Category: History (Page 2 of 5)

Remembering the Past

Remembering Bill Schock on his 100th birthday … and the 52nd anniversary of Braniff 250 in Falls City. Also … feeling old from … time flying and stuff.

Since the AM2431 crash in Durango a few days ago appears to be from weather-related causes, never forgetting the lessons of BN250, as well as CO426, OZ809, EA66, PA759, DL191, and US1016 is as important as ever. Hope today’s flight crews are paying attention.

Cuba Slogans on a Wall

Treading a Careful Path in Post-Castro Cuba

«Here’s a fascinating, albeit rather eye-crossing, analysis» of what is happening in Cuba from a Communist perspective. Whatever happens, the way forward is difficult regardless of where one sits on the left-right political spectrum. Will it be a longer-drawn-out 1989 followed by a Franco-Batista-Bolsanaro triumph and bloodbath? Will it become Venezuela? Or will a Scandinavian socialism settle in? Whichever, it’s going to be an interesting new era.

“… we should not resort to useless and ultimately pedantic whining particularly virulent among many left-communist sects. We should organize our thoughts in helpful and productive ways, not just stating the facts, but analyzing them. There is a discrete left-opportunist trend that seeks to throw all developments in Cuba post-1959 into the dustbin and forget about it. This does as little for us as the right-opportunist line; both fail to grasp the full reality of revisionist corrosion and capitalist restoration in Cuba, although one cloaks itself in stultified theory. We should not stop at holding out hope for the legitimate Communists in Cuba, but should actively unite with them and learn from them.”

AntiImperialism.org
Photo of Bill Schock

For Bill

Back in 2014, I included a chapter in my book detailing Bill Schock’s war experiences as they related to his reporting on the crash of Braniff International flight 250 in 1966.

The editors at McFarland, rightly but regretfully, suggested I delete the chapter since it was rather tangentially related to the subject, namely “Deadly Turbulence: The Air Safety Lessons of Braniff Flight 250 and Other Airliners, 1959-1966.” (Yeesh, that title.) They wanted 80,000 words; I gave them 96,000, so yeah, some cuts were needed—like the chapter about events which happened in 1966.

But for what it’s worth, in honor of Bill, here’s the deleted chapter. I hope it does him at least some honor.

Farewell, Bill. Thank you.

Update 05:00 26-Jun-18: I revised the chapter to correct a few annoying typos and to add some information, including original source documents for Bill’s war record. Click the link below again to get the revised version. Thanks!]

Read the chapter at this link:
«Deleted Chapter About Bill Schock from Deadly Turbulence by Steve Pollock»

Photo of Bill Schock

A Final “Hangin’ Out the Warsh”

«This is Bill’s final column» out of countless ones he wrote over 71 years for the Falls City Journal.

With this column, he said farewell; the Journal has been sold and moved to a much smaller space in downtown Falls City which it had occupied until 1950.

It’s all extremely symbolic of the state of small-town journalism in the wayward America of the 21st century.

He wrote about one memory that I can personally relate to very much from my time at the Duncan Banner:

“A man came into the office and was pondering over the counter. Finally, he said, ‘I guess I’ll keep on another year. It ain’t the best paper in the world, but it is something to read.’ Another time a man brought an ad in for placement in the Journal and when he was told the price he said, ‘The old man gave me a better price.’ The clerk said, ‘Who’s the old man?’ He said ‘Bill Schock.'”

Falls City Journal

B-17 bomber in blue sky background

More Grief

This is kind of like how I feel about my (possibly four) upcoming surgeries: I don’t want to do this, but I have to, and I hate it.

Received a kind e-mail yesterday telling me of the death of Bill Schock of Falls City, NE, on Thursday evening, six weeks short of his 100th birthday. Cripes, 2018, you’re just not going to let up, are you? This bites very hard.

I’ve written and posted photos and documents here about Bill before. Without him, I would never have finished my first book; in fact, without him, there would have been really no book at all, because his photos and reporting about the crash of Braniff International flight 250 near Falls City in 1966 form the foundation of the book and provide witness to the events of the tragic night of 6-Aug-1966. He very graciously gave, with no expectation of anything in return, photos, archives, notes and the permission to use them.

But more, far, far more than that, he was what most of us can only aspire to be: a man of his generation who played an important part in his country’s fight against global fascism, and an exemplary journalist, the highest ideal of American newspaper reporting. At a time of a resurgence of fascism and a retreat into seeming death of (especially small town) American journalism, this is a particularly hard blow. It was inevitable. But still.

Bill fell last week, suffering cuts and bruises. But his hospital checkup revealed something he had, typically, kept quiet: he had end-stage liver cancer. He died Thursday night.

