Seashore is prominent. Earle Bowden Way is a 7-mile road that runs through Gulf Islands National Seashore.

"He is certainly known within the park and the community as the Father of Gulf Islands National Seashore, said Dan Brown, park superintendent. "Certainly, many people worked for the creation of the seashore, but as with any of those types of movements, someone at the forefront is required. Earle did that. He took the lead and pointed the way and became a spokesperson for the seashore."

Brown said that, normally, a national park takes about 20 years of processing to become a park.

"But he helped build popular support in five or six years," Brown said. "His leadership was crucial."

Bowden was named an honorary park ranger shortly after the seashore was established in 1971. Not that he's out on the beach he helped to preserve that often.

"I don't really go to the beach," he said. "I burn."

Bowden continued to push for preservation of Pensacola’s treasures:

* He served eight years as chairman of the Saenger Theatre management board, working on various restorations of the Palafox theater.
* He helped establish the Pensacola Historic District in 1969 and served eight years as president of the Pensacola Historical Society.
* In 1981, he served as general chairman for Pensacola’s American Bicentennial Galvez Celebration.
* In 1984, he was named Florida Preservationist of the Year by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.
* He was a founding member of the Pensacola Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission, part of West Florida Historic Preservation Inc. The building housing the organization’s headquarters is named for Bowden.

"We love Mr. Bowden," said Robert Overton Jr., CEO of West Florida Historic Preservation Inc. "Our organization wouldn't be here without his guidance and support. If not for Earle Bowden, who knows how many historic and environmental treasures in our community would be lost? He definitely made Northwest Florida a better place to live."

Newspaper man to the core

And Bowden still works to make Northwest Florida a better place to live, serving on numerous boards and continuing to be a sought-after speaker on matters of history and preservation. Not bad for a newspaper fella.

And through it all, Bowden remains a newspaper type of guy, even though he's disappointed in the Internet revolution edging past printed newspapers.

"I'm saddened by what's happened, but I understand the economics," Bowden said. "I’m not critical of the new changes, but I am saddened that the press I knew no longer exists."

Still, Bowden always was willing to accept, and sometimes embrace, change.

When the morning and afternoon papers were consolidated in 1985, Bowden was part of the task force to redesign the new combined Pensacola News Journal. A young News Journal reporter, Mike Suchcicki, also was on the task force.

"He was in his 50s," Suchcicki, 57, said of Bowden. "My age now. Being one of the younger guys, I thought of him as the old guard who would want to do it the old way. But Mr. Bowden had the most progressive ideas of anyone. I thought he would be against change, but he was all for change. He wasn’'t like I thought he would be at all. He was forward-thinking."

Bowden often thinks about the changes he has seen.

My oldest son, Steve, said to me, "Dad, do you realize you lived through all these changes? I remember the hot metal days, the manual typewriters, all the characters in the newsroom. It really was my life."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller (1898-1971)

Retired on October 31, 1955

Noah's commanding officer during

World War II, and the Korean War

After a two-year tour at Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Puller was assigned to Nicaragua, where he earned the first of his five Navy Crosses while fighting rebels led by Augusto Sandino. On his second tour in Nicaragua, Puller earned another Navy Cross for his gallantry in fighting local rebel forces during a daring ten-day march. He then traveled to China to take command of the famous "Horse Marines" guarding American settlements around Beijing, but was recalled to the United States to teach at the Marine Officers Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1936. In 1940, he returned to China as the executive officer of the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai. 

When World War II began, Puller was commanding the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment at New River (later renamed Camp Lejeune), North Carolina, and was sent with his unit to Guadalcanal in the summer of 1942. He won his third Navy Cross leading his battalion in defense of the island's Henderson Airfield against an overwhelming force of seasoned Japanese troops. Promoted to executive officer of the 7th Marine Regiment, Puller earned his fourth Navy Cross in January 1944 at Cape Gloucester in New Guinea, when he braved enemy fire to inspire his men during a Japanese counterattack. He was then given command of the 1st Marine Regiment, which he led at the Battle of Peleliu in the Palau Islands in September and October 1944. He returned to the United States the following month to train recruits at Camp Lejeune, where he remained for the rest of the war. 

At the outbreak of the Korean War, Puller received command of his old unit, the 1st Marine Regiment, and led them during the landing at Inchon in September 1950. He then earned his fifth Navy Cross at the Chosin Reservoir later that year by "attacking in a different direction" against ten Chinese divisions. The action also earned him a promotion to brigadier general in 1951 and major general in 1953. In 1954, he assumed command of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune but was forced to retire a year later because of ill health. He requested a return to service in 1966 to fight in Vietnam but was refused because of his age. His son, Lewis Burwell Puller Jr., also served as a Marine officer, losing both legs and parts of his hands in action in South Vietnam in 1968. His autobiography, Fortunate Son, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. The younger Puller killed himself two years later. 

Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller died on October 11, 1971, at the age of seventy-three. He was buried in Saluda, in Middlesex County, where he spent his retirement. A Virginia Historical Highway Marker honoring him is located nearby on State Route 33, the "General Puller Highway."