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Stories Archives for 2017-08

Sgt. Stubby


Dogs are now specially trained to do amazing things.  Many are trained as police dogs, others to sniff out drugs, and some known as cadaver dogs.  The military now trains dogs for use in battle.  A few dogs were used in WW11, but it was unusual for them to see action in WW1 as did Sgt. Stubby.
Sgt. Stubby was the most decorated war dog of World War 1, and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.  How did this happen?
Sergeant Stubby was a stray, homeless mutt who saved more lives, saw more combat, and performed more feats of heroic awesomeness than most humans could ever accomplish.  This Pit Bull Terrier started his humble life as most stray animals do – hungry, cold, alone, and stranded in the town of New Haven, Connecticut.  Living garbage can to garbage can without so much as a doghouse roof over head, one day this little canine happened to stumble onto the parade grounds on the campus of Yale University.  It just happened that the men of the 102nd Regiment, 26th Infantry Division were training for their deployment to fight in World War 1 at this facility.
The pathetic little dog was adopted by a soldier named John Robert Conroy who named the puppy “Stubby” because of his stump of a tail.   Conroy started leaving food out and let the little guy sleep in the barracks from time to time.  It was not long before every soldier in the 102nd adopted the canine as their mascot.
After just a few weeks of hanging around the drill field watching the soldiers do their thing, this little dog learned the bugle calls, could execute the marching maneuvers with the men, and was trained to salute superior officers by raising his forepaw to his brow.
When the order came down for the 102nd to ship out to battle, Conroy just stuffed the dog into his greatcoat and smuggled him on board a ship bound for France.  Once safely out to sea, Conroy brought the dog out onto the deck, and all the sailors decided this dog was so great that they had a machinist’s mate make him a set of dog tags to match the ones worn by the soldiers.
Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division in the trenches of France for 18 months, and participated in four offensives and 17 battles.  He entered combat on February 5, 1918 at Chemi des Dames, and was under constant fire night and day for over a month.  In April 1918, during a raid, Stubby was wounded in the foreleg by retreating Germans throwing hand grenades.  He was sent to the rear for convalescence, and was able to improve morale of the other wounded soldiers.  When he recovered from his wounds, Stubby returned to the trenches.
After being gassed, Stubby learned to warn his unit of poison gas attacks, located wounded soldiers in “no man’s land”, and – since he could hear the whine of incoming artillery shells before humans could – became adept at letting his unit know when to duck for cover.  From first-hand accounts, this dog could hear English being spoken and would respond to check for any wounded men.  If he heard German spoken he would alert like a bird dog pointing at a quail.
It was reported that in September 1918 while patrolling the trenches, he discovered a camouflaged German spy hiding out while mapping the allied trenches.  Stubby smelled the foreign soldier and attacked.  He ran the guy down from behind dropping the spy to the ground.  Then Stubby clamped down on his posterior and held on until captured by American soldiers.
Following the retaking of Chateau-Thierry by the United States, the women of the town made Stubby a chamois coat on which were pinned his many medals.  For his actions Stubby was given a battlefield promotion to the rank of Sergeant, which meant that the dog now outranked his owner who was only a Corporal at this point.
After the war, Sergeant Stubby was smuggled back to the states where he was an instant celebrity.  He was inducted into the American Legion, offered free food for life from the YMCA, and whenever he went on tour for the war bond effort, hotels would relax their “no dogs allowed” policy for the canine.  He visited the White House twice, met three presidents, and in 1921 commander “Black Jack” Pershing personally pinned a “Dog Hero Gold Medal” on Stubby’s military jacket.
When Robert Conroy enrolled in Georgetown University Law School after the war, Stubby went with him.  The dog immediately became the official mascot of the Georgetown Hoyas’ football team, and to this day the University sports mascot is still a dog.  In addition to hanging out with the players and cheer leaders it became a tradition to bring Stubby out on the field during halftime at football games.  He would run around the field pushing a football around with his nose.  Nobody had ever done anything like this before, meaning that Stubby might have possibly invented the Halftime Show at football games.
Sergeant Stubby, American war hero dog, died in 1926 at the age of ten.  He was stuffed and preserved by a taxidermist and is featured in his own exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
A New York Times Obituary said it best when they wrote, “The noise and strain that shattered the nerves of many of his comrades did not impair Stubby’s spirits.  Not because he was unconscious of danger.  His angry howl while a battle raged, and his mad canter from one part of the lines to another, indicated realization”.


