John Delach

On The Outside Looking In

The Ubiquitous Blimp

After the loss of the USS Macon on February 12, 1935, the US Navy’s Lighter- Than-Air operations ground to a halt.

The threat of a war in Europe was emerging with the rise Adolph Hitler and his burgeoning Nazi regime. As Hitler’s power increased, America rejected involvement in the possibility of another European war. The aftermath of World War I hung heavily across the USA still mired in the Great Depression. It seemed that “The war to end all wars,” was nothing more than a slogan used to entice public support to send American boys to their early graves in a conflict that was none of our business.

America turned inward and isolation was our calling card. Any effort to expand our military or to consider aid to Europe was anathema and Congress passed laws to prevent the President from aiding any potential belligerents. FDR knew the risks from these actions, but his own party controlled both houses of Congress and he understood they would cast him aside if he defied them.

It was not until the fall of France in June of 1940 that FDR forced Congress to come to terms with the pathetic state of the Armed Forces and authorize expenditures to modernize and expand the army and navy.

Paramount in these acts was the authorization for “A Two-Ocean Navy,” a fleet capable of defending both our Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This legislation appropriated the funds to build 11 new battleships, 11 new aircraft carriers, 52 cruisers and 155 destroyers as well as multiple numbers of other ships and boats of every size and description.

The navy asked for and obtained authorization to purchase six K-Class Blimps for its Lighter-Than-Air Branch to patrol the coastlines and hunt for mines and submarines. This authorization was soon increased to include new blimp bases near Boston and Norfolk in addition to dormant bases in Lakehurst, NJ and Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The number of new blimps was increased to 48 to be constructed by the Goodyear Corporation.

Ultimately, 134 K-Class Blimps were produced which operated out of ten fields in the United States, one in Jamaica, one in Trinidad, two in Brazil and one in French Morocco.

One airship was lost through enemy action, the K-74. On July 18, 1943, the crew detected and attacked a U-Boat using radar. A gun duel silenced the boat’s guns, but the blimp’s bombs failed to release. The K-74 was brought down by renewed gunfire. Nine of the ten members of the crew were rescued.

The slow-moving blimps were not adept at sinking U-Boats on their own, but, once a U-Boat commander saw one near his submarine, his only choice was to dive as the blimp commander was already transmitting the sub’s location to avenging boats and airplanes.

The blimp played a vital role in picking up downed pilots and dropping life-saving supplies to stranded merchant mariners who had survived the loss of their ships.

After the war ended, the need for lighter than air operations evaporated and by 1956, only two bases remained, Lakehurst, NJ and Weeksville, NC. Twenty-six blimps remained in operation, mostly the now venerable K-Class Blimps designated as belonging to the Airship Patrol Squadron. By 1958, seven new blimps were on order from Goodyear, designated as the Z-Class, they were designed to replace the Ks that were retired in 1959.

The hoped-for Z- Class Blimp renaissance did not materialize. By 1961, the navy brass accepted the fact that both helicopters and land-based, long range patrol planes could easily fulfill their role.

On August 31, 1962, Blimp ZPG-2 ended the 47-year saga of the US Navy’s Lighter-Than-Air operations with its last flight at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station.

Goodyear continues to fly their own advertising fleet. Others come and go and a sizeable “what if crowd,” cries out for new applications from time to time, all without success.

May we enjoy the few blimps that continue to fly and accept: “That’s all folks!” 

A Time of Rage: Part Three and the End

Friday morning, I followed my usual routine, walking south along Park Row from the Chambers Street subway station. As I passed City Hall, I sensed an ominous difference. Construction workers had gathered at City Hall Park. They loitered there talking, smoking and drinking coffee. “Funny,” I thought. “Shouldn’t they be at work?”

When I reached the office, I mentioned this to my boss, Don Lamont.

He replied, “You know John, I came from the PATH Station and I saw the same thing by the construction site for the World Trade Center. I didn’t see anyone working. Instead the men were milling around at ground level.”

“Don, do you mind if I don’t go on any surveys today? I have a funny feeling this is related to the scheduled protests and I want to go out on the street to see what happens.”

“Okay, but for God’s sake, don’t get hurt.”

I promised him I would be careful as I left the office. I crossed Park Row and joined the construction workers gathered in City Hall Park. It was about 10:30 AM. Many had abandoned coffee for beer. Since I was dressed in a jacket and tie, I did not try to mingle with them, instead I listened in to snatches of conversation as I walked toward Broadway.

That damn Lindsay has the flag at half-mast.”… “The union wants us to show Lindsay what they think of him.”… “Too bad the Guardsmen didn’t kill a few more of those punks.”… “We are supposed to go to Battery Park at 11:00 AM.

They were angry, very, angry. These snatches of conversation with their expletives deleted barely reflect the extent of their anger.

The Times reported that the mayor’s office and the police had received warnings Thursday evening that a massive counter-demonstration by construction workers had been planned for Friday involving carpenters, iron workers, electricians, tin knockers, plumbers and masons. I don’t have a clue how it started.

 I do know these men considered themselves fiercely patriotic, hard-working Americans. It was their brothers, cousins, sons or friends who were slugging it out in Viet Nam while these “children of privilege” and their “Negro friends” demonstrated, protested and rioted. They boiled every time the evening news showed students denouncing their own as “baby killers” while trashing the beautiful campuses these working men would never experience. They boiled watchingtheir flag, their country, their values being trashed by malcontents that they could not understand.

