The Teapot Dome scandal
In 1909 U.S. Navy ships were converting from coal burning to oil. To make sure they would have enough oil, President Taft set aside oil producing land in the U.S. for that purpose. Two locations in California, Elk Hills and Buena Vista and a tea pot shaped dome in Wyoming were leased to the Navy.
President Warren Gamaliel Harding (President for 1921-1923) campaigned on a platform of “balancing the interests of conservation and development.” He was a former newspaper man buying and successfully running The Morning Star newspaper in Marion, Ohio. He was a popular president with both the public and the media during the roaring twenties. The view of the President would change after his death, as scandals were uncovered, one of them being the Teapot Dome.
Harding had a reputation of doing dirty backroom deals. He was a gambler, a drinker (this during prohibition) and a womanizer. These facts also came out after his death. He fathered a child out of wedlock, with Nan Britton his mistress. The grandson of the Harding and his mistress is fighting to have Harding’s body exhumed. He is doing this “to establish with scientific certainty” that he is the 29th president’s blood relation.” (A.P., 2020) James Blaesing’s mother Elizabeth Ann Blaesing is acknowledged by the Harding family as a member, but James wants scientific proof. Even though there was a DNA test in 2015 with other members of Harding family that tested positive. Blaesing still feels left out of the celebrations and is not recognized publicly as Harding’s grandson.
As far as Harding’s stance on conservation balanced with development, once he appointed Albert Bacon Fall as Secretary of the Interior, it was clear that he was operating in the interests of development. Harding reassigned the lands from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior. Fall was a lawyer, a senator, a rancher and a miner, clearly on the side of development.
Fall leased the Teacup Dome lands to Harry F. Sinclair in 1922 of Mammoth Oil. He leased Elk Hills lands to Edward Doheny of Pan American Petroleum. The leases were made without competitive bidding, legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. The monetary reward for Albert Fall made him a rich man. Between loans and gifts Fall made over $7,000,000 (today’s dollars) out of the deal. The deal broke down to a $100k loan (worth $1.4 million today) and gifts of $404k ($5.7 million today). (FRB, 2020)
The money changing hands and gifts were illegal. Fall tried to keep it a secret but because he was living a much more lavish lifestyle, of course it got out. A reporter named Carl Magee wrote about it in the Magee Independent (later to become the Albuquerque Tribune), which created a senate investigation.
Republican Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin led the investigation but did not think Fall was guilty. He changed his mind upon experiencing a “Watergate like episode” in his office. His office was ransacked. Over the next two years, another senator Thomas Walsh of Montana pushed forward, but documentation of the leases was all they could find. The records were disappearing from the offices.
In 1924 they were able to trace the money to Falls through his ranch and his business. He had failed to hide the $100k loan and it was discovered. The results were that both civil and criminal cases against Albert Fall that went on for years. In 1927 the supreme court stated the leases had been obtained illegally. So, they were voided, both pieces of land went back to the Navy. It got worse for Fall. Albert Fall was found guilty of accepting bribes from Doheny in 1929, yet in 1930, Doheny was found not guilty for giving a bribe to an official. Not only that but Doheny foreclosed on a home owned by Fall because of unpaid loans. That is right, it was the same $100k he received from Doheny. Because W.G. Harding appointed Fall, his reputation suffered along with Fall’s.
The Teapot Dome oil field sat idle for 49 years. Until Watergate this was considered the worst scandal in U.S. history. Yet most people alive today do not even know about it. Found guilty of bribery and conspiracy, Fall was ordered to pay $385k and went to jail for one year. The first cabinet officer to go to jail for misconduct. President Harding died in 1923.
A.P., (2020), Grandson of Harding and lover wants president’s body exhumed, Boston Herald, https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/09/13/grandson-of-harding-and-lover-wants-presidents-body-exhumed/
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
Sandy Franks; Sara Nunnally (2011). Barbarians of Oil: How the worlds oil addiction threatens global prosperity and four investments to protect your wealth, Wiley and Sons Publishing
Staff, (2010), Cabinet member found guilty in Teapot Dome scandal, History.com, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cabinet-member-guilty-in-teapot-dome-scandal
Staff, 2019, On this Day: Interior Secretary Fall found guilty in Teapot Dome Scandal, UPI, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/2019/10/25/On-This-Day-Interior-Secretary-Fall-found-guilty-in-Teapot-Dome-scandal/4141571969653/
N.A., 1922, Senate Investigations Teapot Dome Scandal, U.S. Senate historical minutes, https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Investigates_the_Teapot_Dome_Scandal.htm
Image 1- Harding- photograph by Harris and Ewing, C. 1920
Image 2- Albert Fall-public domain
Arson is not caused by Climate Change, but it certainly changes the climate.
Thnx Marty LaRoche for the research-Chris Benedet
These cases are starting to surface everywhere if you do a little research.
9/7/20 - Salinas, CA - Anita Esquivel arrested for starting fires along hwy 101 in California.
9/9/20 - Roseburg - 5 people arrested for starting 2 fires in Sutherlin, 2 in Glide and 1 in Reedsport.
9/9/20 - Puyallup, WA - witnessed a man starting fires, not arrested yet, extinguished the fires.
9/9/20 - Spokane, WA - Christine Camello arrested for starting multiple fires, extinguished.
