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Archive for July, 2008

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The Rest is History

Here’s a long story, if you care to read. It’ll probably sound way far-fetched, and cause you to take pause and consider my overall credibility, but I have this theory that something happened in 1942, specifically on the night of November 9, 1942, that nobody who knows, wants to talk about.

I have some hard facts, that I deem reliable, that I obtained in documents from my own father’s Navy Service Record. Dad was stationed at MTBS in Melville RI from April of 1942 until December 9, when he was discharged for Bad Conduct. After several other previous AWOLs, on that night my dad, admittedly it seems, stole an automobile from a location in Bristol, RI (Usher Place) belonging to one John Hogan, and took it on a joyride to either Scranton, or New York City. Among the other crimes to which he confessed, he damaged the automobile. I don’t know if he came back to the base on his own, or was brought back by police, nor do I know if he was alone in this, but the documents show he returned at 11 AM the next day. One day I hope to get back to Melville, and see if there was any police report filed for the accident or arrest in Bristol – there must have been, since he was handed back over to the Navy base.

That morning, while he was still AWOL from the base, according to historian Samuel Eliot Morison’s “History of United States Naval Operations in World War II,” a noted work upon which the famous documentary series “Victory at Sea” was largely based – several mines planted by a U-Boat the evening before, blew up in New York City harbor and the harbor was subsequently closed to traffic for several days, the only time it was closed during the entire war. I have learned from the actual ship’s log or “KriegsTageBuch” for the U-608 that the mines were indeed planted that night.

Perhaps the attack was just a coincidence, or perhaps all of the details fit together in some way, I don’t know. But here’s what else I do know. On that very same night, 200 miles to the north in Canada, a German saboteur was dropped off by another submarine, the man walked into town, and promptly turned himself into the Canadian authorities.

I’ve talked to a man at a historical society in Bristol, and he told me that on that date in 1942, Usher Place, where my father stole the car that night, would have been a vacant lot. He said he knows this, because several months earlier the fire department went there by mistake, after a fire alarm was called in for Usher’s Place, the home of the Usher family – and the home burned down, because the fire department went to the vacant lot address. Because of this the address was later changed to Usher Terrace.

Also on that night, near Wilkes-Barre, PA, a local almanac recorded that a store was held up at gunpoint for gasoline ration coupons. I considered this related, because my dad came from Scranton, and would have known the area. If he were running, or needed gas for a long return trip, that’s where he might go. I also considered the possibility of coincidence, that this might have been a more common occurence during the war, what with gas being rationed and all, but after searching through the almanac, it’s the only recorded event of that type.

I am particularly interested in David (D.J.) Walsh because he is the officer who signed all of my dad’s punitive documents, for the AWOLs and he also presided over the Summary Court-Martial, and signed that document. I’m not bitter or seeking to harm or tarnish his reputation in any way, I have mixed feelings about my dad myself, I just want to learn what happened, and I think he knew the entire story.

And there is one other “coincidence” that could have some bearing on what happened – prior to coming to MTBS, my dad had been assigned to a mine-assembly training unit at Lockwood Basin. Therein lies a logical connection to the mines in NY, and, considering that the distances to Scranton and to New York City from Bristol are practically the same, neither could theoretically be ruled out as his destination.

So what was going on in America at the time? UBoats were sinking American ships right off our coast; two (that we know of) teams of German saboteurs had landed on American shores several months earlier, one on Long Island and another in Florida, all of the men from both teams were soon captured and tried and all but two were executed, and in December their accomplices, including family members were still being tried in Chicago; the nation was in a panic to protect military bases and industrial and transportation centers.

Was the Navy running an intelligence operation that night? Why else would they knowingly falsify evidence used in a court-martial proceeding, i.e. provide a non-existant address?

Here’s where the facts move into the rarified air of the upper stratosphere of wild speculation and amusement: On top of all that, if you read Nigel Hamilton’s definitive biography of John F. Kennedy, who was at MTBS at Melville at this very time, you will learn that JFK was also experiencing some trouble at the base. Note that there were two types of sailors at the MTBS – those on permanent assignment to the training center, like my father and Mr. Kennedy, and those being trained for several months as PT crews. Most of them wanted to get into the war. Those who were doing the training, had little chance of that. According to this book JFK was unhappy with his teaching assignment, disappointed with the way Newport had changed, having trouble with his commanding officer, and burning to get into combat. D.J. Walsh was the executive officer of the training center, and would have been Kennedy’s direct superior, though his name is never mentioned in the book.

