Thursday, December 28, 2017

Believing God Is Not Dead Nor Does He Sleep


Below are the original words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Christmas Bells":

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn the households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

As most know, the Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865, While the war itself would have been enough to give anyone at the time a feeling of hopelessness, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's second wife of 18 years died in 1861 after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. That tragic accident took place on July 9th, 1861.

His first wife, Mary Potter Longfellow, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife Frances Appleton Longfellow's death came as an accident while supposedly putting locks of her children's hair into an envelope. She was attempting to seal the envelope with hot sealing wax as was the custom of the times. Her dress suddenly caught fire. Henry heard her screams and jumped off a sofa where he was taking a nap. He rushed to help her and immediately threw a rug over her to try to put out the flames.

Fanny, as she was known to all, was badly burned and was rendered unconscious during the ordeal. She was taken to her room while a doctor was sent for. It's said she drifted in and out of consciousness. At around 10am on the next morning, she awoke and asked for a cup of coffee. She then closed her eyes and died.

Henry burned his face and hands very badly while trying to save her. His burns were so bad that he wasn't able to attend her funeral a few days later. The burns to his face were so severe that he stopped shaving and he wore a beard from then on. Today, we know the poet's beard as a sort of trademark.

After her death, America's most popular poet of the times, a man who used some of the income from the sale of his poetry to discreetly buy slaves their freedom, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stopped writing for years. Devastated by her death, it's said that he never ever fully recovered. It's even said that he resorted to using laudanum to help deal with his grief.

In March of 1863, Henry Longfellow receives a letter from his oldest son Charles. His letter states in part, "I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good."

In 1863, Charles Longfellow joined the Union Army without his father's knowledge or blessings. During his service, he would be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and become severely wounded. In 1864, his father traveled to a Union Army hospital in Washington D.C. to find his son. He then took Charles home. His wounds were serious enough to where that was the end of the war for Charles Longfellow.  

In the winter of 1863, with the war raging and no solution for peace in sight, months before finding out that his son Charles was not dead, and still reeling from the death of his wife, despair fell over the great poet. It is then that he penned his poem "Christmas Bells." 

Longfellow is believed to have written his poem on Christmas Day in 1863. Some say he was in such sorrow over the way the war was going, and the possible loss of his son, that his spirits were lifted when he himself heard the local church bells ring out. It's said that with hearing those bells, he felt as though God was reminding him that he has not abandoned him and all there.

His poem speaks to a Christian nation being overwhelmed by the roar of cannons and hate. It speaks to having despair, yet finding hope despite that gloom. His poem "Christmas Bells" was first published in February of 1865.

Christmas carols are inspirational, heart warming, and some songs can be absolutely fun and goofy as with "Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer." Most spiritual Christmas carols speak to the miracle of the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. They speak to our faith as Christians.

As with all of us, I have my favorite Christmas songs. And depending on my mood, there are a few that I will still play into the ground just as I did when I was a kid with my 45s and small record player. Among my favorites is a relatively unknown carol called "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

This carol actually comes from Longfellow's poem "Christmas Bells." Though it was written and published in the midst of the dark days of the Civil War, the poem was not set to music until 1872.

As Christmas songs go, this one never reached the Top Ten list. As a song, it was recorded in 1956 by singer Bing Crosby. And while many others including Harry Belafonte and Frank Sinatra have recorded the song, it is Bing Crosby's rendition that has met the test of time.

While Longfellow's poem "Christmas Bells" references the Civil War in his poem, including the lines "Then from each black, accursed mouth, the cannon thundered in the South. And with the sound, the carols drowned."

Those words don't appear in the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" as you can see for yourself below:

Joy to the world
Let earth receive her King

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And wide and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to man

I thought as now this day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rung so long the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to man

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to man."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to man

I believe this small Christmas carol speaks to one of the reasons why Christmas means so much to all of us. Our desire for peace on earth and good will to all of mankind speaks to our having faith in God during our darkest hours. It speaks to our not giving up even when giving up may seem so easy to do. It speaks to our faith and how we can overcome the hate and those against us. 

While peace and goodwill seem so rare, even in this day and age of conflicts and strife, that small Christmas carol speaks to our faith in God. Our faith that good will triumph over evil no matter how bad things appear because "God is not dead, nor does he sleep." 

Tom Correa

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Christmas Long Ago

By the late 1940s, he started his own ranch with two friends. It was hard to keep it afloat but they did. Soon the others wanted out, and after a while he was the only one left. He kept it going for years until that thing called the "economy" made it a losing proposition in the late 1970s during what my grandfather called the "Second Great Depression".

He used to tell me a lot of stories about "the old days," especially how it was during the Great Depression. I remember once I had asked my grandfather what were the hardest days that he'd ever went through?

I expected him to say it was when he had to leave school after finishing the 3rd grade to work in the fields, or when he was 12 and told to run-away from home because his step-father beat him and his mother worried that he'd be killed, or maybe the time his merchant ship was torpedoed during World War II.

Without hesitation, he told me that it was the Christmas of 1934. Work was hard to find. A huge Longshoreman's Union strike in San Francisco crippled the West Coast and Hawaii ports for months earlier in the year. That strike hurt a lot of men for the rest of the year even after it ended. It put a lot of good men out of work. He had been a merchant marine seaman for a couple of years by then and couldn't find a ship to save his soul. After doing this job and that, he said he lucked out and found work as a cowboy again to make ends meet.

He said he got up Christmas morning and opened the few presents they had. He and my grandmother got my mother a doll. He was able to get your grandmother a small necklace. My grandmother actually made him a work shirt that Christmas. They were living with his in-laws, my great-grandmother and father. They helped them a lot. He said that they all went to church for a Christmas Mass. After returning home, they ate and visited.

"It was your mother's first Christmas," he said. "I worked that Monday which was Christmas Eve. No one worked on Christmas. We had very little. That is, other then our love for each other. It was a very rough Christmas, but we were better off than many many others."

The young couple had no choice but to move in with her parents. Her parents were fine with them moving in. In fact, they encouraged it by telling them that they would be able to save money by doing so.

Her parents knew what hard times were. They had seen it when they were first married. They knew real well the struggle that takes place when you have nothing and your husband is taking whatever work he can. They knew real well that hard times pass. They also knew that in it's midst, it feels as though it'll never end.

Out at the ranch, he sat his horse with his rubber raincoat pulled up to his ears. He would have loved to have a slicker, but it was not a slicker. Instead of a slicker which extends the length of one's body, he only had his heavy rain jacket that he used on ship when at sea. Because it wasn't a slicker, it was too short and the rain dripped into that spot between his saddle's cantle and his trousers. So now as he sat there, he thought how his butt was wet, how his cigarettes were wet, how even his matches were wet.

