Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rudolf Hess: Hitler's deputy is in the news again

SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011

Look at the above photo of Rudolf Hess.  Doesn't he have a villainous appearance - and it's not just the Nazi uniform?  Even if he weren't wearing a swastika armband, I'd take him for a criminal.  His eyes are beady and evil-looking.  Almost 24 years after his death, the former Nazi bigwig is in the news again.

On July 21, 2011, it was announced that the remains of Rudolf Hess. Hitler's one-time deputy, had been exhumed and would be cremated.  It was revealed that Hess' remains had been dug out of its marked grave in a small Bavarian town.  The reason?  Well, the grave, in Wunseidel, Germany, had become a shrine, a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis.

Every year since Hess' demise in 1987, latter-day Nazis have held demonstrations on August 17th, the date of his death. They raise their hands in a Nazi-salute and lay wreaths at his gravesite.    Understandably, the town's authorities decided to put an end to that.  A court order was issued in 2005 outlawing such gatherings of right-wing extremists, but the neo-Nazis continued to converge on the town.  The town, therefore, obtained an agreement from the the family and the church to destroy the grave.

At first, Hess' granddaughter opposed the exhumation of her grandfather's bones.  The board of the Wunseidel Evangelical Church, which is responsible for the cemetery, persuaded her to revoke her lawsuit against such an action.  She gave her consent for the grave to be removed after it was explained to her how it had become a neo-Nazo shrine.

Karl-Willi Beck, Wunseidel's mayor, confirmed that cemetery administrators had removed Hess' bones and his gravestone in the early hours of July 20, 2011.  Beck, 56, said "It was the right thing to do."  The mayor also stated that Hess' bones would be cremated and scattered over a lake.

In his will, Hess decreed that he wished to be buried at the churchyard cemetery at Wunseidel, the location of the family burial plot of his parents and the place where the Hess family had a vacation home.  The supervisor of the local Lutheran church at the time did not stand in the way of Hess' request.  Lutheran church authorities in Germany declared that they could not ignore the wishes of deceased, despite his atrocious crimes.  The deputy Nazi leader was therefore buried at the Wussidel cemetery and the words Ich hab's gewagt ("I dared") were inscribed on his gravestone.

The grave of Rudolph Hess

Rudolf Hess was born in Alexandria, Egypt in on April 26, 1894, the eldest of four children.  His father, Johann H. "Fritz" Hess, was a wealthy German importer from Bavaria.  His mother, Klara Munch, was of Greek descent and belonged to the Georgiadis family of Alexandria.  At the time of Rudolf Hess' birth, his family lived in affluence on the Egyptian coast near the city of Alexandria.  They visited Germany on a frequent basis and the children became familiar with German language and culture.  In 1908, the family returned to Germany.

During World War I, Hess served as an infantryman in the German armed forces.  He was wounded twice in combat, the first time during the Battle of Verdun on June 12, 1916.  The following year, on July 23, 1917, he was wound for a second time while fighting in Romania.  In 1918, after being promoted to the rank of lieutenant, he then transferred to the German Army Air Service and was trained as pilot.  When the war ended, he studied at the University of Munich and involved himself in nationalist politics.  After listening to a speech by Adolf Hitler. he joined the Nationalist Socialist Party in 1920 as one of its first members.

Hess commanded a group of militants known as the SA during Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in Munich on November 8 and 9, 1923.  This was a Nazi attempt to overthrow the government of Bavaria and establish a right-wing one in its place.  When the coup failed, both Hitler and Hess were arrested.  Hess was sentenced to seven and a half months at Landsberg Prison.  While the two men were imprisoned, Hess acted as Hitler's personal secretrary.  He assisted Hitler in writing his book Mein Kampf, taking dictation and transcribing the Nazi leader's words.

A dedicated Nazi and a close friend of Adolf Hiltler, Rudolf Hess rose rapidly in the party hierarchy.
In early 1933, after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and assumed dicatorial powers, Rudolf Hess was named Deputy to the Fuhrer.  He was tthe third most powerful Nazi beind Hitler and Hermann Goering.

On December 20, 1927, Hess married Ilse Prohl, a 27-year-old from Hannover.  They had one child, a son named Wolf Rudiger, born November 18, 1937.  Ilse outlived Hess.  She passed away on September 7, 1995 at the age of 95.  Their son, Wolf, died on October 14, 2001.  He was 64 years old.

Rudolf Hess made international headlines and caused a sensation when he flew a Messerschmitt fighter plane from Bavaria to Scotland on May 10, 1941.  The solo flight was an apparent attempt to negotiate peace with Britain.  Hess, however lost his bearings and ran low on fuel.  He was forced him to bale out of his aircraft.  He made a parachute landing in a field near Eaglesham, south of Glasgow and broke his ankle.  A local ploughman discovered him in the field.

Hess claimed he had an important message for the Duke of Hamilton, a member of the Anglo-German Fellowship, whom he had only met once, at the Berlin Olympic games in 1936.  The British would hear none ot it, vowing there would be no negotiations with Nazis.  Germany remained silent on the matter until a day later when German radio stations issued a statement that Hess had been experiencing "hallucinations." 

Rudolf Hess found himself arrested as a POW and spent the rest of the war in captivity. He was stripped of his party membership and rank and Martin Bormann replaced him as Hitler's deputy.  It remains a matter of debate as to whether Hitler gave his approval to Hess' ill-fated flight.  It is interesting that the flight took place on the eve of the German invasion of Russia in June of 1941.  Was Hess trying to prevent Germany from fighting a war on two fronts?

At the Nuremberg trials, Rudolf Hess was found innocent of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  He was, however, convicted of crimes against peace (planning aggressive war) and conspiracy to commit crimes against peace.  He received a life sentence and was incarcerated at Spandau Prison in what was then West Berlin.

