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The Joy Reid Saga: The Wayback Machine cannot guarantee authenticity

Recently, Mediaite posted screen shots captured by a Twitter user who goes by the name of Not a Bot that seemingly showed several homophobic comments made on a now defunct weblog by MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid. Reid replied that her weblog had been hacked and several articles modified by unknown parties. The media has responded by digging up an apology Reid made late last year about homophobic comments she had made in the past, which seemingly contradicts her claim of being hacked.

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Battle of the Bulge

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

On this anniversary of the World War II Battle of the Bulge, Jules Crittenden provides a comprehensive summary of the battle, as well as a book and other references, and photos.

The photos are especially compelling, as they lack of romanticism of so many WWII photos in books and in other publications. The following photo is of members of the the 82nd Airborne, my Dad’s division, following the 340th Tank Battalion. The photo is from the Life Magazine collection hosted by Google.

82 Airborne following tank

My Dad’s war history has been on my mind quite a bit recently, since reading Norman Costa’s story of his father and his experiences during D-Day. My father was also in the same battle, and in the same regiment. Unfortunately, my father, unlike his, was not comfortable telling his daughter about some of the more difficult moments during the war. As I told Costa in an email, Dad was less reticent with my ex-husband.

Dad…grew up in a time when one shielded “unpleasant” stories from the womenfolk, which means he did not tell me stories of especially difficult times. He did, however, share them with my ex-husband, who passed them on to me.

Dad was, at one time, trapped by sniper fire, and thought he was a goner, until other soldiers managed to kill the sniper. His worst time, though, was leading a small group of men towards a farm with a house designated as a “spotter” house, which should mean the house was safe. However, Dad didn’t know if the house was safe or not, so ordered his men to stay behind, under cover, while he checked the place out. The house was safe, but unfortunately the men took cover in a shell blast “crater”, which got hit by another shell. Dad returned, only to find all of the men dead.

Most of Dad’s war memorabilia was lost during a move years ago, but he gave me the handgun, an M1911, he carried during the war. Dad paid a German POW a package of cigarettes to engrave his name on the barrel, and attached his paratrooper wings and the 82nd Airborne badge to the handle on one side, a photo of my uncle, who was in the Navy during WWII, on the other.


Women soldiers

From a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that’s no longer online:

Jennie Irene Hodgers was born in County Louth, Ireland, on Christmas Day in 1843 and later sailed to New York with her family.

But she already was calling herself Albert D.J. Cashier when she turned up in Belvidere, Ill., and enlisted in the 95th Illinois Regiment in 1862. She served as an infantryman through three years and some 40 Civil War battles.

Later, it was as Cashier that she lived and worked in Saunemin, voted in elections, collected her Army pension and moved in 1911 to the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (now the Illinois Veterans Home) in Quincy.

She became Jennie Hodgers again only when she was transferred in 1913 to the former Watertown State Hospital near East Moline and psychiatrists forced her to wear female attire.

But while she was confined at Watertown, men from her old unit rallied to her defense, convincing the federal Pension Board to rule in 1914 that she could continue to collect her pension as Pvt. Albert D.J. Cashier.

And at the insistence of Saunemin residents, that was the name she was buried under — clad in her Civil War uniform — after her death in 1915.

Interesting story about women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight in wars. About Jennie Hodgers, historians say she may have taken a male persona for economic rather than transsexual reasons:

As an illiterate immigrant girl, Hodgers could have found lawful employment only as a domestic servant. But in male disguise, she could work in factories or as a farmhand. At enlistment, Hodgers gave her occupation as “laborer, farmhand and shepherd.” A private in the Union army earned more than an agricultural worker.

History Photography Places


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Sunday, I discovered that the Switzer Building was being destroyed starting on the 14th; the first wrecking ball would fall at 10pm. This was my last chance to take pictures of the building I’ve come to be fond of.

As I was taking pictures, others would show up from time to time: to look at the building, to reminisce, and take pictures, themselves. A person I talked with on the Eads Bridge mentioned about visiting the riverfront and the licorice aroma that would gentle pervade the area. Another person I ran into at the base of the building talked about his family being here before the building was created, and how too many of these unique buildings are now gone.

