Friday, December 30, 2005

I Want To Thank The Prosecutor's Wife


Thirty years ago, when I was 23, I had a harrowing experience with the Delaware Township Police Department in Sergeantsville, NJ.

I had gone out that night with a friend of mine. We hit a couple of bars and settled in at a place in New Hope, PA, called John & Peter's Place. There was a cafe in front and a small listening room in the back. As small as it was, they had some pretty big name bands perform. One of the local favorites was a band out of Philly called Johnny's Dance Band. They were very good. Once in a while, Bruce Springsteen might be there doing acoustic sets. These nights were never announced, when big name people were there. It doesn't matter who was playing that night. We were having a good time until he dropped me off at my apartment.


My place was right in the center of one of those blinking light towns. In and out, just like that. Directly across the street was the municipal building and also home to the police department. We sat there for a few minutes discussing what the rest of the week was looking like, sort of like planning another night to run around, drink a few, and hit on some babes. Slowly, a police car crept up across the street and parked. Two officers got out and started to walk toward us. I wasn't afraid of anything. Neither of us were drunk and we certainly weren't doing anything wrong. I recognized one of them, Rich Sands, from my high school days. I got out and stood at the front of my friend's Dodge van. Rich and I started to talk. We first greeted each other and shook hands and progressed to simple talk about what we had been up to since the old high school days. The other officer went over to the driver's window. Both Rich and I were oblivious to what was transpiring there until we both heard, "I smell marijuana. You are under arrest!"

Rich and I looked at each other with surprise. I turned to face the other officer and said, "Hey, what's this all about?"

He said to me," You are under arrest, too!"

He made my friend get out of the car and ordered us over to the police car, where he told us to empty our pockets. I didn't respond in the split second time he wanted, so he thrust me down onto the hood of the car, knocking the wind out of me. He immediately cuffed me and emptied all my pockets, where he found a frog, a couple of marbles and not much else. Nothing illegal, as a matter of fact, and nothing was found in my friend's pockets either. I asked him what we were being arrested for. He hesitated and said, "For being drunk and disorderly!" I knew right then and there we were being charged with something trumped up. We weren't drunk and we weren't disorderly. Had we been drunk, this stupid officer, Jack Demeo, should have been smart enough to charge the driver with a DUI (or DWI back then.)

They marched us up the stairs and into the police station. "Watch them," Demeo said to Rich, as if we were escaped murderers he had just apprehended. He went outside and returned with the ashtray, He dumped it on his desk and went picking through the cigarette butts. Lo and behold, he pulled out a marijuana roach that amounted to...2/10 of a gram! Whoa! The biggest bust of the century! "Ha, ha, ha...I gotcha now!!!" I think he was thinking we were facing life in prison. "So, on top of being drunk and disorderly, I've got you on a CDS charge, too!"

"What's CDS?" I asked.

"Controlled Dangerous Substance," he snapped back, with an arrogant glee. That roach could have been in the ashtray for weeks, for all we knew. Had we known it was there, back then, we would have smoked it long before the cops showed up.

I had to pee. I asked him if I could go. "NO!" I asked him several times and got the same dictatorial response. Finally, I pulled something out of my head...

"As a U.S. citizen and subject to rule number 17 of the U.S. Constitution, Section C, Part 203, I am allowed to use a restroom facility whenever I deem it necessary, under penalty of law."

"Take him into the men's room, but watch him."

As I was peeing, Rich was apologetic. "Hey, Dave, I had nothing to do with this."

After all the paperwork and all that crap was done, they loaded us into the back of the squad car and drove us to the Hunterdon County Jail. The entire ride consisted of Demeo making wise cracks and telling us we were the lowest and vilest sub-humans of the community. We laughed.


Finally, we arrived to the fanfare of the hungry jailers. They took mugshots and our fingerprints. One of the jailers was a high school teacher and he remembered us, although neither of us had him for a teacher. He took us upstairs and put us in a cell. He said, "I'll come back and put you in a better cell as soon as we get rid of these asshole cops." He did.

