Monday, October 26, 2020

Jackie Coogan (Can't Someone Make A Film About Him?) Please?


Why doesn't someone make a film about Jackie Coogan? (I even know who should be cast in the role!)

Jackie Coogan was born on Oct. 26, 1914.  He starred with the genius film maker  Charlie Chaplin in "The Kid" in 1921 and is one of the very first child film stars.  His mother and step-father squandered his movie earnings which brought about legal protection for children in the industry, the California Child Actors Bill, well known as the Coogan Act. (He lost almost all of what he had earned, an estimated $3 to $4 million!)

Most of my generation would remember him from various TV shows but especially from "The Addams Family" for his portrayal of "Uncle Fester".

In 1924, he worked with the charity "Near East Relief " on a fundraising drive which brought in over $4million.  When he was only 20 years old, he survived a car accident that took the life of his father and three others, including his best friend. Jackie Coogan served in World War II as a glider pilot taking British troops behind enemy lines in Burma.

Jackie Coogan was married four times and had four children. One of his grandsons, Keith Coogan, is in one of my favorite films, "Adventures In Babysitting"! And THAT is who I think should be cast in my imaginary film about Jackie Coogan, his own grandson, Keith Coogan! Keith was born Keith Mitchell in 1970 but changed his name to Keith Coogan in 1986, two years after the death of his grandfather. He married on Oct. 26, 2013 on what would have been his grandfather's 99th birthday. see, who else should be in that role?

Keith Coogan was a teenager in the film "Adventures In Babysitting" and I thought he did an excellent job. All of the actors were good and the MUSIC!
Oh, I love every single song, you know I do! At one point, the babysitter and the kids have to go on stage and sing a Blues song...I tried to get that song on here for you...perhaps you could do a search and find it!

Time for me to tell you that the clocks have already changed for the UK, so I have to remember that it is just a 4 hour difference at the moment between Georgia and England. It will be back to a 5 hour difference by Sunday, as our clocks fall back this weekend in the USA! Take care everyone, I will still speak to you all when I am a famous movie director, I promise!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Be Positive (Move, Breathe And Notice The Beauty!)


"Every year of my life I grow more convinced that it is wisest and best to fix our attention on the beautiful and good and dwell as little as possible on the dark and the base."    Richard Cecil  

Hello my friends!  I hope you like that quote above as much as I do! I have meant to share that with you for some time now...but I hesitated because there is always someone who will take me for a "Pollyanna" with my head in the sand and not fully comprehending  the problems of the world. I assure you that is not the case.  It's just that I want to surround myself with all the positive people I can find! Oh wait, I haven't been able to do that this year, have I? I need that positive energy!

"12 Ways To Cope With Anxiety"... I just read this article and at number one was EXERCISE!  You may read it just here.

Okay, who was Richard Cecil? (You know you want to know!)

Richard Cecil was an Anglican priest who lived from 1748 to 1810. Born in London, I notice that he was also- for a brief time- a minister in Lewes, East Sussex. (It makes me happy to know that I might have walked down the same streets there!) He was a member of the Clapham Sect which you might recognize as being associated with William Wilberforce. And please tell me you know William Wilberforce! As a member of Parliament, he was one of the leading Abolitionists against slavery.  Michael Apted directed a wonderful film in 2006- "Amazing Grace" about this campaign against slavery. I highly recommend it! This movie won a Christopher Award, which is an award given to a film, book or TV special "that affirm the highest values of the human spirit". 


Josiah Wedgwood designed the above "to move hearts and minds".

(You should know the Wedgwood name from the English chinaware.)

You may read about this just here.  "The Power of the Image".


Goodness me, I do hope you are all doing well! Take care, everyone! What song will I have here for you? You know the song "You Are So Beautiful"? Most folks might think of it being sung by Joe Cocker, it was a huge hit for him but it was written by Billy Preston! (Co-written with Bruce Fisher.) AND I have just learned that he really wrote it with his mother in mind! Isn't that wonderful to know?

Okay just one more...Billy Preston (when he was only 11 years old!) with the one and only Nat King Cole!