With the images below, I’ve included links to other sites with more on the Switzer Building, and other buildings at risk in St. Louis. Many of these sites have pictures far superior to mine, so don’t judge my photos too harshly. I had hoped to find an image of the building when licorice was still being manufactured at the premises, but no luck.

First, though, a couple of photos of what the building was like before the storm damage that doomed it.

Switzer before damage

Switzer before damage

The rest of the photos were taken Sunday, May 13th.

Side of building

The Damaged side

Full view of damaged side

Front cast iron work

Building Number

Smile You Being Watch

Three quarter front view

The Ecology of Absence web site

Ecology of Absence weblog entry on the building

Urban St. Louis thread on the Switzer Building

Vanishing St. Louis post on the building.

Built St. Louis Switzer page

St. Louis Today article on the building damage

LaClede’s Landing Walking Tour

Switzer Sign from Fading Ad


In Search of Lacey Smith

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to my search, but I hope to sometime in the near future. I’m trying to find a Lacey Smith, though he’s long been dead and the only event of any note in his life that I can see is he shot and killed Polk Grimes the first of February 1, 1870 in a town called Jollification.

I discovered Lacey Smith by accident when I was looking for Missouri mills and discovered the Jolly Mill. Jolly, short for Jollification; so named, as the good rumor goes, but not fact as the stuffier insist, because of the whiskey mill that formed the heart of this small but thriving community nestled against a limestone hill and surrounded by good corn growing land.

The town died, oh long ago, when the train came through…elsewhere. At its time though, it was something, but that was before the Union soldiers burned the town down during the Civil war, it is said though I can’t find any real record of the Union army actually setting fire to the town. The Union soldiers came through several times, killed people, but no one ever mentioned about Sargent Whatsit lighting a match and saying to the troops, “Watch this town light up like the 4th of July, boys!” That’s what I would have said.

The mill still stands, bought by people in the county and turned into a park with picnic tables and such. They also recreated the town from descriptions, and moved a one room school house to the site. I went out there in early fall to take photos and check out the place where Lacey Smith shot Polk Grimes, but was a bit disappointed. Oh the mill is nice and the school is quaint, but across the pond are homes of people wealthy enough so that no matter how hard you looked, you couldn’t see a thing other than “No trespassing”. The sun was too hot for good photos, but I did enjoy the turtles on the logs and a white heron that seemed as curious about me as I was about him.

He walked in the water on the opposite side of the pond from me, until I got to the mill and went out as far as I could on the rocks near the building and he went out on the rocks across from me and we just stared at each other until he finally decided I wasn’t all that interesting and took off: long skinny black legs pulled straight back, body like a bullet in flight.

The caretaker and her two young children were at the faux village; she was mowing and the kids were playing. I think I asked something, not sure what, and she was polite but not over friendly. I was going to ask where the Grimes family cemetery was, to see where Polk was buried, but felt uncomfortable.

There was old Baptist church with a cemetery on the road to the Mill, so I made do with it. I stopped on the way back and walked among the stones, trying to see if Lacey was among them (“…strung up for killing that poor boy, Polk…”). No such luck. I did find one Grimes, by marriage only though. I wondered that she was buried with her family rather than her husband.

I liked the old church. It reminded of the story–I think it was in “Let us Now Praise Famous Men”, by James Agee and Walker Evans–about them stopping by a plain white back country church alongside a dusty road in the south, when a young black couple came walking by. I can remember the words, about the couple walking side by side only their hips touching; the clean white of their clothes; not saying a word–I wish I could write like this, where you still see the picture the words formed long after you forgot where you read them.

No young black couple that day, but a couple of farm dogs came towards me out of one of the fields of uncut hay. They were silent, just a determined march through the field: one mottled black, white, and brown, the other, one of those dogs with light blue eyes. I measured my distance to the car in heart beats; I’ve always been afraid of the loose dogs along the Missouri back roads. I walked, did not run, to the car but only breathed when I was inside. Turning around, I saw the dogs cross the road behind me, not once looking my way, just continuing the same determined, silent march into the next field.

