Battle of Scajaquada Creek Bridge

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A detachment of American riflemen turn back the last British attack on Buffalo is this little-known War of 1812 skirmish.

The Battle of Scajaquada Creek Bridge (also known as Conjockety Creek) was fought on August 3, 1814 between British forces commanded by Lt. Col. John Tucker and American forces commanded by Major Ludowick Morgan in modern-day Buffalo, New York during the War of 1812. The battle was an American victory, ending British raids over the Niagara River and saving the American soldiers holed up in Fort Erie.

After the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25, 1814 on the western shore of the Niagara River, the American Army withdrew to recently-captured Fort Erie to lick its wounds. The British, under the command of Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond, pursued and laid siege to the fort. The Americans received supplies from Black Rock and Buffalo by boat, so Lt. Gen. Drummond ordered Lt. Col. John “Brigadier Shindy” Tucker to take 600 men, raid the villages, and burn military supplies, as the British had successfully done in December 1813.

To reach those military store houses, Tucker had to cross the Niagara River and Unity Island, then Conjockety Creek. Scouts warned Major Ludowick Morgan of the British approach, and he ordered his men to tear up planks on the Conjockety Creek bridge. His 240 militiamen found cover on the southern shore and waited for the British to appear. The British, armed with smoothbore muskets, were no match for the American riflemen.

The British attempted to repair the bridge under fire, but this proved futile. Tucker then sent a detachment up stream to try to force a crossing at a different point, but they were met by steady and accurate fire from the defenders. After a frustrating hour of fighting, the British withdrew having lost approximately 12 killed and 17 wounded to the Americans’ two killed and eight wounded. Supplies continued flowing to Fort Erie, and the British eventually broke off the siege after heavy losses.

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Swan Street Diner in Buffalo, New York

Swan Street Diner, at reet in Buffalo, New York, is a 1937 Sterling Company diner car, #397. It was originally located in Newark, New York, and successively known as Scofield’s Diner, the Newark Diner, and McBride’s Newark Diner, owned by Paul Scolfield, John Reynolds, and Jim McBride respectively. Scolfield also ran an automotive garage. The diner moved to Ohio in 2013, then to Buffalo, New York for restoration.

The new owners have done an incredible job restoring this historic diner. It sits in Buffalo’s Larkinville neighborhood, once home to the Larkin Soap Company (closed in 2013). The Swan Street Diner serves food and drinks on the last plates and mugs manufactured by the company. It opened in October 2017 and is a wonderful and unique diner experience.

Diner Resources

Quills: A Poignant Civil Rights Allegory

Though historically inaccurate, this film effectively tackles issues of censorship and the limits of free expression.

Directed by Philip Kaufman, Quills (2000) is based on a play of the same name by Doug Wright. It is a quasi-historical movie about the infamous writer Marquis de Sade and his internment in Charenton asylum in post-revolutionary France. Though not financially successful, its performances, costumes, and sets won praise from critics and audiences alike.

At the Charenton Asylum, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) has been under the care of Abbe Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), a liberal clergyman who encourages De Sade to write and produce plays, which are performed by the inmates at the asylum. Unbeknownst to him, De Sade has been sneaking out his manuscripts for publication with the help of laundress Madeleine (Kate Winslet). Scandalized, Emperor Napoleon orders Doctor Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to take over Charenton and reform its notorious inmate.

A battle of wills ensues between De Sade and Royer-Collard, with Abbe Coulmier and Madeleine caught in the middle. The more Royer-Collard tries to break De Sade, the more defiant and outlandish De Sade becomes. The inmate is determined to expose Royer-Collard’s hypocrisy, centered around his marriage to his much younger wife, Simone (Amelia Warner). Can Abbe Coulmier save De Sade’s soul (and his own) before it’s too late?

Quills is first and foremost an exploration of censorship and free expression. Are De Sade’s provocative stories harmless entertainment, or genuinely subversive and dangerous? Is De Sade a raving lunatic, or a martyr to the cause of free speech? It asks the audience to actively engage with the ethical and moral questions played out on screen.

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The Funeral Portrait

The Funeral Portrait
Bronze door knocker on the Crouse family mausoleum in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. John Crouse (1802-1889) was a corpulent German-American grocer and banker who established the “John Crouse Memorial College for Women” at Syracuse University. He was once the wealthiest citizen of Syracuse, estimated to be worth $10 million in 1889. His son, John J. Crouse, Jr. (1834-1886), became mayor of Syracuse.

A gruesome spectacle unfolded in 1988, nearly a century after John, Jr.’s death, when a Syracuse University student stole his skull for art class. His fellow students called the cops when a foul smell from his attempt at cleaning the skull permeated their dorm. When investigators traced it back to the Crouse mausoleum, they discovered vandals had destroyed the interior, smashed coffins, and scattered body parts all over the floor. What a bunch of animals.

The Original Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois

Coles County, Illinois is an unusual place. I should know, I wrote an entire book about it. Students at nearby Eastern Illinois University often wonder why there is no Burger King, the ubiquitous fast food franchise, anywhere in the county. That’s because a court decision in 1968 banned the fast food franchise from a 20-mile radius around a locally-owned Burger King in the town of Mattoon. Confused?

Ice cream is served with personality at this Burger King

In 1957, local business owners Gene and Betty Hoots opened a burger joint in a two car garage called Burger King, to compliment their ice cream stand Frigid Queen. The name was Betty’s idea. She thought it had a nicer ring to it than “Hot King” or “Hot Dames“. They registered “Burger King” as a state trademark. In 1961, a Florida-based corporation called Burger King began opening franchises all over Illinois, and Gene and Betty Hoots sued.

In Burger King of Florida, Inc. v. Hoots (1968), the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that national trademarks had priority over state trademarks, but granted the Hootses a concession: they could keep their business name, and no corporate Burger Kings could open within 20 miles of Mattoon. “One time they offered us $10,000 to put one in, but we told them to get lost,” Betty Hoots told the Illinois Times.

Today, the closest place you can buy a Whopper is in Tuscola, 22-miles north. You can, however, buy a Hooter Burger, lemon ice cream, or a butterscotch shake. In 2015, Gene and Betty Hoots finally sold their restaurant to a partnership called BK Ventures, LLC (I guess their son didn’t want to carry on the family tradition after all). Local businessman Cory Sanders planned to make improvements to the restaurant, but keep the menu mostly the same.

The Original Burger King, at 1508 Charleston Avenue in Mattoon, Illinois, is open all-week long from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. They don’t have a website, but you can call (217) 234-8122 for more information.

The Day Celebrity Social Justice Jumped the Shark

Another wealthy, award winning actress wants you to “empower” her bank account.

I’m not a big fan of super hero movies, so I was only peripherally aware of the controversy surrounding Brie Larson, star of Disney’s Captain Marvel (2019). I saw the weird clip of her saying white men shouldn’t review her previous films, but it wasn’t until I watched RedLetterMedia’s recent review of Captain Marvel that I saw the full extent of her vapid social activism.

Over the past few years, audiences have started waking up to Hollywood’s self-serving and hypocritical social activism, so much so that it turned off a record number of people from their signature awards event last year. No one likes to be preached to by hypocrites who got rich riding the coattails of an alleged sex pervert and then jumped ship when it was convenient for them.

Now Brie Larson, an Academy Award-winning actress with a net worth of over $10 million starring in a blockbuster Marvel film wants to tell everyone how hard women have it in the film industry. In one interview, she answered the question “What does it mean to be a woman in film?” by saying “It means it’s really hard.” Yes, historically, attractive blonde women have had a difficult time getting roles in Hollywood films (<—sarcasm).

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