When we awoke in the morning, the TV was on an old science fiction movie. There was another guy in with us. We introduced ourselves and I asked him what he was in for. "Murder." I didn't want to pursue that conversation, so, we all just settled in. At one point, he got up and switched the TV to American Bandstand. I wasn't about to tell him to TURN IT BACK! I WAS WATCHING THAT MOVIE! Later that morning, we were released to freedom, fresh air and sunlight. Whew.


We knew we had to get legal representation. My friend got a lawyer and I talked to an attorney friend of mine, Jay Thatcher. We were in the JAYCEES together. I told him I didn't have money to hire a lawyer. He asked me to tell him what transpired that evening. I told him. He said, "Dave, this is the most ridiculous injustice I've ever heard. I'm going to represent you for free." He got in touch with the other attorney and they both agreed to file a Motion to Suppress Evidence, a request to a judge to keep out evidence at a trial or hearing, often made when a party believes the evidence was unlawfully obtained.

The judge at this hearing was Thomas Beetel. My aunt used to work for him. We shared the same last name. They did not get along and I think he might have fired her. This fact alone should have caused him to recuse himself, on grounds of prejudice, but, he did not. We requested that both officers not be present in the courtroom when each was to give separate testimony. The judge did allow that. Both cops gave conflicting reports of what happened that fateful night. I assumed my old high school "friend" would set the record straight. He did not. He lied through his teeth even more than the arresting officer did. I could not believe what I was hearing. Then, Demeo told the judge he was trained by the Marines to smell marijuana better than a dog. When I took the stand, I noticed the judge was doodling stupid little pictures, as if he wasn't paying attention and had already made up his mind. I guess he did, because, he sent it on to trial. Motion to Suppress Evidence denied.


On the morning after our arrest, the trial judge, Jacob Chantz, was attending a funeral with my grandfather, the Reverend George W. Landis. They were very close friends. He should have also recused himself, but, he didn't either. The night we went to trial, the judge was there, along with the police officers involved, the prosecutor, and our respective attorneys. They were to be separate trials, but, lumped together. The attorneys for both of us approached the prosecutor. Before the onset of a trial, lawyers and prosecutors will try to work out plea arrangements. This is what my lawyer was doing. He came back to me and said, "Dave, here's what the prosecutor wants. He's willing to drop the drunk and disorderly charge if you plead to the CDS charge. This means that after a year, you apply to have your record expunged, and it is erased. It's as if you were never arrested. You pay a fine now and there is no jail time. What do you want to do?"

"No way am I going to plead guilty to anything. I am innocent of all charges."

"That's what I was hoping to hear you say." He went back to the prosecutor and said so.

"Oh no," the prosecutor told him.

"What do you mean?" my lawyer asked.

"My wife is 99.9% pregnant. I came up from south Jersey tonight. I'm just filling in. She can have the baby any minute. I want to go home. How long is this going to take?"

"At least seven hours as far as I'm concerned. I'm going to pick every legal trick out of my hat on this one." Here's where it got very interesting.

"You're kidding. This isn't that important of a case to me. Let's just drop the charges."

That was it. It had absolutely nothing to do with my guilt or innocence. Case dismissed. All on account of the prosecutor's wife being pregnant. Now that was justice. My friend had the drunk and disorderly charge dropped but someone had to take the rap for the 2/10 of a gram. It was his vehicle, so he did, and later had his record expunged.

So went my first foray into the legal system. The judge later told my grandfather it never should have reached his courtroom. It should have been dropped at the Motion to Suppress level and he would have dismissed the charges against me anyway.


Oh, yeah, good old Jack Demeo. He got himself into a little trouble after that. He was accused, on several occasions, of flashing his badge out of jurisdiction and trying to pick up women he'd pull over. I guess it was up to certain authorities to deal with it, but, it's my understanding nothing much was done. Good ol' boy syndrome. I'd heard of him planting pot in cars, although, had he done that to us, I'm sure more than 2/10 of a gram would have been found. The clincher was when he was in Atlantic City, at a casino, where he flashed his badge to the wrong people. He told them he was with the Alcoholic and Beverage Commission and was doing an investigation. What kind of favors can you do for me? The manager promptly called his brother-in-law, who worked for the ABC, and asked what this was all about. That guy sent some big nasty officers over and arrested him on the spot. He could never be a police officer again. He did try, years later, but his old police chief put the screws to that. He's probably head of security at some Dollar General store somewhere in Podunk, Arkansas. I ran into Rich Sands many years later. He wanted to make peace with me. I told him that, "as an officer of the law, you were there to tell the truth. You didn't. I don't want to have anything to do with you again." I must say that years later he approached me at the restaurant where I worked and did get me a really good deal on a Jaguar XKE, so, time kind of softened things a bit and I guess I kind of, sort of did forgive him after all.