He sat there as the first truck loaded. He spurred his horse to move the cows closer to the loading chute. Every now and then, he'd move his horse right and then left, left and then right, forward to nudge the cows forward down the alley way and into the chute.

It was common for a merchant marine seaman to find a job between ships. Since there wasn't unemployment insurance at the time, people took whatever job they could get to bring in a dollar. And while he knew real well that crews were needed for this ship and that, hard times made it so that he was being bumped by hands who had more seniority than him.

He'd only been a merchant marine for a few years at that point. He didn't mind the work. He stepped aboard his first steamer in 1931. He was 16 years old and hired on as an "oiler." He did it because it was work. He had never dreamed of going to sea or working aboard ship. He did it because it was work. Because it was a job. That in itself was reason enough to do it to the best of his abilities.

As with most things, we remember the good times instead of the bad. While he was now working as a cowboy again, for a moment he remembered how wonderful it was to go to sea. He liked the feeling of working and being part of a crew. He liked the ports, the sights, the different people.

He remembered his first Chief Boatswain. How it was that Chief who he made sure that he put most of his pay in an envelope for the Captain to hold. How he told him that that was so he'd have money to send home after being out on the town. He remembered how that Chief stopped him from being taken for a ride in a clip-joint in Seattle.

Most of the clip-joints were bars near the piers. All employed inside those joints were out to cheat young sailors out of their hard earned cash. It was the same story with most clip-joints in any port. Most of those places had your standard young women who wore hardly anything. Those hustlers got sailors to buy them "campaign cocktails" that were three times the price of a regular drink. In reality, their so-called "campaign cocktail" was only a little orange juice mixed with 7up for the bubbles. Crooked bartenders were usually in on the scam. After getting a young sailor drunk, the bartender would charge him twice to three times what his drinks cost all to make it appear legit. In many cases the bar would get a sailor drunk quickly. Then their bouncers would help them out the back door and into an alley where they'd be rolled for the money they had on them.

He remembered how that Chief Boatswain made sure he was paired up with another crew member so that he wouldn't be found later with his head bashed in and his money gone. He remembered that Chief telling him what bars to stay out of and how not to flash too much of his cash around. He also remembered how he gave him a roll of pennies to put in his pocket and his first night ashore in Hong Kong. The Chief Boatswain told him to wrap his fist around those pennies nice and tight before punching someone. Certainly before having to fight his way out the door.

He remembered that Chief padding him on the back when he found out that he'd met a gal who he wanted to marry. How happy the Chief was that it wasn't some barroom floozy but instead a nice local gal about his age. He wasn't yet 20 at the time.

Between ships, he'd found a temporary job working a jackhammer for a construction company, driving a bus, and even selling Singer sewing machines among other things. He was between ships and selling sewing machines when he met his future wife.

It was soon after that when he asked permission from her parents to "court" her. It was then that he would show up and sit with her in their parlor. What we today call a living room. All while her mother sat in a chair across from them as they talked. They were soon married, and soon after that his new wife became pregnant.

He remembered how much he loved being at sea at first. But then it swept over him, it was his remembering that lonely feeling when being about aboard ship at sea. Not all of the time, but there were certainly those times when he knew that feeling of longing for home. He remembered how it would hit him now and then especially at night when on watch and the sea is black and the moon glimmers its reflection on every passing wave.

Now he was wet and shook his head thinking, that though waiting for a ship, here he was again working as a cowboy. Yes, it was something that he thought he'd never do again. Not because he didn't like being a cowboy, it was just because he didn't think he'd go back to something after leaving it behind him.

Another truck pulled their load of cows out. He sat there and waited for the next truck to come in and load up. The rain was constant and he wanted a smoke in the worse way. He gigged his horse as he had all day to move the cows into the alley way and up closer to the loading chute. As had been taking place all day, every now and then he'd move his horse right and then left, left and then right, forward to nudge the cows forward down the alley way and into the chute.

It had been about six years since he'd worked for his first cattle outfit. It was one of the times in his life when he was very happy. That outfit was great in that they treated him no differently than any of the other ranch hands, even though he was only 12 when he walked on the place looking for a job.

He was used as "the gopher" at first. He would go for anything the boss and others wanted. He was tasked with mucking stalls, cleaning, painting, loading and unloading this or that. He learned how to string barbed wire and fix fences, repair water pipes and replace valves at troughs, And of course he was there on the ground during brandings learning to cut horns, castrate, and run the hot irons to the cowboys doing the branding.

That's the way it was for six or eight months until that one day when the boss told him to make a saddle and a headstall and bridle out of the old stuff sitting around the tack room. He remembered going in there and finding what he thought he needed out of the old tack hung here or there in cobwebs and dust.

He found an old A-fork saddle that he cleaned up and oiled its leather. He changed out its worn bucking rolls, its cinch straps, latigo, and even replaced a stirrup with one that he found on another old saddle that looked cannibalized.  He used whatever old tack that still looked usable that the other cowboys didn't claim. He made sure he didn't touch any of their gear.

Sitting on that horse in the rain, he remembered how he enjoyed being a cowboy those few years of working for that outfit. He felt a bit sad when remembering that day when his boss showed up to let him and few others go. He'd never heard the word "economy" before. He remembered his boss saying he was letting him and some of the other hands go because of the "economy."

He had forgot about the times he had worked in the mud mugging some steer, or being wet when he wished he were dry and drinking a warm cup of coffee. He'd forgotten the long days during calving season, getting cattle out of a neighbor's property after they escaped through a break in a fence, or nursing the sick back to health.

Pushing cows to a loading chute can be sort of boring when having to wait for a new truck to back in. He shook his head remembering how this all started as a short conversation outside a grocery store. He was buying a loaf of bread when he overheard a local rancher say how he couldn't find good help who knew anything about cows, never mind horses.

It was then that the between-ships sailor said that cows and horses were no problem if a hand knew what he was doing. When the old rancher asked if he knew what he was doing around cows, he told him the name of the outfit that he'd worked for before this thing called the "economy" cut his job out from under him.

He told that rancher how he went to sea to make an honest dollar, how there were those times when he missed being in the saddle, how he was between ships, and how he was looking for work because he had responsibilities since he was recently married and had a new daughter.

The old rancher took a piece of paper out of his pocket and wrote down his address, saying, "Be there at 8 o'clock and I've got work for you. If you show me that you're experienced, you'll be paid what I think you're worth."

He was brought up to understand hard times. He had worked full time since leaving home right after he finished the 3rd grade. His first job was in the fields as a picker and he did that for almost 4 years before finding work on that ranch as a cowboy.

He liked being a cowboy. He liked the hard work and the cattle. He liked the horses and learning to do an assortment of different jobs. He liked that no day was the same as the next, especially during gatherings. He liked being a cowboy more than any job that he'd ever have.