9/9/20 - Dexter, OR - a man was witnessed starting a fire at campground in Dexter along hwy 58, extinguished.
9/8/20 - Eugene, OR - Elias Newton arrested for starting a fire that burned nearly 400 acres in Sweet Creek near Mapleton.
9/9/20 - Junction City, OR - man arrested for lighting illegal fireworks next to business with wood and dry grass. Police found additional mortars at his home.
9/9/20 - Albany, OR - man was witnessed starting 4 fires along I5, driving a black Mini Cooper, not yet arrested, fires extinguished.
9/8/20 - Eagle Point, OR - man was witnessed starting a fire by vandalizing an electrical box. He ran away and passerby's extinguished the fire. Suspected to have started the Obenchain fire which is now 8,000 acres and growing. The Eagle Point, Ashland and Obenchain fires are all connected by area.
And now this I looked these up myself.
Dexter, Oregon- https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2057658887408/man-seen-starting-fires-at-oregon-state-park-local-fire-chief-says
Eugene, Or.- https://www.kezi.com/content/news/Sheriff-Arson-arrest-made-in-Phoenix-on-night-Almeda-Fire-began-572387571.html Phoenix is a small community near Medford.
Junction City, Or.-https://www.registerguard.com/story/news/2020/09/10/oregon-fires-rage-on-junction-city-man-accused-igniting-illegal-fireworks/3458963001/
Gender Reveal party responsible for fire-https://www.albanyherald.com/news/world_nation/a-california-fire-sparked-by-a-gender-reveal-party-has-grown-to-more-than-10/article_96303adc-2ec7-5ac7-9d24-90db12443eab.html
Bobby Baker and the women around JFK are interesting historical figures that could have taken down the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. This is story not often heard about regarding the assassination of JFK. Did his assassination save his reputation and his presidency? We remember Kennedy as a hero for his work in civil rights, and eradicating corruption. Most of us know now Kennedy had a darker side around his sex life. It was there that Bobby Baker and the women almost took the president down.
Bobby Baker came to Washington, D.C. as senate page while still in school. The year was 1943. Baker stated all the soldiers marching around the capitol scared him, as it was during WWII. By 1955, he was secretary to the Senate Democrats. The New York Times stated, “He became one of the most influential nonelected men in the American government of the 1950s and early ’60s.” (Genzlinger, 2017) This is how he affected President Kennedy.
Kennedy was a notorious womanizer and most insiders knew it. He was an aristocratic man born into one of the richest families in the United States. JFK’s father Joe Kennedy was a banker and a womanizer himself. Most rich men and their wives knew it was part of the lifestyle, there would be other women. That last line was taken from a documentary called JFK’s Women. What the women understood or agreed upon in their marriages maybe an entirely a different thing. Jackie Kennedy’s father was also a womanizer, so as it is told by journalists, she knew what she was getting into with Jack Kennedy.
Many knew of his exploits. In 1958, a landlord Florence Kater knew one of her tenants (Pamela Turnure) was having an affair with JFK. It is said she went to 35 different journalists to tell the story and no one would report on it. (Film Ideas, Inc, 2016) It was a time when men had the power, and it was recognized that there was a private and a public life. Most of the reporters were men and they were not going to report on the then married senator.
Bobby Baker by the age of 20 was secretary to the Senate Majority. Throughout his career he was an ambitious man and had various businesses on the side, real estate, hotels and vending. It was his vending business that initially focused a light of investigation on his activities. He promised a man a contract for vending and then reneged. Though this would only be part of his undoing.
His work led him to become friends with then Senator John F. Kennedy. Baker said he was a Baptist married to a Catholic, saying he understood the senator’s point of view. The senator would ask Baker, “Do you think that a Catholic could be elected President?” It was Senator Kennedy’s vote on the Jury Trial Amendment that helped seal his fate. The amendment was opposed by Mrs. Roosevelt among other leaders. At that time, many senators expected and supported JFK becoming president. That vote for the Jury Trial Amendment won him much support in the south and created a pathway to him becoming president. (Purdum, 2013)
So, Bobby Baker had this high-rise condominium in the city. He would bring his high-profile Washington insiders over to meet with women who were not their wives. He was also the co-founder of the Quorum Club, located in the Carrol Arms Hotel. The Washington Post said, “It was a place where lawmakers, lobbyists and other interested parties would drink, play cards and dally with young women.” (Thurber, 2017) The club was outfitted with a buzzer that would alert the senators when they needed to run across the street for a vote. There were calls for an investigation, and it is said the Senate Democrats did a kind of inquiry. For the time being it stopped there.
One of the big issues with John F. Kennedy was his pick of women, they were high profile, and some liaisons even dangerous for a Senator, not to mention a President. Three were exceedingly high profile; Inga Arvad, Marilyn Monroe and Ellen Rometsch. One of his first scandals though was really a British scandal, the Profumo Affair.
In 1963, Christine Keeler, a show girl/call girl (a term she hated) was having an affair with both British Secretary John Profumo and Yevgeny Ivanov who was considered a Soviet spy. She was dating both men at the same time. When discovered by the press it was called, “The sex and security scandal that rocked Britain.” (Yeunger, 1976) John Kennedy followed this scandal with vigor, at first it was pure tabloid fodder. As it went on, meetings were being held behind closed doors. Stephen Dorril who authored a book on the tabloid scandal “The Secret World of Stephen Ward: Scandal, Sex and Deadly Secrets in the Profumo Affair stated, “There was growing concern about the Profumo case in Washington, D.C. There were reports that Americans maybe involved in this scandal.”
