Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

It seems fitting this Memorial Day weekend, and nearing the anniversary of D-Day (6/6/1944), that I am just finishing up the book, The Victors, by Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose gives a fair view of both the heroic efforts of the NCO's and other enlisted men that made the success D-Day possible despite the miscalculations and errors that occurred during the landing and subsequent invasion to liberate Europe. The men up front, through individual heroism and leadership, were able to overcome many of the blunders of the commanders (right on up to Eisenhower). A good read and a reminder of the the carnage of war and the sacrifices made to save the world from Hitler and the Axis powers.

Here is a another review of the book that comes from Nathaniel Tripp, a platoon leader in Vietnam. I am not a veteran, opposed the Vietnam war and was a lottery winner in the draft in 1969 as an eighteen year old kid out of high school. I did not even know what "lottery" meant at the time and it is the 1969 military draft that I think of today whenever I hear the word. That's probably why I never play today's so-called lotteries. My winning number was 326--not a million bucks but felt like it at the time. I always look to those that served as far better judges of such books as this one from Ambrose. Tripp ends his review with an important distinction between the history versus the culture of war. However, what I took away from The Victors was not the culture of war, but more the amazing heroism, ingenuity and staying power of what Ambrose terms the "citizen soldier." It is on this Memorial Day we honor all those who have fought and died. At the same time we must remain on guard that the culture of war that Tripp is rightfully concerned about, along with misguided patriotic fervor and our politicians, does not lead us down a road that unnecessarily expends our most valuable resources, the men and women of the American military. I believe Ambrose successfully communicates that view.

I am always amazed when I look back at the efforts undertaken during WWII and wonder if the country could ever be mobilized in such a manner again if world events demanded it. I must admit to not being overly optimistic in that regard.

At this time for reflection, please click her and visit some of my prior Memorial Day related posts.

D-Day War Theatre
Hundreds of D-Day and other WWII photographs are available on Click on the image above and you will be taken to my account. Click "Enlarge" and go to the viewer. In addition to this image, you should be able to click on "Open Filmstrip" in the bottom left hand corner of the viewer and be able to access the many other D-Day and WWII photos.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Big Trouble: The Steunenberg Assassination

An informative blog post from Dr. Hans Schantz summarizing the assassination, trial and Big Trouble. Tony Lukas would be pleased with the critique. Thank you Hans for visiting the Governor Steunenberg statue while in Boise and for mentioning my blog in your article.

Click on the link below.
Big Trouble: The Steunenberg Assassination

Nice picture of the governor too. It looks like great-grandpa was finally cleaned up a bit for the Capitol building re-dedication. Click on the picture a couple of times for a close-up enlarged view.

Friday, May 21, 2010

1913 Paterson Silk Strike & Big Bill Haywood

Here is another photo that came with the ones in the previous post. This shows Haywood a few years later in 1913.

April 29, 1913.
Leaders of the IWW who are conducting the Paterson N. J. mill strike. Left to right Carlo Tresca, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and William D. Haywood.
Photo News Dept. American Press Ass'n., 225 West 39th St., New York

Looks to me like Al Pacino could depict Carlo pretty well in a movie. I wish my Italian grandfather, Robert J. Ricciotti (aka Richards), an American Railway worker, had been around longer, as no doubt he could have taught me a thing or two about Carlo Tresca.

Haywood, Moyer & Pettibone Photographs

These aren't anything you haven't see before but are a couple of "original photographs" I recently picked up. Now I don't really consider them originals but they probably were made from an original print or maybe a negative. Hence, I would not pay as high a premium and got them at a reasonably inexpensive price. Maybe someone out there knows more about these kinds of photographs. They were typically archived by newspapers and magazines and used as needed in their publications. The photos are usually much sharper and show more detail as opposed to how they come out on newsprint. We have seen these from coverage of the trial in 1907 and in various publications since.

That's William D. "Big Bill" Haywood in the top photo taken inside his jail cell at the Sheriff's office in the Boise Courthouse. You can click here and view the same photograph in a newspaper article from 1907 by going to my website. And here is the same item as an artists rendition. Lower photo outside the jail/Sheriff's Office, probably on a break during the trial or waiting for the days proceedings to start. George Pettibone, Haywood in his traditional pose turning his bad eye away from the camera and Charles Moyer. Names are written on the back but we know these guys anyway.

View all of my "Spotlights" on

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mom and that's me under construction.