You know that article that I linked to? The 12 Ways to cope with anxiety? Let me add to that list... find some good music, something that brings you joy.  Take care!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

October- Sunflowers/Baseball/Music "Like A Twig"


Hello, Yellow!  I know I told you all about the yellow daisies that bloom in September.  In October, we have the swamp sunflowers. So exciting to see them! These tall yellow flowers are native wildflowers and quite often you can find them growing in a ditch or field beside the road.  I took the following photos from the window of the car as Richard was driving! (Yes, I made him stop but it was a quiet road and no one was behind us, I promise!)

These were at least 7 feet tall!  Swamp sunflower ( Helianthus angustifolius) is a perennial and a member of the aster family.  It is a beautiful native wildflower and the range is from New York to Florida to Texas. That is quite a range!  I think they are called swamp sunflowers because they like moist soil but from what I have read, they are easy to grow and . . . this is important for this area...the deer don't like to eat them! 

October is also the month for the baseball play-offs! The Atlanta Braves are playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers just now, the Braves lead in the series 2-1. (Just last night, the Braves lost with the score of 15-3. We won't discuss that.)  They are playing as I am typing this to you and . . . FANTASTIC, the Braves just scored and it is now 5-1 with the Braves in the lead! Oh, I do so hope they win!
I want them to go ALL the way and win the WORLD SERIES.
Yes, I said it!

It has been so much fun to watch them play this year and let's face it, we have great need in 2020 for fun.

I can't see live music this year so I have been listening to a concert from seven years ago! Anybody remember that our son was in a band called The Sevens? I have a video here for you. The sound quality isn't very good but I am able to overlook that and hear the great vocals and guitar playing from Christopher! (The people talking in the rude!)  I think you can tell which one he is, you can see his photo on the side of my blog! I really like this song, "Like A Twig". Christopher wrote the music and lyrics! Is it just me or don't you think that this would sound really good on the radio? C. is still writing his songs! He is also a sportswriter! Hmm...he loves music and sports...wonder where he got THAT from?

OKAY!!!  The Braves score is now 7 - 1.
Go Braves!

Hope you are all doing well, my friends! What has your October been like?

Monday, October 5, 2020

HMS Otranto (Oct. 6, 1918)- "Many Were Held By The Sea"


Here is a story for you...and it is a true story...but I am so incredibly moved by it that it might be hard to give you all the facts. 

If you were to go to a listing of the Maritime Disasters of World War I, this is how it is described in Wikipedia:

"HMS Otranto- a passenger liner rebuilt as a troopship. On 6 October 1918, while sailing in poor visibility in rough seas, she collided with another liner turned troopship, the Kashmir.  Otranto then struck and was grounded. With heavy seas pounding her against the rocks she eventually broke up and sank, killing 431 people."

Yes, those are the facts but there is so much more to the story! HMS Otranto was a British ship with a British crew and it was filled with American troops. You can see from the year that I have given you, this would have been the last days of World War I.  Also on board the ship, there were French fishermen. (Why was that so?  On the journey over, the Otranto struck a French fishing boat, they didn't see it, they had no lights due to the danger of German submarines. This is how the French came to be on board the ship along with the American soldiers and the British crew.)

It was a terrible, terrible storm that the HMS Otranto encountered in the early morning hours of Oct. 6, 1918. The ship was in the North Channel, traveling with other ships in a convoy. (The North Channel...between the very top of Ireland and the Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland.) Because the seas were so very rough and the visibility so poor, three of the ships were forced out of formation and were nowhere to be seen.  The waves were running up to 60 feet and the winds were 80 and 90 miles per hour. It was a terrible night.

Just after 8:00 in the morning, the mist lifted enough that land was sighted three or four miles to the east...was it the western coast of Scotland or the eastern coast of Ireland? The officers aboard the Kashmir correctly guessed the western coast of Scotland but those on the Otranto thought it was the coast of Ireland. In this great confusion and the storm still raging, one ship turned one way and the other turned directly into its path.  The Kashmir rammed the Otranto midship.  Then, the Kashmir reversed and was able to sail away...

The Otranto was left badly damaged but still afloat...

About 30 or 40 minutes after the collision, the men saw a ship on the horizon. It was the British destroyer, HMS Mounsey coming to their aid.  It must have seemed like a miracle to them. Here is what Pvt. Edgar Sheperd wrote of it years later, "Now we got a close up view of the commander of the destroyer. A trim athletic officer who began waving two flags. Knowing the semaphore code, I read the message to the commander of the Otranto: I am coming alongside to take off the American troops.'

The reply to the destroyer Mounsey from the Captain of the Otranto was: Steer clear as you will lose your crew and your ship.