The guy we spent the night in jail with who was charged with murder? He was found innocent. I'm sure the prosecutor's wife wasn't pregnant when he went to trial.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New England Clam Chowder - A Square Meal?

Here's a letter I e-mailed to a food manufacturer in Baltimore. I am not looking for anything in return.

To whom it may concern:

I recently purchased your New England Clam Chowder from an Albertson's store in Longwood, Florida. I was encouraged when I read that your first ingredients are "clams and clam juice." The clams were plump and moist and I will say that I found it very enjoyable for a frozen product and I will buy it again.

However, on the microwave directions, you state: "Remove container from carton and lift one corner of the film to vent steam."

I was just wondering, how does one lift a corner of the film when both the film and the plastic bowl are both round? No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to find corners on round objects.

Perhaps you could say, "Peel back film slightly to expose product to vent steam" or something like that next time you are printing the packaging containers. Or you could tell me to go stand in the corner of a round room. Squarely, the decision is yours.

Then I signed my name.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Beets Me

While I was up visiting my brother and his wife, near St. Louis, Tim brought up some interesting questions about food...

Why is it, when you eat chicken, you're eating chicken?

When you eat turkey, you're eating turkey.

But, when you're eating a cow, you're eating beef. Same with buffalo. You're eating bison. Lamb is lamb. Goat is goat. But, a pig is pork. You don't go out to the shed to feed the porks - you're feeding pigs. When was the last time you ordered hog chops in a restaurant or prime rib of cow or calf marsala in an Italian eatery? Try ordering a chopped up dead cow sandwich the next time you go to a burger joint. Or dip your meat in the cooked blood of cattle cuts instead of au jus. There's that fancy French. Did you ever eat slimy snails? Au contraire, sacre bleu! No, it's escargot. If it sounds too awful to eat, give it a fancy French name, unless, of course, we're talking about sweetbread, the culinary term for the thymus gland (in the throat) and the pancreas (near the stomach) in calves, lambs and pigs. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

What about cooking methods? What's the difference between baking and roasting in the oven? You can eat baked chicken or you can eat roasted chicken. How come you never eat baked turkey, then? Was that escargot baked or roasted?

Language is very funny when it comes to food. On that note...Peas on Earth, I'm going to go roast an apple pie.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Case of the Missing Glasses

I used to wear glasses for near-sightedness. Now that I'm in my fifties, my eyes have made dramatic changes. I no longer wear glasses to see far distances. I can read things from afar that used to be nothing but a blur. The downside to it is that I now need reading glasses. My up-close vision used to be incredible. Alas, no more.

In the mid-nineties, I worked for a company called Southern Wine & Spirits. It's the largest supplier of alcoholic beverages in the country. I worked for the on-premise division, as opposed to the off-premise one. The difference between the two is that on-premise is alcohol consumed on the property, such as a bar or restaurant and off premise is a liquor store or supermarket where you can't drink it there. I designed and implemented wine lists found in restaurants. The rule was that if we supplied the majority of wines over the competitors' selections, we got to do the list. That meant sitting around sampling various bottles in expensive wine glasses and cleansing our palates with 25 dollar cigars between tastings. I know, it was tough and I was getting paid to drink on the job. Next time you peruse an exquisite wine list, remember someone had that awful task of writing the descriptions. You know, soft buttery notes with hints of fresh apricots and plums, with a light, crisp, cinnamon finish that lingers in the mouth.

