Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.
Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.
The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.
♦ Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].
Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.
Nine years ago, today, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri. It formed at 5:34 pm CDT and dissipated at 6:12pm CDT. I remember this one, vividly. I had just moved back to North Carolina from Texas and was, literally, still unpacking. I was shocked at the devastation. ~Vic
[This] was part of a larger, late May tornado outbreak and reached a maximum width of nearly one mile […] during its path through the southern part of the city. This particular tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city and, then, continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.
[The] tornado killed 158 people (with an additional eight indirect deaths), injured some 1,150 others and caused damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, and the seventh-deadliest overall. Along with the Tri-State Tornado and the 1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado, it ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornadoes […]. It was the first F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri since May 20, 1957 [and] was only the second F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri history dating back to 1950.
It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.
Additional Reading & Sources:
May Tornadoes Struck Joplin Twice in the 1970s (Joplin Globe)
Joplin Tornado (National Weather Service)
F5 & EF5 Tornadoes of the US (NOAA)
Tornado Damaged Joplin From Above (The Atlantic)
Joplin Tornado (Tornado Facts Site)
2011 Joplin Tornado (Wikipedia)
Mike Bettes Has A Hard Time
“It’s only teenage wasteland…” It’s another visit to my Samsung phone playlist.
A blending of two names, Meher Baba and Terry Riley (philosophical and musical mentors to Pete Townsend), Baba was introduced to the world in August 1971 and was the lead track on the album Who’s Next. Written by Townsend, it was originally intended for his Lifehouse rock opera, a future follow-up to Tommy. That never came to pass but, a Lifehouse Chronicles box set was released in 2000.
The song was never released as a single in the UK or the US but, was certified platinum in the UK, anyway. It was chosen as the main theme for the TV series CSI: NY. The album peaked at #1 in the UK and #4 in the US.
Sadly, Keith Moon passed away seven years later.
I hope you enjoy my Sunday evening submission.
Memorial Day, as celebrated, has come and gone. The weekend BBQs and party gatherings are over. Some folks have returned to work after their Monday off while others took the entire week off and, possibly, headed to the beach to herald the “summer season”. I am posting, today, because from 1868 to 1970, Memorial Day was observed on May 30.
Our American Memorial Day has quite a rich, lengthy history and one that has its own area of research. Columbus State University in Georgia has a Center For Memorial Day Research and the University of Mississippi in Oxford has The Center For Civil War Research that covers Memorial Day in their data.
So, what IS the origin of our Memorial Day? That’s a good question and the following took two days to research.
May we remember them, ALL. ~Vic
Warrenton, Virginia 1861
A newspaper article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1906 reflects Warrenton‘s claims that the first Confederate Memorial Day was June 3, 1861…the location of the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever to be decorated.
Arlington Heights, Virginia 1862
On April 16, 1862, some ladies and a chaplain from Michigan […] proposed gathering some flowers and laying them on the graves of the Michigan soldiers that day. They did so and the next year, they decorated the same graves.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 1863
The November 19, 1863, cemetery dedication at Gettysburg was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Some have, therefore, claimed that President Abraham Lincoln was the founder of Memorial Day.
Knoxville, Tennessee 1865
The first decoration of the graves of Union soldiers of which there is any record was witnessed by Surgeon Fred W. Byers, of the [96th] Illinois volunteer infantry, now surgeon general of the National Guard of the State of Wisconsin (Spring 1865).
Jackson, Mississippi 1865
The incident in Mrs. [Sue Landon Adams] Vaughan’s life, which assured her name a permanent place in history, occurred at Jackson […] when she founded Decoration Day by first decorating the graves of Confederate and Federal soldiers alike, in a Jackson cemetery on April 26, 1865.
Charleston, South Carolina 1865
On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, recently freed African-Americans reburied Union soldiers originally buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. The event was reported in Charleston and northern newspapers and, some historians today cite it as “the first Decoration Day.”