Hess at Spandau Prison

For many years, Rudolf Hess refused prison visits from is family. It wasn't until December 24, 1969 that Ilse and Wolf visited with Hess for the first time since his incarceration. Due to illness, Hess had had a change of heart and his wife and son went to see him at the British Military Hospital in Berlin. The visit marked the first time Wolf had been alone with his father since 1941.

Rudolf Hess was found dead in a secure area of the prison on August 17, 1987.  The 93-year-old had an electrical cord wrapped around his neck and his death was recorded as a suicide by asphyxiation.  A coroner's report concluded that Hess had strangled himself with the extension cord, although it has been alleged that his Soviet captors were responsible for his death.  Hess' lawyer claimed that the British had murdered him to prevent him from divulging secrets about his 1941 wartime flight. 

Since Hess' death, there have been many conspiracy theories.  Some find it difficult to believe that an elderly and frail nonagenarian could have engineered such a suicide at a closely guarded prison.
Hess was the last prisoner at Spandau Prison.  Soon after his passing, the infamous prison was demolished.

- Joanne

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't mess with our public libraries, Mayor Ford!

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011

Mayor Rob Ford should not underestimate Toronto's librarians.  They and their supporters will fight to maintain the public library system of this great city.  His Worship the Mayor continually talks about putting a stop to the gravy train..  It has been his mantra and he has been repeating it ad nauseam.  He says there is too much government fat and that he has to make cuts.  Well, let me be absolutely clear!  If he puts his axe to Toronto's public libraries, he will not be removing any fatty tissue.  He will be hacking right at the bones of the largest city in Canada..

Libraries are central to any community.  They are not some unnecessary frill that can be discarded at whim and without consequences.  They are not an expensive luxury for over educated intellectuals.  Public libraries belong to us all and are used by everyone, even overly zealous right-wing conservatives such as Toronto's mayor.

Yesterday morning, consultants hired by Mayor Rob Ford and City Council advised sweeping cuts to the Toronto Public Library including branch closures and reduced hours of operation.  This will set the stage for further outsourcing, also known as privatization.  Privatization would mean more limited use of our precious libraries.  Torontonians would no longer be library patrons.  They would be customers.  Is that the kind of future you envision for the libraries in this city? 

Libraries are not just book repositories.  They are community centres and temples of knowledge.  In this age of the Internet, they are need more than ever.  Too many of our youth are surfing the net but not reading books.  Literacy is vital to the health of a society.  This year I was a volunteer in the Toronto Public Library's Leading to Reading program at the Bloor/Gladstone branch.  I assisted a 9-year-old boy with reading and writing.  It was a very fulfilling experience for both of us, one that had a positive effect on my student and his future.

The closing of public libraries and the cutting of their hours of operation would be a tremendous blow to the standard of literacy in Toronto.  It is obvious that literacy is not very high on the list of our mayor's priorities.  It is not even on his radar screen.  I wonder when he lasted entered a library.

This my clarion call to all librarians in the province of Ontario and to all concerned citizens.  Let Mayor Ford know how strongly we oppose his plans.  Stand up and be counted!  We cannot and will not sit back and allow our wonderful public library system to be hacked to death.  Rob the Knife must be stopped before permanent damage is done.  Please, dear readers in the Toronto area, email or phone your councillor.  Don't allow it to happen.

I also implore you to sign this online petition.

Readers, I just couldn't help myself.  I wrote this little ditty to the tune of  "Everybody must Get Stoned."  Here it is with apologies to Bob Dylan.

Rob Ford

The Ballad of Rob Ford

He'll privatize ya when you're trying to be so good
He'll cut ya just-a-like he said he would
He'll privatize you if you live and breathe
He'll privatize you when you start to teethe
But I would not feel so brutalized
Everything must be privatized

Well, they'll soon be chargin' higher user fees
And you'll pay more just to see the birds and bees
You'll pay more at the local swimming pool
You'll pay more if you're goin' to the school
But I would not be shaken to the core
Because your taxes won't be raised anymore

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay


It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

- Sir Edmund Hillary

Today is the birth anniversary of the great explorer and mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary,  He and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay made history in 1953 when they became the first persons to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.  How fitting that Hillary was born on July 20th, 1919, exactly 50 years before Neil Armstong stepped onto the moon's surface on July 20, 1969.

In April of 1985, Neil Armstrong accompanied Sir Edmund and others on a flight over over the Arctic.  Armstrong was curious about viewing the North Pole from ground level as he had only seen it from the moon.  Hillary, who had crossed the Antarctic ice fields to the South Pole by snowcat in 1958, was thrilled to add a visit to the North Pole to his list of accomplishments.  Thus, when the twin-engine ski plane landed at the North Pole, Hillary became the first person to stand on both poles and on the peak of Mount Everest.

Edmund Percival Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand, the second of the three children of Percival Augustus Hillary and his wife Gertrude, a teacher.  Edmund had an older sister, June, and a younger brother, Rexford.  His father, a veteran of the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I, moved the family to a farm about 64.3 km. (forty miles) south, near the town of Tuakau.  The elder Hillary established a newspaper there called the Tuakau District News.  He served as the paper's managing editor. 

Percy Hillary also took up commercial beekeeping. Using the money he received for being a war veteran, he trained to be a beekeeper.  His two sons followed suit.  After two years of studying mathematics and science at the University of Auckland, Edmund joined his brother Rex in pursuing the same occupation as their father.  Since beekeeping was seasonal, it allowed young Ed the freedom for mountain climbing during the winter.

Edmund's interest in mountain climbing was sparked by class visit to Mount Ruapehu in the Southern Alps (the highest point on New Zealand's North Island) when he was a 16-year-old in high school.  In 1939, he made his first major climb and succeeded in reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier in the Canterbury Region of New Zealand.  That same year the family moved to Auckland and Percy established a monthly magazine for beekeepers.  It was called New Zealand Honeybee.