Every Veteran Has A Story


"I was worried clean through. I didn't want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible."…. Alvin York, Medal of Honor Winner, World War I.
During the World War, what we know today as conscientious objector status did not exist and it did not exempt anyone from the military as one of the most highly decorated soldiers, Alvin York found out.  On June 5th, 1917 on the first national registration day Mr. York answered the question on the form “Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds) by writing “Yes.  Don’t Want To Fight”.1  
On that very day in Joaquin, Shelby County Texas 21-year old Earl Ritter filled out his draft registration and to that same question he wrote “yes, object to killing”.2   He signed it and gave the form to Mr. A. W. Harrison who also signed it as the registrar.  I assume Earl then traveled back to his father’s farm near Joaquin and went back to work.
Earl had always been a country boy, born in October 1894 at Paul’s Store, Texas that was also known as Terrapin Neck.  He was the fourth of twelve children born to William “Bill” Frank Ritter (1861-1902) and Minnie Priestly-Ritter (1868-1929).  
After the draft registration life went on as usual for the next four months until October 1917 when Earl received his draft notice and then traveled to the County Seat of Center and was inducted into the Army on the eighth.  Initially assigned to Company A of the 306th Infantry Regiment, Camp Mills, New York on April 25, 1918, he found himself on the British ship HMS Karmala departing New York Harbor with Headquarters Company of the 325th Infantry Regiment.  Private Earl Ritter who didn’t want to kill was on his way to the World War in France at the age of 23.  
3Upon arrival, the 325th entered training and waited to be committed to the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  On October 10th, the regiment attacked to seize the Cornay Ridge, then continued the attack across the Aire River.   Eighteen days later Private Ritter was severely wounded in action by shrapnel and it is also believed that he had been effected by gas used by the German Army.  
He stayed the course after medical treatment and was with his unit when they boarded the troopship USS Harrisburg and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on April 21st, 1919 five months after the armistice.  Another month would pass before he was honorably discharged, somehow with no disability.  He was awarded the Wound Chevron (Purple Heart), World War I Victory Medal with two battle clasps and the honorable discharge lapel pin.
4Wasting no time, he married Miss Fannie Todd of Shreveport, Louisiana on June 16th, 1919, six days after discharge.  They made their home in Shreveport at 311 Louisiana Street where thirteen months later he became very ill.  Mr. Ritter passed at his home at 2:10 a.m. on July 22nd, 1920 at the age of 25.  His obituary written by “A Friend” appeared in the Times, Shreveport, Louisiana on Sunday, August 15th, 1920.  The friend said in part “the Death Angel took from their home a kind and loving husband.  Mr. Ritter lived a Christian life from boyhood and when Uncle Sam called for men, he entered the service.  He was only ill five days and his death was quite a shock to his many friends.  He was a member of the Christian Church at Eagle Mills, Texas.  He was loved by all who knew him; was a kind and loving husband, and a true and affectionate son.  A few hours before his death he called his wife and relatives to his bedside and with arms around his wife, told her he was going to Heaven and for her to meet him there, that they would not have long to wait, for the time she had to spend on this earth was only a very little while in comparison with eternity.  Mr. Ritter was a man of cheerful temperament and a wonderful personality, always having a smile and kind word for everyone.  His many friends extend to the bereaved family their deepest sympathy”.  
Private Earl Ritter didn’t want to kill but still served his country when asked.  Probably, he did kill and in doing so I believe the injuries he received in combat contributed to his own death.  His friend who wrote the obituary included this short poem “Through the Valley of Sorrow, to Heart-break Hill with burdened hearts they came that day, for a long-loved form, and a dear, dear face, all in a coffin lay.”  He is buried in the Joaquin Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas.
(Sources: 1Capozzola, 2008, p. 68, includes a photograph of York's Registration Card from the National Archives; 2Registration Card # 233 July 2017;;, The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana, August 15, 1920; Find A Grave Memorial 84290234; July, 2017;, El Paso Herald, December 23, 1918.)