Columbus, Mississippi 1866
Thus was established a custom which has become national in its adoption – Decoration Day – having its origin with the ladies of Columbus. Columbus also claims the distinction of being the first to decorate the graves of both Confederate and Federal soldiers, alike (Friendship Cemetery April 25, 1866). [See the poem The Blue & The Gray by Francis Miles Finch}
Columbus, Georgia 1866
To the State of Georgia belongs the credit of having inaugurated what has since become the universal custom of decorating annually the graves of the heroic dead. The initial ceremonies which ushered Memorial Day into life were held in Linnwood Cemetery, at Columbus, on April 26, 1866.
Memphis, Tennessee 1866
Yesterday was the day appointed throughout the South as a day of sweet remembrance for our brothers who now sleep their last long sleep, the sleep of death. That day (the 26th day of April) has, and will be, set apart, annually, as a day to be commemorated by all the purely Southern people in the country, as that upon which we are to lay aside our usual vocations of life and, devote to the memory of our friends, brothers, husbands and sons, who have fallen in our late struggle for Southern independence.
Carbondale, Illinois 1866
A stone marker in Carbondale claims that place as the location of the first Decoration Day, honoring the Union soldiers buried there. General John A. Logan, who would later become commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the largest of the Union veterans’ organizations, officiated at the ceremony (April 29, 1866).
Waterloo, New York 1866
On Saturday, May 5, 1866, the first complete observance of what is now known as Memorial Day was held in Waterloo. On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated an “official” birthplace of the holiday by signing the presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the holder of the title.
Richmond, Virginia 1866
The anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson was observed to-day by floral decorations of the graves of Confederate soldiers at Hollywood and Oakwood (May 10, 1866).
May 3, 1866 [they] formed the Ladies’ Hollywood Memorial Association, with the immediate aim of caring for and commemorating the graves of Confederate soldiers. All disposed to co-operate with us will repair, in such groups and at such hours as may be convenient, on Thursday, May 31st, 1866, to Hollywood Cemetery, to mark, by every appropriate means in our power, our sense of the heroic services and sacrifices of those who were dear to us in life and we honored in death.
Petersburg, Virginia 1866
It was in May of this year, 1866, that we inaugurated, in Petersburg, the custom, now universal, of decorating the graves of those who fell in the Civil War. Our intention was simply to lay a token of our gratitude and affection upon the graves of the brave citizens who fell June 9, 1864, in defence of Petersburg…
Southern Appalachian Decoration Day
From The Bitter Southerner:
Dinner on the grounds is not a phrase I hear these days. Just reading the phrase takes me back to those times with my grandmother at her church on […] Decoration Day Sunday. I grew up in north Alabama in the 1960s. Dinner on the grounds was a special occasion that followed the work of cleaning up the graveyard and placing fresh flowers beside the headstones. It provided a time to remember and celebrate the lives of the dear departed. ~Betsy Sanders
Today, we are here to eat, remember and bask in the Southern fascination of death […]. It’s Decoration Day. The South claims death with as much loyalty as we claim our children. J.T. Lowery, a former pastor […] misses when Decoration Day meant keeping company with headstones during dinner on the ground. Opal Flannigan is depending on women […] to uphold a tradition so old it’s hard to say when it emerged. German and Scots-Irish immigrants who birthed much of the Southern Appalachia’s culture in Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas likely brought these traditions [with them]. ~Jennifer Crossley Howard
From UNC Press Blog:
Many rural community cemeteries in western North Carolina hold “decorations.” A decoration is a religious service in the cemetery when people decorate graves to pay respect to the dead. The group assembles at outdoor tables, sometime in an outdoor pavilion, for the ritual “dinner on the ground.” There are variations of this pattern but, the overall pattern is fairly consistent.
Nationwide Observance 1868
In 1866, veterans of the Union army formed the beginnings of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization designed expressly to provide aid, comfort and political advocacy for veterans’ issues in post-war America. In 1868, the leadership of the G. A. R. sought through the following order to have the various local and regional observances of decorating soldier graves made into something like a national tradition.
Headquarters Grand Army Of The Republic
Adjutant-General’s Office, 446 Fourteenth St.
Washington, D. C., May 5, 1868.
General Orders No. 11.
From The History Channel:
By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died “in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” Known to some as “Decoration Day,” mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo, which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866, because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and, residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.