To resolve his issues, Kennedy (or his father) contacted Massachusetts Senator David I. Walsh in early November, just about the time my dad entered the brig, and John actually met with Senator Walsh at his home. They had some sort of discussion and later Senator Walsh sent him a copy of a geography book. This seemed somewhat strange to me, that the Senator would give a young Navy officer, educated at Harvard, a basic book on Geography. I’ve seen several of the maps in the book, and they are very low-detail maps, depicting just the land masses and a few major cities, with circles drawn to show the air-mileage away from one large city. One particular map centers on London, with circles going out as far as Normandy in France. Another is centered on Stockholm,
with circles out into Germany and Poland.

And Senator Walsh was a colorful figure in his own right; a noted isolationist, opposed to the war from the outset, just prior to this he had been raked over the coals and censured for allegedly frequenting a homosexual brothel in Brooklyn, where German spies were thought to be operating. And for some reason, J.Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI who had the brothel bugged, could have cleared him of the allegations, but didn’t. Nonetheless, with Senator Walsh’s help, JFK managed to get out of Melville, and away from “that Newport” and assigned to the PT-109 in the Pacific.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

But were JFK and my father, who often referred to himself as “a dumb Polack” simply two Plutarchian parallel lives, one noble and the other ignoble, that never met or intertwined? Not according to my dad. “I knew John F. Kennedy,” he told me once, and I believe that.

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Lt. Cmdr. D.J. Walsh

Lt. Cmdrs Specht and D.J. Walsh

Lt. Cmdrs Specht and D.J. Walsh

Click for Larger Photo

I’ve been learning a little about my father’s Commanding Officer at the MTBS Training Center at Melville, in tiny Rhode Island. I can almost see why dad thought it was in Connecticut. If you leave the base, whatever direction, it’s not too long before you find yourself in either Massachusetts, or Connecticut, which wouldn’t matter much if you were on your way to Scranton.

David J. (DJ) Walsh was the Executive Officer (XO) of MTBSTC from April 1942 until September 1943. Before that he had been the XO of the USS Niagara, which was evidently an auxiliary ship of the fleet that was later converted for use as a PT Boat tender. He took over the position at MTBS from Cdr William C. Specht, who, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, had commanded Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 1 at Pearl Harbor. Walsh stayed on as Commanding Officer until June 1945 when Cdr Thomas G. Warfield took over.

Read about the USS Niagara (PG-52) at Wikipedia. It’s quite a story in itself.

David J. Walsh was not related, as far as I can determine, to Senator David I. Walsh. But I have learned that his father was a state Senator from Connecticut, though I have yet to confirm this. David I. Walsh was from Massachusetts.

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[Editor’s Note:] The Dartmouth being referred to in these newspapers is not the University in New Hampshire, but Dartmouth, MA on the Fall River very near Bristol, RI, Newport and the old MTBS Training Station.

CapeCodTimes.com – Buzzard Bay Boat Collision Kills Sailor

By JOAO FERREIRA and BRIAN FRAGA
THE STANDARD-TIMES
July 19, 2008 6:00 AM
DARTMOUTH — An experienced sailor and prominent retired businessman was killed yesterday afternoon after a power boat collided with the sailboat he was aboard and threw him into the waters of Buzzards Bay.

David J. Walsh, 64, a South Dartmouth resident also known as “D.J.,” was the retired president of Teledyne Rodney Metals, a specialty metals manufacturer, and past chairman of the Buzzards Bay Regatta. The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office confirmed his death last night.

According to the Coast Guard, Walsh and Warren G. Hathaway, publisher emeritus of Hathaway Newspapers, part of the SouthCoast Media Group, were sailing off Padanaram when a 60-foot power boat hit Hathaway’s 30-foot sailboat, also called Padanaram, around 1:30 p.m. yesterday near Wilkes Ledge.

Hathaway was being treated at St. Luke’s Hospital last night but escaped serious injury in the accident, according to Gregg Miliote, spokesman for Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter.

Walsh was thrown into the water by the force of the collision. A Coast Guard crew aboard a 25-foot rescue boat located him just before 2:30 p.m. and took him to State Pier in New Bedford, where an ambulance was waiting, said Coast Guard spokesman Zach Zubricki.

Walsh was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The three-member crew of the power boat, the Reasons, reported the accident to Coast Guard Station Menemsha. Two nearby patrolling cutters, the Ridley and the Tybee, as well as the 25-foot rescue boat and a helicopter were dispatched.

Coast Guard officers boarded the Reasons after the collision, according to Miliotte.

Reasons’ home port could not be determined last night and information about the identities of its crew was not available.

At the time of the accident, seas were less than one foot and winds were 5 to 10 knots, the Coast Guard said.

“They’re doing an investigation to find out what happened,” Zubricki said.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police, along with DA’s office and the Dartmouth police, are investigating the accident.

Yesterday afternoon, several hours after the fatal accident, investigators were aboard the Reasons, which had been taken to the Fairhaven Shipyard and Marina, where it was lifted out of the water.