The reply to the Captain of the Otranto: I am coming alongside. If we go down, we shall all go down together."

There, if that does not bring tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat!  The Captain of the HMS Mounsey was Captain Francis W. Craven.  He brought the ship aside and was able to rescue many of the men from the Otranto. Some were able to jump from one ship to the other. However, as the storm was still raging with very high waves, many men were crushed between the ships and many were injured upon landing on the deck. (What is more, the waves were so fierce that even for some of the men who made the jump, they were then washed overboard.) It truly was an act of great heroism. According to the lists published in the Naval War Notes, Captain Craven and his crew saved 597 men that day: 300 American soldiers, 266 officers and crewman of the Otranto, 1 American "YMCA man" and 30 French fishermen.

I was astonished as I read this account... it brought to mind the story of the Leopoldville which was sunk by a German torpedo in the English channel in WW2.  I have written about it before on my blog.  I met a survivor from that ship, Mr. W. S. Connor. There was also a ship that came alongside his and he saw some of his buddies jump...but they didn't make it, so he decided to stay on the ship. He was on the ship as it went down. He had tied duffelbags together and he said he had never kicked so hard in his life. He came to the surface and was rescued. (How long were you in the water? I remember asking him and he said that they were told they could only survive in the cold water for 30, he guessed it had to have been 30 minutes but it seemed like longer...)

Okay, let's go back to the sinking of HMS Otranto now...

Remember I told you that they sighted land and that the Kashmir correctly identified it as the western coast of Scotland? It was the island of Islay, in the Hebrides. (Islay is pronounced "EYE-la".)

When we are speaking of heroes, we need to remember the people from Islay.  On Oct. 7, the morning after the disaster, there was no sign of the Otranto, she had been torn to pieces. Debris was piled more than 15 feet high along the rocks and the islanders searched for injured men but they found only bodies, hundreds of them. (For the few who made it alive to the island, there was a very warm welcome for them. Many giving food and even their own beds.)The great care and respect given to the dead by the people of Islay is truly remarkable. Police Sergeant Malcom MacNeill, recorded the description of each body, made notes of any tattoos and put each man's personal effects in a small bag made by local volunteers. His descriptions are in a 81 page notebook.  This notebook is in a Museum of Islay Life, along with his letters to family members in the USA and England who lost loved ones on the Otranto. (These were later donated to the museum from the grateful families.)  There was a funeral service for the men on the island. They sang "The Star Spangled Banner".  There was no American flag on the island of Islay, so the islanders sewed a flag themselves.   (For years, this flag was in the Smithsonian but it was sent to the island for the remembrance  service in 2018, the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.  I think I have read that the flag is still there on the island, in the museum I told you about. I think it should remain there, don't you think so too?)  You may see the flag and read more about it just here.

The island of Islay experienced another disaster that same year of 1918.  The SS Tuscania had been sunk by a German U-boat on Feb. 5, 1918 while transporting American troops to Europe with the loss of 210 Americans, many of them washing ashore on Islay.

One can only imagine what this must have been like for this tiny island and its people.  "The Scottish Island that buried America's dead" is one way I have heard it described for the year of 1918.

Now, most of the Americans were eventually brought back to their US home cemeteries and buried near their families.  A great number of the Americans were from my home state of Georgia. In fact, one of my relations was one of those who died on the Otranto. 

Private John Lawrence Dean 

Entered Service Sept. 1, 1918

Attached to Coast Artillery Corps

Embarked for Overseas Service late Sept. 1918

Was drowned when transport "OTRANTO"

was sunk in a collision off Scottish coast.

Oct. 6, 1918.

(Above is on Memorial Plaque in Sylvania, GA. which was installed on Oct. 6, 2018.)

John Lawrence Dean is buried at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Clarkesville, Georgia.  Jan 5, 1897- Oct. 6, 1918

(Aged 21 at Sea.)

World War I ended on November 11, 1918.

(If you want to read more on this, there is an excellent book, "Many Were Held By The Sea" by R. Neil Scott. There is a fascinating blog that gives great details from the survivors, Ray City blog.)

There is so much more that I would like to write about this but there is only so much that I can say in a post on a blog.  Perhaps I should write a screenplay and you will see it played out upon a screen one day. We should remember the Otranto and the young men who sailed upon her. "For Those In Peril On The Sea."