During World II, Hillary served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator.  In 1945 he was sent to Fiji and to he Solomon Islands where he was severely burned in a motor boat accident.  After the accident, he returned home to New Zealand and convalesced in the Southern Alps.  During this period of recuperation, he found a mentor in Harry Ayres, New Zealand's most prominent mountain climber at the time.

After the war, Ed Hillary resumed mountain climbing.  He climbed the Swiss Alps in 1950 and became acquainted with British mountaineers who had had experience in the Himalayas.  They taught him alpine and ice climbing techniques.

In 1951 Ed participated in a New Zealand expedition to the Himalayas and built a reputation as a skilled mountain climber. He became more and more determined in scale Mount Everest, the Himalayan peak on the Nepal-Tibet border.  Almost a century before, British surveyors had determined that Everest was the highest point on earth.

There had been many attempts to conquer Mount Everest. but no one had ever reached its summit.  Several experienced climbers, including Sherpas (the Nepalese people renowned as mountaineers) had died in avalanches or had become frozen or lost in storms. One of them, George Leigh Mallory, an Englishman, had gone missing in 1924.  His body was found in the ice 75 years later in 1999.  When asked by a New York Times reporter why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, it was Mallory who had famously replied, "Because it's there!"  At least he was quoted as having said that in the Times.

In 1953, Hillary took part in a Royal Geographical-Alpine Club Expedition led by Colonel John Hunt.  This British expedition consisted of more than 400 people, including several Sherpa guides.  One of those Sherpa guides was 39- year-old Tibetan-born Tenzing Norgay. 

The expedition's route was the perilous South Coul, facing Nepal.  Co-ordinated teams tried to advance to higher and higher camps on the icy slopes.  The team of Tom Bourdillon and Dr. Charles Evans were the first to try to reach the summit.  They came within 300 vertical feet (91 m) but were forced to turn back due to exhaustion, an ice storm and oxygen tank failures. 

Colonel Hunt then directed the team of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to make the next attempt to conquer Everest.  They set out on May 28, 1953.  On the morning of May 29, 1953. Hillary, 33, woke up to find his boots frozen solid outside their tent.  He spent some time warming his footwear before he and Norgay made the final ascent.  At 11:30 a.m., they reached the top of the world. 

Hillary and Norgay spent about 15 minutes at the summit.  Their celebration was fairly modest.  According to Sir Edmund, they "shook hands and then, casting Anglo-Saxon formalities aside, we thumped each other on the back until forced to stop from lack of breath."  Norgay, a Buddhist, buried biscuits and chocolates as an offering to the gods of Everest.   Hillary snapped some pictures, including a well-known photo of Norgay posing with his ice-axe.  No photos were taken of the lanky New Zealander, however, because Tenzing had never operated a camera and Hillary was not about to teach him on the summit of Mount Everest.  After eating some mint cake, the two men strapped on their oxyen tanks and began their descent.

The first person they met was Ed Hillary's friend and fellow New Zealander, George Lowe, who had climbed up to meet them with a thermos flask of hot tomato soup.  Lowe, an experienced mountaineer, was also a member of the Hunt expedition.  Upon greeting Hillary, Lowe asked, "Well, how did it go?"  Hillary replied, "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off."

The conquest of Mount Everest coincided with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953 in London's Westminster Abbey.  News of the achievement reached Britain on the day of the coronation.  The press described the successful climb as a coronation gift.  Hillary and Norgay received international acclaim.  On June 6, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Col. John Hunt were knighted by the young Queen Elizabeth.  Tenzing Norgay was awarded with the prestigious, but undeniably lesser British Empire Medal.

Norgay (Left) and Hillary

Three months after climbing Mount Everest, Edmund Hillary married Louise Mary Rose, the daughter of a mountain climber, on September 3, 1953.  The couple had three children: Peter (born December 26, 1954). Sarah (born 1955) and Belinda (born 1959).  Tragedy struck the Hillary family in 1975 when Sir Edmund's wife Louise and their 16-year-old daughter Belinda were killed in a plane crash soon after take-off from the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.  The two were on their way to meet Hillary in the village of Phaphlu where he was supervising the building of a hospital.

In his later years, Sir Edmund Hillary assumed a diplomatic career.  He was appointed New Zealand's High Commissioner to India, Bangladesh and Nepal in 1985.  He held the post for four and a half years and was based in New Delhi.  He continued to concern himself with environmental causes and humanitarian work on behalf of the people of Nepal.

On December 21, 1989, Hillary wed for the second time. He married June Mulgrew, the widow of his close friend Peter Mulgrew.  In November of 1979, Sir Edmund was to have been a commentator on an Air New Zealand tourist flight over the Antarctic. but cancelled due to another commitment.  Fellow mountain climber Peter Mulgrew replaced him.  The plane crashed on Mount Erebus, a volcano on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.  All of the 257 passengers and crew, including Mulgrew, lost their lives.

This was not the first time Sir Edmund Hillary had been scheduled to fly on an aircraft that met with disaster.  On December 16, 1960, United Flight 826 and TWA Flight 266 collided over Staten Island.  Hillary had been booked on the TWA flight but had been late and missed the plane in Chicago.  All but one of the passengers perished before or during the collision.

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay always remained friends.  Norgay died in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India on May 9, 1986, of a severe bronchial condition.  He was 71 years old.  Norgay's accomplishments made him famous, but not wealthy.  He was appointed permanent director of field training of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.  Unfortunately, he was forced to accept early retirement without an adequate pension.  In need of income, Norgay was compelled to continue to guide tourists through the Himalayas and Tibet.  This took a toll on his health and well-being.

In 1992, Sir Edmund Hillary was featured on the updated New Zealand $5 note, making him the only living New Zealander to appear on a bank note.  This went against the established convention of depicting only deceased individuals and current heads of state on currency.