Marina personnel said the Padanaram also was towed there.

While it was unclear last night what led to the collision, South Dartmouth resident Tom Kenney, a friend of Walsh and Hathaway, shared what he had learned about the accident.

“It was my understanding that a fairly large power boat ran up over D.J.’s stern and threw him into the water. Warren Hathaway was below decks. He scrambled up; the boat was taking on water,” Kenney said. “D.J. probably didn’t even see it coming.”

Kenney said Hathaway, who was “pretty well banged up,” told him that if he had been on deck, he would have been killed.

Standard-Times correspondent Barbara Veneri contributed to this report.

Hathaway Publishing Wikipedia Article

SouthCoastToday.com – David J. Walsh

DARTMOUTH — David John “DJ” Walsh, 64, of South Dartmouth, died Friday unexpectedly. He was a loyal husband of 33 years to his wife Melody, a devoted father and grandfather, a prominent businessman, a sailing coach at Dartmouth High School and always a beloved friend.

Born in Natick, Massachusetts, the son of the late David and Ruby (Scannell) Walsh, he has resided in South Dartmouth for the past 14 years.

He was a graduate of Marion High School and received a degree in mechanical engineering from Lowell Technical College.

Over the course of his 40-year career in manufacturing, he traveled extensively internationally and throughout the Midwest and Maryland where he held positions with General Electric, RCA and Teledyne Rodney Metals.

DJ was on the board of directors at the New Bedford Yacht Club (NBYC), a two-term chairman of the Buzzards Bay Regatta and recipient of the 2007 Barb McCarthy Corinthian Spirit Award, given annually to the NBYC member who demonstrates a love of sailing, an enthusiasm for racing and is a true friend to the club.

He was loved and respected by all who knew him well and a true optimist. DJ loved his dog Molly with whom he shared a love of the water.

Surviving in addition to his wife is a step-daughter, Lisa Lang of Maryland and granddaughters Charlotte and Rachel; and a step-son, Michael Carr of Virginia and his wife Jami. He was the brother of the late Marie Cummings.

A celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at the New Bedford Yacht Club, 208 Elm St., South Dartmouth from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. In lieu of sending flowers, a donation can be made in DJ’s name to Community Boating Center, Inc., 1641 Padanaram Avenue, New Bedford, MA 02740. Arrangements in the care of Waring-Sullivan Home of Memorial Tribute at Dartmouth, 230 Russells Mills Rd. For online tributes: http://www.waring-sullivan.com.

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And they’re as pretty and spoiled as ever, and still espousing “free love” and a carefree lifestyle. But now they are wearing make-up and Diane von Furstenberg originals, and packing around their own videographer.

//julia.nonsociety.com/

Photo Credit: Julia Allison - http://julia.nonsociety.com/

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[ed. note]This is so important to all Judaeo-Christians, like myself, that I felt compelled to re-blog it. To view the original article, and accompanying videos please click this link.

July 21, 2008

Rabbi unveils a secret of God

Gary Stern
The Journal News

The tradition-bound Western image of a he-man, masculine God may already be thousands of years out of date, says a Westchester rabbi who believes he has unlocked the secret to God’s name and androgynous nature.

Rabbi Mark Sameth contends in a soon-to-be-published article that the four-letter Hebrew name for God – held by Jewish tradition to be unpronounceable since the year 70 – should actually be read in reverse. When the four letters are flipped, he says, the new name makes the sounds of the Hebrew words for “he” and “she.”

God thus becomes a dual-gendered deity, bringing together all the male and female energy in the universe, the yin and the yang that have divided the sexes from Adam and Eve to Homer and Marge.

“This is the kind of God I believe in, the kind of God that makes sense to me, in a language that speaks very, very deeply to human aspirations and striving,” Sameth said. “How could God be male and not female?”

Sameth, 54, the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue, first hit on his theory more than a decade ago when he was a rabbinical student. Since then, he has quietly pieced together clues and supporting evidence from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament and the vast body of rabbinic literature.

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Sameth’s theory is not as outlandish as it might seem to the uninitiated. For one thing, Jewish mystical traditions have long found levels of meaning in the Hebrew Bible beyond those that come from a literal or metaphorical reading. For another, there is a deep tradition in Jewish prayer and thinking, particularly among the so-called mystics, of seeking to reconcile the male and female elements in the universe.

Sameth’s article includes this: “What the mystics called ‘the secret of one’ is the inner unification of the sometimes competing, sometimes complementing masculine and feminine energies that reside within each of us, regardless whether we are male or female.”

The notion that God is what Sameth calls a “hermaphroditic deity” could energize the growing movement in many religious traditions to present God in gender-neutral terms, particularly in Scripture.