A call girl in the Stephen Ward circle named Mariella/Mariana Novotny said that President Kennedy had slept with her on several occasions while she worked in New York. It was right before his inauguration into the presidency. There is an FBI document that states she was part of a call girl ring close to the President. She claimed to be closely related to the Czechoslovakian communist president. Was she a plant by the Soviets? An American paper printed the story, The New York Journal American. It was a right-wing paper and part of the Hearst Corporation. It also received some information from J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, not a fan of the Kennedys. John F. Kennedy wanted to be reelected and this was one of many possible scandals that could stop his reelection. They published a story but did not name the president. They referred to him as, “High U.S. Aide”. It said in the article, the person held a “very high elected office”. Though reporters and Washington insiders knew they were referring to the president, ordinary citizens did not.
The documents also referenced a Suzy Chang. She was a communist from China who also “knew” Kennedy. She was a call girl and a procurer with a large FBI file. The bureau was trying to determine if they had a case against her using the White Slave Traffic Act. She was part of the same call girl ring as Novotny.
When Novotny went back to Britain from NYC, Stephen Ward introduced her to Yevgeny Ivanov whom she began sleeping with. Remember, this was December 1960 right before the inauguration. She also was offering information to the KGB she gained from her work. Both Chang and Novotny had involvements with members of the communist party at the height of the cold war, who were our mortal enemies. Most younger people do not understand the threat of living during the cold war, when you could have an atomic bomb attack at any time. Americans did though, they built bomb shelters in the back of their homes to protect themselves. These women were major threats to Kennedy’s reelection.
Bobby Kennedy, Attorney General summoned the editors from the NY American Journal. At the meeting there was a liaison from the FBI who took notes. Bobby asked for the source’s names. The paper refused. He asked who the high official was, and they honestly told him it was John Kennedy. At that time Bobby Kennedy, the president’s brother threatened the Hearst Corporation with anti-monopoly laws, and the paper never again published the stories. JFK had dodged a bullet in the election year. Now on to the three major players in the JFK’s women’s scandals.
Inga Arvad was a beauty queen born in Copenhagen, Denmark. A separated but not quite divorced woman (scandalous at that time), she was married to Paul Fejos when she started a romantic relationship with JFK. She had attended Columbia school of journalism. She once interviewed Adolf Hitler, a fact that haunted her the rest of her life. Even though she despised Hitler, the FBI followed both Arvad and Kennedy. She met John Kennedy in 1941 while he was an Ensign working at the U.S. Navy Office of the Naval Intelligence. (Matthews, 2011) The navy reassigned Kennedy when learning about Arvad. They saw her as a Mata Hari figure. It was Joe Kennedy's reputation that kept Kennedy from being booted from the Navy. So, John Kennedy was reassigned to South Carolina in 1942 which ended the liaison.
Marilyn Monroe’s birthday song to then President John F. Kennedy is so famous, it can still be found on You Tube. Marilyn a meteoric Hollywood star and considered emotionally fragile (some considered her mentally ill). Though to be fair she was taking a lot of prescribed medication, and it was a term assigned to emotional women at the time. The birthday song was her last night with Kennedy. It is also rumored she then turned to Attorney General and the brother of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy for comfort. She died in August 1962; she was discovered at home in her bed. Marilyn was holding a piece of paper in her hand. The paper had the White House telephone number on it. (Film Ideas, 2016) There is still much controversy on how she died and how it was handled by the L.A. Coroner. Her affair with one or both brothers could have created such a scandal that reelection of John F. Kennedy would have been impossible. The Christian values of the general population at that time would prevent ordinary citizens from accepting his affair.
The most compromising affair of John F. Kennedy was with Ellen Rometsch. She was born in Germany and rumored to be an East German spy for the Soviets. Rometsch was assigned a cover to the West German Embassy in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s. She also frequented the Quorum Club and was introduced to President Kennedy by Bobby Baker. The FBI was also investigating her as she was born in East Germany a then communist country. It was said she was a beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor, a true party girl. She was so desired that one politician paid her $5,000 dollars in 1960’s money to have a date with her. The average house in early 1960’s was 11,000. A car cost about $2800.
Bill Thompson was President Kennedy’s wing man, he went to Baker and asked if this beautiful woman would have dinner with the President. She went to the White house on many occasions after their initial date. Most believed Ellen was a spy. The Presidents connection to a woman with communist ties, was one more time, a threat to his reelection and many believed to the security of the U.S. Bobby Kennedy acted quickly and revoked her visa in August of 1963, sending her out of the country. She could have ended his presidency either by preventing his reelection or by causing his impeachment. One more time JFK avoided scandal.
That year in September 1963, a political scandal did explode. Senior secretary to the Senate Bobby Baker was caught up in a scandal that threatened all politicians. It threatened to expose JFK’s affair with Ellen Rometsch. It was said Baker was providing call girls for the highest politicians. To stem off some of the potential danger, Baker resigned his position in the Senate.