I also did specialty drink cards of microbrew beers and liquors we supplied. The kind you might find in establishments that cater to the college crowd. They always seemed to like those concoctions. Still do. They were called table toppers or T-tents. They'd fit inside those plastic things that sit at tables or on bars. Some were just paper folded in the shape of a triangle.

Most of these things I sent out to a commercial printer. It all depended on the size of the establishment and the quantities they needed. For some of the smaller jobs, we had a big and fancy copier that jammed all the time.

One morning, I went up to the copier with my master printout of a job and the fancy colored paper I'm going to print it on. Yup, just like that, it jams. At this time, I'm still wearing glasses for being near-sighted. I open the doors to expose the mechanisms of the copier to find the jam. I had to take my glasses off to see up close. I find the problem, fix it, close the doors and go about my printing job. The rest of the day, I'm working on other things. I had a project that needed to be delivered the next morning, so I stayed well into the night. When I went to leave, I couldn't find my glasses. I never had to wear them as I sat in front of the computer. I can't see well enough to drive home without them, certainly not at night, anyway. What am I going to do? I look everywhere. I retrace every step of the day. There was a district manager still working. It was just the two of us and she started to help look. We couldn't find them anywhere. I remembered taking them off at the copier, but they weren't there. I didn't remember if I'd worn them elsewhere. Well, she had to go home but didn't want to leave me stranded. She had two offers. She would give me a ride or loan me her pair of prescription sunglasses. Her eyes were very similar to mine. I opted for the glasses. I'm glad it was dark. If anyone saw me in those girly things, I would have died. Unfortunately, I did have to wear them to work in the morning. It seemed like everyone was staring at me. I probably looked like a young version of Truman Capote.

I stopped at one of those one hour eyeglass centers. I had an eye examination done and picked out my frames. My eyes were so dilated driving back to work, if I had been stopped by a cop, he would have arrested me for driving under the influence of something illicit. The light was so intensely bright, too. A couple of hours later, I picked them up and I was back in business. The new and improved Dave, with a new prescription and brand new expensive glasses.

Two weeks later, I'm sitting at my desk when this woman who works in accounting, I can't remember her name but she was very nice, walks into my office with her hands behind her back.

"Dave, didn't you lose your glasses a couple of weeks ago?"

"Yes, why?"

She brought her hands out in front of her holding - you guessed it - my old glasses. She explained that the copier tech had come by earlier for routine maintenance and when he opened the doors, resting on a small ledge inside the copier, there they sat, neatly folded.

As you can clearly see, that wasn't one of my most brilliant moments. I tried to be more focused after that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Like Phishing In The Dead Sea

Why do these idiots keep phishing with no lure?

That's not my e-mail address in the picture (if you can read it.)
How does it still, then, get sent to me?

I don't even have an ebay account.
I don't have one with

, SunTrust
or any other spam you send me, for that matter.

No! I do not want V1 agra, C1a lis
or any of your other counterfeit drugs.

I don't even need the real thing.

For my name and credit card information,
including ALL passwords, e-mail me at this address:

Monday, December 12, 2005

Thanksgiving Times Two or Three

My brother-in-law, Bud, spent Thanksgiving in a hospital room at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He and my sister had gone out there for a routine check-up that was only supposed to last a few days. That turned into a month. The doctors figured that he picked up a nasty little microbe in his bloodstream through one of his catheters. He ended up with pneumonia and came within minutes of dying. Literally. It was some kind of miracle that he happened to be out there, under the best care, when this problem arose. Had he been home, he would not have made it. This is due to the many thoughts and prayers from family and friends and people throughout the world, many of whom visit my site. Thank you so much. And his strong will to live. My poor sister. All of these problems and she didn't have the best of Thanksgivings, either.

Me? I had a great one. My brother, Tim, and his wife Kate, flew me up to spend it with them outside of St. Louis, in Shiloh, Illinois. They made a fabulous meal. The stuffing my brother made had enough butter in it to keep dairy farmers happy for years. On my final night there we ate filet mignon with a rich mushroom and shallot sauce made with wine, brandy and heavy cream. Oh, and lobster tails with drawn butter. Poor me. It's nice country up that way, but, a little too cold this time of year for my Florida blood.