Forty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart was Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Written by Jim Weatherly, a former quarterback for the University of Mississippi, is the same songwriter that penned what became known as Midnight Train to Georgia, a previous hit for Gladys & her Pips. The song was originally recorded in 1973 by country music artist Ray Price.
Weatherly told Tom Roland in The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits that he wrote the song in 1971 and let his father-in-law first record it as a Christmas present for the latter’s wife. “I thought it was really strange that nobody’d written a song with that title — possibly somebody had but, I’d never heard it — so, I just sat down and let this stream of consciousness happen. I basically wrote it in a very short period of time, probably 30 minutes or an hour.”
The song made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I’ve had my share of life’s ups and downs
But fate’s been kind, the downs have been few
I guess you could say that I’ve been lucky
Well, I guess you could say that it’s all because of you
If anyone should ever write my life story
For whatever reason there might be
Ooo, you’ll be there between each line of pain and glory
‘Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me
Ah, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me
Oh, there have been times when times were hard
But always somehow I made it, I made it through
‘Cause for every moment that I’ve spent hurting
There was a moment that I spent, ah, just loving you
If anyone should ever write my life story
For whatever reason there might be
Oh, you’ll be there between each line of pain and glory
‘Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me
Oh, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me
I know, you’re the best thing, oh, that ever happened to me
A song you remember from your childhood…
As the challenge comes to a close, this is the final post.
I’ve covered everything in the 70s back to 1972, specific to my childhood. Rolling back a little bit more, I remember liking these though I was very young.
I just barely remember this playing. I was so little but, it is burned into my young memory.
Past that, everything I know of music was learned later in life. The above are my earliest true music memories of what I liked, even as a child.
A song that reminds you of yourself…
I’ve never really found a song that reminded me of myself but, there are four songs I really identify with in terms of wandering thru life and the subsequent lessons.
The opening line to the movie:
“On a Saturday (March 24, 1984), five high school students report for all-day detention.”
This is my generation, though I was never in detention. I graduated in June 1984. Ditto Footloose
Also released during my senior year…
What I have turned into (tongue in cheek)…minus the nail-biting. *wink*
A song that is a classic favorite…
I could be here all day with this but, these classics have staying power. I LOVE these three pieces.
I was very fortunate to see The Who in concert but, Keith Moon was long gone by then. I had just reached my 12th birthday when he passed.
“Don’t cry, don’t raise your eye, it’s only teenage wasteland…”
“Let’s get together before we get much older…”
I’ve never seen The Eagles live but, from some videos, particularly the early years, they pretty much stay true to their studio recordings instead of trying to re-write history on stage. I detest recorded live music or live video…unless I am there at the concert. I also detest musicians screwing up their own songs. If you recorded a song a certain way and I fall in love with it, I expect you to sing it to me the same way on stage. That is what I paid for.
This is an excellent live video though the ending is a little different. All this is missing is the guitarron mexicano. RIP Glenn Frey.
“Hopeless romantics, here we go again…”
This is one of those songs that you really need to listen to with headphones. The analog tracks they laid down back then…music swirled from ear to ear or, speaker to speaker on a stereo system. I haven’t heard a digitally created song sound like this.
“I’ve been this way ten years to the day…”
A song you like that is a cover by another artist…
This will be interesting.
First up, Angel of the Morning. Written by Chip Taylor (uncle to Angelina Jolie), this song has been covered by many. It was originally recorded by Evie Sands in 1967 and it got airplay but, the label went bankrupt and distribution halted. After that, it was a feeding frenzy spanning 45 years, culminating in the very last version by Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks).
The two most popular versions, both released in February, 13 years apart, are also mine. I still have both 45s.
Merrilee Rush & The Turnabouts 1968
Juice Newton 1981
Next, One Tin Soldier. An anti-war song written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, it was originally recorded by the Canadian group The Original Caste in 1969 and did very well on the Canadian charts. Skeeter Davis’ version in 1972 also did well in Canada.
And, last, Get It On. Originally written & recorded by the British group T. Rex in 1971, it was re-titled Bang A Gong (Get It On) by The Power Station in 1985. Sorry, T. Rex fans. I like this one better.
A song you never get tired of…
THIS is going to be difficult because there are so many. Looks like a multiple post, again!
Ok. Stopping at three. *SIGH*
Late add…couldn’t stop at three…