Noah's Ark Updated


Most people who know anything about the Bible are familiar with the story of Noah and the ark. Genesis chapters six and seven relate how God decided to destroy all the inhabitants of an evil world by a great flood, except for Noah and his family.  God gave Noah the “blueprints” of the ark that He wanted constructed and Noah was instructed to follow these blueprints to the letter.  Although it took many years of work by the Noah family, the ark was finally built and God began the flood after it was filled with the animals and fowl of the earth.  The Bible says that “God shut the door” so that no one could get out or get in.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened to Noah if God had waited until the twenty-first century to cause the flood?  Would it have been something like this?
It is the year 2014 and Noah lives in the United States.  The Lord speaks to Noah and says, “In one year I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all is destroyed.  But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living things on the earth.  Therefore, I am commanding you to build an ark.”
In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an ark.  Fearful and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark. “Remember,” said the Lord, “you must complete the ark and bring everything aboard in one year.”
Exactly one year later, a fierce storm cloud covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult.  The Lord saw Noah sitting in his front yard weeping.  “Noah,” he shouted, “Where is the ark?”
“Lord, please forgive me!” cried Noah.  “I did my best, but there were big problems.  First, I had to get a permit for construction and your plans did not comply with the codes.  I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.”
Noah continues, “Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether the ark needed a fire sprinkler system and flotation devices.  Then my neighbor objected, claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building an ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.”
“Lord, it gets worse,” cried Noah.  “I had problems getting enough wood for the ark because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl.  I finally convinced the U.S. Forrest Service that I needed the wood to save the owls.  However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t let me catch any owls.”
“The carpenters formed a union and went out on strike.  I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Union.  Now I have 16 carpenters on the ark, but still no owls.  When I started rounding up the other animals, I got sued by an animal rights group.  They objected to my taking only two of each kind aboard.  Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood.  They didn’t take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the universe.”
“Lord,” cried Noah, “it’s still not over.  The Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain.  I sent them a globe.  Right now I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking the godless, unbelieving people on board.”
Wringing his hands, Noah continues, “The IRS has seized all my assets, claiming that I’m building the ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes.  I just got a notice from the state that I owe some kind of user tax and failed to register the ark as a recreational water craft.”
“Finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it is a religious event and therefore unconstitutional.  I really don’t think I can finish the ark for another five or six years!”, Noah wailed.
The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm.  A rainbow arched across the sky.  Noah looked up hopefully and asked, “You mean you are not going to destroy the earth, Lord?”  “No,” said the Lord sadly.  “The government already has.”