By that time, Baker was a millionaire. He hoped resigning would slow down or end the investigation, thus protecting the men he arranged dates for. They were comparing the Baker scandal with the Profumo scandal. NY Daily News was starting write about the young German woman who was deported for an affair with a ‘high frontiersman’ in the executive branch. So, they were not yet naming names. What the paper had written was a coded term. Kennedy had said his presidency aimed for a ‘new frontier’. At this time, the White House reached out to the FBI asking them to squash the story. J. Edgar Hoover said it was not his job. So, Bobby again contacted the writer of the piece, and he would not reveal the aim of the piece. It is assumed the reporter was threatened. As no more stories were written. Bobby Kennedy again came to the aid of his brother. New York Daily News reporter Claude Mollenhoff published no more stories about the President and Rometsch.
At this point an investigation was under way and the only thing that protected President John F. Kennedy was his trip to Dallas, Texas and his subsequent assassination. Eventually Bobby Baker went to prison, and years later Kennedy’s scandals are all out in the open. That said millions of Americans still see John F. Kennedy as great leader interested in a moral approach to leading the nation, getting rid of organized crime, shutting down the CIA, protecting the U.S. from communism and promoting equal civil rights. It just reminds me of how human and flawed we all are, and how our culture figures into what we deem acceptable behavior. Like Clinton, Obama and Reagan he was a charming man, and frankly I admired what he was trying to accomplish. When I am reading about the assassination of JFK, this part is mostly left out. It could be said his assassination saved his presidency for posterity.
Genzlinger, Neil, (2017), Bobby Baker: string-puller snared in senate scandal, dies at 89, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/obituaries/bobby-baker-string-puller-snared-in-senate-scandal-dies-at-89.html
Purdum, Todd S., (2013), Sex in the Senate, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/sex-in-the-senate-bobby-baker-99530_Page3.html
Film Ideas, Inc, (2016) JFK’s Women, Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/JFKs-Women-Inc-Film-Ideas/dp/B01H402M86
Thurber, Jon, (2017), Bobby Baker, Protégé of Lyndon B. Johnson, felled by influence-peddling scandal, dies at 89, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/bobby-baker-protege-of-lyndon-johnson-felled-by-influence-peddling-scandal-dies-at-89/2017/11/17/ffb7ce04-cc06-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html
Matthews, Chris, (2011), Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Simon and Schuster,
Hersh, Seymour (2014), The Dark Side of Camelot, Harper Collins,
Yeunger, James, (1976), Profumo and Keeler: He’s Up-She’s Not, Chicago Tribune, https://www.newspapers.com/image/456269521/?terms=Kristine%2BKeeler%2C%2BJohn%2BProfumo
The Hollywood sign was originally called ‘Hollywoodland’ and was erected in the hills above the blossoming movie town known as Hollywood. A town that would create the dreams of fame and wealth for millions of aspiring artists. It was 1923 when it was put up and stands just over 45 feet high. (NA, 2017) It is also accessible from Griffith Observatory. There are still ways to access that sign, though that could change in the future as residents in the area have complained about the traffic of people driving through the neighborhood.
Her name was Millicent Lillian Entwistle, but she went by Peg. She was a young wisp of a blonde girl who was hoping to be a movie star. Peg Entwistle was born February 6, 1908 in Great Britain to two actors. Her parent’s divorced when she was young, and her father was awarded custody. The two left from Liverpool, immigrated to the U.S. Her father was cast in several plays. New York City December 20, 1922 was election day, her father was killed in a Hit and run accident on Park avenue and 72nd street. (Staff, 1922) The three children were sent to Ohio to live with Robert Entwistle’s (Peg’s father) brother. They later took Peg and her two half-brothers to Los Angeles. Where she would become famous, but not in the way she wanted to be. Peg is now known as the ‘Hollywood sign girl’.
The family lived in what is known now as the Hollywood Hills area when they settled on the west coast. Peg acting training and then returned to the east coast (Boston and NYC) to work in the theater. In 1927 when she was starring in a Eugene O’Neill play called “The Great God Brown” she met another British actor named Robert Keith and married him one month later. Within two years she divorced him. Ms. Entwistle said he failed to tell her he was married before and had a son. She cited cruelty as the cause for divorce.
By 1929 Peg had lost her mother, her father and her marriage, which is a lot of loss for someone 21 years old. Her theater work went well, and she had just finished the film “13 Women” when Ms. Entwistle climbed up a service ladder to the top of the letter H on the Hollywood sign. She did not even wait for the release of the film to see how she did, she just ended it all right there. Then she jumped off the sign, leaving a trail of items strewn across the field for a hiker to find. It was 1932, the depression was underway, and Peg Entwistle who was starting her first film ended her life. It was a dramatic Hollywood ending that is remembered to this day almost 100 years later.
A woman was hiking through the Hollywood Hills near the sign when she found first a shoe, a jacket and then a purse. When the woman looked down the hill, she saw Peg Entwistle. At 24 Peg lie at the bottom of the hill, mangled and battered from her jump. There was a note in Peg’s purse that read:
"I am afraid I am a coward and I am sorry for many things. If I had only done this long ago, I could have saved a lot of pain." (Sanchez, 2020)
The woman bundled up the items and left them outside the Hollywood police station. She then went to phone booth and called the station alerting them to the package.