Since my sister didn't get a chance to do the Thanksgiving dinner she loves to cook each year, she did it yesterday. Lot's of family and friends were there. She is an excellent cook and everything was delicious, including her pumpkin cheesecake. This coming Sunday, my brother Sam and his wife Lindsay are doing a big meal.

'Tis the season to gain weight.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I Never Would Have Imagined It

It was a typical December morning in New Jersey. Cold, but not brutally so. The snows of winter had not yet begun to fall. I was in the restaurant business and usually rolled into work around 8 in the morning. The two young women who were my breakfast crew would see me pull into the parking lot and start making my breakfast. Margie Taylor and Erica Daniel. It was their decision to make me anything they liked. Sometimes eggs with bacon, sometimes waffles. We opened at 6 in the morning and it was always a pleasure for them to surprise me each morning. At least, the weekday girls. The weekend crew, well, let's just say I made my own breakfast. Such is life when you own your own business and work seven days a week. Margie and Erica were a dream team. Not only were they best friends, they worked well together and increased my breakfast trade twofold from when I took over the establishment. And when I took over, my old boss told me I could pick any two girls from his place to take with me. Any two. I chose them. I think he always resented that I took his best ones. Best looking, too. My typical work week consisted of somewhere between 80-90 hours. Once in a while, my friend, Stewart, would come and work for me so I could take some time off to maintain my sanity. I liked to drive into New York and go to Sardi's for drinks and Little Italy for dinner. That was my escape, my release. Sometimes, I took the girls who worked for me, other times, I took my girlfriend. Sometimes both.

This particular Monday started out like any other day. Who would have known how tragically it would end? It was routine. We had our breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds. Most customers were loyal regulars and we always maintained a friendly banter. New customers were always greeted with open arms and a sincere hello. I had three shifts that worked every day. I was there for all three. I closed at 10:00. Some nights, I stayed open to 11. Of course, there was still a lot of cleaning up to do, so sometimes I didn't leave until 11:30 or so. That was the case this night.

I couldn't wait to get out, to get home and shower off the grease and raw onion smells of the day. After so many years in this business, you kind of become oblivious to what you smell like, but I knew I still did. Kind of like a hot dog. With chili. And cheese. I would shower at night and then again in the morning. I never felt comfortable without my morning shower.

On the way home, sometimes I'd listen to cassette tapes of Pink Floyd or some other band. "The Wall" was one of my favorites. On this night, I had a New York or Philadelphia radio station on and a Beatles song was playing. I always loved the Beatles, but, this must have been one of those songs that wasn't on my personal best seller list. I mean, the Beatles had hundreds of hits. How could I possibly love every one of them? I switched stations. Another Beatles song. I went to a different station. More Beatles. What's this? I sensed that something was wrong. I felt this inner tingling of apprehension, that something terrible had happened and a certain panic was beginning to overwhelm me. Wherever I went on the dial, it was nothing but the Beatles. Beatles. Beatles. Beatles. Before long, an announcer stated the gut wrenching news that John Lennon was dead, gunned down by a crazed assassin in front of his home in the city. I felt this lump go down my throat and into my stomach, which began to churn. They were my favorite group and John Lennon was the best. I grew up with them, from their early rise in 1964 with their performances at Shea Stadium and the Ed Sullivan Show to their subsequent breakup as a band in 1969. I followed each and every one of them throughout their solo careers. They were Fab. I had recently purchased John and Yoko's latest release, "Double Fantasy" and loved every one of his songs. I wasn't crazy about Yoko's. I played it religiously since its debut. He had been a house husband for so long, it was about time he came out with something new. He was like a world leader to me - an icon - not in a religious sense, but, because of his unselfish love and faith in humanity and how much he preached for world peace. I believed in his message. I was sick.

I pulled into my driveway and walked into the house, stripping off my clothes. I stood naked in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at my numb and emotionless face. How could this be? It wasn't true. The world had just lost a friend. I jumped into the shower as memories swirled about my head. All speculation and wishful thinking of a Beatles reunion was washing down the drain with the sweat of my workday. I knew it wasn't me who caused his death, but, I felt weak and guilty. And hurt. Guilty about how we as humans could do such a thing. Hurt because I had lost a mentor. I was too weak and dazed to cry. I hoped that by the time I dried myself off, it would have been just a bad dream. Was it just a dream? Realization sunk in when I woke up the next morning.