He knew jobs were hard to come by, so getting a job was half the battle to making a dollar. The other half of course was being able to hold a job. So when he hired on somewhere, he ran with it and gave his boss everything he had. He knew what it was to be hungry. He didn't like being hungry.

The last of the cattle were loaded onto the trucks that raining day. It was getting dark and the rain was coming down harder than earlier. He didn't know how long he'd be working as a cowboy but he liked it. He had something to eat for breakfast and they worked through lunch to get the trucks loaded. He didn't mind because he always loved the work. It was honest money and he felt good about giving his boss a good day's work even in the worse of conditions.

He liked knowing that he had a good reputation. That he was seen as a good hand, a hard worker, someone reliable and dependable, meant a lot to him. He liked knowing that he was a cowboy again even if it was only until this boss comes over to tell the boys that he was letting some of the hands go because of the "economy".

Even though it was Christmas Eve, he felt good about working hard and knowing that he was taking a few bucks home to his wife who just gave birth to their daughter in early November.  The boss paid him for the week and he knew he could spend those needed dollars on presents, but they needed food and clothing more than Christmas presents.

The years would grow harder still. He knew that he would take any job as long as it was honest work. He knew jobs were few and the bread lines seemed longer everyday. His attitude of taking whatever job that came along made all the difference with surviving the tough days of the Great Depression.

My grandmother used to say, "A man feels good about himself when he's working."

Since providing for your wife and children is the number one duty of a husband and father, she was probably right. My grandfather did whatever it took. Whether it was between ships when he needed to find work, or later when he finally gave up on the sea, among other things, he'd cowboy to pay the bills and keep food on the table. He liked it, and felt good about himself because he was working.

Tom Correa


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Light For Rural America

Dear Friends,

Back in the mid-1980s, I had a foreman who was a hard working man with great work ethics. Above all else, he understood hard times and I respected that most about him.

I found out later that he was born in 1932, and that made him 6 years younger than my Dad. Yes, like my parents, he was born and raised during the Great Depression.

Besides working together, he being my boss, we became pretty good friends over the years. For me, I mostly enjoyed his stories about growing up in Arkansas. In reality, it was because of him that I actually learned a great deal about how it was to grow up during those Great Depression years in the rural South.

It wasn't as if I didn't hear a lot about how it was during the Great Depression. My Dad and my Grandfather had both told me a lot about the hard times that was everyday life for the vast majority of Americans during that time. My friend's experiences were just different from that of my Dad and Grandfather because my family is from Hawaii. Conditions in Hawaii during that same time period was very similar to what was going on the "mainland" or "in the states." But at the same time, things were also very different as well.

For example, where my family worked for the pineapple and sugar plantations on Oahu, my friend's family were sharecroppers in Arkansas. Where my family was poor, they still had a roof over their heads because it was provided to them by the plantations. In contrast my friend's family was essentially homeless after losing their farm. And where my family was able to have a small garden where they were able to grow vegetables to help save money that they didn't have, his family didn't have any of that for a long time after losing their farm. Because of that, he remembered going hungry at times because his father just couldn't find work. 

Besides telling me about how bad it was, he once talked about growing up without electricity. The only thing that I could compare that to was how my family's ranch in Hawaii did not having electricity. We made do with kerosene lanterns. Of course the reason that we didn't have electricity was not the same as my friend's family. For us it was because our ranch was in a very remote area of the island at the time. My friend's family didn't have electricity even though they weren't all that far out of town. 

Fact is, like many rural Americans of the time, he was raised on candles and oil lamps. Yes, up until the passage of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 which created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), a great many rural Americans lived in the dark compared to their urban cousins. 

The REA was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" Federal programs. Like the others, it was was meant to spur economic growth, and improve the sad state of America's economy. Specifically, the Rural Electrification Administration was setup to better the working conditions of those working in American agriculture and their families which were hit especially hard by an extended drought and flooding during the Great Depression. In essence, the REA, the Rural Electrification Administration, gave incentives to corporations to build power plants and put in power lines in areas where their were none.

For some odd reason, President Franklin D. Roosevelt doesn't get a whole lot of credit for working with big corporations. People forget that part of the New Deal was to jump start employment. Fact is President Roosevelt did work closely with corporations in huge ways to create jobs. For example, the president's federal REA program provided low interest 25 year loans, loans at just 3 percent interest, to energy corporations so that they would construct power plants and put in power lines in rural areas. 

With those REA low interest federal loans, corporations could make electricity available to rural Americans like my friend's family who never had it before. Farmers, ranchers, dairymen, schools, small businesses, local courthouses, small towns that dot our nation, all could afford to have electricity in their homes, farms, businesses, and much more. 

President Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Act of 1936 was passed with the belief that electrified agriculture would improve incomes and raise standards of living in rural America. 

Prior to the REA, electricity to rural America was costly simply because of fewer customers per mile of electric line compared with urban areas. Because of the cost of building lines and still making a profit, many private power companies, energy corporations, charged rural customers more per kilowatt hour than they charged urban residents simply because they were trying to recoup costs. Before the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), it's just a fact that electric service to rural Americans was extremely limited. 

Before the passing of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, the federal government had already tried to provide rural Americans with electricity by way of creating the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In 1934, the TVA began providing fairly inexpensive electricity to rural Americans in the Tennessee River valley. Because the TVA was such a success, everyone, including the politicians in Washington D.C., saw that agriculture benefited by using electricity. 

It is said that those in agriculture saw processing made easier and production increase. It's also said that their families saw the benefits of electric lights, electric well pumps, electric washing machines and stoves, and even radio. It was the TVA that actually spurred demand in rural areas for inexpensive electricity.

The Rural Electrification Administration was created to meet that demand. The success of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is what proved that getting power to rural American was not only possible but also financially feasible. 

Rural electrification is said to have fulfilled the promise of improving standards of living in rural communities across our nation. Ranchers, farmers, dairymen, their families and their communities all benefited and their lives became better for it. 

I remember my friend telling me that he was about 9 years old when his family got their first light bulb. He told me about how his Mother stayed up for hours during their first Christmas after they got that first bulb. He said his Mother sat and waited for the bulb to go out just as if it were a candle. He said his Dad had to explain to her how she didn't have to worry about it running out of oil or about it burning down to nothing as a candle would. He told her it would stay on as long as she kept didn't flip the switch to turn it off.

I remember my Arkansas friend tearing up when remembering how his Mother refused to flip the switch because she was afraid that it wouldn't come back on again. How she just sat watching that lonely bulb. All the while with tears of joy running down her face. All over the mere thought of having a light a hundred times brighter than an oil lamp. Light as she never experienced. Light with the flip of a switch.

He said she saw that light as a gift from God and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  
I think she was right on both counts. That's just the way I see it. 

Tom Correa

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Merry Christmas from Glencoe, California


Merry Christmas, my friends!