The Ark of Noah


There are generally two schools of thought about the Biblical account of Noah building the ark to save him and his family from drowning in the great flood.  Some say the story found in Genesis chapter six is pure fiction and just a fable that has been perpetuated.  Others believe that the Bible is true as well as this story found therein.  Whichever side you come down on, we wonder why any evidence of this ark has not been found on top of Mount Ararat in modern Turkey.  Evidently proof that it did exist has been discovered.  And with the find, several amazing facts have emerged.
In 1959 a Turkish army captain discovered an unusual shape on the mountain while examining aerial photographs of his country.  A smooth shape, larger than a football field, stood out from the rough and rocky terrain of Mt. Ararat at an altitude of 6,300 feet near the Turkish border with Iran.  Since the captain was familiar with the Biblical story of the ark, he sent all his information to a famous aerial photography expert at Ohio State University.  After studying the photos, Dr. Brandenburger concluded, “I have no doubt at all that this object is a ship.  In my entire career, I have never seen an object like this on a mountain.”
The next year the captain and a group of Americans went to the site for a day and a half.  They were expecting to find artifacts on the surface, or something that would be unquestionably related to a ship of some kind.  Since they found none, they concluded that the formation appeared to be a natural one.  The subject of the ark was dropped. This finding received very little media attention.
In 1977 Ron Wyatt visited the site and conducted more elaborate tests over a period of several years.  His party used metal detection surveys, subsurface radar scans, and chemical analysis – real science – and their findings were startling.  The evidence was undeniable.  This discovery was the Ark of Noah.
They took measurements of the mud encrusted object and discovered that they were in the shape of a ship.  One end was pointed and the opposite end was blunt like a modern ship.  Remember that God told Noah to construct a ship that was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.  The distance found from bow to stern measured 515 feet, or exactly 300 Egyptian cubits.  The average width was found to be 50 cubits, again the exact measurements commanded by God.
The crew also found four vertical bulges protruding from the mud on the right side which are “ribs” of the hull.  Another rib was located on the opposite side.  Surrounding it are more ribs, still largely buried in the mud, but visible upon close examination. Remember that this object is extremely old.  The wood has been petrified. Finding chunks of organic wood has long since ended.  But there were still several startling finds in the structure that appeared to have moved at least a thousand feet down the mountain slope as the result of an earthquake in 1948.
Perhaps the most significant find from the ark itself is a piece of petrified wood. When found it appeared to be a large beam.  Closer examination found that it is actually three pieces of plank that have been laminated together with some kind of organic glue.  This is the same technology used in modern plywood.  This suggests knowledge of construction far beyond anything we know existed in the ancient world.
A very surprising find from sensitive metal detectors was several strong disc shaped rivets.  From simple examination it was possible to see where the rivets had been hammered after being inserted through a hole.  If metal rivets being used in ancient construction doesn’t impress you, this surely will.  An analysis of the metal used to make the rivets revealed that they were a combination of iron, aluminum, and titanium!
The experts know that aluminum was incorporated in the metallic mixture because it does not exist in metallic form in nature.  This, again, implies an extremely advanced knowledge of metallurgy and engineering.  The mixture of metals apparently used in the ark forms a thin film of aluminum which protects the metal from rust and corrosion.  The addition of titanium would provide added strength.  The rivets have survived from antiquity!
Several miles from the location of the Ark, huge stones were discovered, some standing upright, and other lying on the ground.  These stones, weighing many tons, have holes carved in the top of them.  Scientists have determined that they were anchors and the holes would have been their attachment to a ship with hemp rope.  These huge anchors would have been suspended from the keel of the ship.  This was common practice among ancient mariners to stabilize a heavy ship and ensure that the bow is always facing the on-coming waves. A “top heavy” ship, such as the Ark, could easily be capsized by a wave approaching from the side.
Taking all these facts together, I conclude that these findings are further proof that Noah’s Ark was a reality and that it has indeed been found in Turkey.  “And the Ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.  And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.” (Genesis 8:4-5)
I’m often amazed at our lack of knowledge about history.  Ordinary people are hungry for this information, yet, the media responsible for disseminating these facts seem to have an agenda to keep us in the dark.  This is especially true when it comes to ancient Biblical history.


Cotton, Courtship, Chevrolets


The summer of 1956 was an interesting one for me. I was out of classes from Baylor University for the summer.  I had purchased my first car, a 1950 Chevrolet two-door sedan.  My future wife and I were courting pretty often, and I found a much-needed job.  The only problem with this picture was that the job was in Houston, Texas.
A job had opened up for me with Anderson-Clayton Cotton Company paying $350.00 per month.  This was good money for a nineteen year old naive kid from East Texas.  I needed the money badly enough to accept the job, and rent one room in an elderly couple’s house on Pease street in Houston.
The job was located in a large warehouse on the docks of the ship channel. No heat or air conditioning made for an uncomfortable shift.  I had never seen so many bales of cotton in my life as were stored in this warehouse, and several more warehouses along the docks.  I soon learned that each and every bale of cotton received by the company had to be rated, weighed, and classified.  This is where I came in.
Situated at a long table with several other men, a bale of cotton would be brought to the table. One man took three samples from the top to bottom of the bale.  Another man would grade the color, another the texture, and finally a third man the length of the fibers of the samples.  My job was to write down all these ratings on a tally sheet.  I did not know much about cotton, but I sure could tally.
One week we were instructed to take inventory of the bales of cotton contained in these warehouses, which were stacked from floor to ceiling.  I and another man would start at either end of the cotton bales and start counting until the end of the row.  If we both came up with the same number, we could go to the next one.  Not only were there bales of cotton in those warehouses, there were also rats, spiders, lizards and other unidentified critters. Needless to say, I hated taking inventory.
Each Friday afternoon we were paid by check.  I would come to work Friday morning with my Chevrolet packed, then speed out of Houston at the end of the work day, stopping briefly in Cleveland to cash my check at a bank.
Once back in San Augustine on Friday night, I would call Clara and set up dates for Saturday and Sunday nights.  This worked well for us all summer.
One Sunday night while driving back to Houston after our date, my Chevrolet began to act up.  On highway 190 between Woodville and Livingston, the engine died and I coasted to the shoulder of the road.  I realized that I was stranded right in the middle of the Alabama and Coushatta Indian Reservation.  My only knowledge of Indians was reading about Geronimo and Sitting Bull, and they did not seem to be very hospitable.  I was more than a little nervous.  After locking my car doors, I dozed off to sleep.
The first car along the road after dawn contained an older couple, yes, an Indian couple.   Their car stopped, backed up even with mine.  The woman peered at me through the window.  I rolled down my window and told them I was stranded and needed help.  These nice folk drove me all the way to Livingston to the Chevrolet dealership.  The movies never showed this side of the Indians.
Well, all’s well that ends well.  I saved up enough money to buy Clara an engagement ring. And the rest is history.