Peg said in an interview with the Oakland Tribune she longed for more challenging roles. Hers was a life filled with loss and unfulfilled expectations. Maybe her final act was one of conviction and drama as she jumped off the Hollywood sign.
A., (2017), The Hollywood sign, https://hollywoodsign.org/fast-facts/
Staff. (1922), Actor Dies; Struck by an auto that fled, New York Times, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1922/12/20/98800031.pdf?pdf_redirect=true&ip=0
Sanchez, Chelsey, (2020), How the Tragic, True Story of Peg Entwistle Inspired Hollywood's Main Storyline, Harper’s Bazaar, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/film-tv/a32404793/who-is-peg-entwistle-hollywood-facts/
She was discovered in a ghost town in the Atacama Desert in South America. Her tiny skeleton was found in a pouch. She was a 6-inch-long, fully formed female skeleton. She had 10 ribs (normal amount is 12) and an elongated skull. She was a perfectly formed miniature human. Was she an alien? Many believed she could be or a human alien hybrid. Was she a primate? They called her the Atacama skeleton and she was featured in the alien documentary Sirius where they asked the same questions. She was later sold to a collection in Spain.
The skeleton raised many questions and the scientists were keen on treating her with respect as they went about trying to get answers. The first thing to do was to analyze her DNA, “1 mm3 of bone was removed from the skeleton in Spain by the Sirius team, flown to the United States by a member of that team, and provided to Dr. Nolan.” (Nolan, 2018)
Ralph Lachman, Co-director of the International Skeletal Dysplasia Registry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California was quoted saying, “Wow, this is like nothing I've ever seen before." (Stone, 2013) Upon investigation, the DNA revealed she was human. Her mitochondrial testing revealed her mother was a woman from west coast of South America. The skeleton’s quality of DNA suggested that it was decades old.
Her bone density and the epiphyseal plates of the knees are equivalent to a 6-8-year-old child. It means she was born that tiny or had some bone disease that made it appear her age was older than she was. Many believed the results of the DNA testing shot down the theory of the skeletal remains being alien. It really brought up more questions than it answered.
If you are a believer in aliens, this really did not rule out a possible origin from another race. It could be her father was alien or that the race was closely related to human DNA. The many theories really do not answer the question of where she came from or what were her skeletal issues. The Genome research had this to say, “This was a girl with many DNA mutations, not anything more exotic. Further functional studies of these alterations may lead to a clearer understanding of the genes that regulate bone development.” (Nolan, 2018) So all the declaring it is human therefore, not alien really have not disproven the exotic nature. They only speculate, the same thing they chastise the UFO community for doing.
Nolan, Garry and Butte, Atul (2018), The Atacama Skeleton, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932602/
Stone, Richard, (2013), Bizarre 6 inch skeleton shown to be human, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/05/bizarre-6-inch-skeleton-shown-be-human#
It has been 50 years this week that we commemorate the Kent State Shooting. It started in the Eastern region of Cambodia in 1970. It was an unpopulated area the North Vietnamese military PAVN (People’s Army of Viet Nam) and Viet Cong used to rest up after battles with South Vietnam. They also stored weapons with no interference from Cambodia leadership. In the March of 1970, a pro-U.S. leader was put in power in Cambodia, general Lon Nol. Until then, Cambodia was largely neutral to the Vietnam war. The South Vietnamese and U.S. military bombed Cambodia starting March 18, 1970 and went on for 14 months. (Nalty, 1997) It was this action that caused a greater number of students at Kent State University in Ohio to protest the war.
This was not the first protest at Kent State. Since 1966 when during the Homecoming Parade students walked in military garb with gas masks, they were a university of activists. They protested police recruiters that came on campus, threatened to napalm a dog and suggested killing your parents as your first oppressors. (Means, 2016)
It was President Nixon’s announcement of pursuing the Viet Cong to Cambodia that began this horrific event. May 1, 1970 they first burned the officer’s training building on campus. It was a symbol of war and the young men that were drafted to fight. The governor showed up on campus with a direct and authoritative message. Governor Jim Rhodes used the phrase “We are going to eradicate the problem.” (Al Jazeera, 2010) Governor imposed a curfew, enforced by Ohio State National Guard.
Later that same day, about 500 people were protesting on campus. That night in the town there was a ruckus coming out of a bar it included bikers, transients and students. Saturday May 2nd businesses downtown were being threatened that if they did not post anti-war slogans their businesses would be burned to the ground. There were rumors of a cache of weapons and that the water supply would be spiked with LSD. That evening at 5pm the Ohio National Guard was called in by Governor Jim Rhodes.
That next Monday May 4th, the students had a rally at noon on the university lawn. The National Guard was lined up with rifles in hand. They seemed anxious, on edge that afternoon. They decided to disperse the students. The students believe they were exercising their rights to assembly and free speech. The students began chanting slogans at the soldiers. The soldiers moved back and put on gas masks. Their fired tear gas into the crowds who were chanting and throwing rocks at the soldiers. The soldiers saw the students forming small groups as if they were going to do something. This along with the yelling and rock throwing was escalating the tension between the groups.