Let me just say that I'm sorry for not writing more lately. As you can imagine, being a blogger with a case of "writer's block" is not good. Each night for the last week or so I sit here at my keyboard and try to write. But frankly, it has been a little tough.

Each night I look through the more than 60 serious drafts of stories that I'd like to finish and share with you. Each night I work on this or that post until I finally throw up my hands in frustration and call it a night. I hit "save" and hope that I can find what I need to write tomorrow. 

According to some sources, writer's block is "a condition primarily associated with writing in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown." I'd say that's pretty accurate.

Some say it is all about a difficulty with coming up with original ideas. Some say it has to do with problems such as running out of inspiration. Then there's what is known as "blank page syndrome" which is similar to writer's block as it can happen to a writer who cannot come up with anything new.

Writers who experience such things sometimes stop writing simply because of a sense of failure in so far as getting the acclaim they want. Of course there are sources that talk about how it happens when a writer is distracted or feels depressed. Another source on writer's block talked about it happens to writers who are going through a lot of pressure to meet deadlines.

As for acclaim? You give me that by merely visiting my blog. As for being depressed or distracted? I have been a little down since losing my older brother last year, but he liked the fact that I write. He actually encouraged me to do so back when some told me that I was wasting my time and shouldn't even bother.

The famous writer John Steinbeck's supposed solution to writer's block is simple. He reportedly said, "Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like."

So what do I do when I already write as Steinbeck advised? After all, I've made it pretty clear that I haven't been writing for some Historical Society, a Veterinary Program, to further my education in Criminal Justice, or to get a Political Science degree. I've stated from the beginning that my style of writing is that of someone simply talking with a friend over a cup of coffee about something that I've found interesting for one reason or another.

It is sort of like my wanting to talk about Christmas. Since I was a kid, Christmas has always been about family. Some forty or more years ago, because of this reason or that, my folks started having our family Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Christmas Day was spent elsewhere. It may have been with the family of a girlfriend, or with friends, or maybe working as I did for many years.

When I was in the Marine Corps back in the early 1970s, I remember missing Christmas Eve with my family. In those day, I remember taking the duty so that a married Marine could have the time off. In that way, he could spend time with his family.

Being single most of my life, I found that I tried giving to others around this time of year. I was very young when I learned that there were those who have a lot less than I do even when I myself have nothing at all.

So for me, Christmas has always seemed more of a time for helping others and giving rather than actually receiving. And I know that sounds like a clichè, but I really found that it made me feel pretty good to help those with less than me. Yes, even when I was broke.

It's true. I remember being laid-off and on unemployment during Christmas one year but still found ways of helping others. Since I didn't have a wife and children to keep clothed and fed, I remember trying to do for others because they had a great deal more responsibility than I did. And frankly, looking back on those days, I now realize that it may not have been very much help but it was all I could do at the time. And yes, it made me feel good doing it.

There was a few years there when a few of my friends and I decided to find blankets for families. We packed up boxes of groceries and left them on doorsteps. We tried to make sure a senior had a hot meal and food in their pantry. A few of us actually did some handyman work that needed to be done for a few seniors who were having lean times. They themselves couldn't afford to get it done, so we did it. And frankly, we felt great about it.

I receive all sorts of email. Some great. Others not so great. Some funny and some just pure nasty. One of the more humorous letters came from someone who accused me of being "wealthy" and "really living in New York City."

I can assure everyone reading this that I do not live in New York City. My wife and I live here in beautiful Glencoe, California. My regular readers have read time and time again how we have a population of 189 here in this part of Calaveras County.

As for being "wealthy"? I don't know what the poverty statistics or the unemployment stats are for our area, but I know this is not what one can call an affluent area. I do know that there are those who simply do not have a lot. But even though that's the case for some, they do the best they can and their children seem happy.

A couple of days ago my wife and I, along with her parents, drove over to Railroad Flat, population about 400, to watch the school kids' Christmas program there. We knew many of the parents there. My wife knows many of the kids since she volunteers at the school's garden. She teaches them about plants and how to raise vegetables and such. My wife pointed out this youngster and that, telling me who they were and how great he or she is. My wife loves them all.

As I listened to the kids sing, I looked around the room and saw the pride and love on the faces of their parents. I couldn't help but nod knowing that there were those there that I know for a fact who don't have a lot, but they watched their kids and were happy and full of love for their children. Their children are well fed, clean, polite, and very respectful. And as I said before, all are very happy.

We don't have a school here in Glenoce. The kids here take a bus to go to the school in Railroad Flat. That's simply what country kids do. The school has less than 70 kids in the whole school. That's counting all from Kindergarten to the 6th grade. To my knowledge they only have a couple of teachers. And sadly, the school is always being threatened with being closed for good because of funding problems.

Many of the same parents with their children were at our American Legion post last night. I put on a red suit, and a fake wig and beard, before going to our American Legion post here in Glencoe. From behind my fogged up glasses, I watched folks lead their kids up to take pictures. After I asked if they've been helping their parents at home and if they were being good, the kids told me what they wanted. After that they were handed a candy cane and a small toy before being turned loose to chase the other kids around the place.

I'm happy to report that our American Legion post is not a bar. Though we have a bar, it is a post. We are as family friendly as the day is long. Fact is other than our Post Office, all we have here in Glencoe is our American Legion post. It is a place where friends and neighbors, their families and even their friends from out of town, all come and enjoy the friendship and closeness that our small piece of our great nation has to offer.

We don't have much in common with most folks in California. In fact, we don't have a lot in common with folks in most cities who don't know their neighbors or care about what's going on around them. We here in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Calaveras County really do look out for each other. People who live up here are hard working and proud. This place is special in that our friends and neighbors are our extended families.

No, I do not live in New York City. But if we count our blessings, then we're certainly wealthier than most elsewhere. If not in dollars, certainly in blessings. 

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. I hope the traffic is light where you call home. I hope the crowds at the stores are not so overwhelming that they take away from this time of year for you and yours.

Since it's only right that we remember and give thanks for the gift that was ours from God, I hope that you celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. Yes indeed, I hope and pray that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas.

Tom Correa


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Saving Christmas

"The way I see it, every time a man gets up in the morning he starts his life over. Sure, the bills are there to pay, and the job is there to do, but you don't have to stay in a pattern. You can always start over, saddle a fresh horse and take another trail." -- Louis L'Amour

For me, that's the part of life that I believe we should all be so thankful for. Each day is a brand new opportunity for us to change a bad situation for the better, a chance for us to rethink what we want, to reinvent ourselves, to break out of a rut, to knock off bad habits, to treat others as we ourselves want to be treated, to be who and what we want to be, to return to a time when faith and belief in God came natural. Yes indeed, as the famous writer Louis L'Amour said, "You can always start over, saddle a fresh horse, and take another trail."

