Sunday, March 18, 2018

Pistol Packing Annie's

  Republican Alabama state representative Harry Shiver doesn't want to arm teachers because in his words most of them are women and "they are scared of guns". Much of the time when public figures, primarily conservatives, are accused by the feminists of saying something sexist their remarks are usually taken out of context or overblown. However Mr. Shiver's opinion on this subject is very sexist and just plain wrong. First of all I am a man and an expert shot but I am scared to death of guns. You should never lose your fear of guns. No matter how well trained you are. Women are applying for concealed carry permits in record numbers and they are outpacing men. There are studies that show women are better shooters than men. Colonel Kenneth Haynes who had a 32 year career as a military firearms instructor also believes that women are better shooters. History is replete with examples. Annie Oakley, Margaret Thomas Murdock, and Lyudmila Pavlichenko who was a Soviet sniper in WW2 with 309 confirmed kills. Teachers need to be armed and I think could be more deadly than men when it comes to protecting children because of their maternal instinct. My wife, who at the time could not hit the broad side of a barn, pulled my gun on a man that was following our girls on a street in Rossville Georgia when they were children. I wasn't with her but my pistol was in the glove compartment. The girls were walking down the street when a man began following them and was acting suspiciously. When he turned to see if anyone was watching him he spotted her leaning over the hood of our car with my pistol pointed dead at him. The man immediately did a u turn and left the area. I was extremely proud of her when she told me about it a few years later. A relative, who I will not name, works in retail. A few years ago a large man acting suspicious and wearing a hoodie looked around as if to see if he was alone, pulled the hoodie over his head and walked into her store. I watched the security video and it was obvious that the man was up to no good. He was barely in the store when she grabbed her gun from under the counter and held it in the air with the greeting " Can I help you"? The man stopped dead in his tracks. He said something like "Uh no" and quickly left the store. Again, I was extremely proud of her. Let's don't sell our women short. They will do just fine.
Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley

Lyudmila Pavlichenko 

Soviet snipers in WW2

Monday, March 12, 2018

Thinking The Worst - A Healthy Way Of Living

  Every time some nut kills or harms a famous person and kills innocent people in an active shooter situation we go through a societal wringing of hands wondering what motivates these people to do what they do and what we can do to help them. As the son of a mentally ill father I have had fifty five long years to contemplate his motives for killing my mother and her unborn baby on Wednesday January 16, 1963. I have some strong opinions on what drove him to do what he did but I will never really know for sure. All I know is that for three years I witnessed his mental deterioration firsthand. In retrospect the red flags were everywhere. As a child I can say that I encouraged my father to get help and he did try which brought about some short term results. Things went downhill after he tried to kill himself in the Spring of 1962. He was committed to a mental institution where he received electroshock therapy. It is my belief that this had a lot to do with what his later actions. After being released he tried to kill my mother. She tried to have him committed at Central State. He found out what she was trying to do and killed her. I am sorry but I just don't have much faith in the way we treat mental illness in this country. The common denominator in a traumatic situation like I experienced and the shootings that have occurred since then like Columbine, the death of John Lennon or the attempted assassination of Reagan is that most of us never see it coming. When my cousin came to pick me up at school that day and told me that my parents were dead I was totally shocked and devastated. Never in a million years could I or anyone else in my family have ever imagined that my father would do what he did. Some of us are perceptive enough to imagine the worst about people but most of us are taught not to think like that. None of us could imagine that 19 terrorists would fly commercial airliners into buildings killing 3,000 Americans either. I have been told by people that I am always imagining the worst. Since 1963 I try to imagine the worst but hope for the best. Thinking that way is a lot safer. My mother is dead because even though she came to fear my father she couldn't imagine that he would shoot her to death. Sure, we need to get the mentally ill help if possible, or off the street if that is what it takes. However I fall down on the side of security first. I could care less what John Hinckley was thinking when he tried to kill Reagan or what Nicholas Cruz was thinking when he shot up Parkland High school. Our priority should be on protecting our loved ones from these people. I do not want sympathy. Although I will mourn my mother until the day I die I have come to realize that time doesn't heal the scars but it does lessen the pain. Look at this picture of the smiling man in the trench coat. What do you see? If I didn't know him I would see a happy go lucky fellow without a care in the world. Knowing him I saw a different man than most people. I saw the erratic behavior and the 1000 yard stares. Rather than ignore the trouble signs we need to be prepared to take whatever action is needed to protect our loved ones. We cannot blame the gun. Only the person is to blame. Guns will usually be what stops the person in the end. This was the last picture ever taken of my father on Christmas day 1962. In my opinion it was probably the best picture ever taken of him. Three weeks later my parents would be dead.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Children's March - Birmingham Alabama - May 1963