The shootings at Kent State were not a tragedy to them, no siree, “It was payback time, baby.” They didn’t care how the media reacted because they didn’t trust the media. But when these kids started taking to the streets, their streets, it was time for them to take back their streets.

I made my way south on Broadway toward Battery Park, but I stopped when I reached Wall Street where a group of student protesters was gathering. They were already blocking Wall Street from Exchange Place to Broad Street. I walked over to watch, most sat on the pavement, peaceful and quiet. One of their leaders distributed instructions explaining how to act when the television crews arrived. Others gave out written instructions on what to do when arrested including phone numbers for the ACLU and other like-minded organizations. I was handed a copy and I recall thinking how professional it seemed to be. The police were there in moderate numbers. They stood in groups, talking with each other in that bored cop fashion. None wore helmets and I did not see riot control gear although it could have been concealed near-by.

A buzz began to make its way through the demonstrators. Construction workers were massing at Battery Park and were going to break-up this protest. A sense of determination followed. The crowd drew closer together taking strength from each other. Feeling the tension, I decided I did not like where I was standing. The streets were too crowded as office workers on lunch breaks had filled the intersection to observe the demonstrators. If there was panic, I would be trapped. My escape instinct led me to walk over to a nearby subway entrance that led to the mezzanine level. I popped down to confirm it was deserted and provided a passageway that headed north under Nassau Street. Here was an escape route.

With this knowledge, I re-emerged from a different staircase, this one next to the J.P. Morgan Bank directly across from the Subtreasury Building. I stood on the top step and leaned on the Morgan Bank wall.

It was shortly after noon when the construction mob boisterously made its way up Broad Street. They wore hard hats and carried sticks, bats and tools. Onlookers and office workers parted as the mob approached Wall Street. They reached the intersection, hesitated and stopped. They chanted “USA, USA, USA”, but a thin line of police stood between the hard hats and the protestors. Behind the police, a mixed crowd occupied the steps of the Subtreasury Building.

The steps were crowded with onlookers surrounding the bronze statue of George Washington. I watched as a solitary figure stepped out from behind the statue. He was nondescript, short, slight, wearing glasses, a sports jacket and a tie. He looked like a college professor. Standing in front of the statue, he drew an American flag from inside his jacket and unfurled it. The beginnings of a cheer started from the construction workers and onlookers, but then the man extracted a knife from his pocket. He held the knife over his head then, he hacked at the flag ripping and tearing it.

 “Jesus,” I said out loud, “are you nuts?”

The workers closest to the steps broke through the police, grabbed this guy and dragged him down from the steps beating and clubbing him as they threw him to the ground. The police picked him up rushing him to a waiting patrol car. He was a mess, bruised and bleeding, his clothes were torn and stained with his blood.

That was all that the construction workers needed. In a rage, they charged into the protestors, cursing and kicking while swinging clubs and bats. The students were standing by then and scattered in front of this onslaught. The lucky ones ran north on Nassau Street. Most tried to retreat west on Wall Street to Broadway. Waiting for them was another worker contingent who had marched up Broadway.

 These patriots did their best to beat as many of the radicals as they could reach


The crowd was out of control. Cops could not contain the melee. So, instead, they formed a line diagonally across the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets forcing the crowd to separate and move in different directions. I decided it was time to leave and I re-entered the subway making my way north along the still deserted passageway under Nassau Street away from the fighting.

My intention was to tell Don what I had experienced, but when I turned onto Park Row, I saw the mob rushing Pace University’s main building adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge. A peace banner hung from the roof and students stood in front of the building. The mob assaulted milling students, scattering them. The doors were locked, so they smashed the ground floor windows to enter the lobby. Several men made their way to the roof and cut the banner loose, sending it to the ground where it was torn apart and burned. Injured students dazed and bleeding made their way south on Park Row.

A young woman cried out to me as I passed her, “Why is this happening?”

The mob turned its attention across Park Row to City Hall and its flag hanging at half-mast. Hundreds of construction workers reached a line of wooden sawhorses the police had hastily erected. Maybe two dozen cops stood between the workers and City Hall. The workers chanted, “Raise the flag, raise the flag, raise the flag.”

To their delight, a custodian emerged onto the roof and raised the flag. Cheers erupted until an aide to Mayor Lindsay, Sidney Davidoff, crossed the roof and re-lowered the flag to its previous position.

Davidoff’s action produced an instant of silence. Then an animal sound erupted as the men broke through the wooden horses and assaulted the steps. The police could not hold and were pressed against the doors. Desperately, their commander begged the mayor to raise the flag.

 Unfortunately, this moment of crisis found Lindsay not at City Hall, but miles uptown at Gracie Mansion. Deputy mayor, Richard Aurelio, chose to heed the police. Another custodian accompanied by two plain-clothes policemen raised the flag and the cops remained on the roof to assure that it remained at full staff. The mob stopped and cheered. They stood hats in hand to sing our National Anthem as alcohol fueled tears coated many cheeks. Contented with their victory, they broke into chants like, “ USA, USA, USA” and “Lindsay’s a Red” before dispersing to local bars.