Sir Edmund died of heart failure in Auckland, New Zealand on January 11, 1998.  He was 88 years old at the time of his death.  His second wife, June, survived him and still resides in New Zealand.  
Peter Hillary, the 56-year-old son of the great explorer, has followed in his father's footsteps.  He is an accomplished mountaineer and adventurer.  Peter has summited  Mount Everest and has set out a new route to the South Pole.  He is a motivational speaker and has raised funds for Himalayan foundations around the world.  Along with his younger sister, Sarah, Peter manages the intellectual property of the Edmund Hillary estate.

It was former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark who announced Sir Edmund Hillary's death.  In paying tribute to him, she said, "Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities.  In reality, he was a colossus.  He was an heroic figure who not only "knocked off" Everest but lived a life of determination, humility, and generosity."

- Joanne

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sorry, Red Sox Nation, but Bautista's more valuable than Adrian Gonzalez

SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2011

Okay, Red Sox Nation!  You aren't going to like what I'm going to say, but I still have to say it.  Jose Bautista is a more valuable player than Adrian Gonzalez.  Now before you tar and feather me in Fenway Park or throw me over the Green Monster or charge me with heresy and high treason, let me explain my reasoning.

First of all, a disclaimer.  I'm going to declare my bias.  I live in Toronto and I am a die hard Toronto Blue Jays fan.  Just remember, though, Red Sox Nation, you have your bias too.  So that makes us even.

Second of all, let me state clearly that I think that both men are outstanding ball players.  This is not to disparage or demean Adrian Gonzalez; however, I believe that Bautista is a more valuable player than the Boston first baseman.  Here's why:

* Jose is more versatile.  He's a terrific outfielder and a superb third baseman.  He can play both positions with the same adroitness and proficiency and he possesses a great throwing arm.  He also swings the bat with authority.  Last season he slugged 54 home runs, making him a member of major league baseball's exclusive 50-home run club.  Only 26 players, including Bautista, belong to the club. This year, he has already slammed 31 homers and is well on this way to a second consecutive 50-home run season.  As I write this, Jose is out of the lineup with a twisted ankle.  He is expected to be back soon.

Adian Gonzalez is having an incredible season and he will probably win the American League MVP award.  I doubt that Bautista will be chosen because the award does not usually go to a player whose team does not make the playoffs.  As much as I'm a Jays fan, it's obvious that they are not going to be in post-season play this season.

* Adrian has 17 homers so far this season, not anywhere close to Jose's 31.  Gonzalez, however, has a higher batting average.  His current batting average is a robust .346.  Jose's average is .336.  Gonzalez has 77 RBIs while Bautista has 65.  Remember, though, that Gonzalez plays for a team with a better record.  Can you imagine how many RBIs Bautista would have if he played for the Red Sox or the New York Yankees?  Remember too that Jose has been given a large number of intentional walks this year.

* The slugging percentage really tells the story.  As of this writing, Jose has a slugging perctage of .701 while Adrian Gonzalez has a slugging percentage of .570.

For my money, Joey Bats is the more valuable player.  I rest my case.  By the way, the court of public opinion seems to agree with me.  Jose set the all-time Major League Baseball record for the most All-Star votes ever received by a single player with 7,454,753.  Over to you, Red Sox Nation.


I have visited Boston once in my life.  I was in Beantown in July of 1997 when Roger Clemens returned to Fenway for the first time since his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays and Red Sox played a four-game series.  The Jays won three out of the four games.  I attended two of the games but I was unable to procure tickets for the game that Clemens pitched.  Clemens threw a magnificent game that day.  He gave up only 4 hits and 1 run over 8 innings, striking out 16 Red Sox batters.  The Blue Jays defeated Boston by a score of 3 to 1. 

Since I could not attend the Clemens game, I took a bus tour of Cape Cod instead.  I have great memories of my trip to Boston and I plan to go again.  I absolutely love the city.  As a souvenir of my 1997 visit, I have a mock Wanted Poster of Roger Clemens that was distributed around Fenway Park.

- Joanne

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The nurse who survived Richard Speck's 1966 murder rampage


On this day, 45 years ago, Richard Speck committed one of the most heinous crimes of the 20th century.  Late in the evening of July 13, 1966, Speck broke into a Chicago townhouse that served as a dormitory for nurses who worked at the South Chicago Community Hospital.  He brutally raped and murdered eight women - two Filipino exchange nurses and six American nursing students.  One young exhange nurse, 23-year-old Corazon Pieza "Cora" Amurao of San Luis, Batangas in the Philippines, hid under one bed after another and survived the attack. 

It was Cora who had answered the knock on the door that night to a tall young man with pockmarks on his face and greasy slick-backed hair.  The first thing she noticed about him "was the strong smell of alcohol."  He was dressed in black and he pushed his way into the townhouse where the nightmare soon began.

Speck may have lost count or he may have been unaware that a ninth student nurse was sleeping over that night.  Cora remained hidden under that bed until almost 6 A.M.  She then climbed out of the bedroom window onto a ledge and screamed that her friends were all dead.  She later gave police and prosecutors an eyewitness account of the horror.  Her testimony led to the capture and imprisonment of Richard Speck.

In the early hours of July 17, 1966, Speck was taken to Cook County Hospital after attempting to commit suicide.  He was identified by Dr. Leroy Smith, a surgical resident physician who had read about the killer's "Born to Raise Hell" tattoo in the newspaper.  Police were summoned and Speck was arrested.

On April 15, 1967, Richard Speck was found guilty of eight counts of murder.  He died of a heart attack on December 5, 1991 in a hospital near the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois where he  had been imprisoned for 24 years.  His death came one day before his 50th birthday.

Much has been written about the sordid life of Richard Speck, but I couldn't help wondering what happened to the lone survivor of Speck's killing spree on that scorching summer night 45 years ago. Corazon Amurao is now 68 years old and has kept a low profile.  Although she can never forget the horror of that night, she has tried to live a normal life.