It was 25 years ago today when Howard Cosell told the nation of his death during "Monday Night Football." The beast that slew the beauty of John Lennon's mind could not harm the dream. It never should have stopped for him at #9. It will never stop for me until my last breath. We can still imagine. We can still dream and that's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

Let us never forget what happened on this day, 64 years ago. Never were men braver.

The following is reprinted from the Department of Defense. 50th Anniversary of World War II Commemorative Committee. Pearl Harbor: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Chronicle, "A Grateful Nation Remembers" 1941-1991. Washington: The Committee, 1991.

The road to war between Japan and the United States began in the 1930s when differences over China drove the two nations apart. In 1931 Japan conquered Manchuria, which until then had been part of China. In 1937 Japan began a long and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to conquer the rest of China. In 1940, the Japanese government allied their country with Nazi Germany in the Axis Alliance, and, in the following year, occupied all of Indochina.

The United States, which had important political and economic interests in East Asia, was alarmed by these Japanese moves. The U.S. increased military and financial aid to China, embarked on a program of strengthening its military power in the Pacific, and cut off the shipment of oil and other raw materials to Japan.

Because Japan was poor in natural resources, its government viewed these steps, especially the embargo on oil as a threat to the nation's survival. Japan's leaders responded by resolving to seize the resource-rich territories of Southeast Asia, even though that move would certainly result in war with the United States.

The problem with the plan was the danger posed by the U.S. Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, devised a plan to immobilize the U.S. fleet at the outset of the war with a surprise attack.

The key elements in Yamamoto's plans were meticulous preparation, the achievement of surprise, and the use of aircraft carriers and naval aviation on an unprecedented scale. In the spring of 1941, Japanese carrier pilots began training in the special tactics called for by the Pearl Harbor attack plan.

In October 1941 the naval general staff gave final approval to Yamamoto's plan, which called for the formation of an attack force commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. It centered around six heavy aircraft carriers accompanied by 24 supporting vessels. A separate group of submarines was to sink any American warships which escaped the Japanese carrier force.

Nagumo's fleet assembled in the remote anchorage of Tankan Bay in the Kurile Islands and departed in strictest secrecy for Hawaii on 26 November 1941. The ships' route crossed the North Pacific and avoided normal shipping lanes. At dawn 7 December 1941, the Japanese task force had approached undetected to a point slightly more than 200 miles north of Oahu. At this time the U.S. carriers were not at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November, Admiral Kimmel sent USS Enterprise under Rear Admiral Willliam Halsey to deliver Marine Corps fighter planes to Wake Island. On 4 December Enterprise delivered the aircraft and on December 7 the task force was on its way back to Pearl Harbor. On 5 December, Admiral Kimmel sent the USS Lexington with a task force under Rear Admiral Newton to deliver 25 scout bombers to Midway Island. The last Pacific carrier, USS Saratoga, had left Pearl Harbor for upkeep and repairs on the West Coast.

At 6:00 a.m. on 7 December, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 181 planes composed of torpedo bombers, dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. Even as they winged south, some elements of U.S. forces on Oahu realized there was something different about this Sunday morning.

In the hours before dawn, U.S. Navy vessels spotted an unidentified submarine periscope near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. It was attacked and reported sunk by the destroyer USS Ward (DD-139) and a patrol plane. At 7:00 a.m., an alert operator of an Army radar station at Opana spotted the approaching first wave of the attack force. The officers to whom those reports were relayed did not consider them significant enough to take action. The report of the submarine sinking was handled routinely, and the radar sighting was passed off as an approaching group of American planes due to arrive that morning.

The Japanese aircrews achieved complete surprise when they hit American ships and military installations on Oahu shortly before 8:00 a.m. They attacked military airfields at the same time they hit the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The Navy air bases at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, the Marine airfield at Ewa and the Army Air Corps fields at Bellows, Wheeler and Hickam were all bombed and strafed as other elements of the attacking force began their assaults on the ships moored in Pearl Harbor. The purpose of the simultaneous attacks was to destroy the American planes before they could rise to intercept the Japanese.