The city was in shock. The scenes at Wall Street, Pace University and City Hall were replayed repeatedly on both local and national news. Relations between the Mayor and the police department were already strained. Now, Lindsay assailed the police performance. In return, the PBA blasted Lindsay. Essentially a no-win situation.

The reports on television were broadcast with the same tone of disbelief that followed the shootings.

But something had happened that day, something hidden in our psyche something we wanted to be alien to the American experience; “class warfare.”

The news had a strange effect on most Americans. They did not view the construction workers as thugs, nor the student protestors as innocents. They too had become fed up with all the attention college protestors were receiving. A groundswell of support for Nixon grew as millions of Americans watched the news from New York City.

 Somebody in the Nixon camp gave it a label. A label to describe this growing force that up until now believed it was ignored by the media, ignored by the courts and by their own elected officials. A force here-to-fore without clout. A force that was considered old fashioned and out of touch. A force that on  Friday had revealed itself in all its tainted glory. The label was “The silent majority.”

Part Four, After

   The silent majority began to flourish that weekend.

Lower Manhattan was deserted over the weekend. On Monday, the construction workers roamed the financial district looking for non-existent radicals. This time they were joined by longshoremen whose union leaders ordered them off the piers and onto the streets. Lindsay had enough. By Tuesday, lower Manhattan was a police state. Helmeted tactical police force units lined the sidewalk temporarily preventing New Yorkers from engaging in their favorite pastime, jaywalking.

The following week, the trade unions were rewarded with a noisy parade down Broadway. Newly painted, freshly washed dump trucks, low boys, cement mixers, garbage trucks and other heavy-duty machines paraded down the “Great White Way.” Flags and patriotic slogans adorned the vehicles while “heroic” workers waved to the cheering crowd.

Nixon found his silent majority and an election landslide in the making. Lindsay slipped another notch in the eyes of most residents and four families remained on the sideline in mourning having buried their lost children shot dead at Kent State.

Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.

George Santana 1869-1952  

A Time of Rage: Part Two

Part Two, The National Attitude

How could volunteer citizen-soldiers deliberately shoot thirteen American college students on the campus of their university? If you did not live through the upheavals of the 1960s, you cannot imagine how divided our country had become by 1970.

Beginning in 1963, “baby boomers” reached college age and by 1967, they flooded every grade level making the college population a significant part of American society. They were unlike the smaller, docile classes of “Depression born” or “War babies.” These boomers made demands for radical changes that these institutions had not experienced before and were ill equipped to understand.

It began with freedom of expression and racial equality. Dress codes, appearance codes, types of organizations permitted on campus and acceptable behavior were challenged.

Even though the Supreme Court had declared segregation and “separate but equal” null and void in 1954, it had taken ten years for an effective Civil Rights Act to be passed and for segregated colleges in the South and “lily white” mainstream universities in the North to open their doors to black students. Once they gained admission, African Americans also demanded a greater voice, a greater presence, and the creation of programs that focused on issues important to them. Other issues followed pertaining to sexual liberation and gender equality.

But the greatest anger and protests were reserved for that “damn war” in Viet Nam. Protests erupted on colleges across the nation from Berkley to Columbia. Administrators reacted by attempting to crush them and restore order, first with campus guards, then by summoning local police, then escalating to include state police and finally, national guard troops. Radical students countered with their own escalated upheavals. They seized offices and buildings daring police and troops to come and get them. Some of the riots ended peacefully after demands over real or imagined injustices were met. Others ended in assaults using tear gas, Billy clubs and brutality. Hate was the winner.

 I graduated in 1965 when most college campuses remained as dormant and politically uninteresting as they had been since World War II. “Better dead than Red” and the question of defending the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, a divided Berlin, Cuba and the missile showdown with the USSR were major debatable issues. Only President John Kennedy’s assassination darkened our days, but that was a national tragedy that united us in sorrow.

 I was five years out of college in 1970, married with a six-month old daughter. We lived in Middle Village, Queens, a mostly conservative, Irish-Italian-Catholic and Jewish community of attached one-family brick houses. I worked as a cargo surveyor for an independent firm based on Park Row across from City Hall Park. My biggest concern was how to make ends meet on one salary now that my wife had stopped teaching after the birth of our daughter.

I had also joined the New York National Guard in 1965 to avoid the draft. My unit was based in an armory in Hempstead, Long Island. My commitment to serve for six years. However, my outfit had been federalized because of a mail strike and, in return for this short spell on active duty, my commitment was reduced by one year. Even though my military obligation ended in 1970, I still related to the shootings in Ohio.

 Fortunately, our unit had never been activated to deal with student or racial unrest, but following the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, we underwent riot-control training.

Because Hempstead was a town with a sizable African-American population, local politicians wanted to keep this training quiet. Instead of practicing in the open equipment area behind the armory, we were trucked to a Naval Reserve site in trendy Sands Point on the so called “Gold Coast” of Long Island for training. We constructed streets and intersections using sticks and tape. One third of the fellows stripped to their tee shirts and played the rioters. The rest of us, in full gear including gas masks, fixed bayonets to our M1 rifles formed “V” shaped skirmish lines and marched in a slow cadence toward the rioters.

 Perhaps it was because we were one unit. Perhaps we didn’t know what to do and there were no professional policemen to guide us, but we were unsuccessful in moving the rioters who simply sat down. Tempers flared as officers and sergeants became impatient. One lieutenant struck a “rioter” in the face with the butt of a rifle to get him to move. Rather than having the desired effect, the “rioters” became enraged and the lieutenant had to be removed before a real mutiny ensued.