Then the soldiers appeared to be retreating. They marched slowing up the hill. A dozen turned and began to fire into the unarmed crowd. 67 shots in 13 seconds. That is the official report. NY Times reporter John Kifner stated, “The crackle of the rifle volley cut the suddenly still air. It appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer.” (LN, 2012) The National Guard reported sniper fire went against them, and that cause the soldiers to shoot. Kifner who was there disagreed, there was no fire before the National Guards fired.
The shootings stirred up anti-war sentiment and the picture of a 14-year-old runaway kneeling over dead student Jeffrey Glen Miller’s body stirred up an outraged nation. Universities and schools closed in solidarity with the students. 4 million students boycotted going to class. Some believed the students brought it on themselves, and still others believed they were killing children. It began to sour the nation on the Vietnam War.
As you can imagine students were scrambling to get away causing more pandemonium. At the end 4 were dead, two that were simply students going to class. William Knox Schroeder and Sandra Lee Scheuer were going to class, they were not involved in the protests. Jeffrey Glen Miller and Allison B. Krause were protesters.
Nine protesters were wounded, Joseph Lewis, Jr., John R. Cleary, Alan Michael Canfora, Dean R. Kahler (crippled for life), Douglas Alan Wrentmore, James Dennis Russell, Robert Follis Stamps, Donald Scott MacKenzie, and Thomas Mark Grace. All victims’ lives were forever changed. Though many blamed the students, it changed the support for the war in the United States. Today a 17.25-acre memorial called “Kent state Shootings Site” is listed in the National register of Historic places.
There are many theories of what happened that day. Oliver Stone believes an infiltrator put into the protest movement (with government ties) had a revolver and fired shots into the air to simulate a sniper, which cause the guards to fire upon the students. Stone’s theory along with rock throwing students partially to blame for their own death and overzealous guardsmen being responsible for the deaths of the students. Over the years there have been many theories…None had been proven it is still unsolved.
Nalty, Bernard C. (1997). Air War Over South Vietnam, 1968–1975 (PDF). Air Force History and Museums Program
Means, Howard (2016). 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence. Boston: Da Capo Press.
Al Jazeera, (2010) Four dead in Ohio, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdCpI2qdsd8
Learning Network, (2010), National Guard Open Fires at Kent State, https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/may-4-1970-national-guard-opens-fire-at-kent-state/?searchResultPosition=1
"Announcements and actions on properties for the National Register of Historic Places for March 5, 2010". Weekly Listings. National Park Service. March 5, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2010.
Ohio, (2012), Ohio: Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRE9vMBBe10
Hayden, Tom, Closure at Kent State, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/closure-kent-state/
This last week marked the 45th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war and the fall of Saigon. There are so many stories to tell about the war, but today I am telling a brief bit of history and the end of what we called the Vietnam War. Like Pluto it has been downgraded in status. It is now it is referred to as the Vietnam conflict. To the millions that fought in the war, lived through it and lost their lives, it was a war to them.
Vietnam was part of Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) ruled by France. This story started May 19, 1941 when Ho Chi Minh began a movement (with Indochinese Communist Party) called Viet Minh (League for Independence of Viet Nam). The Vietnamese people simply wanted their independence from France.
Indochina was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, and after the war enlisted the U.S. to help them take back their lands. By 1945 Japan did recognize Vietnam sovereignty and the Viet Minh took over Vietnam. The country was beginning to separate in ideology. The north being communist ruled by the Viet Minh and the south ruled by Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem (1901–1963). (Hickman, 2019)
The Geneva convention in 1954 divided the nation along the 17th parallel lines, it was meant to temporary. After 300 days they were to have an election and become one nation again. The North Vietnamese enlisted the aid of China for funding, military supplies and training, while the South received aid from the U.S.
It was President Kennedy that moved the U.S. forward in Vietnam. By November 2, 1963, the assassination of Ngo Diem in South Vietnam left them with military leaders. It is now known that the C.I.A. was in contact with generals regarding Diem’s assassination. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge congratulated the coup leaders in a meeting. He thought it would be a shorter war with Diem out of the way. (Karnow, 1997) By President Kennedy’s death November 22, the U.S. had 16, 000 troops in Vietnam. This war would go on for 12 more years, and cost the lives of millions of Americans, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Korean, Australian, Thailand and civilian people. That does not include Canadians and the European fighters.
By the end of 1971 President Richard M. Nixon began gradually withdrawing troops, using them only as a defensive measure. They stop using agent Orange at that time (a topic for another time) and there were 196,000 troops in Vietnam. 1973 the Paris Peace Accord is signed, and the draft is ended. US troops are withdrawn, though there was still a sort of commitment to South Vietnam until Hanoi’s final successful battle in 1975.
April 23, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced the Vietnam War was "finished as far as America is concerned." (Staff Newsweek, 2015) Operation Frequent Wind began to evacuate all Americans, military, and support staff out of Saigon. At that time tens of thousands of Vietnamese were to be evacuated with them just before the city was captured. All month those foreigners living and working in Saigon began to flee the city to go home. Flights out of Saigon were booked solid from the end of March.
The last few days evacuations from April 27th were stepped up, people were being bussed to the airport and flown to the U.S. That mode was abandoned as the busses were being shot as they drove to the catch flights. April 29th and 30th CH46 and CH53 helicopters were rerouted to the lawn behind the embassy where they could land safety. Those large helicopters could hold massive amounts of weight. CH53 could hold 8,000 lbs. (external load on hook of 13,000). The CH 46 could hold 4000 lbs. or about 17 soldiers.
