Fort Drum Specters Preserve the Past

Locals say ghosts refuse to allow the past to remain buried at this military base in Upstate New York.

Click to expand photos.

I was stationed at Fort Drum for over three years. When I wasn’t freezing my rear-end off during field exercises in the training area, I was researching the area’s history and lore. Like Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, Fort Drum has its share of ghost stories, but because it’s a military base, its haunted sites aren’t readily available to the public. This seclusion lends an air of mystery to these already strange tales.

Fort Drum and its training area sprawls over 14 square miles of Jefferson County, New York, which shares a waterway with Canada. Relations with our neighbor to the north have not always been so friendly, and nearby Sackets Harbor served as a naval shipyard as far back as 1809. The US Army established Fort Pike and the Madison Barracks during the War of 1812 to defend the harbor. Nearly a century later, the Army opened Pine Camp several miles south along the Black River near Watertown, New York.

In 1940 and ’41, Pine Camp rapidly expanded as the Second World War threatened to drag the United States into another international conflict. The expansion displaced 525 families, swallowed five villages, and left over 3,000 buildings abandoned. The estate of James Le Ray, son of Revolutionary War hero Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, was appropriated by the military base. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

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Diners Through the Decades: 1940s

The 1940s saw the end of the Great Depression but the beginning of America’s involvement in World War 2. Diners continued to roll off assembly lines, and after the war ended, expanded from industrial centers of the northeast to suburbs and smaller towns as well. They retained their train car appearance and were almost entirely made from steel, with Art Deco architectural elements.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The Modern Diner at 364 East Avenue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island is a 1940 Sterling Streamliner built by the John B Judkins Company. It was the first diner to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of two Sterling Streamliners still in operation. I love this unique Art Deco design.

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Long Way Home

POW Cemetery

During World War 2, Pine Camp, New York was greatly expanded in order to train the 4th and 5th Armored Divisions and the 45th Infantry Division, but it also housed enemy prisoners as well. A few, like Christian Huppertz, died in captivity. If their families could not be located, they were buried in a small plot next to Sheepfold Cemetery near Great Bend, Jefferson County, New York. Today, Pine Camp is known as Fort Drum and is home to the 10th Mountain Division. The small POW cemetery is well maintained. It contains the graves of six German and one Italian prisoners of war.

Should Time Travelers Kill Baby Hitler?

This is a serious topic of discussion in today’s Bizzaro World.

At a live broadcast at the March for Life in Washington, DC on Friday, political commentator Ben Shapiro made the claim that no one who is pro life (or anti-abortion) would go back in time and kill notorious 20th Century German dictator Adolph Hitler when he was a baby. Shapiro’s critics seized on this opportunity to mercilessly attack him, and so far, have even gotten two sponsors to leave his show in protest.

Shapiro’s statement is perhaps more shocking because he is an outspoken Orthodox Jew, and Hitler was responsible for the targeted mass murder of millions of European Jews during WW2. While it’s rarely a good idea to mix history and politics, the ethical question of killing Hitler as a baby is an interesting one.

Hitler, who rose to power in Germany in 1934 and reigned as absolute dictator until his suicide in 1945, is almost solely responsible for the Second World War (in Europe, anyway) and subsequently the deaths of millions of people. Could this apocalyptic war be prevented if someone went back in time and killed Hitler when he was a baby?

Ben Shapiro’s reply to this hypothetical scenario was that, as a baby, Hitler had the potential to be anything. He could have, given different circumstances, gone on to live a normal and unremarkable life. The entire premise of the time travel murder theory is that Hitler’s life trajectory was inevitable, or it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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The Secret Scripture: A Romantic Irish Tale

An elderly woman with an enigmatic past pines her days away in an asylum, until a doctor begins investigating her case and ultimately gives them both a second chance at life in The Secret Scripture (2016). It is a romantic tale filmed on location in Ireland and is one of those films audiences seemed to like but critics panned. Beautiful cinematography and emotional depth masks an otherwise ridiculous plot.

The Secret Scripture is based on a novel of the same name by Sebastian Barry, author of A Long Long Way (2005). It was released in Canada and the U.K. in 2016 but came to the U.S. in October of this year. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Jim Sheridan, who also directed My Left Foot (1989) and The Boxer (1997). Both Sebastian Barry and Jim Sheridan were born in Dublin and have focused their careers on highlighting the Irish experience.

The film centers on Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave), an elderly woman in a mental institution who allegedly murdered her child. Dr. William Grene (Eric Bana) comes to evaluate Rose to see if she is sane enough to live on her own, because the institution is being remodeled into a spa. Dr. Grene becomes fascinated with her life story after discovering a journal she’s kept, written on the pages of a Bible.

As a young woman, Rose (Rooney Mara) lives in Belfast with her sweetheart, Michael McNulty (Jack Reynor). He leaves to join the British air force during World War 2. She moves to the Irish countryside to escape the German bombing raids, only to run afoul of local conventions. After being exiled from her aunt’s cafe to an isolated cottage, Michael just so happens to be shot down in her backyard and she hides him from Irish partisans.