Two other things struck me that day. The first involved our location, the Naval Reserve Center fronted onto Middle Neck Road, the main thoroughfare that cut through Sands Point. It was a gorgeous sunny day and young male and female Sands Point residents parked their Corvettes, Thunderbirds and Mustang convertibles along the road. Having these preppy, pretty, wealthy children observe us as they relaxed on the hoods of their cars with their backs against the windshields made a weird experience weirder.

The second was troubling. On one occasion, I found myself at the point of the V. Wearing a gas mask limited my field of vision preventing me from seeing the soldier on either side of me, not even their protruding rifles and bayonets. This gave me the nagging feeling of being all alone. To my horror, I realized I would have been petrified if this were the real thing!

It was unfathomable to consider that if this were a real riot, those in command would issue live ammunition to ill trained and undisciplined troops like us.

We returned to the trucks for the ride back to the armory. As our two and one-half ton trucks headed south on Port Washington Boulevard, residents looked at us quizzically wondering what this troop movement was all about.

Part Three, Black Friday

New York City

Violent demonstrations spread throughout the land as radio and television broadcast the news about the shootings. The news on Wednesday included stories of students leaving their schools to take their rage into the hearts of the cities; their aim, to block traffic and disrupt business. Faculty members and administrators gave students tacit approval to boycott classes for the remainder of the week.

On Thursday, May 7th, thousands of students from New York City and suburban colleges joined two massive protests, one at Battery Park, the other on Wall Street. They ultimately merged at the Sub Treasury Building at the corner of Wall, Broad and Nassau Streets, the heart of the financial district. Plans were made to escalate the protests on Friday, blocking highways, bridges and tunnels.

Mayor Lindsay ordered the flag on City Hall and all other municipal buildings lowered to half-staff. He asked the school chancellor to close all city schools on Friday, May 8th, declaring it: “A Day of Reflection.”

The student protestors had captured the sympathy of the press and city government. Newspapers, television and radio depicted the story of student outrage. Lindsay chose municipal guilt and mourning.

Friday morning, I followed my usual routine, walking south along Park Row from the Chambers Street subway station and past City Hall. I sensed an ominous difference. Construction workers had gathered at City Hall Park. They loitered there talking, smoking and drinking coffee. “Funny,” I thought. “Shouldn’t they be at work?”

When I reached the office, I mentioned this to my boss, Don Lamont.

He replied, “You know John, I came from the PATH Station and I saw the same thing by the World Trade Center construction site. I didn’t see anyone working. Instead the men were milling around at ground level.”

“Don, do you mind if I don’t go on any surveys today? I have a funny feeling this is related to the scheduled protests and I want to go out on the street to see what happens.”

“Okay, but for God’s sake, don’t get hurt.” I promised him I would be careful as I left the office.

A Time of Rage: Part One


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santana 1869 -1952

I wrote the original version of A Time of Rage in 2003 to leave a record of that time in my life when I personally witnessed events that would sorely test our domestic tranquility to the point that the situation was close to being in doubt.

America was being consumed by hate, strife, conflict and rage. The war in Viet Nam was the prime mover, but racial turmoil exacerbated our national fear and loathing. The assassination of Martin Luther King set inner cities a blaze throughout America as his voice of non-violence was superseded by madness and wanton destruction.

It seemed our perceived national identity had been lost.

Viet Nam ended our innocence. We went to war based on a “Bright and Shining Lie;” a lie so fundamental that it wasn’t only deceitful, it was a crime. Both President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon knew and understood that this was a war we could not win. Still LBJ had our Navy formulate the Gulf of Tonkin incident to commit what turned out to be over 500,000 of our youth and our national treasure to a lost cause. Nixon persisted in continuing it.

A revolution had been set in motion and in the spring of 1970, Nixon knowingly or unwittingly, stoked the flames bringing our country to the brink by sending our troops into neutral Cambodia thereby expanding the war.

My purpose for re-publishing this piece now is that I believe our country is once again going down a similar path.

When I wrote: ”A Time of Rage”  my goal was to report it without taking sides.

Being a life-long conservative, my reactive side was to blame the left. However, I sought to leave  my opinion aside and tell it like it was as objectively as I could. So here it is my take on that time and my part in it without edit except for style.

Part One, The Shootings

Kent State University, Kent Ohio

          It was the photograph that told the story in a way that words could never explain. On Tuesday, May 5, 1970 The New York Times front page headline read:

4 Kent State Students Killed by Troops

      But it was John File’s iconic photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a fourteen-year-old runaway, totally distraught, screaming as she knelt over the body of Jeffrey Glen Miller, killed by .30 caliber bullets fired by Ohio National Guard soldiers’ M1 rifles. The explanation: The Guard had returned fire after being shot at by a sniper.

There was no sniper.

Twelve casualties, four of them dead: Glen Miller, 20, from Plainview, Long Island; Allison Krauss, 19, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Sandra Lee Schreder, 20, from Youngstown, Ohio, and William K. Schroeder, 19, from Lorain, Ohio.    