So can we forge a new trail, or maybe take one that we hadn't been on in years? Years ago, I knew an old man who did just that.

He was a smart man, and actually a good hearted man despite his rough exterior and cynicisms. Though he had a good life with many tangible accomplishments like that of being married for 40 years, raising a family, working hard and making ends meet, he was always a little ashamed that his formal education was lacking simply because he choose to squander the one afforded to him by screwing around and not applying himself when he should have.

Because of that, he always saw himself as not being very educated even though he became a voracious reader of just about anything. But more than anything else, he sank himself into reading newspapers, any number of newspapers everyday. Because of this, he was up on current events, what's taking place around the world, politics, and who's running things these days. He didn't care for the reoccurring Hollywood scandals or their endless bed-hopping that seem to always make headlines. He hated reading about sports and its prima donna millionaires. But on the other hand, he loved reading about how the local high school football team did in the game on Friday night or how their new crop of young wrestlers were doing this year.

He liked knowing that kids were learning discipline as well as experiencing what it is to want. He felt that a lack of real want in our country stifled folks. He saw high school sports as a way to teach kids to want to achieve something even if they failed while doing so. His time in the Marine Corps taught him that champions are those who strife with a desire to win even when knowing that there may be the chance of failing.

While he couldn't find very many writers that held his attention, he liked Louis L'Amour Westerns and O. Henry short stories. He liked Westerns because he was brought up watching television Westerns as a kid. He liked those old series because they were uplifting instead of the sour grapes that Hollywood puts out today. He also liked those old Westerns because he identified with them. He was raised on a ranch and saw himself a Cowboy even though he had never worked as a day wage hand.

As for his love of short stories? He loved reading O. Henry's work, but he also enjoyed reading about Ghost Towns and their history, about the Old West, about the Great Depression, historical events, and the biographies of famous historic figures. He found himself reading about people who he'd never heard of, and because of that found the people really responsible for taming the West. He wasn't interested in reading every nuance of someone's life, but he did like finding out what he saw as the things that pointed to one's character. He found himself during more than one occasion looking for the things that serve as signs as to whether a historical figure was really a hero or in reality just a bum. 

When he first started reading about his childhood heroes, he was amazed at how many of them were not what he was led to belief. But then again, he thought he understood life. He believed that not all of what we learn as children stands the test of time into our adulthood. Of course, some say that he grew cynical over time after losing his wife to cancer and his children drifted away. Others says he simply lost faith over the years though a series of hardships. 

As far as he was concerned, he knew real well that as adults we need to see the world for what it really is. He believed that as adults we should be ready for hardship and pain and disappointment. And though that was the case, and indeed some of his childhood heroes bit the dust so to speak, there was that one day when Jim Nickles learned that there are some things from our childhood that are best kept alive and well. That was the day he decided to take another trail and get off the path he was on. That was the day he regained his faith in God.

It was Christmas Eve. And for him, it was a day no different than other days. After a long day of working around his place, he fed his horses and went in to shower and dress. He was retired and alone. He had a set schedule of things he did everyday and he had nowhere special to be that night. Too many great memories were bringing him down and he found himself growing bitter at the world for taking his wife. He was making his way to his truck to go to town when a pickup drove onto his property. A stranger got out and walked up and asked if he could speak to him?

Jim responded, "How can I help you?" 

"Well, I live right up the road from here about a mile or so," the stranger said. "My little girl's horse is in trouble and I just don't know what to do. My daughter has been sick fighting pneumonia and is recovering fine. But if something happens to her horse, it'll just crush her. I'm worried what losing her horse will do to her. I know your neighbor Bob and he said that I should talk to you." 

"Have you called a Vet?" he asked.  

"The Vet can't be reached. Her receptionist said she's on another call since yesterday where there's no phone reception. I don't know very much about horses, but I'm sure you do. I don't know you Mister Nickles, but I need to know if you can help me? I will pay you what you think is fair."

Jim Nickels had been a roper for years, a Heeler, and was in a few rodeos in his day. In his lifetime, he'd rode for friends working gatherings and brandings. He made himself available whenever he wasn't working his regular jobs as a truck driver. He hauled cattle, horses, freight, heavy equipment, dirt, machinery,  manure, and potatoes among other things. He didn't care what the job was. All that mattered was that it was honest money. A good day's work for a good day's pay. Right after retiring, tragedy struck when he lost his wife. To take his mind off his sorrow, he worked cattle for a few years all for no pay just to help close friends hold on to their ranch.

He knew horses because he grew up around them and had always owned them. But frankly, he didn't see himself as some sort of an expert. He saw people who claimed to be experts as being full of themselves. So all in all, while he was confident that he knew enough to doctor a horse in an emergency, he saw saving  horses from death as the thing that Vets did for a living.

Not knowing what he could do to help, he found himself saying, "I'll take a look at her horse for you. But friend, I can't promise anything," 

The stranger introduced himself as Don Fox. They left and a few minutes or so later they arrived at the old Bar D Ranch. Jim knew the people who owned the place before Don and his family moved in. He pulled up behind Don's truck and followed him into the barn. There in a birthing stall was a very distressed mare in foal.

Jim spoke low at almost a whisper and said, "You didn't say she was in foal. You didn't say this was the trouble."      

He knew that if the mare didn't deliver after 30 minutes of losing her water, or if  a second labor did not begin within three hours of the first stage, then it would be absolutely vital to examine both the mare and unborn foal to see what's wrong. That is, if he could. This is when a Veterinarian is needed. But since there wasn't a Vet, Don saw Jim there was being a Godsend. Jim wished the Vet was there.

A pregnant mare, a mare in foal, can have complications. Having someone there to know what to do when you need immediate help is important for the survival of both the mare and the foal. Don's mare was in trouble because of the unborn foal's presentation. That is, its position or posture within the pelvic canal. 

It's called "dystocia," which means "difficult birth." In horses, it's one of those conditions that no one can predict. Frankly, it just happens during the first stages of the birthing process. In this situation, Don's mare started giving birth but stopped and has been in all sorts of distress since. Unable to get a Vet, he found the Cowboy who he believed he needed to help him. 

If stage one of the birth process had gone on for too long say between 2 to 4 hours and one foot or no feet are showing, but nothing else is happening then there is a problem. If that happens rolling by a mare is normal as she tries to position the foal. 

There's three stages of birth. Stage one is when the foal properly aligns itself in the birth canal. That can take hours. Stage two is when the foal presents itself and is delivered. That can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. If stage three goes well, then a mare should pass the membranes. That takes about an hour. Dystocia can happen in either stage one or stage two.

Jim looked at the mare and realized that she couldn't birth her foal because of how it was positioned. He didn't know whether it was upside down, in a sitting position, head first, or what. He was hoping to find one foot or both feet presented which would have been very common if he were lucky. He knew a neck presentation would not be good. He knew that would be very bad as it often means the foal is already dead. 