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Hearts of Iron IV Minor Nation Strategies: Spain

spainWelcome to the latest in a series of posts looking at minor countries in the game Hearts of Iron IV by Paradox Entertainment. Hearts of Iron IV is an epic historical simulator that allows you to experience the Second World War as any country, and perhaps, change history. These articles examine the benefits and drawbacks of playing as any of dozens of minor countries in HOI IV. This week I’ll be looking at Spain.

Spain hardly qualifies as a minor power, but because it sat on the sidelines in World War 2, it can be considered such for the purposes of this game. From July 17, 1936 to April 1, 1939, Spain was wracked by a civil war caused when nationalist forces rebelled against the Second Spanish Republic. The war was a glimpse of things to come, as fascists, communists, and democrats sent volunteers, supplies, and weapons to support opposing sides. Eventually, the nationalists triumphed and Francisco Franco became its leader. Spain remained neutral during World War 2, declining to support Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

What if Nationalist Spain had joined the war? Or, more interestingly, what if the Republicans won and Spain aligned itself with the Allies or the Soviet Union? Either outcome could radically alter the course of the war.

Spain starts the game in 1936 as a democratic regime with 50% national unity. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy. The fascist party, led by Francisco Franco, has 46% popularity, the democratic party, led by Manuel Azana, has 47%, the communist party, led by Jose Diaz, has 7% support, and the nonaligned party has zero support. The next election will be held in February 1936.

Spain is divided into 15 states, including four in Africa, with mostly hilly and mountainous terrain. The western province of Galicia is almost entirely forest. Its resources are spread out over a wide area. In terms of industry, it has 7 military and 16 civilian factories, 4 naval dockyards, plus 47 additional open slots, 68 steel, 6 tungsten, and 2 aluminum. You can appoint Francisco Largo Caballero, a captain of industry, who grants +10% construction speed to civilian factories, infrastructure, and refineries.

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Hearts of Iron IV Minor Nation Strategies: Hungary

screenshot-179Welcome to the latest in a series of posts looking at minor countries in the game Hearts of Iron IV by Paradox Entertainment. Hearts of Iron IV is an epic historical simulator that allows you to experience the Second World War as any country, and perhaps, change history. These articles examine the benefits and drawbacks of playing as any of dozens of minor countries in HOI IV. This week I’ll be looking at Hungary.

Historically, Hungary was a close ally of Nazi Germany and joined the Axis in 1940. It participated in the invasions of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, however, its army was virtually destroyed at Stalingrad and Voronezh. Miklós Horthy, acting as regent for King Charles IV (in exile), engaged in backdoor negotiations with the Allies and eventually the Soviet Union, leading to a German coup in 1944. Can you steer Hungary toward a different fate?

Hungary starts the game in 1936 as a fascist kingdom with 70% national unity. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy. The fascist party, led by Miklos Horthy, has 54% popularity, the democratic party, led by Arpad Szakasits, has 43%, the communist party, led by Matyas Kakosi, has 3% support, and the nonaligned party has zero support. The next election will be held in March 1939.

Hungary is divided into three states: Transdanubia, Northern Hungary, and Alfold, with mixed clear and forest terrain. Its resources are concentrated in Northern Hungary. In terms of industry, it has 6 military and 10 civilian factories, plus 4 additional open slots, 1 oil, 4 steel, and 194 aluminum. With all industrial techs and National Focuses researched, Hungary will have a maximum of 46 unlocked building slots in its three core states, 57 if you include Southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia.

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Hearts of Iron IV Minor Nation Strategies: Romania

screenshot-151Welcome to the latest in a series of posts looking at minor countries in the game Hearts of Iron IV by Paradox Entertainment. Hearts of Iron IV is an epic historical simulator that allows you to experience the Second World War as any country, and perhaps, change history. These articles examine the benefits and drawbacks of playing as any of dozens of minor countries in HOI IV. This week I’ll be looking at Romania.

After WW1, Romania received the territories of Transylvania (1920), Bukovina (1919), and Bessarabia (1920), doubling its size. Transylvania in particular was a bone of contention between Hungary and Romania. Prior to joining Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania lost territory to Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union through German arbitration. Romania contributed over 1.2 million men to Operation Barbarossa, but switched sides in 1944 and joined the Allies. It became a Soviet puppet after the war. Can you steer Romania toward a different fate?

Romania begins the game in 1936 as a non-aligned democracy led by Armand Calinescu. It has the national spirit Neutral Foreign Policy, which inflicts the following penalties: Join faction tension limit: +100%, Send volunteers tension limit: +20%, Guarantee tension limit: +100%, AI Modifier: Threat receptivity: +1%, AI Modifier: Desire to be in or expand a faction: −100. It has a volunteer army, export trade focus, and civilian economy.

The next election will be held in December 1937. The fascist party, led by Ion Antonescu, has 18% popularity, the democratic party, led by Armand Calinescu, has 20%, the communist party, led by Constantin Ion Parhon, has 2% support, and the nonaligned party, led by Gheorghe Tatarescu, has 60% support.

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