Trouble first began on Saturday and the initial story appeared below the fold on Page 5 of The New York Times on Sunday, May 3, 1970. The lead story, at the top of the page, reported that Columbia University had decided to suspend classes for one day on Monday to protest the incursion by United States military forces into Cambodia. This related story originated with the Associated Press:

A fire, deliberately set, had destroyed a one-story wooden

ROTC building at Kent State University in central Ohio.

Students cut hoses and threw rocks, hampering firemen

from fighting the fire. Earlier that day 2,000 students

from the university had clashed with police in the town

of Kent.

This was not an isolated incident of protest. Four days earlier, President Richard M. Nixon addressed the nation explaining the scope and reasons for the Cambodian invasion. Prominent  statesmen such as former Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and politicians including Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, supported the President’s actions. But student protestors reacted angrily following Nixon’s speech. Radical student leaders-initiated violence at Stanford University but, because of the time difference, the news of their rock-throwing protest didn’t make the East Coast papers until Friday’s editions. The Times reported:

The Times banner headline that morning was about the war, not the protests:



Colleges were in turmoil. Before Nixon’s speech, Ohio State students had already clashed with more than 500 Ohio National Guard troops and state police over the war and civil rights issues. The news story stated that, in the melee, the Guardsmen had fired tear gas while the police fired shotguns, though no pellet wounds were reported. One hundred protestors were arrested and 13 were injured.

But the biggest concern for public safety that weekend was in New Haven, Connecticut, where 20,000 people were expected on Saturday to protest the murder trial of the Black Panther’s national chairman, Bobby Seale. Seale, and eight other Black Panthers, were accused of the torture and murder of Alex Rackley, a 24-year-old Panther. Connecticut’s governor, John Dempsey, was so concerned whether the state police and the national guard could maintain order that he telegraphed attorney general John Mitchell to request federal troops. Mitchell dispatched elements of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg and elements of the 2nd Marine Division from Camp Lejeune to federal facilities close to New Haven. However, these soldiers were not needed as only about half of the anticipated 20,000 protestors rallied on Saturday and the organizers decided to end their protests, so they could instead support Seale’s call for a nationwide protest of Nixon’s expanded war.

The organizers were mindful of the rage that was building over the Cambodian incursion. That weekend, protests spread to additional colleges and universities including Princeton, Maryland, Cincinnati, Temple and Rutgers. President Nixon responded by calling the student radicals, “bums,” in a speech given at the Pentagon.

Sunday was relatively quiet. The Times did find enough interest in the wire service piece about Kent State to dispatch their own reporter, John Kifner, to expand the details of the AP report. His story appeared on Page 11 on Monday, May 4th under the headline:



Third Straight Night of

Unrest at Kent State

Kifner reported that trouble began Friday evening when 1,000 students marched in protest joined by an equal number of young people from downtown Kent who had been drinking at local bars with names like Pirate’s Alley and J B’s. The mob tore down billboards, benches and fences to build a bonfire on the main street, smashed the windows of banks, shops and an armed forces recruiting station before being stopped by city and state police.

Ohio’s governor, James A. Rhodes, dispatched 600 national guardsmen who had already been activated to control a wildcat Teamsters strike in Cleveland. The guardsmen arrived Saturday night and prevented students from storming the home of university president, Robert I. White. Police accompanying the soldiers fired tear gas driving back the students and dispersing the crowd. Kifner ended his article by observing that the campus was quiet on Sunday.

Despite a planned noon rally on Monday being banned, students began to gather on the Commons to continue their protests. Removal of the national guard was added to their grievances. Shortly before noon, General Robert Canterbury decided to disperse the demonstrators. When the order shouted by a state trooper through a bullhorn had little effect, Canterbury ordered his men to lock and load their weapons and to don their gas masks. Tear gas was fired onto the Common as the guardsmen began to advance in a skirmish line. The crowd gave ground as the line of soldiers advanced down Blanket Hill and onto the football practice field. Here they found themselves in what amounted to a box canyon as the field was surrounded by fences. Isolated and scared, they reformed the skirmish line and retraced their steps back up Blanket Hill.

A group of demonstrators followed the guardsmen and it was at the top of the hill that about a third of the soldiers turned and fired in this group’s direction killing four and wounding nine.  

An Ill Wind

I did not plan a piece for today, but Isaias changed that. Isaias, what a peculiar name. Pronounced, E-sy-E-us, it is the Spanish or Latin translation of Isaiah meaning “God is Salvation.”

Isaias was also a named windstorm that travelled through the Northeastern states on Tuesday, August 4. Not to be confused with a monster storm like Superstorm Sandy that clobbered the Metropolitan area with water and wind, Isaias was downgraded to a fast-moving tropical storm by the time it arrived in this area.

It didn’t receive the hype that Sandy did either, but in the short time it took to pass, we learned that it isn’t always size that counts. Mary Ann and I had three separate encounters with the storm and its aftermath.

We began our experience in Denmark, ME at the summer camp of Geoff and Judy Jones our old friends who summer in Maine and winter in Saint Simons Island, GA. Each year we alternate visiting the Jones’ in Maine or they visit us in New Hampshire. Both homes are in the sticks, but their camp is on a lovely lake.

We knew the storm was coming on Tuesday, so we made haste to return to Marlow before it arrived. Less than 130 miles separate us but, since most of the journey is along two-lane country roads, traveling time is about three hours.