Of the more than 90 ships at anchor in Pearl Harbor, the primary targets were the eight battleships anchored there. seven were moored on Battleship Row along the southeast shore of Ford Island while the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) lay in drydock across the channel. Within the first minutes of the attack all the battleships adjacent to Ford Island had taken bomb and or torpedo hits. The USS West Virginia (BB-48) sank quickly. The USS Oklahoma (BB-37) turned turtle and sank. At about 8:10 a.m., the USS Arizona (BB-39) was mortally wounded by an armorpiercing bomb which ignited the ship's forward ammunition magazine. The resulting explosion and fire killed 1,177 crewmen, the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and about half the total number of Americans killed. The USS California (BB-44), USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS Nevada (BB-36) also suffered varying degrees of damage in the first half hour of the raid.

There was a short lull in the fury of the attack at about 8:30 a.m. At that time the USS Nevada (BB-36), despite her wounds, managed to get underway and move down the channel toward the open sea. Before she could clear the harbor, a second wave of 170 Japanese planes, launched 30 minutes after the first, appeared over the harbor. They concentrated their attacks on the moving battleship, hoping to sink her in the channel and block the narrow entrance to Pearl Harbor. On orders from the harbor control tower, the USS Nevada (BB-36) beached herself at Hospital Point and the channel remained clear.

When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a.m., less than two hours after it began, the American forces has paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged: the battleships USS Arizona (BB-39), USS California (BB-44), USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Nevada (BB-36), USS Oklahoma (BB-37), USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS West Virginia (BB-48); cruisers USS Helena (CL-50), USS Honolulu (CL-48) and USS Raleigh (CL-7); the destroyers USS Cassin (DD-372), USS Downes (DD-375), USS Helm (DD-388) and USS Shaw (DD-373); seaplane tender USS Curtiss (AV-4); target ship (ex-battleship) USS Utah (AG-16); repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4); minelayer USS Oglala (CM-4); tug USS Sotoyomo (YT-9); and Floating Drydock Number 2. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged, the majority hit before the had a chance to take off. American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians, most of them killed by improperly fused anti-aircraft shells landing in Honolulu. There were 1,178 military and civilian wounded.

Japanese losses were comparatively light. Twenty-nine planes, less than 10 percent of the attacking force, failed to return to their carriers.

The Japanese success was overwhelming, but it was not complete. They failed to damage any American aircraft carriers, which by a stroke of luck, had been absent from the harbor. They neglected to damage the shoreside facilities at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, which played an important role in the Allied victory in World War II. American technological skill raised and repaired all but three of the ships sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor (the USS Arizona (BB-39) considered too badly damaged to be salvaged, the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) raised and considered too old to be worth repairing, and the obsolete USS Utah (AG-16) considered not worth the effort). Most importantly, the shock and anger caused by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor united a divided nation and was translated into a wholehearted commitment to victory in World War II.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Let's Talk Turkey

When I worked for an ad agency, I would meander up the street to Beefy King. Black Friday was one of their busiest days. At lunch, I would go there to help out. One of the most popular sandwiches that day was turkey breast. For the life of us, the owner and I could not figure out why turkey would be such a big hit the day after Thanksgiving. You'd think people would be tired of it by then after eating so much the day before, or, they would have enough leftovers that they wouldn't want it from a restaurant. Nope, they ordered it big time.

Roland and I went back and forth, over and over again, trying to understand why people would want turkey. We went a couple of years thinking about it.

Finally, it dawned on us. We figured these were people who had to work Thanksgiving Day. The ones who took your gas money at convenience stores. The wait people at restaurants who served dinners that day. Bartenders. Maybe some car dealerships were open. They were shortchanged on Thanksgiving and were just fulfilling their cravings for what they did not get to eat. Maybe some people ate ham instead, yet they still missed the traditional meal. They needed that turkey fix.

That's the only reason we could think of.