"What do you think?" Don asked Jim. But Jim didn't answer. He was busy on the floor trying to examine the mare to see a foot. 

After a few minutes, Jim said, "If the foal is backwards, she could be dead. But, we should be able to save your mare."

Don looked down for a second and looked at Jim and asked, "Is there anything that we can do about the foal?"

Jim was silent again. He knew that the position of the unborn foal can be moved if the mare’s movements by her getting up and down and rolling helped to reposition the foal. If its a large foal that the mare cannot expel then all sorts of problems can take place. There are infection problems and of course the foal is probably dead or even deformed.

Jim could see that the mare was way beyond stage one and two, and the time for both. She was in obvious distress, and now Jim was not only concerned about delivering a new foal. He was concerned about saving the mare. 

For the longest time, Jim Nickels has felt that as adults we need to see the world for what it really is. That it is a cruel place. Certainly unlike the world of his childhood. Certainly not the time when he believed that prayers are answered. Yes, that the last time when his prayers weren't answered. That time when his wife was ill. From that, he felt prayers were for children and did stand the test of time into our adulthood.

"If we lose the foal, she'll be crushed." Don said. "But she'll be fine. She'll just have to learn that that's how life is." 

Jim looked at Don and now realized that the mare was not his daughter's horse. It was the foal. Don's daughter had already named the foal "Christmas" and she was waiting to treat it as her own. 

It was then that Jim Nickels saw that he needed to take a different trail. One that he had long dismissed as being unneeded. That was when he did something that he had not done since he himself was just a kid. He closed his eyes, and prayed with all of his heart. He asked God for this not to be what it is. He prayed and said that he was sorry for losing faith. He begged God to help someone else, to help Don's daughter, to do this for her foal. To save her Christmas.  

Sometimes doing the wrong thing like using to much force to pull a foal out may cause all sorts of irreparable damage to your mare. His hands were clean as he now reached inside the mare. He needed to reposition the foal inside the birth canal to allow normal birthing. That is, if he could.

Don watched as Jim Nickels, the Cowboy who he went to for help, gently assisted a leg to come forward. With that, and a steady tug, nature was about to take its course.

Jim was focused on the amount of force he was using. His eyes were closed as if trying to feel for a snag or a heartbeat or saying a prayer. He hoped and prayed the foal was not already dead. Don watched and then heard Jim Nickels mutter, "I believe. I believe."

Before they knew it, they watched as the foal slid out. But both saw that the foal was not breathing, and they too held their breath. Then just as Jim was about to grab the foal's mouth and blow his own air into its lungs, both men happily saw the newborn take its first full breath of life.

Don smiled. Jim nodded. Soon the foal slid over to join its mother. Don looked over at the stall door. His wife and daughter were standing there. He looked at their smiling faces and said, "This is Jim Nickels. He's a Cowboy. He's the reason for our Christmas miracle. He saved your horse."

Jim shook his head and said, "No. We can thank God for Christmas."

THE END

Tom Correa 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

ABC has a Credibility Problem


I don't watch "The View." I refuse to watch such mean spirited hateful people. As a matter of fact, anytime that show comes on by accident, I immediately turn the channel.

I'm sure there are people out there who really enjoy the daily hatred for everything President Trump does. I'm sure there are people who love the way they make deceitful claims about what the president has said or done. Forget needing supporting evidence, the women on that show call the president things that they would never call the crazy dictator in North Korea. They do so without having to support anything they say.

So now you're asking how do I know this if I don't watch it? Well, unless it inadvertently comes on after something else that I may have been watching, I don't watch it. The times that I have had to listen to what is said on that show is usually while I'm looking for my remote so that I can turn the channel. That is plenty enough of a sample as to what takes place on "The View." So when it comes on by accident and I can't turn the channel fast enough, I get an earful of the standard Liberal line of malicious hate coming from those women.

The show which is a platform for disbursing Liberalism and hate speech consists of incessant attacks on Conservatives and the more than 60 Million Americans who voted for President Trump.

As for those who are thinking that I use the term "hate" a great deal to describe "The View," actually the term "hate mongers" comes to mind when I think of "The View." After all, the ABC television talk show has shown itself to be extremely venomous to anyone not of their political persuasion. It essence they are "political racists." And as for the token Conservative woman on their show, from the little that I have seen of the show, she is stepped on every time she has a point to make in support of Conservatives or President Trump. She is outnumbered and ganged up on relentlessly. I'm actually surprised she stays and allows herself to be made the punching bag.

“The View” host Joy Behar had to eat crow yesterday, December 4th, after her reaction to a Fake News story put out by ABC on Friday. While announcing the Fake News story on air, she became celebratory for all of the wrong reasons. And yesterday while addressing her exuberant reaction to ABC's Fake News story, she instead focused on the report by calling it inaccurate, "a mistake." She did not address her actions at all.

The issue was not ABC's Fake News story. The issue was her very obvious joy, her overwhelming glee, he celebratory outburst after reading the Fake News announcement that ABC issued. Yesterday, you wouldn't have known that because she focused on the report and purposely avoided addressing her outburst.

Behar's screams of joy came during the broadcast of "The View" on Friday, December 1st, 2017, after she read a card that was handed to her. The card with "breaking news" was "supposed" to be factual, but it wasn't. 

Behar read the ABC News exclusive “report” that stated, "Michael Flynn promised full cooperation to the Muller team and is prepared to testify that, as a candidate, Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians."

After reading the "breaking news," Behar threw the card, lifted her hands, and screamed in absolute joy. Her outburst ranked up there with one celebrating their team winning the World Series, or with one who just won a multi-million dollar Lottery. 

Of course, there is a problem with the Fake News that Behar reported on "The View." It was fake. It was not true. Someone made it up. Someone fabricated it. Someone had to write it on that card that was handed to Behar, and Behar was more than willing to shout it from the rooftops!

She did not stop and ask if it was true. She did not question it. She simply read it. She echoed it on air because it fit her notion of the truth. It fit her belief. It fit what she and others on "The View" want in the worse way. It fit their desire to destroy President Trump.

Trump-Haters dream of finding evidence of so-called "Russian Collusion". They nurture the idea of Impeaching President Trump by spreading lies about his policies and him personally. Trump-Haters are angry that there isn't any evidence of some sort of collusion on the part of Donald Trump during the 2016 Election. So instead they have resorted to believing that "there must be" even if there is absolutely no evidence to back-up their assertions that "there must be." 

Yes, the thinking, the logic, the assumptions of Trump-Haters is as illogical as those who believe in the Easter Bunny. The same as those who believe that the Clintons are honest and moral people. The same as those who refuse to acknowledge the bigotry and divisiveness of the Obamas. The same as those who believe that "there must be" evidence of something completely fabricated by the Democrat Party. The same who refuse to look at the evidence that proves that "Russian Collusion" did take place between Obama and the Russians, and Hillary Clinton and the Russians. They are okay with turning a blind eye to crimes when it is one of their's who commit them.

