Memorable WildWords Game

I stopped in at Peter & Sonja’s home at Tahoe Keys on the way back from welcoming little Maggie Dennis to the Roizen family down in the Bay Area.  Peter and I, among other diversions, had a non-title, three-game WildWords match.  (Peter is the currently reigning WildWords World Champion.)  The second of the three games proved to be memorable and remarkable.

Game 2 board - cropped - left rotation

Peter had won the first game handily, and so my back was against the wall.  Game 2 started out poorly for me.  At one point, after a failed challenge of one of Peter’s plays, I was down 156 points (P: 425; R: 269).  But then fortune fell my way and I gained 116 points for playing BIOFUELED, a play that spanned between two double-word reward squares.  Peter used his next play to jockey for endgame position — playing COOLS and netting only 4 points from it.  Continue reading

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The Courts at Clinton — Another Look

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A segment of the courts in Clinton’s North Yard, photographed by the late Josh Freiwald, Sep., 1972

I noted in a blog post, here, three years ago that I was curious about how much change and how much stability Clinton Correctional Facility’s “courts” had undergone since my 1972 study of that remarkable institution.  As my post reported, I found little help regarding my question on the web and had to settle for looking at Google Earth shots of Clinton’s North Yard from very high altitude to assess change.

More recently, word arrived that Ben Stiller had succeeded, after much effort, in gaining access to Clinton’s interior, including the courts, for shooting his Showtime series titled “Escape At Dannemora.”  Naturally, I was interested to see how much light might be shed on my question by his photographic work.

The first shot I saw was the one that appeared in an article on Stiller’s successful bid to gain access to Clinton, which appeared in Variety online on November 15, 2018.  It wasn’t a great shot for my purpose, but it still spoke volumes.

Stiller at Clinton.jpg

A yellow haze hangs over the yard, but the furnishings downhill from Stiller’s production team suggests a much more standardized or uniform outfitting for the courts than I saw in 1972.  There appear to be two “heights” to the furnishings, tabletop height and chair height, the latter including storage units and stovetops.  Only the short smokestacks attached to stoves exceed the tabletop height.  Continue reading

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1918’s Influenza Epidemic, Here – Part 1, The View from Nine Mile Cemetery, Wallace, Idaho

By Ron Roizen and Dennis O’Brien

The authors thank Jennifer Backman, M.D., for her help deciphering a number of the death certificates used in this analysis.

Chart 1

November, 1918 was the worst month, according to Nine Mile Cemetery’s mute but somber testimony.

The first eight months of the year, from January to August, saw an average of five new graves per month at Nine Mile.  Then, September saw eight deaths.  One, notably, was that of a soldier killed in action over in France; another was caused by lobar pneumonia, one of the typical diagnoses assigned to deaths occasioned by influenza.  The latter was possibly the first of the influenza epidemic’s victims at Nine Mile.

October saw a rush of new graves, thus also offering the first tangible evidence that the epidemic had now reached our area — there were 19 total deaths, 13 from influenza.  Ten of these 13 influenza deaths fell in that month’s final 11 days.  And then came November, with its 40 total deaths – eight times the graveyard’s typical monthly average – 37 from influenza.  As in October, November’s deaths were concentrated in one portion of the month – 33 of its 37 influenza deaths occurred between the 1st and the 14th.  Hence, the 25 days from October 20th to November 14th yielded the influenza epidemic’s greatest concentration of deaths, according to Nine Mile Cemetery’s record.  Continue reading

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Shoshone County’s Fallen World War I Warriors: Three Plaque Omissions

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PVT Andrew Sjursen

By Francie Lane and Ron Roizen

The War Mothers Plaque on the green by the Wallace Carnegie Library commemorates Shoshone County’s fallen World War I warriors.  The names of 44 men are honored on the tablet.  As it happens, we encountered, in the course of exploring the plaque’s history, the names of three additional men with tangible ties to Shoshone County who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I.  We suggest that they should arguably have been represented on the War Mothers Plaque as well.  There may be other omitted names too, of course, which future research may reveal.

The three omitted plaque candidates were Andrew Sjursen, Clarence Bernard Frenzel, and Bernardi or Bernardo Bartolomeo.  Our hope is that an appropriate forum – say, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in the Silver Valley – will engage in a discussion aimed at selecting which of the three names would appropriately be listed on some sort of supplemental signage or notice near the tablet on the library’s grounds.  (Our own view is that all three merit such listing, but, and of course, viewpoints may differ.)  Continue reading

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Ford and Chevy butcher the American idiom

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TV commercials afford the writers of advertising copy precious few sentences to get their messages across. 

Hence, one would think they’d take considerable care with the English language.

With Ford and Chevy these days, however, not so much.

Ford runs a series of TV ads for its F-150 line of trucks.  In several, they employ a proud slogan at the ad’s end – namely, this:

“It doesn’t just raise the bar, pal, it is the bar.”

(Sometimes, I think, the “pal” is omitted.)

Well, say what? Continue reading

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The Lynch Mob That Greeted Hill Beachey’s Return to Lewiston

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The Golden Age newspaper’s banner

Note:  A slightly different version of this article was published in the Shoshone News-Press on 10/27/18 (link).  