Still the storm seemed to arrive simultaneously with us about 3pm. By 5pm a large eye treated us to blue skies that quickly darkened. Rain and wind returned causing a power failure before six. Geoff and Judy lost their power about the same time. Losing power in rural areas is common enough that Geoff maintains a gasoline powered generator. We don’t spend as much time so we depend on battery powered lanterns and faith that New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) would save the day sooner rather than later.

Our son, Michael, his wife, Jodie and daughter Samantha were with us, but their two boys had left separately that morning driving back to Fairfield, Connecticut. Fortunately, Jodie had already prepared a pasta in meat sauce dinner just before the lights went out. Our guests left the next morning in the continuing blackout. Before they left, Drew told them power was out in Fairfield. We also discovered Port Washington had also been hit hard with numerous trees down.

Curiously, our NH problem turned out to be a broken utility pole that NHEC replaced mid-afternoon on Wednesday letting there be light once again. The Jones’ utility also acted swiftly but failed to re-connect them or their neighbor on Wednesday. On Thursday Geoff ventured out to find a utility truck and after a bit of frustration, found six in convoy. The lead diver agreed to follow Geoff home where the lineman spotted a tripped circuit breaker on the top of the pole leading to their home. He used a 30-foot telescoping pole to reset the breaker leading to a bright and loud spark along the line and a second tripped breaker. The workers fixed the short and power lived again.

We also learned that our New Jersey friends, Mike and Lynn Scott were without power in their Fairhaven home. WTF? How could three major Metropolitan power suppliers in three different states get it wrong. After Sandy, all of us had been sold the same bill-of-goods that they had taken steps to minimize outages and re-invented their communication system so that customers would receive accurate and timely updates. Instead, Isaias overwhelmed the utilities and, in each case accurate communication was zero point zero.

Our Port Washington power returned Friday morning, Michael Delach’s on Saturday morning and the Scotts on Saturday evening.

Despite the wide-spread annoyance of Isaias, I was able to take away an odd tale from the blackout in Port Washington. A good method to remotely determine whether power is on or off is to call the answering machine. If the power is on, the call will go through to voice mail. If it is off, it won’t go though.

Sometime on Wednesday I called 883-0040 from my mobile phone. On the second ring, a man said hello.

Nonplused, I was silent for a second or two then I said, “I’m taken aback. I never thought that a person would pick-up this call. You see I was calling a number that should have gone to a voice mail.” That number is 883-0040.”

He replied: “Amazingly, this phone number doesn’t contain even one of those digits! Must be a problem in the switching system.”

Sorry.” I replied. I called back on our NH land line this time including the area code: 516-883-0040.

Same fellow picked it up and answered: “You again.”

“Good grief, I thought including the area code would set it free. I will not bother you again. Goodbye”

True to my promise I didn’t call him again, but my daughter did. So did our friend, Sue from Florida and the Hampton Inn, Oxford, OH called to confirm a reservation for my son. I have no idea who else called, but on Friday I decided to call him one last time and offer him a bottle of his favorite brand as thanks for his trouble. Too bad, but by the time I called my answering machine was back in operation.

So, whoever you are, if I ever find you again, I owe you and thank you for your patience. 

The Queen of the Skies

British Airways’ (BA) announcement in mid-July stunned aviation enthusiasts: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect. It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for BA again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.”

And that’s that and so it goes. BA was the largest operator with 31 747-400s  remaining in its airliner inventory. Sure, we enthusiasts knew the end of service life for the first and the most successful of the jumbo jets was drawing to a close. BA had previously revealed that they would phase out their 747s over the next five years, but five years is five years away.     

British Airways’ predecessor, British Overseas Airways Corporation or BOAC acquired their first Boeing-747-100 in 1970 and this airplane made its first commercial flight on April 14, 1971.

Boeing  designed the jumbo to meet the wishes of, Juan Trippe, the founder and CEO of Pan American World Airways. Trippe demanded an airliner 2 ½ times the size of the 707, Boeings first successful jet airliner that entered service in 1958. Pan Am ordered 25 airplanes and took delivery of their first 747, the Clipper Young America on January 22, 1970.

Since 1969, the first year of production, Boeing has built 1,556 747s with 16 on order or under construction. The last of those 747-8 freighters is expected to roll off the production line from their Everett, Washington plant in the next two years.

Boeing 747’s remained in demand with airlines and frequent fliers for almost forty years. Following the demise of the supersonic Concorde, their popularity with elite transatlantic travelers soared. No airplane could fly higher or faster and the 747’s size allowed the airlines to outfit their First Class and Business Class cabins with luxurious features. 

One of the first indications that the 747’s tide was ebbing was the great tragedy on September 11, 2001. Another was the direct competition from the introduction of the Airbus A380, the first jumbo passenger plane to surpass the 747 in both size and superlatives.

(Curiously, the A380 would fall victim to the same forces that doomed the 747. Airbus has announced that it will close the A-380 production line in 2021 because of a dearth of orders even before the virus struck. Only 250 will be built making this jumbo a financial disaster.)

Demand for the 747 shrank as newer and more efficient two-engine jumbo jets like Boeing’s own 777 entered service. These aircraft that could provide similar luxury while being cost-efficient.

Domestic flights ended early in 2018 when a veteran crew flew Delta Airlines’ last active 747 from Atlanta to the airplane boneyard in Marana, Arizona.  