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The Hebrew name of God that is known as the Tetragrammaton – the four letters Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay – appears 6,823 times in the Hebrew Bible. Since early Hebrew script included no vowels, the pronunciation of the name was known by those who heard it.

According to Sameth’s footnotes, the name was said only by priests after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the name was no longer said and the pronunciation lost.

Jewish tradition has long held that the name was too sacred to articulate. Jews have generally used Adonai, “the Lord,” in place of the Tetragrammaton. Various Christian groups have pronounced the name as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”

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“It’s about reversibility,” Sameth said…

A new zeal for biblical reversibility led Sameth to flip the four Hebrew letters of the unpronounceable Tetragrammaton. In his head, he heard the Hebrew words hu and hi. That’s “he/she” in English.

And he felt connected to a long line of Jewish mystics who have mused about the male and female coming together.

“I really believed that I had found something significant,” Sameth said…

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Those who find meaning in his work, he said, may encounter a different understanding of God that is comforting to feminists and those on many spiritual journeys. They may also read the Torah differently.

“If this interpretation is correct, it says that the Torah is a mystical or esoteric text,” he said. “The mystics have been saying all these years that the text conceals more than it reveals. It is structured with different levels of meaning and reveals itself over time. We’re talking about one tradition that goes all the way back.”

Katherine Kurs, a religion scholar who teaches at New School University and is an associate minister at West-Park (Presbyterian) Church in Manhattan, said that the image of God presented by Sameth will have great appeal to many people who are searching for spiritual meaning.

“Mark’s unveiling is part of a mystic lineage that presents a prismatic experience of God, that says there are ways of experiencing God that contain and explode categories simultaneously,” said Kurs, who has known Sameth since they studied together almost 20 years ago. “This God is not a male or even a female but a male-female or female-male, a God that holds tension and paradox, a full-spectrum bandwidth God.”

Sameth has shared his image of a dual-gendered God with the seventh- and eighth-graders he teaches at his synagogue. He said they’ve been very receptive, which isn’t surprising because they are growing up in a post-modern age.

“As post-moderns, we’ve been conditioned to a different relationship with language,” he said. “That’s why there is all this interest now in Jewish mysticism.”

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“And the Torah isn’t just about Noah taking the animals, twosies by twosies. If that’s what the Torah was all about, how could it have captivated Western civilization for 3,000 years? There had to be more.”

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I found a little more information in an article that appeared in Time Magazine after Russ Meyer’s death. The following is excerpted from “Magnificent Boobsession” by Richard Corliss, Jul. 27, 2002.

A WWII cameraman’s job, they say, was “being in the wrong place at the right time.” He was a soldier, a propagandist and a recording avenging angel all in one. When Gen. George S. Patton told his troops of a mission that, he hoped, would result in the capture and assassination of Hitler and Goebbels, he turned Russ’ way to growl: “And you, Sergeant, be damned sure of your job with that camera.” Meyer was, apparently, sure of foot and finger. He escaped alive with some nifty war stories; one exploit, related to writer pal Eric “Mick” Nathanson, blossomed into the novel (then film) “The Dirty Dozen.”

Here’s another, set in Belgium’s snowy Ardennes Forest outside St. Hubert. With his “own photo howitzer,” an Eyemo camera with a Long Dong Silverish 20-inch lens, Russ is snapping away at “an innocent church steeple housing a gang of irreligious Nazis.” His pal Charles “Slick” Sumners is in a Jeep somewhere out of frame. The shelling begins and, as Meyer tells it:

“five 105mm HEs smashing into The Lord’s house . . one smack on target. Bingo! A direct hit on the pointy steeple / exploding within its ancient belfry / doing the job . . rendering anything / anybody yonder sieve-like!! Meyer exultant, but his demonstration short-lived . . incoming Kraut mail shearing off tops of St. Hubert’s piney woods! The GI peepers spotted . . tables overturned / the defilers now on the receiving end . . the expiring Jerry soldier doing his job forthwith . . only seconds before, Kingdom Come! The return fire increasing with intensity . . the immediate air black with cordite . . shrapnel-humming / death-dealing . . Russell Meyer roughly forsaking his valuable gear . . tripod still attached / legs splayed out crazily . . face pressed into the cold numbing snow . . whilst, separate from the thunderous explosions, the unmistakable brouhaha of a Jeep’s raucous klaxon . . the dedicated Slick just yards away / hunkering down over the steering wheel. Shouting: ‘Over here . . and don’t take all day!’ Russ streaking for the savior Jeep / dragging the clumsy 20-inch lens dominating the Eyemo . . crazy-quilt tripod legs trailing behind / hurling himself head-first into the back of the vehicle . . still hanging onto his accoutrement with Sumners pouring the coals to his four-wheeler / miraculously escaping from that Ardennes hell!”

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