After the Speck terror, Corazon went home to the Philippines and worked as a nurse at Far Eastern University Hospital in Manila.  She also became a councillor in her hometown of San Luis, Batangas and married Alberto "Bert" Atienza, a Filipino lawyer and real estate broker.  The couple had two children who are now over 40 years old.  Corazon returned to the United States with her family and was employed as a nurse at Gerorgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.*

Below is 1969 photo of Corazon's wedding at San Luis Chapel.

The former Cora Amurao is a woman of integrity. She has steadfastly refused to accept any personal gain from the horrific crime other than $5.000 out of the $10,000 reward money she received from the South Chicago Community Hospital for her role in solving the case. 

Amurao has resisted the temptation to sell the rights to her story. She once issued the following statement:  "It is my desire to make clear that the memory of my dear colleagues is of such character that I do not want to have it tainted by the acceptance by me of money or any other personal benefit."

Five years ago, on the 40th anniversary of the murders, the Chicago Sun-Times, revisited the case.  The newspaper examined hundreds of page of court records and police documents and asked for the personal memories of those touched by the murders.  Corazon declined requests for an interview; however, Chicago Daily News reporter, M.W. Newman, described the 4 foot 10 inch woman as "a blend of steel and lace."  "Hey, without her identification, we wouldn't have nothing," remarked Jack Wallenda, the first homicide detective at the crime scene.  "She was a petite little girl, you know.  But what she went through, , it's unbelievable."

How appropriate that her given name, Corazon, means "heart of love" in Spanish!

* Sources: Empire and Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History by Catherine Ceniza Choy; People magazine, "An Unfathomable Evil," Paula Chin, December 23, 1991

EDITORS NOTE - September 3, 2013 - I have added some additional information to this blog posting.  Below is another photo of Corazon Amurao Atienza.  I do not have the date when it was taken.

A more recent photo of Corazon appears on the blog chocoholic11

This photo appears on

EDITOR'S UPDATE - May 18, 2016 - I must make a correction to my 2011 blog posting on Corazon Amurao and the Richard Speck murders.  According to accounts in the Chicago Tribune, Speck broke into the townhouse through a window.  In an April 28, 2016 article in the Tribune, Rosemary Regina Sobol writes the following: "A lanky man in dark clothes, with slicked-back hair and marks on his face, was standing there with a small black revolver in his write hand.  He had pried open the screen of a first-floor window, reached inside for the back-door handle and slipped into the house."

If you are interested in some background on the eight murdered nurses and Cora, I recommend the article by Rosemary Regina Sobol.  It is entitled "Rare photos, interviews honor memory of 8 nurses slain by Richard Speck."  Here is the link:

EDITOR'S UPDATE - August 3, 2017 - Corazon has a daughter named Abigail Atienza Phillips and a son named Christian Amaruo and six grandchildren.  She is now retired after working for many years as a critical care nurse in Washington, D.C.  According to an April 25, 2016 article in the Chicago Tribune by Rosemary Regina Sobol, Abigail followed in her mother's footsteps and became a nurse practitioner.  Christian is a certified public accountant. 

Corazon's current location is difficult to pin down.  She has lived in the Washington, D.C. area (Woodbridge, Virginia, Springfield Virginia, Alesandria Virginia).  She has a recent address listed in Houston, Texas.  However, according to the U.S. White Pages, she currently has a residence in Las Vegas, Nevada.  According to the Chicago Tribune article, "Corazon "became friends and learned to play penny-ante poker with the policemen and bodyguards who watched over her while she was in protective custody.  She still gets a kick out of playing poker at 
casinos in Nevada with her husband."

EDITOR'S UPDATE - October 20, 2017 - Hoagy Pardo, an FM radio announcer on JAM 88.3 in Manila, a leading station in the Philippines.  He has sent me the following Facebook letter he has written to Corazon.  I would like to share it with you.

20 Oct 2017
Mandaluyong, WackWack Brgy.

Dear Corazon,

You know, I have been watching a NETFLIX TV show here on a show about the FBI and profiling killers....The one, Richard Speck, was featured in an episode and I thought of you and how they never said a word on your name, ethnicity except being a Nurse. GOOD for you.

I was 20 years old in 1966 and in college at De La Salle.

Wherever you are, I hope you are well.  Such an experience is what movies are made of and it was TRUE.

I have lived half my life in Manila part in Sprinfield, Va. even....Then back and forth till now, 71, that's it....LOLO time.  4 here sa Filipinas and 1 in Connecticut.

I am still working, a lifetime job, as FM radio announcer at JAM 88.3 fm where I play the Blue, Rock, Jazz Soul and ALL Pinoy at Midnight...rock, blues, jazz that is NOT played on regular channels.  Google me C. H. Pardo. My radio name is Cousin Hoagy.

You are a brave Filipina and deserve everything for LIVING and trying to move on......

I hope to meet you one day..Sincerely,
Hoagy Pardo

Cousin Hoagy

Rock and Roll Machine 

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who is droppin' the letter g and why?


  droppin' the letter   

Language and pronunciation have always fascinated me.  I constantly listen to speech patterns and to the various expressions people use.  I strongly believe that language mirrors society.  It is the harbinger of social trends.
In recent years, the dropping of the letter "g" has become increasingly common in the English-speaking world, particularly among politicians and broadcasters.  It has always been a popular staple of songs and song titles.  Singers, especially country singers, commonly g-drop.  Sometimes g-dropping is done for rhyming purposes in lyrics and in album titles.  For example, Paul Simon's There Goes Rhymin' Simon flows much better better than There goes Rhyming Simon.

G-dropping is rife among television hosts and politicians, especially American politicians.  It does not seem to be as prevalent in the speech of British and Canadian politicians.  Sarah Palin is notorious for g-dropping; however it is unfair to just single her out.  It's not just Palin's failin'.  John McCain does it and so do Bill Clinton and George W.  Bush.  G-dropping, however, goes beyond Republicans and Southerners.  President Barack Obama, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, also has the habit.  Obama talks about "hard workin' American families."  Often, instead of "to" he says "ta"  as in "This is the time for Americans ta seek new opportunities and ta create jobs . . ."