Covid-19 landed the knock-out blow. BA was not alone in retiring their fleet. Virgin Atlantic retired their 747s on April 10, 2020. There stated reason: the pandemic. Covid-19 has decimated world-wide air traffic reducing these airlines financial situations to dire.

Lufthansa retired its 747-400s. Only their six 8Fs remain.

The last chapter for the 747 is being written at Boeing’s San Antonio facility. Two 747-8F have been delivered to the United States Air Force for conversion into VC-25B transports better known as Air Force One. Boeing built these airplanes for Volga-Dnept, a Russian company that subsequently tanked. Uncle bought them and their conversion is under way with the first delivery expected in 2024.

Since their service life is expected to be at least 30 years, they will still be flying at a minimum of five years short of the Queen of the Sky’s 100th anniversary!


On the Outside Looking In will not publish for the next two weeks. I hope to  reveal an intense piece comparing the on-going turmoil of this summer to our discontent to that of 1970.              

OBX Vacation

I am back!

Last summer Mary Ann and I decided to take our family to the Outer Banks to celebrate my 75th birthday. We rented a house on the beach behind the dune in Nags Head. All 11 of us had a wonderful time, so much so, that Mary Ann directed me to rent a house for 2020 to celebrate her 75th.

Unfortunately, our rental was already taken for the week of the 4th of July. Choosing not to be defeated, our daughter, Beth, found another realtor who had what appeared to be an acceptable alternative in the town of Duck further north on the Outer Banks. I took the plunge and accepted the contract.

Before I continue with this story, I need to explain my thoughts about beach vacations. I have made many in my life that included stays in Cape Cod, Fire Island, the Hamptons, Florida, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Saint Martin / Maarten and Antigua. I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a week on the beach and the calmness it offers.

However, I first must get passed the four things I do not like or enjoy about a beach vacation: The sun, the sand, bathing suits and the waves. I never liked the sun. I am fair person who burns quickly and easily. Sand is a close second and I find bathing suits to be uncomfortable. I loved the surf growing up and body surfed with pride and pleasure. Such is life and those days ended a long time ago. Now, my idea of a perfect beach vacation is being on a shaded deck or a porch with, at least, three books to devour drinking a cold one while having a grand view of the ocean and family members enjoying the sand and sun.

Fortunately, I am alone in our family to have this point of view which makes a beach vacation work for everybody else.

Jodie is the queen of the beach hands down and spends as much time there as she can. Michael, Beth, Tom and Mary Ann all tie for second. Our grandchildren also enjoy the beach but also seek out alternative activities. As a group, Drew, Matt, Marlowe, Sami and Cace all finish third.

The time it takes to drive to the Outer Banks from the New York Metropolitan area is a stretch, but it is doable. Non-stop without traffic is eight hours and change and with stops, pockets of traffic and unexpected delays, 10 hours. This estimate turned out to be accurate for all of us this trip. We drove down separately in three different vehicles. Mary Ann and I invited Marlowe and Cace to join us. Our new Hyundai Palisade sports bucket seats in both the first and second rows and considerably more leg room. They jumped at the offer.

The house we rented was a wicked improvement over last years. Named: Run-A-Way Bay, everything was newer and more opulent. It had six bedrooms, so everybody was happy with their accommodations. The dining room fit all eleven of us as did a picnic table outside on the upper deck.

Since we now live in the era of Covid-19, eating in was a must. In 2019, we didn’t eat out much. Seating eleven is cumbersome so we mainly did take-out and we followed an even stricter discipline for this vacation. In addition, adhering to Covid-19 paranoia and having learned from 2019, we brought down NY Sicilian pizza for our first night since eateries in OBX are overwhelmed on arrival night.

Michael also brought a fabulous Buffalo chicken dinner for a second night and

Jodie contributed Chicken Parmigiana for a third. (Let us respect that Mary Ann brought two trays of lasagna, meat and meatless, that the rabble rejected.)   

Mary Ann and I supplied 100 surgical face masks, toilet paper for every bathroom, paper towels, sanitizers, hand soap and wipes to protect our family.

Of course, things go wrong. The a/c failed the first night in part of the house, but it was fixed the next day. TV took a couple of visits to work properly. ( Frankly, not my issue. I didn’t watch one second of TV all week.) The commercial ice maker was kaput, so we compensated by buying four, ten-pound bags every day.

Beach vacations, by their nature, are uneventful, but on Thursday, we were treated to an angry ocean thanks to tropical storm Fay that passed far enough offshore to give us a show without any danger.

That night at dinner of take-in BBQ, spirits were so high that I said: “Let’s reserve Run-A-Way Bay for the same week next summer.”

Beth called the realtor the next day and we are good to go in 2021.  

Weekly Post Delayed

Due to technical difficulties, my weekly blog post will be delayed until Friday.

Big Blue Interrupted

This year should have been my 59th year of being a New York Football Giants season ticket holder. I purchased a single season ticket in 1962 for $37.50 at the team’s office then located in 10 Columbus Circle. I paid cash for my ticket and gave it to a woman who sat behind a window that resembled a teller’s cage. I recall that the hallway was lined with photos and paintings of famous Giants players, coaches and members of the Mara family, who owned the team since its founding in 1925.

My $37.50 paid for admission to seven home games at $5.00 each plus a $2.50 handling charge. That inaugural year was my most memorable football experience until 1986. In 1962, the Giants won the Eastern Division of the NFL and hosted the Championship Game in Yankee Stadium. The ticket cost $15 and Big Blue lost that game to the Green Bay Packers, 16 to 7 on the coldest day of my life.