It was said the first 300 feet people ran getting to the helicopter were the most dangerous, after that they were out of the range of the gun fire. Many said waiting for the flights was the one of the most difficult times. You could hear the fighting all around and people were held captive waiting for their flight. They were so close to escaping war and finding safety. The South Vietnamese that were not chosen to go on the helicopters flooded the gates at the U.S. embassy. Thousands disobeyed curfew to try to get on a transport. (CBC News, 2015) The successful helicopters were then flown to an aircraft carrier 40 miles offshore. There were more than 80 helicopters shuttling people all day from the Embassy to the aircraft carrier. Officials of South Vietnam flew their families to the aircraft carriers but had to sink their helicopters and the pilots rescued out of the sea. The helicopters with Americans and refugees were tracked by the North and South Vietnamese military. They were not fired on as they flew their passengers to the ships.
The last few days saw pandemonium and desperation for those people trying to escape the city. One of the most famous stories was of writer Sydney Schanberg and his Cambodian journalist companion Dith Pran. Pran’s story was made into a book called the Killing Fields and then into a film by the same name. Pran was left behind in Saigon, fled to his home country of Cambodia and was captured by the Khmer Rouge. He lived with them 4 years and suffered horrendous treatment before Sydney came back rescued him and brought him to the U.S.
Pran tells the story of the Khmer Rouge as they tortured and killed their captives. They sought out educated persons and executed them. They wanted obedient and uneducated people as they were easier to control. They destroyed all the art, poetry and literature they could find. The culture of the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people was destroyed. (Schanberg, 2010)
In Saigon, South Vietnamese people were making all kinds of arrangements to get their families out of the country. They paid under the table for passports and exit visas. They left the city with very few possessions and sold what they owned for pennies on the dollar. They sought American sponsors posted advertisements in newspapers. (Todd, 1990)
The last few hours of the U.S. Troops in Saigon were spent in the American Embassy with a thousand of people crushed against the iron gates begging to be let in. As the last marines were waiting on the roof, hours passed. It seemed like the transports had stopped. The marines made peace, stayed put. By that evening the final transports picked up all the marines left at the top of the embassy. Many said they felt distraught by leaving so many behind.
Those left behind were ruled by the communist Viet Cong. Educated persons and many others were sent to reeducation camps where they suffered from torture, starvation and disease. For the next three years there were many economic hardships and Vietnam was still warring with Cambodia and China. The Vietnamese government levied taxes, and confiscated businesses which of course made it difficult to survive. They also feared those with any ties to former government. (Desbarats, 1987)
After the fall of Saigon about one million people fled the country from 1978-1990. Many in small boats, which is where the name of boat people came from. The Vietnamese people fled at night by buying passage on large boats, some on small fishing boats. Some left without documentation in boats barely seaworthy. These were the most vulnerable people, they were preyed on by pirates, many drowned. In 1981, “452 boats carrying Vietnamese boat people arrived in Thailand carrying 15,479 refugees. 349 of the boats had been attacked by pirates an average of three times each. 228 women had been abducted and 881 people were dead or missing.” (UN Staff, 2014) There is an estimate of 10-70% of the boat people died at sea. There is no final count.
They left everything behind, and many families were split apart to start a journey to an unknown destination. Though the first ships were trying to get to destinations closer to Vietnam like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. The UN met in Geneva, Switzerland, July 1979 to organize help for the stream of refugees. Southeast Asia agreed to help the refugees and camps were set up along the Pacific coast many on small islands off the mainland of Malaysia and Indonesia. The U.S. had one on Guam. Bidang Island and Galang Refugee Camp were two of the largest. Besides Southeast Asia and China, the top destinations for the Vietnamese refugees were U.S. (402k), Canada (100k), Australia (108k)
Let me finish by saying Cambodians were subject to the Khmer Rouge and the murderous regime of Pol Pot occurred during this period. They also were part of the refugees seeking asylum. Over that period from 1975 to 1990, 3 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians fled their countries as refugees. (Vo, 2006) April 30, 2020 was 45 years since the fall of Saigon and began the South East Asian people’s journey for a better life.
Hickman, Kennedy, (2019), Causes of the Vietnam war 1945-1954, https://www.thoughtco.com/vietnam-war-origins-2361335
Hannah, Peggy, (2003), A brief history of the Vietnam war, http://www.swarthmore.edu/library/peace/conscientiousobjection/OverviewVietnamWar.htm
Karnow, Stanley (1997). Vietnam: A History (2nd ed.). Penguin Books.
Staff, (2015), The Last Helicopter: Evacuating Saigon, https://www.newsweek.com/last-helicopter-evacuating-saigon-321254
Staff CBC News, (2015) The Fall of Saigon, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og6bi3cgf5g
Schanberg, Sydney, (2010), Beyond the killing fields; War writings, Potomac Books, Inc. Kindle edition
Todd, Olivier. Cruel April: The Fall of Saigon. W.W. Norton & Company, 1990. (originally published in 1987 in French)
WBUR, (2015), Saigon the final hours, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA3uV_YXZAk
Vo, (Nghia M.), (2006), The Vietnamese Boat People 1954 and 1975-1992, McFarland.