  I spent this weekend in Birmingham Alabama watching my grandson Russell who was playing in a wheelchair basketball tournament. Although I have passed through Birmingham many times over the years I have never had the opportunity to visit the site of the May 1963 Children's March. Before leaving town I was able to walk through the Kelly Ingram Park and visit the historic 16th Street Baptist Church just across the street. When Martin Luther King arrived in Birmingham in April 1963 he was smarting from a defeat in Albany Georgia. The reason that most people have not heard about Albany is because of a very smart police chief there named Laurie Pritchett. He was not your run of the mill redneck southern cop like Eugene (Bull Connor) of Birmingham or Jim Clark of Selma.  He was the chief of police of Albany, Georgia from 1959 to 1966. Pritchett was an Auburn graduate and besides possessing many other law enforcement credentials he was a graduate of the FBI academy.  He used Kings own tactics of non-violence against him during the Summer of 1962. Pritchett ordered his officers to arrest all protesters but to do it without violence. Even King considered Pritchett a decent man but he said that Pritchett used moral means to uphold immoral laws. It was King's goal to desegregate the white business district in downtown Birmingham. When King arrived in April he was promptly arrested for participating in a demonstration. While in jail he would write his famous letter from the Birmingham jail which defended his use of direct action and nonviolence as opposed to waiting on the courts to end segregation. King was calling for hundreds of Black people to demonstrate and willingly fill the jail cells in Birmingham just as they did in Albany. Most Black adults in Birmingham were worried about White retaliation such as being fired from their jobs. Blacks worked menial jobs for White people  like being gardeners, maids, nanny's, etcetera. King asked James Bevel, who had been part of the Nashville student movement, to find demonstrators to fill the jails. Bevel said that he would but King was not prepared for what Bevel had in mind. With the help of a popular Black DJ, who spoke in a code that local Blacks understood he organized the majority of Birmingham's children to show up at the 16th Street Baptist Church on May 2, 1963 just across from Kelly Ingram city park. Most of them left Black schools all over Birmingham to be there. When King found out that Bevel intended to use children instead of adults he was against the plan. Ignoring Kings fears Bevel sent these children, some as young as four years old out to confront Birmingham's racist police commissioner Bull Connor and his racist police officers who ringed the park in waves. Connor was no Laurie Pritchett. He played right into Bevels hands. On the first day Connor arrested nearly a 1000 students. The next day May 3rd he arrested nearly 2,000 and brought out the infamous police dogs and the Fire departments water cannons. The news media posted pictures of children being attacked by dogs and blasted by high pressure water hoses that knocked them off of their feet. These images went out all over the world and President Kennedy was both horrified and angered by the pictures. On May 4th 4,000 more students were arrested and Connor was out of jail space. As soon as kids were released they would return to the park and be rearrested. Connor was not prepared for so many arrests and was overwhelmed by the situation. Unlike Pritchett who had arranged in advance with surrounding police departments to use their jail space when his became full. The children adapted to the water hoses and made a game out of it. Taunting the firemen and some even came to the protests in their bathing suits. On May 10th the city government decided to finally end segregation in it's restaurants and diners after a meeting with Martin Luther King. To top it off Bull Connor was fired from his job as police commissioner. Birmingham was the catalyst for the 1964 Civil Rights Act in much the same way as the violence associated with the March on Selma the following year was the catalyst for the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Kennedy proposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act but did not live to see it's passage. Just before services began at the 16th Street Baptist church at 10:22 AM on Sunday September 15, 1963 a powerful bomb exploded killing four girls in a restroom on the east side of the building. They were Addie Mae Collins 14, Cynthia Wesley 14, Carole Robertson 14, and Denise McNair age 11. Ten year old Sarah Collins lost her right eye and 20 others were injured. The Klan did this in retaliation for the church's role in the Children's March of the previous May and it was the site for so many civil rights meetings over the years. Protests broke out across Birmingham as a result of the bombing and there would be clashes with the police. No one would be arrested for the church bombing until 1977 when Robert Chambliss was charged with the murder and would die in prison in 1985. Thomas Blanton would not be convicted until 2001 and Bobby Cherry would be convicted in 2002. Herman Cash would die in 1994 before he could be brought to trial.
Martin Luther Kings mug shot

Press conference in Birmingham

Statue to Martin Luther King in Kelly Ingram Park

James Bevel

MLK with Laurie Pritchett

Eugene (Bull) Connor

Bull Connor

The 16th Street Baptist Church

16th Street Baptist Church on March 4, 2018

Kelly Ingram Park
Kelly Ingram Park on March 4, 2018

Kelly Ingram Park March 4, 2018

Police arresting demonstrators

Monument to the children March 4, 2018

Monument depicting the above picture March 

March 4, 2018

Monument to the children hit with fire hoses March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018

Water cannon March 4, 2018
The preachers monument in Kelly Ingram Park March 4, 2018

16th Street Bombing

Statue to the 4 girls killed in the bombing March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018
Memorial to the bombing victims March 4, 2018

Bombing suspect Robert Chambliss