The Giants repeated in 1963 but lost the Championship Game in Chicago to the Bears. Losing became a habit after that season and the Giants didn’t reach another championship until 1986 when they defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. Head coach, Bill Parcells, summed up the significance of that victory not just for the players, but also for we long-suffering fans by saying: “Men, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, because you did it.”

The Giants have since gone on to appear in four additional Super Bowls and win three of them. I attended two wins in SB-XXV and SB-XLII and one loss in SB-XXXV. Not too shabby.

As a senior fan, I joke when people ask me what it is like to be a fan that long. My standard line is to joke, “It has given me the opportunity to witness many years of lousy football.”

Truth be known, each opening day is a renewal of faith and friendship with tailgate buddies of the most diverse circumstances all who have the same commonality, Giants football. We are the proud, the faithful whose loyalty knows no limits.

From my perspective, I believe the three most important dates on the calendar are:

The day the NFL schedule is released that allows us to speculate on our chances for success.

That day in mid-summer when the season tickets arrive in the mail in all their glory.

And opening day when anything and everything is possible.

Covid-19 continues to turn the world upside down, Big Blue included. Usually, the team requires season ticket holders to pay for the upcoming season by May 1st. This year, the Giants extended that date first to June and then to July 1st.  

The schedule was released on May 7th , but we accepted it cautiously.

Fast forward to the middle of June. I called the Giant’s ticket office and asked if that date would be extended? The woman who took my call explained: “I don’t know, but I understand that an e-mail will be sent out next week providing more information. If I were you, I wouldn’t do any thing until you receive that e-mail.”  

It arrived Monday morning. Indeed, the payment date was extended to August 14, but it wasn’t until the third paragraph that ownership announced incredible news: “We are offering all season ticket members the ability to take a year off from buying their season tickets. If you decide to do this, you will have no obligation to pay for your season tickets this year.”

I was amazed by this stunning news and proud of Giants ownership for making such a generous and costly (for them) pre-emptive move. To the best of my knowledge, Big Blue was the first NFL team to make such a unselfish offer. But it didn’t shock me. The Mara organization has a history of treating their fans as a family.

In 1973, Mayor John V. Lindsay evicted the team from Yankee Stadium for having the audacity to announce that they were moving to a new stadium of their own in New Jersey. The mayor could have allowed  the Giants to play all seven home games in Yankee Stadium before its reconstruction was due to begin. But as one of his deputy mayors told a reporter: “We are not going to give the Giants any favors. We are going to throw them out as soon as the Yankee season ends.”

The late Wellington Mara, then President and CEO of the team immediately announced that all season tickets would be suspended for as long as Big Blue was forced to play in the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

Now his son, John, and the head of their co-owning family, Jonathon Tisch, are showing genuine care and concern for their faithful fans.

I accepted the offer in short order relieving myself of all the anxiety of attending games in person. I will miss our tailgates and being there for live football, but I have no doubt that it’s for the best.

Thank you, Mister Mara and thank you, Mister Tisch. Like your fathers, before you, you are a class act.

My Quarantine Time Capsule Vignette

Cace Briggs

Cace Briggs is my youngest grandchild. He attends MS 442 located in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. He wrote this piece as an assignment for a remote class. God willing, he will enter the Eighth Grade this September. Cace agreed to permit me to publish his piece. I edited his piece for clarity but, with the intent to leave its essence and his use of language unchanged.   

Every day starts with the sun coming up Vanderbilt Avenue chasing the shade away and bringing a new day. The cars start beeping at the repair shop in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard across the street from my apartment just like a rooster waking up at an urban farm.

Slowly, a meager number of cars lumber along the streets bringing essential workers to their destinations like soldiers to their posts. Many workers carpool and are dropped off by friends and family members. These cars drive off into the distance leaving only a faint noise and the smell of exhaust. And so, Brooklyn wakes up to another day of the pandemic with the rest of the world.

I begin my day by looking out onto the barren streets wondering when the day will come when cars can again populate the dark canvas. I feel sad but, after a while, I bring myself to go out for a bike ride. I believe it would be a good distraction from the somber state of the world. As I ride through the streets it feels strange to not see the bustling of cars and  people riding their bicycles or walking their dogs. I had become used to their absence on previous rides, but this is such a nice day, I thought maybe it would be different.

As I cross the Williamsburg Bridge, I stop for a minute to admire the beautiful though desolate view of the East River. When I reach Manhattan, I expect at least a little traffic, but I am surprised to see almost none. After riding through the Lower East Side which only seems to take seconds. I return homeward on the Manhattan Bridge. I reminisce on prior summers when the city was so alive and intriguing. Back home, I retire to my bedroom trying not to think negatively about what feels like the apocalypse.

As the day ends, shadows consume everything making the world dark again. The cars return to reclaim the essential workers. The drivers listen to the workers’ stories of hard work and never-ending sacrifice.

That night after I heard the cars coming back, I had the feeling I hadn’t had in a while, hope.

In bed that night I know that one day I will look back on this not with sadness or hate but thankfulness and gratitude toward the people who made sure we survived and prospered.

“On the Outside Looking In,” will not appear next Wednesday and will return on July 15.