Also typically, he wrote just a simple six paragraph obituary for himself, leaving out … well, most of his singularly extraordinary life. His grandson fortunately took it in hand and summed up Bill’s amazing life in the «obituary that was actually published here by the funeral home»:

“Bill Schock, a war hero who helped save the world from fascism and a beloved pillar of the Falls City community his entire remarkable life, years ago penned his own obituary and tucked it away for safekeeping. “Papa,” as he was affectionately known by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren the past 50 years, used just six small paragraphs and half a sheet of paper in understating an iconic life worthy of a weighty tome, chapters of which could be mistaken for fiction. Words like “hero,” “beloved,” “pillar,” “remarkable,” and “iconic” were not included, nor even considered. There was no mention of “Bill Schock Blvd.” or the myriad of individual honors and awards earned either professionally, during a 70-year career at The Falls City Journal, or civically, when he served on the City Council, School Board, Hospital Board, Rotary Club, Veteran’s Service Committee and Nebraska Outstate Daily Publishers Association, just to name a few. It read only that “Bill has served on numerous boards.” It was that modesty that helped make Falls City’s love for Bill Schock rival only Bill Schock’s love for Falls City. …”

Dorr and Clark Funeral Home, Falls City, NE

Read the whole thing. Bill’s was a life well-lived, and for many people, including me, “icon” and “hero” are highly appropriate words. I typically don’t like the words “hero” or “heroism;” they’re trite and overused. Just my parents and my husband have always been my “heroes.” Beyond that? Well, I’ve found few that can exhibit real “heroism.” In fact, these days, you’re a hero if you spend a few hours suffering from a hangnail, or put a piece of trash in a garbage bin. Bill however; now there’s someone I can look up to as an actual hero.

He gave in, fortunately for us, to his family’s urging to write a memoir of at least his World War II experience. “Thrills, Chills and a Spill,” is fascinating reading. Very few copies exist, since he apparently didn’t think anyone else would be interested. (!!!!!) I fortunately found a .pdf of it and it’s pretty spellbinding. And very vintage Bill. He ends it with this summing up:

“As we leave Europe and the war behind us, I can’t help but think of the one year, nine months and 22 days spent here in history’s worst war, trying to do my small bit for my country. It sure as heck wasn’t fun and games!
“But like the feller says, I would’t do it again for a billion bucks. And, on the other hand, I wouldn’t take a billion bucks for what I’ve gone through.
“They just have to be the greatest experiences of my life.”

And the book is just one year, nine months and 22 days out of 100 years of his amazing life. The other 98 were exemplary of sacrifice, service and great good fun, from bombing the hell out of German fascists to listening to countless school board meetings. This one is devastating. Heart-breaking. Who can replace his extremely large shoes? I wish I knew.

Farewell, Bill Schock. Sir, we appreciate, thank and salute you, not only for your time in uniform, but also and especially for your long service out of it. You are keenly missed.

The Manchurian President

Photo comparing salutes given by USS Pueblo crew members to one from DJT

«Salute this, asshole.»

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

History as Prophecy

I have been attempting to read «Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History» since it came out in 2000. Instead, I’ve read «William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich» twice. Nothing wrong with anything I’ve read of Burleigh’s work; quite the contrary. In fact, it has to do with how big the book is; the first edition is 950-plus pages and weighs a ton and I’ve had hand/wrist problems since, well, 2000. And I have Rise and Fall on Kindle.

But I always thought that Burleigh’s opening paragraph (and all Third Reich histories in general) were always backwards looking; in other words, they were histories. Sure they warned about what could happen if we weren’t careful, but that was all theoretical and probably wouldn’t happen and we put a stop to it in the first place and it couldn’t happen again.

Turns out, how wrong I was. His opening ‘graph was instead prophetic. And how.

“This book is about what happened when sections of the German elites and masses of ordinary people chose to abdicate their individual critical faculties in favour of a politics based on faith, hope, hatred and sentimental collective self-regard for their own race and nation.”
—Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History

The paragraph’s last sentence was actually not as accurate, however:

“It is therefore a very twentieth-century story.”
Ibid

Yeah, that part? Not so much. But sections of American elites and masses of ordinary people have indeed, just 16 years after the book’s publication, chosen to “abdicate their individual critical faculties” and their “faith, hope, hatred and sentimental collective self-regard for their own race and nation” do in fact rule the day.

The only thing Burleigh couldn’t do is tell us how this particular American very twenty-first (and seventeenth/eightteenth/nineteeth/twentieth) century story will turn out.

We have, after all, already committed genocide against milions of people based on race, segregated millions of people based on race, destroyed democracy in favor of wealth (for a very few) and world domination, and are conducting limitless war without end throughout the world. What else is there? What else can we do from here on out than we haven’t already done before? Isn’t nuclear holocaust the Last American Frontier?

I’ll just stick my nose back in Burleigh’s magnum; the events in it have already happened and the good guys won and put an end to the suspense.