John (me) and my mom, Brenda Steunenberg Richards, circa 1951, in Pacoima, CA...well you can sorta see me. The valley (Pacoima, Van Nuys, Glendale, etc.) wasn't such a bad place in the 1950's. Parts of it were not so great in later years. It would not be long after this picture that I would be born at Glendale Hospital. We left the valley in 1958 to head up the road to a small, mostly one street and Jungleland town called Thousand Oaks ("T.O."). Not so small these days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Look Back - Happy Mother's Day

Mother's day is a little bittersweet this year, but there are always good memories to sustain us. I won't repeat the whole story here, as you can look back a few years by clicking on the link below. That day, when I presented my mom with her honorary high school diploma, and hopefully helped heal an old wound from the 1930's, is one of my more cherished moments from recent times.

Brenda Steunenberg Richards-The Graduate-Class of 1936-Honorary Diploma September 2004

Fortunately, I had the videotape rolling when I presented her with the framed diploma you see in this picture. I think I will get the video out, view it again this mother day, shed a few more tears...and remember all the gifts she presented to me.

Have a Happy Mother's Day weekend everybody. John

Brenda R. Richards (in progress)

My sister Kris entered a comment on this post that consisted of an excerpt of a poem she wrote. It's too good to only have a part of it and and might be missed by folks who don't click on the individual post or the comment link. So here it is below in its entirety. jr

I (Kris) was going through some things and discovered a poem I had written to Mom in 1971, I was about 23 and and the very young mother of a son. On this Mother's Day I want to include an excerpt to my beloved Mom.

Through days of smiles and carefree miles

We pass with nary a care;

Never aware of the troubles & trials,

That someone has to bear.

There’s seldom time to think of she,

Who mends our socks & sorrows;

Or pause a moment to stop and see,

Who’s guiding her tomorrows.

And so we run thru days of youth

To pathways yet to be;

Seeking love, in search of truth,

And finding both in she.

Moments, too, as all shall pass,

And children soon are grown;

Carefree days too soon to pass,

To children of their own.

So we watch and wait and pray,

For a child, young & free;

So we strive to be someday,

A mother such as she.

She, who’s greatest joy is giving,

And sharing unselfishly;

She, who spreads the glory of living,

If this I can one day be.

Loving, beyond so much,

and smiles, though troubles come;

Always there with a tender touch,

If this I can become.

One who’ll always lend an ear,

Though other have to go;

To share a smile and dry a tear,

If this I come to know.

Then, somehow, if this and more,

I ever grow to be;

Perhaps my son will know someday,

A mother such as she.

-- by Kris

August, 1971

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Timeless Tribute

Thank you Jan and Anna Marie Boles for this thoughtful and kind contribution in memory of my mother.

To visit the COI archives and the George L. Crookham collection, comprised of documents and letters from the Frank Steunenberg administration, go to:
G. L. Crookham Jr., Papers

GLC Online Collection



Idaho Public TV (Assassination: Idaho's Trial of the Century)

Papers reveal how Gov. Frank Steunenberg tried to suppress the Western Mining Wars --BY JAN BOLES ‘65

John's Footnote Spotlights

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Note from Mom - May 1992

"I had a great family - Kris, John, Cindy, Josh & Joey & Dad & I went to Montana de Oro on a nice picnic. John grilled chicken and sausage & we enjoyed that along with other goodies - Kris, Cindy & I made. I heard from Gary Sr., from Iowa, where he is on a job. Then later in the day from Gary Jr. & Sean by phone. So thoughtful of them. Talked to Connie also.
Glad to have a word from Beckie. I love her so much, even if we don't see everything exactly alike.

Beautiful Cards - I just couldn't throw them away. Cindy so thoughtful too, always brings flowers. Hope she and the baby do beautifully - Love all of you
May 1992"

Written May 1992 after mother's day and recently discovered among some cards my mother had kept. Interesting that she began with "I had a great family." Mom tended to write notes here and there that she knew we would discover later after she was gone. This is another of the little treasures she has left us. Referenced in the note are my sisters Kris (and her son Sean) and Beckie, my brother Gary, his son Gary Jr., Gary Jr's mother Connie, my sons Josh and Joe and my wife Cindy (then pregnant with my daughter Caley). Montana de Oro is a beautiful state park here on the central coast very near our residence. Over the years, Spooner's Cove has been the site of various family gatherings and birthday parties. Good memories. John

Brenda Steunenberg Richards
8/26/1918 - 3/21/2010