They called her the girl in the box. It was Christmas season 1968 and Barbara Mackle (20) came down with the flu. She was a student at Emory University in Georgia and needed to take her final exams before Christmas. There was such an epidemic that year that the school infirmary was filled to capacity. Her mother drove from Coral Gables, Florida to care for her daughter. They got room 137 at the Rodeway Inn in Decatur, GA.
It was 4 a.m. when they heard a knock on the door. Mrs. Mackle went to the door a man told her he was a police officer. That a white car had been in an accident and there was an injured boy who stated he was with their family. It sounded reasonable enough that Barbara’s mother who then answered the door. A man burst into the room, along with a man in stocking mask and they bound Mrs. Mackle and grabbed Barbara and took her from the room. Mrs. Mackle knew the man was not a cop, called the police and then her husband.
Barbara Mackle had a close friend that was a boy named Stewart Woodward. He was going to meet Barbara and her mother as they went back to Coral Gables, Florida for the holidays. He drove a white Ford car. He had visited the room earlier in the evening, and it was believed the kidnappers saw him as he left. They used that event to gain access to the room that Barbara and her mother were in.
The kidnappers had dug a hole, basically like a grave, put in a box, and outfitted it with a tube and ventilation fans so Barbara could breath and put food and a drink in the box with her. Then they buried her. She was called an astonishingly cool-headed young woman by the Detroit Free Press. (Miller, 1969) Barbara said she could not see and the “Zang-Zang” of the fans made it difficult to hear, so she turned them off.
Robert Mackle was a wealthy real estate developer in Miami. He was contacted by the kidnappers who demanded a $500,000 ransom, about $3.5 million dollars in today’s currency. Her father was to put the money in a suitcase, take it to the woods alone. He was to make a classified ad that stated “Loved one please come home” in the Miami Herald and leave it on the top of the money.
The first attempt failed. The F.B.I. had decided to keep the process secret and didn’t alert local police departments of what they were doing. When local police came upon two people running with a heavy suitcase and attempting to climb a fence, they tried to apprehend them. The kidnapper dropped the money and ran off into the forest. What they did find were the kidnappers’ car. It had the identification of the two people who kidnapped Barbara along with a photo with the girl posed in the box with the word Kidnapped on a sign. A side note the kidnappers first took a photo as a sign of life. She had closed her eyes and they thought it appeared as if she were dead. So, they demanded she smile and hold the sign up. It was this photo they found in the car.
After the bungled attempt, Robert Mackle was beside himself with frustration and worry. He placed another ad in the newspaper, which resulted in a second call and arrangement. This time the local police were apprised of the situation. The drop off the ransom was successful. They waited 15 hours before the kidnapper krist called and left general directions. The F.B.I. was alerted and the area was a general forest area with similar ground covering of leaves and similar trees. So, the agents fanned out until one of them saw what looked like red clay soil and a small tube sticking out of the ground.
On December 20th, 4:15p.m. 83 hours after her kidnapping Barbara was discovered by F.B.I. agents who found the ventilation tube sticking inches above ground. He said, “Knock Barbara knock.” (Miller, 1969) Barbara heard them and kept rapping until they heard and rescued her. Two agents got on their hands and knees scooping dirt up with a rusted bucket and their bare hands until they found the box. Taking a tire iron, they freed the young woman.
Barbara was unable to walk so the men lifted her out of the box and her first words were, “How are my parents?” The G-men who are not normally emotional broke down and cried. Then within minutes J. Edgar Hoover himself called Robert Mackle and said, “We have your girl.”
The Kidnappers were identified from their car as Gary Stephen Krist and Ruth Eisemenn-Schier. The F.B.I. was able to trace the box to a man named George Deacon who constructed them. Both Deacon and Eisemenn-Schier worked at the University of Miami. It was later discovered that Krist was in fact Deacon.
Krist and Eisemenn-Schier were separated after the ransom drop. Eisemenn-Schier thought Krist had taken the money and left Georgia. Krist was discovered hiding in a swamp within days of Barbara returning to her family. Eisemenn-Schier thought he had abandoned her and fled to Oklahoma where she was apprehended 79 days later. She was the first woman on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list.
Barbara Mackle was married within 3 years to Stewart Woodward and they had a family. She led a relatively good life after her kidnapping, but she never gave any interviews and stayed in the shadows. Eisemenn-Schier was Honduran and after her 7-year prison sentence, she was deported to Honduras. She married and raised a family. Krist was paroled after 10 years and was pardoned so he could go to medical school. He practiced for a while in Indiana, but his license was revoked. He was later arrested in 2006 with a $1 million dollars of cocaine in his possession. He was released again in 2010 only to have his probation revoked for leaving the country. He was sentenced to 40 months.
n.a., (December 27, 1968), Crime: The Girl in the Box, Time Magazine, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,900442,00.html,
Miller, Glen, (1969), Barbara Mackle’s 83 hours in a Tomb, Detroit Free Press, https://www.newspapers.com/image/98158531/?terms=Barbara%2BMackle
n.a., (2018), Buried Alive: The Incredible Journey, You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yc80YSADWA
Convicted look to the state for forgiveness By Steve Visser, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 20, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2011
I.D. Channel, (2018), Coffin for Christmas: A Crime to Remember, Season 5 Episode 4