Die weiße Rose

"Seventy-five years ago today, a group of young German idealists, students who had dared to speak out against the Nazis,…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Face Mapped

In need of some … lighter moments around here, we checked out the new Google Arts and Culture Face Map app to see what…

Posted by Steve Pollock on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Girl reading the Bible.

On Shitholes


God’s Destiny for America has a Pottymouth

[Once again, my conscience overflows and will not give me rest without giving vent to something political/religious. So skip/block/defriend to your heart’s desire; just don’t say you didn’t get a trigger warning.]

During a lengthy sleepless (yet again) night, the above pictured “breaking news” started popping up on websites whereever you happened to be looking. The Presidential utterance was met by the usual silence from Graham, Dobson, Falwell, Jackson, Metaxas and Trump’s personal spiritual advisor Paula White (who wants your January paycheck or else God’s consequences will be visited on your head. Give her your 8% and you … get a Mercedes or something. Funny, but I thougth tithing was supposed to be 10%? Mercedes from God at a discount, I guess.). Meanwhile, Dallas First Baptist’s Jeffress doubled down; his only regret? Being a pastor doesn’t allow him to use the same phrase. We should refuse “shitholers” and bring more Norwegians into the country! Amen! Preach!

Then this afternoon came the Post’s «interesting analysis of what, to borrow the Presidential phrase, a “shithole” Norway used to be», and why it’s now THE place from whence our immigrants should come. This graphic is key to the article:

Graphic showing U.S. and Norway gross domestic product in comparison to each other. Norway now far exceeds the U.S.

So I earned something today: We should move to Norway if we want a higher quality of life away from pottymouths. The problem with that plan? They don’t take people from morally and economically vacuous “shithole” countries like ours.

Duly noted.

This country has not only slid downwards in domestic product, it’s been sucked into a vacuum of moral leadership. What are Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Bishop Harry Jackson, Eric Metaxas saying today? Dead air. They got tax cuts, the IRS was called off their backs and Bibi is happy. Was it just over 20 years ago that the same suspects were gnashing their teeth over merely how to explain the term “blowjob” to their children? We used to call this current kind of thinking “the ends (tax cuts, IRS exemptions and proclaiming that Jerusalem is the capital and therefore the Rapture is nigh) justifies the means.” And I don’t remember ever being told that was a good thing. I was told it was secular humanist “situational ethics” and it was evil. (An aside: If Jesus wants to come back, I seriously doubt a presidential proclamation moving, eventually, the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is going to be what actually moves Him.)

And thus we have Dallas First Baptist Church’s Robert Jeffress doubling down and saying he supports the “shithole” comments 100 percent. Not only that, but “America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background.” He added some regret that as a pastor he’s not supposed to use naughty words.

(!)

Urm. Yes. America has always been portrayed (the reality notwithstanding) as the greatest and most welcoming secular church in human history. A shining city on a hill, said Reagan. “Give me … The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” said Emma Lazarus in The New Colossus, a poem we liked and believed in so much we had it engraved on a massive public monument.

Specifically saying she will have no comment is Paula White, who is often portrayed as Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” and who is currently demanding that “faithful” people give her church all of their January paychecks (which amounts to just 8%, not the Biblically commanded 10%—mustard seed faith on the cheap!). If they do, Jesus will bless you with riches! You get a Mercedes! And you get a Mercedes! And you get a Mercedes! And you get ’em at a 2% discount from God’s list price! And if you don’t pony up? God will visit consequences on your head. You get the plague! And you get a divorce! And you get a gay child!

There are some vestiges of sanity, so props where they are due: A.R. Bernard resigned from the White House “evangelical council” months ago and stated, “His own comments expose him. They were elitist and blatantly racist.” And former Southern Baptist head Ronnie Floyd stated the obvious, “I would not agree with those comments at all. We need to see that every person is made in the image of God. … Anytime we devalue a person it’s not good … Regardless of their skin or ethnicity, we need to honor one another.”

As I am sometimes reminded, I was dedicated “to the Lord” when I was a month or so old in the Roswell First Church of the Nazarene, a denomination where I learned things that were the 180-degree opposite of what Trump and White and Jeffress and Falwell and Graham and Dobson are doing. I learned that good old verse “by their fruits ye shall know them.” I was taught that quaint old Golden Rule, something about do unto others. I was also taught following Christ didn’t mean Mercedes. God knows, for all of Mom’s hard-earned 10% back to the church money, a Mercedes was never outside our door, unless it had broken down and Zsa Zsa needed a telephone to call AAA. No, in my childhood, following Christ meant a life of hardship and service and respect and sacrifice and a life lived in common and shared in common with other people, including lepers, tax collectors, felons, you name ’em. And rendering unto Caesar.

I was also taught the following pertinent scripture. Please note the absence of “except for those from shitholes” in these quotes:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28
“For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.” Jeremiah 31:25
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37
“In everything, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35

New Testament

Every single day is a new low. How low can we go? There is no bottom. So pretty goddamned low. Shithole low.

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