In many cases, this g-dropping is no accident.  It is deliberate and calculated.  Politicians, especially conservative American politicians, want to sound folksy and down-home friendly.  They want to give the impression that they are one of the ordinary people, not some high falutin' snob with high brow tastes.  It's a definite sign of the times, a reflection of anti-intellectualism.  It's part of the long-time steadily increasing casualness of society in dress, manners and deportment.

As for television and radio broadcasters, especially sports announcers, they just want to sound like one of the boys.  Before commercials, they tend to say, "comin' up next."  I can't remember the last time I heard a sports announcer say, "coming up next."  On CNN, Anderson Cooper hosts a segment of his show called "Keeping Them Honest."  Cooper, however, refers to it as "Keepin' Them Honest." 

I also think that g-dropping is partly due to laziness.  It takes more effort and concentration to enunciate.  That is why I don't expect g-dropping to end any time soon.  It is no longer just the mark of Cockneys and country bumpkins.



I watched the All-Star Game last night.  The National League won 5-1.  It was the second consecutive All-Star victory for the NL.  It seems as if the era of American League dominance is over.

It was great to see Toronto Blue Jay slugger Jose Bautista in the All-Star Game.  Bautista leads the majors with 31 home runs at the break.  If he continues to hit homers at this pace, he'll surpass the 54 taters he hit last season.  Congratulation Joey Bats!  I just wish your team was in contention for a playoff spot.

- Joanne

Monday, July 11, 2011

U.S. Presidents and First Ladies Quiz #1

MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011

Today Number 16 presents its first quiz on U..S. Presidents and First Ladies.  There will be more quizzes on this topic in the future.  If you think you think you know your presidential trivia, give it a try.  Good luck and enjoy!


1.  Which U.S. President served as President of Princeton University from 1902 until 1910?

A.  Franklin Roosevelt

B.  Theodore Roosevelt

C.  Woodrow Wilson

D.  Warren G. Harding

E.  Calvin Coolidge

2.  Which President never married?

A.  James Buchanan

B.  Franklin Pierce

C.  Millard Fillmore

D.  Zachary Taylor

E.  James Knox Polk

3.  Which President declared that "the business of America is business?"

A.  William Howard Taft

B.  Ronald Reagan

C.  Herbert Hoover

D.  Calvin Coolidge

E.  Chester A. Arthur

4.  Who was the youngest First Lady?

A.  Dolly Madison

B.  Frances Folsom Cleveland

C.  Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

D.  Florence Harding

E.  Louisa Johnson Adams

5.  Who was the first sitting President to attend a World Series game?

A.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

B.  Herbert Hoover

C.  Warren G. Harding

D.  Theodore Roosevelt

E.  Woodrow Wilson

6.  Which First Lady learned to speak Mandarin Chinese?

A.  Eleanor Roosevelt

B.  Louise Henry Hoover

C.  Hillary Rodham Clinton

D.  Patricia Nixon

E.  Grace Coolidge

7.  At 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm.), Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson are the tallest U.S. Presidents to date.  Who is the shortest U.S. President to date?

A.  James Madison

B.  James Monroe

C.  Martin Van Buren

D.  John Quincy Adams

E.  James Knox Polk

8.  Which President had a dog named Fala?

A.  Richard Nixon

B.  Harry Truman

C.  Franklin D.  Roosevelt

D.  Herbert Hoover

E.  Calvin Coolidge

9.  What was Mamie Eisenhower's real name?

Mamie in 1954

A.  Martha Ann

B.  Mary Geneva

C.  Marian Grove

D.  Mary Margaret

E.  Madeleine Margaret

10.  Which President only served one month in office, the shortest term of any President in American history?

A.  James Knox Polk

B.  Zachary Taylor

C.  Millard Fillmore

D.  John Tyler

E.  William Henry Harrison


1.  C

Woodrow Wilson was President of Princeton University from 1902 until 1910.  In 1910, Wilson was elected Governor of New Jersey.

2.  A.

James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States, never married.  During his time in office, Buchanan's niece, Harriet Lane, fulfilled the duties of a First Lady and served as White House hostess. There has been much speculation about whether or not Buchanan was a homosexual.

James Buchanan

3.  D

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, said that "the business of American is business."

4.  B

Frances Folsom Cleveland remains the youngest First Lady in American history.  She was only 21 years old when she wed President Grover Cleveland.  They married on June 2, 1886 in the Blue Room of the White House.  To date, Frances is the only bride of a U.S. President to marry and give birth in the White House.  Prior to Cleveland's marriage, his sister, Rose Elizabeth Cleveland, had served as White House hostess.

Wedding of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom

Frances Folsom Cleveland

5.  E

Woodrow Wilson became the first sitting President to attend a World Series game.  Wilson was an avid baseball fan and attended 11 major league games while in office.  He never once used his Presidential Pass, opting to pay for every game he attended.  On October 9, 1915, Wilson attended Game 2 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He threw out the first pitch and Boston won the game by a score of 2-1.  The Red Sox went on to win the World Series 4 game to 1.  By the way, the first sitting president to throw a ceremonial pitch at a baseball game was William Howard Taft.  He began the tradition at the Washington Senators' opening day game in 1910.

Wilsn throwing ceremonial pitch at ball game

6.  D.

Louise Henry Hoover spoke Mandarin Chinese.  She was also the first female to graduate from Stanford University with geology degree.  Her husband, Herbert lived in China as a young mining engineer.  After their wedding on February 10, 1899, the newlyweds sailed to China so that Herbert could take up his new post as head of China's mine program.  Lou, as she was know, had a natural proficiency for languages and became quite proficient in Mandarin.  His job required travel to remote and primitive areas.  The Hoovers were forced to leave China in August of 1900 due to the Boxer Rebellion, a Chinese nationalist uprising against foreigners and colonialism. 