While Joy Behar is typical, extremely common, nothing different from the other Trump-Haters out there, she represents the hate coming from Democrats these days. In fact, after seeing her joy and outright love of the news that there could possibly be evidence of "Russian collusion" on behalf of President Trump,  I can't help but wonder if Behar would have the exact same ecstatic glee if she were reporting that President Donald Trump were assassinated?

As for ABC, its news department was forced to correct that report. The second time around, they made it clear that Flynn was directed to contact Russia after Donald Trump had already been elected president. Not as a candidate. Proving once again that there was no collusion from the Trump Campaign with Russian operatives. 

As a result of the report being "inaccurate" as reported by ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, ABC suspended Brian Ross for a month without pay for botching the story. Especially when the story of former Trump White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn plea deal was so easy to understand.

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about a non-crime. Yes, he pleaded guilty to lying about something that was no against the law, that was not a crime. It was perfectly legal for Flynn to speak with Russian officials after the election. In fact, even Democrats are acknowledged that conferring with a representative of Russia about the incoming administration’s Russia policy is not illegal or improper after the election.

President Trump came out and stated that there was nothing to hide. He said, "He [Flynn] has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful."

As for ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross’s botched "exclusive" about Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn? It was reported that ABC News president James Goldston not only suspended Brian Ross for four weeks without pay, but has supposedly made it clear that Ross would no longer be allowed to cover stories about President Donald Trump.

Remember, it was Brian Ross who reported that "Flynn would testify that Trump had ordered him to make contact with Russians about foreign policy while Trump was still a candidate."

Please understand the ramifications of such a report on the national airwaves. The ABC report from Brian Ross immediately created the idea that there really was collusion on the part of the Trump Campaign. That notion immediately made the aspect of a Trump Impeachment possible. And that, well that sent the Stock Market into a nose dive. Yes, Ross did all of that. 

Remember, this was all on December 1st, last Friday. At first ABC's Brian Ross reported the Fake News, then "The View" host Joy Behar starts celebrating over her desire to see President Trump impeached. And finally, many hours later that day, Brian Ross was on "World News Tonight" to "clarify" his error.

That second report was an ABC News "clarification" to Ross's earlier report. The later report stated that President-elect Trump directed Flynn to contact the Russian for help with ISIS after he’d been elected president. That's the key distinction to the investigation. Flynn did not contact Russians during the campaign, but after the election.

Brian Ross has been at ABC News since 1994 after spending nearly 20 years at NBC. He has a lengthy history of getting it wrong!

In 2001, Brian Ross incorrectly reported that Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi dictatorship may have been responsible for anthrax attacks that terrorized the United States in the months after 9/11 even though the Bush White House told him that the anthrax story was wrong. That didn't stop Ross, and he ran with it anyway. A week later he issued a correction.

In 2006, Ross reported that then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert was a target of a federal corruption probe involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Despite the Justice Department’s denial, Ross insisted that Hastert was “very much in the mix” of the investigation. Hastert was never approached by prosecutors.

In 2010, Ross was involved in a report called "Taking on Toyota" which claimed that some of the Japanese automaker's cars contained a defect that caused "unintended acceleration." Talk about Fake News, the report included footage of a tachometer shooting from 1,000 to 6,200 RPM in seconds while Ross sat behind the wheel. But, more of the same footage showed that the car Ross was inside was actually parked with the doors open and not moving at the time.

Of course, the most infamously Brian Ross report came in 2012 after the massacre at the Aurora Colorado movie theater. Ross reported that the shooter James Holmes may have had ties to the Tea Party.

In that report on "Good Morning America", Brian Ross states, "There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the tea party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes – but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”

Ross later apologized for the Fake News report. He received criticism for that report including John Cook who wrote the following in a post on a blog, "When there’s breaking news, especially about terrorism and national security, ABC News’ Brian Ross is there. And under no circumstances should you listen to anything he says."

Brian Ross is the latest proof of Liberal-bias by ABC News which is part of the ultra-Liberal Disney ABC Television Group. We shouldn't forget that during the 2016 campaign, ABC had to pull its Chief Anchor, George Stephanopoulos, from moderating any debates because Stephanopoulos had bee exposed as a former Clinton operative who had also made very large donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Of course there is no better proof of ABC's Liberal leanings then what they did by canceling the very popular comedy "Last Man Standing" earlier this year. The show was a Conservative leaning comedy. One with give and take. We need to remember that ABC cancelled "Last Man Standing" despite the Tim Allen show being a ratings hit and extremely cost efficient. All a normal win-win situation for networks interested in keeping their viewers.

With the cancellation of "Last Man Standing," ABC made it known that they were not interested in keeping Conservative viewers. This is a turn around from years ago when networks seemed to strive to pull in any and all viewers with shows that entertained.   

And with that, we go full circle to "The View" which is a television show that is not highly rated or cost efficient. The show attacks and alienates viewers who do not agree with their Liberal political philosophy. They consciously cater to only one segment of the population, those who voted for Hillary Clinton and are loyal followers of the Democrat Party. That's it. There's who they care about.

If that's not true, then why is it that "The View" has been allowed to attack Trump voters, President Trump, make unsubstantiated claims, all without have any disciplinary consequences. If not true, then why hasn't Joy Behar the hater been fired?

ABC should stop the pretense of acting as though they are impartial in their News presentations or in their television line-up. After all, it is obvious that ABC's actions has now reached the level of CNN and MSNBC in so far as their showing their Liberal leanings and contempt for Conservative Americans. Subsequently, their actions, their Liberal bias and lack of impartiality, their contempt for Conservative America, has created ABC's present credibility problem. 

That's just how I see it.

Tom Correa 






Friday, December 1, 2017

David Hennessy -- Murdered By The Mafia 1890


In all, 19 Italian immigrants were accused of the murder of the New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy. After their acquittal, 11 of them were either shot or hanged or both in what is believed to be the largest mass lynching in American history.
He was born sometime in 1858 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was only 31 or 32 when he was murdered on October 16th, 1890, right there in New Orleans.

In 1870, David Hennessy joined the New Orleans Police Department working as a messenger. It's said that he was a tough kid. In fact, it's said that he caught two thieves red handed in the act when he was only a teenager. That story goes that he actually beat up both of the men just using his bare hands.

The rest of the story goes that he then dragged both of them to the police station. The police department was said to be so impressed that they put him on as a beat cop at the time. If true, and he stayed as tough, then it's no wonder that he actually made it to the rank of Police Detective at the young age of 20.
In fact, as a young detective, he made headlines in 1881 when he captured a notorious criminal by the name of Giuseppe Esposito.