In the Doctor's Office


My wife, Clara, began her medical career in 1959 when she went to work for Dr. M. J. Buchele in San Augustine.  She worked there several years along with Helen Farr until we moved to Houston in 1962.  She then worked for several different doctors for the next twenty six years.  She has the “inside scoop” of what really goes on behind the scenes in a doctor’s office.
Most of us see doctor’s offices as rather drab and usually full of sick people not on their best behavior.  But, that view can be incorrect.
Clara was working for a Dr. Cruce in Houston on North Shepherd Street around 1964.  She was receptionist/bookkeeper/lab assistant/nurse for the office.  One spring morning when the waiting room was full of people waiting their turn, she heard someone cry out that there was a snake in the room.  “A snake?  I hate snakes!  I am afraid of snakes, everybody knows that.”  Clara thought as she responded to the distress call.  But, she needed a weapon to fight off a dangerous snake and nothing could be found.  She spotted a small cutting board on a cabinet.  She grabbed it by its handle and rushed into the danger zone weapon at the ready.
The snake had coiled itself at the base of a pot plant.  He was about a foot long and mostly green. “How did it get into our office?”, Clara wondered to herself.  She mustered up all her gumption and quickly lay the cutting board on top of the snake, then stomped on it with her foot.  The snake never knew what hit him.  While this was happening, a male patient ran his finger up her back about the same time as a joke, which almost backfired. “Just for that I am giving you a shot with a square, rusty, needle”, Clara retorted.
The doctor never knew what was going on at the time, but found it amusing after it was over.  However, Clara was not amused.
On another occasion a man walked into the same doctor’s office holding a cat in his arms.  He walked up to the window and handed Clara the cat.  He reported, “We don’t want the cat.  Here, take it back.”  She realized that he had mistaken their office for the Veterinary office located down the street.  As the man turned to leave, Clara protested, “But, sir, this is a doctor’s office.  The veterinary office is two doors down.”   Apparently not hearing or understanding, the man looked over his shoulder and repeated, “I said we don’t want the cat.  Just put it to sleep for all we care.”
As he walked out the front door, Clara raced after him with the cat in hand.  She caught him in the parking lot and finally convinced him that he had brought the cat to the wrong office.  He reluctantly took the cat back.
Back in the office Dr. Cruce kidded Clara, “Well, I see you almost got a new cat, didn’t you.”  “I sure did, no thanks to you”, she replied.
Since Clara performed some lab tests for the office, she would normally take off her wedding rings to protect them from chemicals.  On one occasion while she was taking her rings off they suddenly flew off her finger toward the floor, but she never heard them hit the floor.  After performing the lab test, her number one project was to find her rings.  She looked everywhere but could not find them. Even Dr. Cruce joined in the hunt but to no avail.
As a last resort, Clara asked Dr. Cruce if she could check the inside of his pant cuffs for the rings.  He agreed and she found them there.  The rings had apparently landed in his pant cuffs on their way to the floor.
Space prohibits me from relating several other incidents, such as getting her finger caught in the posting machine, accidentally breaking a finger by shutting a sliding door on it -  she x-rayed it herself.   She was even grabbed and kissed on three different occasions by male patients who apparently could not control their passion.
So, the next time you go to a doctor’s office you should realize that there could be some “doings in the doctor’s office” going on.


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