Earlier this week, Wednesday, October 24th marked another anniversary, the 155th, of Hill Beachey’s departure from Lewiston in search of the coldblooded murderers of Lloyd Magruder and Magruder’s packing crew.

Beachey departed from Lewiston on Saturday, October 24th, 1863, accompanied by Thomas Ferrell.  Roughly six weeks would pass before the brave Mr. Beachey arrived back, in early December, now with his three prisoners in tow.  Readers of this writer’s past commentaries on Beachey (e.g., link) will know that I regard him as Idaho’s first authentic hero and worthy of an annual statewide holiday named in his honor, every October 24th.

Yet accounts of Hill Beachey’s heroic journey and achievement are fraught with myth and misinformation.  Early chroniclers often valued accelerating book sales over historical fidelity, and embellished the story wherever they saw fit.  Sometimes authors interpolated parts of Beachey’s story where few or no credible sources existed. Sometimes, too, a later author uncritically retold or repackaged elements of the story as offered by an earlier author.

Over time the ratio of credible history to iffy embellishments may tilt perilously toward the latter. Continue reading

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Shoshone County’s Fallen WWI Warriors – Austin F. Reedy

LEVIATHAN SHIP - 1919.jpg

Private Austin Ferdinand Reedy was killed in action in France.  A ship’s manifest shows that he sailed for the European theater as part of Company H, 163rd Infantry Regiment on the U.S.S. Leviathan (pictured above), on December 15, 1917 from Hoboken, New Jersey.  According to the “Find A Grave” search service (here), PVT Reedy is buried at the Libby Cemetery in Libby, Montana.  This online record indicates that he was born in May of 1896 and was killed on July 21st, 1918, age 22.  His remains may have been buried initially in France and then transported to Libby, for reburial on July 17, 1922.  A newspaper report in the Great Falls Daily Tribune [Montana], dated June 19th, 1919, conveys that the newly organized Libby chapter of the United War Veterans organization named itself in honor of Austin Reedy on account of Reedy being “…Libby’s first soldier to fall on the European battlefields.”  According to Wikipedia, the 163rd Infantry Regiment was a unit of the Montana National Guard.  It became part of the 41st Infantry Division of the regular U.S. Army in World War I.

REEDY-GRAVESTONE.jpgThere is a mystery surrounding PVT Austin F. Reedy’s appearance on the War Mothers Plaque in Wallace.  Although it does not of course diminish his service and sacrifice one iota, PVT Reedy’s connection to Shoshone County, Idaho is, at this moment, unclear to us.  U.S. Census tabulations in 1900 and 1910 show him living with his family of origin in Libby.  His listing as “Killed in Action” in Soldiers of the Great War (by W.M. Haulsee et al., 1920, vol. 2) shows him on that source’s pages devoted to Montana’s casualties.  Reedy may have had some association with our county’s economic enterprises — perhaps mining or timber — but such an association does not appear in the documentation we’ve examined.  He was not listed as one of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining Company’s fallen warriors as that list appeared in The Wallace Miner of  August 28, 1919.  No draft registration card for Austin F. Reedy has been found, and so we do not possess whatever information about occupation that source may have provided.  His burial in Libby and the honorific naming of Libby chapter of the United War Veterans on his behalf of course bespeak a strong connection to that Montana city.  Whatever the reason for his inclusion, the presence of his name in the plaque’s list suggests that the War Mothers group sought to honor Austin F. Reedy along with the fallen heroes of Shoshone County.

Francie Lane sheds new light on Austin Reedy’s possible link to Shoshone County in an email* received September 9th, 2018:

I’ll hazard a guess re Austin Reedy’s connection to Shoshone Co.

Austin was the younger brother of John Patrick Reedy, Jr., b. 1891, who married Pansy Auberton in Spokane, WA.  Pansy was a Spokane girl and John was a resident of Libby, MT, on their wedding Day, March 25, 1909.  In 1910 US Census, John & Pansy were living in Kellogg.  John’s WW I Draft card showed him to be employed as a Teamster for the Libby Lumber Co. in 1917…divorced with two young children…then residing in Libby, MT.  By 1930, John & Pansy’s two daughters were being raised by their re-married mother.  In 1920, however, the daughters were included in the census as residing with their grandparents, Louis & Emma Cossette, who lived in Wardner.  It could be that John’s younger, single brother, Austin, was working as a Teamster between Libby & Kellogg or might have lived with John & Pansy in Kellogg before their divorce; Austin may also have worked in the mines before being called up for the draft & reporting back to Libby.  Austin was undoubtedly recognized as a Libby hometown boy and they wanted to claim him for honors.  Yet, his name might have been submitted to the Shoshone War Mothers by his sister-in-law or her family at Kellogg/Wardner.  (This is the closest connection I could find – so merely a guess.)

* I have very gently edited her email’s text, above.

Readers with more information on Shoshone County’s fallen heroes in World War I may contact me at ronroizen@frontier.com.  I’ll be revising each of the cameos as new information comes in.

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