Herbert and Lou Hoover were able to converse with each other in Mandarin and would sometimes do so at the White House to thwart eavesdroppers.  Lou eventually created her own English-Mandarin dictionary.  It is among her papers at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.

Lou Henry Hoover

7.  A

James Madison, 4th President of the United States, stood 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm.).

8.  C.

Franklin D.  Roosevelt had a dog named Fala.  Fala was a Scottish Terrier.

9.  B.

Mamie Eisenhower was born Mary Geneva Doud on November 14, 1896 in Boone, Iowa.  She died on November 1, 1979 at the age of 82.

10.  E

William Henry Harrison took the oath of office on March 4, 1841.  It was a cold and rainy on his inauguration day.  Harrison did not wear a hat or overcoat and he delivered the longest inaugural address in American history.  On March 26, he became ill with a cold.  Due to his busy schedule, he had little time to rest and his condition worsened.  It quickly developed into pneumonia and pleurisy.  On April 4, 1841, he passed away after serving only 30 days as President.  It was thought at the time that his pneumonia was a direct result of the inclement weather during his inauguration ceremony.  His illness, however, did not occur until more than three weeks later.

- Joanne

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hey, Gary Carter, we're pulling for you, Kid!


As the 2011 All-Star Game approaches, I hope baseball fans will take some time to think of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter.  Canadians will always have fond memories of Gary's years with the Montreal Expos.  He captured the hearts of the fans during his 12 seasons in the city.  How could Montrealers resist a guy with such an infectious smile, a guy who was nicknamed The Kid? 

Born in Culver City, California on April 8, 1954. Gary was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft.  He made his first appearance behind the plate for the Expos on September 16. 1974 and quickly tried to establish himself as part of the community.  In 1975, Gary married his wife Sandy and, during his early years with the Expos, the couple lived in Montreal.  "Le Kid" endeared himself to Montrealers by taking French lessons and making a strong effort to learn the language.

Although Gary Carter spent the majority of his career as a Montreal Expo, he also made his mark in New York City.  Prior to the 1985 season, the Expos traded him to the New York Mets.  He played for five seasons in the Big Apple and has a World Series ring to show for it.  He was one of the stars of the Mets' 1986 championship team. 

Gary reached a milestone in his career on August 11, 1988.  After a 225 at-bat home run drought, he finall slugged his 300th homer to lead the Mets to a 9-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  He left New York after the 1989 season and spent 1990 with the San Francisco Giants and 1991 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At the end of the 1991 season, the Expos selected Carter off waivers from the  Dodgers.  He returned to Montreal and finished out his career there. Gary Carter played his final major league game on September 27, 1992. The Expos retired his Number 8 uniform on July 31, 1993.  In 2003, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown with a Montreal Expos cap.

In May of this year, Gary, 57, was discovered to have four small tumours in his brain.  He was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer.  Carter's daughter, Kimmy Bloemers, wrote on the family's website: "Dad's tumor is not operable as it like a snake of tumors that are connected across the back of the brain.  The biggest tumor is on the left side of the brain." 

Gary is receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments at home in Florida.  A special Facebook page has been set up where baseball fans can leave messages of support and encouragement for him and his family during this horribly difficult time.  If you would like to leave Gary a message, just click on the link below.


* If you want to know why Gary Carter is so popular in Canada, just read the words he wrote about this country in his tribute to Canada's hero, Terry Fox.

Terry Fox's run was one of the greatest examples of this dedication and faith I have every seen.  His effort rates as the ultimate of any athletic endeavour.  He characterized all the things that make a person a great athlete and a great human being.  This is but one image of Canadians that I have had as an American playing baseball in Canada.  I also admire the honesty and friendliness of the people.  I have had the opportunity of visiting many parts of Canada.  Each area has its own strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes one part of Canada may see itself as being better or worse off than another.

But as an outsider, I have had the opportunity to see how as one country Canada can take all its talents and work to become one of the greatest places to live in the world. 

- Gary Carter
From My Canada, edited by Glenn Keith Cowan

* Gary and Sandy Carter are the parents of three children - Christy, Kimmy and D.J., and three grandchildren.  They are residents of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. 

* After the news of Gary Carter's illness, a video board at a game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field in Queens, New York played a highlight reel of Carter's career iin New York.  The video was followed by a message that read, "Our thoughts are with you Gary.  From your millions of fans and the New York Mets."

Our thoughts and prayers are indeed with you, Gary Carter.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Sadly, Gary Carter passed away on February 16, 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  He was 57 years old.  Rest in peace, Kid.


Congratulations to Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays for being selected to the American League All-Star team.  Jose received a record number of 7,454,753 fan votes.  Now that's impressive!

- Joanne

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Note to America on Independence Day

MONDAY, JULY 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends and readers! On Independence Day, this Canadian would like to write a brief note of congratulations and best wishes to you. I hope that you will never forget two very important instances when Canadians gladly came to your aid in your hour of need.

During the Iran Hostage Crisis, 53 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 until January 20, 1981. On the day the hostages were seized in 1979, six American diplomats were rescued due to the efforts of Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor. The six diplomats were hidden in the Canadian and Swiss embassies. The Canadian Parliament held a secret session to permit Canadian passports to be issued to these six Americans so that they could escape. The diplomats were flown safely to Zurich, Switzerland on January 28, 1980.

Almost ten years ago, on September 11, 2.001, many American travellers were stranded as a result of the terrible terrorist attacks on that day. After U.S. airspace was shut down, thousands of unexpected visitors found themselves in Gander, Newfoundland when 39 transatlantic flights, bound for the United States, were ordered to land at Gander International Airport. Passengers and airline crews were required to remain in the Gander area for up to three days, until airspace was reopened. During that uncertain time, residents of the town of Gander and surrounding communities welcomed those stranded Americans into their homes and provided them with food and hospitality.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once compared Canada’s location next to the United States to that of a mouse sleeping beside an elephant. Sometimes America seems so huge and overwhelming to us. It has almost ten times Canada’s population and enormous economic and military might. It’s difficult for Canadians not to feel dominated both culturally and economically. It is not easy to take a divergent path in some matters.

