Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Sir John Dill

Equestrian monument to British Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill (1881-1944) in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Sir John Dill fought in the First World War and was promoted field marshal in 1941. However, he did not get along well with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who sent him to Washington, DC as his military representative. This turned out to be a blessing for all involved, as Dill was enormously influential in fostering cooperation between the British and American armed forces in World War Two. He died in November 1944 never witnessing an end to that conflict. The American Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote:

“His character and wisdom, his selfless devotion to the allied cause, made his contribution to the combined British-American war effort of outstanding importance.”

Categories
Photography Roadside America

We Can Do It!

Statue of Rosie the Riveter by artist Ivan Schwartz in National Harbor, Maryland. It is based on a popular patriotic World War 2 poster drawn by Norman Rockwell.

Categories
Mysterious America

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.

Categories
Roadside America

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.

Categories
Historic America Photography

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.

Categories
Commentary

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.

Categories
Reviews

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.