Of the Grimes, James P. “Polk” Grimes’ father was William Grimes who himself was murdered in 1878. The man who murdered him, by the name of Connor or O’Connor was tried once, convicted, and then tried again and convicted again. I figured this had something to do with his lawyers because Goodspeed’s historian wrote about how they “…worked the law through all its many crevices.”

William’s father was Gainsford Grimes from England who came over to America just in time to fight with George Washington. After having done so, Mr. Grimes returned to England after the war to take a bride, a Nancy Poe. A “…member of the celebrated Poe family, who about this time immigrated to America. This also according to Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Newton County.

Anyway, among Nancy Poe’s famous relatives was Aaron Poe, the ‘celebrated indian fighter’. It took the longest time before I decided to try a variation on the name to realize that the historian got the name wrong; he meant AndrewPoe. Andrew was a celebrated indian fighter in the Ohio valley area, and ended up having another son who also became a famous indian fighter. Whether Andrew and Nancy were related to that other famous Poe, Edgar Allen, is difficult to say; their ancestors all came from England about the same time. Cousins, let’s make them cousins. Heck, yeah that works. History doesn’t have to be factual, only interesting. You wait, and I’ll work Jesse James into this, too.

There’s an interesting story behind the Goodspeed histories. Goodspeed was a small publishing house in the 1800’s that published complete histories of several midwestern and southern counties. I find the one from Newton county to be enormously entertaining. For instance, from the “crime” section:

Horace Tongue, who shot and killed Samuel Rice, at Neosho, in the Spring of 1856, was tried, but acquitted, as the murdered man interfered in his family.

Reece Crabtree was wounded near Pilot Grove by Confederates, but while en route to Neosho, died. Immediately after, bushwhackers arrived to kill him outright, but, finding him dead, departed.

John C. Moss, who resided five miles south of Joplin, believed himself to be Christ in the summer of 1881, and was placed in jail by Sherriff McElhaney. At the time Hall, another insane man confined there, hearing the yells of Moss, said to the latter: “Get up from there and stop your howlin’; I believe you are crazy anyhow.” It was this Hall, on being led to a spring, would play in the water like a duck.

A dead body, supposed to be that of Jesse James, was found by miners eight miles south of Joplin, in November, 1879.

The same time Lacey Smith killed Polk Grimes, the James gang were riding the lands of Missouri robbing banks and avenging the Confederacy; joining with other so-called Bushwhackers–former confederate soldiers unhappy at the outcome of the war. Missouri probably has more caves than almost any where else, and every one of them harbored a bushwhacker at some point. But that leads us back to the day when Lacey Smith shot and killed Polk Grimes.

Polk was only 25 and Smith not much older, but why the one shot another I don’t know. When I go to Columbus and look through the old newspaper archives, maybe I’ll find out the whys and wherefores. “Lacey Smith killed Polk Grimes for messin’ with his family”, or some such thing. The Grimes served in the Confederacy, and some say that Newton county had its own civil war; that brother killing brother wasn’t so far off. Maybe Smith was a Union sympathizer but if so, he should have been the dead one because there was no sympathy for the Union in Jollification–after all, they did burn down the town. Not the Mill, though.

On February 10, ten days after Lacey Smith shot and killed James P. “Polk” Grimes, the Neosho Times reported that Smith was tried and committed for action by the grand jury by one Wolcott and Smith Esquire, (we’re assuming no relation to the accused). Two guards were assigned to take him to Neosho, but between Jolly and Neosho, all three disappeared. Several days later, the papers the guards were carrying showed up, folded neat as a pin and laid on the porch of Grave’s & Co, a store co-operative in Neosho.

You see now? It was interesting to read about the three going missing, but people go missing all the time and back in those days and in that area, a lot of people went missing and died, or just plain died. But it was the papers, folded up and left on the store’s porch–now that just catches at you.