If Canada is to remain more than just a northern satellite of the United States, there are times when we must differ – not just for the sake of differing but in matters of principle. Nevertheless, I can’t think of any other country I would prefer to have as a neighbour. Whenever I have travelled south of the border, I have been greatly impressed by the generosity and friendliness of the American people.

Many Canadians have personal links to the United States, including myself. My grandparents were Italian immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island before eventually moving to Canada. My mother’s parents were married in New York City and my paternal grandfather worked in Pittsburgh and New York before finally settling in Toronto.

So Happy Fourth, America! In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends, and necessity has made us allies.” Let neither of us take each other for granted.

- Joanne

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reflections on Canada

FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2011

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

- From Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot

Today, on the 144th anniversary of our country, I want to express my pride in being a Canadian and my hopes for the future of this great land.  Canada was not born out of revolution, war or bloodshed.  It was born out of the boldness of a dream.  That dream was to create a new dominion from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Arctic to the Great Lakes.

Confederation was an incredible achievement!  To think that such a huge land mass, so geographically and demographically diverse, could be melded into a country is mind-boggling.  Yet, it happened.  It happened because a railroad was built westward to the Pacific Ocean.  It happened because thousands of Chinese labourers toiled relentlessly to build the railway, often in the harshest of weather conditions. 

It came about because of the joint efforts of an anglophone, John A. Macdonald, and a francophone, George-Etienne Cartier. who worked together for a common cause.  That cause was to forge a nation in the northern part of the continent, a nation built on the premise of "peace, order and good government."

Sir John A. Macdonald would be astounded at today's Canada.  His Canada was sparsely populated,  chiefly rural and mainly white.  The majority outside of Quebec was Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.  Although the face of Canada has changed in 144 years, certain things have not.  In 1867, Canada was a land of promise with much to give the world.  In 2011, it remains a land of promise with much to give the world and much it has already given.

Whenever I return from travelling outside of Canada, I have a joyful feeling of returning home and appreciation for my country.  Here are the words of the late Therese Casgrain of Quebec.  She was a Canadian Senator and a strong advocate for women's rights.

I remember once our famous hockey team les Canadiens had just come back from the USSR where they had been playing.  When they arrived in Dorval (now Montreal's Pierre E. Trudeau Airport), some of them bent down and kissed the soil of their wonderful country.  I can well understand, for each time I returned from any far-away trips, I felt exactly the same way.

- Therese Casgrain
From My Canada, Edited by Glenn Keith Cowan

Theree Casgrain was the driving force of the woman's suffrage movement in the province of Quebec.  In 1951, Casgrain became the leader of the Quebec provincial wing of the CCF (The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation), the forerunner of the NDP.  Thus, she has the distinction of being the first female leader of a major political party in Canada.

In 1970, Therese Casgrain was appointed to the Senate of Canada.  She died in Montreal on November 3, 1981 at the age of 85.


PABLUM:  The first ready-to-use baby cereal with vitamins and minerals was invented in 1930 by Dr. Theodore Drake, Dr. Alan Brown and Dr. Frederick Tisdall of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto..  After trying to devise a vitamin biscuit, the doctors came up with the idea of a pre-cooked cereal.  Its name was taken from pabulum, the Greek word for "food."

THE PAINT ROLLER:  Norman Breakey of Toronto invented the paint roller in 1940.  He was unable to find backing for the development of his invention and couldn't even afford to defend the patent from copyright infringement.

* Canada has the longest national highway in the world, the Trans-Canada Highway.  The highway was officially opened on September 3, 1962, although all the sections were not yet completed.  The Ontario section of the highway was not opened until June 28, 1965.

The Trans-Canada Highway crosses the country and stretches 7,821 kilometres (4,860 miles) from St. John's Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia.

Canada is also home to the longest designated street in the world - Yonge Street.  Yonge Street runs north and west from Toronto, Ontario.  The first segment of the street was completed in 1796.  It now officially runs as far as Rainy Rivers at the Ontario-Minnesota border.  It is 1,900.5 kilometres (1,178.3 miles) long.

*  In 1867, the year of Confederation, Canada's population was estimated to be about 3.5 million (Statistics Canada Historical Statistics)  By 1967, Canada's centennial year, the population of the country had grown to 20,378,000 (June 1, 1967 Statistics Canada estimate).  According to Statistics Canada, as of April 1, 2011, Canada's estimated population was 34,349,200. 

From 1867 to 1967, Canada's population grew from about 3.5 million to about 20.4 million.  In the 44 years since 1967, it has already grown from 20.4 million to 34.4 million, an increase of 14 million.


June 28th marked the 30th anniversary of the death of a great Canadian, Terry Fox.  On September 1, 1980, after learning that cancer had spread to his lungs, Terry gave up his cross-Canada run  to raise money for cancer research.  He died on June 28, 1981 at the age of 22.  Canadians will never forget his heroism.  Below is an excerpt from a tribute to Terry.  It was written by another great Canadian, scientist and environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki.

To Terry

We are a self-deprecating people; too often that translates into a sense of inferiority: that if it's Canadian, it can't be first rate; that somehow pride in Canada is dangerous or unsophisticated.

What Terry Fox has made me do is think about the things that make me proud to be Canadian.  No country is without its warts, defects, and stupidities.  But in our self-criticism. we must never forget the solid base of positive features. 

As a third-generation Canadian, I felt the full force of panic, greed, and stupidity during World War II.  I hope that the incarceration of the Japanese Canadians, which was forced upon all of us in my family, will stand as a powerful lesson in the fragility of democratic guarantees.

- David Suzuki
From My Canada, Edited by Glenn Keith Cowan

- Joanne