Esposito was an Italian immigrant who was a member or the Mafia in Italy and New Orleans. The story on that goes that with his cousin Michael Hennessy, who was also a New Orleans police officer, David arrested the infamous Italian criminal and head of an Italian crime family in 1881.

Among other crimes, Esposito was actually wanted in Italy for kidnapping a British tourist there. During that kidnapping, Esposito is said to have cut off his victim's ear. Because of Detective Hennessy, Esposito was deported back to Italy. He and other Mafia members were tried in an Italian court and given life sentences.

Detective David Hennessy was said to be a squeaky clean individual who was very well respected in his community. And while everyone agrees that was the case, there's no telling what sort of friction took place between him and his immediate supervisor Chief of Detectives Thomas Devereaux.

It is believed that Devereaux turned a blind eye to some of the dealings of two local Italian crime families. Yes, believe it or not, the Mafia in 1880s New Orleans.

As for the Mafia in New Orleans at the time, there were two Mafioso criminal organizations there trying to control New Orleans during the 1880s. In fact there was actually an ongoing feud between those two Mafia crime "families". The Mantranga and Provenzano crime families were rivals. They fought to control gambling, prostitution, on the New Orleans waterfront.

Devereaux was said to have been well connected politically with close ties to the local Democrat Party. He is said to also have had close friends who worked for the Matranga crime family. Because police officer Michael Hennessy was said to be looking into the nefarious activities of the Matranga family, Devereaux charged him with conduct unbecoming a police officer when he turned up supposedly drunk at Kate Townsend's Saloon. Devereaux is said to have tried to get Michael Hennessy fired from the department. This was an effort to end his investigation of his friends. But frankly, that didn't work out too well for Devereaux.

Chief of Detectives Thomas Devereaux and Detective David Hennessy became rival candidates for the position of Police Chief in New Orleans in 1881. The election was a bad one with a lot of name calling and accusations. At one point a gunfight broke out between the two men. Devereaux wound up dead on the floor of a brokerage house. Word circulated that he was shot at point-blank range in the head by Hennessy, but that was only a rumor.

In 1882, Detective David Hennessy was actually tried for the killing of Thomas Devereaux. Hennessy said that it was a case of self-defense. A jury looked at the evidence and agreed with him. They found him not guilty. Though that was the case, David Hennessy left the police department right after that.

After leaving the department, he joined a private security company. In those days private security companies had a great deal of leeway in dealing with criminal types. In fact the security company which David Hennessy was a part of had police powers by way of the City of New Orleans. And during his time with that agency, he was actually responsible for organizing and maintaining the security of the New Orleans World Fair which took place in 1884 and 1885.

It should be noted that The New York Times wrote about how Hennessy's security team was "neatly uniformed and are a fine-looking and intelligent body of men, far superior to the regular city force." This did not go unnoticed by the New Orleans city government and people with political power.

In fact, a couple of years later in 1888, Joseph A. Shakspeare became the newly elected Mayor of New Orleans. One of his campaign promises was to stop the graft and corruption within the New Orleans Police Department, and to end their inefficiency and incompetence. To accomplish that, newly elected Mayor Shakspeare immediately appointed David Hennessy as the city's new Police Chief.

It is said that Police Chief Hennessy arrived to inherit a police force that was seen as inept, incompetent, and plagued by graft and corruption. As for the city of New Orleans, he became the Chief of Police in a city ripe with organized crime.

His legacy is that of a Police Chief who started to modernize his department, to had started to make a number of improvements in the ways of accountability and code of conduct, to end the corruption that had festered within the department, and to instill a sense of public confidence in his department. As for fighting organized crime, Hennessy had put several of the Provenzanos crime family in prison while taking on the Mantrangas. Some say this is why he was murdered.

On the night of October 15th, 1890, Chief Hennessy was ambushed and shot by two or more assassins. Knowing that the Chief walked home from work, his killers waited for him and opened fire with shotguns as the Chief walked by.

He was less than a block from the house that he is said to have shared with his widowed mother when a number of shotgun blasts ripped into him from across Girod Street. The blasts are said to have knocked him to the ground. And it was then when he was on the ground that two other men with high-caliber rifles ran over to him and shot him twice each. 

Believe it or not, Chief Hennessy struggled for his pistol and returned fire on the two men with rifles. He then stood up and returned fire again with his bulldog revolver as his killers fled. It is also said that he tried to go after them when he finally collapsed to the ground around the corner from where he was first ambushed. When his fellow officers finally reached him, Chief Hennessy reportedly said he had been shot by "Dagoes."

He was taken to a local hospital and some say he was awake for hours. Others say he was in and out of consciousness. He is reported to have spoke with friends and his own investigators. While not being able to name his killers, the story goes that when his close friend and fellow officer Police Captain William O'Connor asked who had tried to kill him, Chief Hennessy supposed said, "Dagoes!"

If you're reading this and it sounds very familiar, remember that assassins in the Old West usually did their dirty work from ambush. Of course, reading this sounds very similar to what took place in Tombstone Arizona in December of 1881 and what happened to Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp when he was going home one late night after making his rounds.

After the shootout in the lot near at the OK Corral, all of the Earps moved into the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Some say this was done for mutual support. Others believe the the Earps didn't trust anyone other than their own family to protect them from retaliation. They knew vengeance over the killings of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury, was in the cards.

But while knowing that is fine, Virgil also knew that he couldn't stay holed up in a hotel forever. Being the truly seasoned lawman of the Earp family, Virgil knew his duties couldn't be put off until times were "safer." That is if or when that would ever be. 

At about 11:30 pm on December 28th, 1881, it is believed that at least three men hid out in the darkness of an empty building that was under construction. That building was on Allen Street right across from the hotel where the Earps were staying. 

After making his rounds, Virgil stopped at the Oriental Saloon. As he walked to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, City Marshal Virgil Earp was hit in the back and left arm by at least three loads of buckshot from about 60 feet away. A few men in the Crystal Palace Saloon playing faro were almost hit with stay shot. One stated later that he head "four shots in quick succession." 

Virgil's arm was shattered and he was shot in the back, but he was still able to make it into the Cosmopolitan Hotel before collapsing. It's said Dr. George E. Goodfellow removed 4 inches of Virgil's shattered left arm and over twenty buckshot from his side. Incredibly, Virgil Earp, though left permanently crippled, would live and even return to take on other jobs as a lawman. 

New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy was a real fighter. Some say he was as tough as they came back in the day. Because of the huge loss of blood, the fact that he had been shot multiple times both with shotguns and high powered rifles, it was a small miracle that he lived as long as he did after he was attacked. After hours of agony and complications, David Hennessy died of his wounds on October 16th, 1890.

Police Chief David Hennessy was a very popular man in New Orleans. Because of that, there was a great deal of pressure on the New Orleans Police Department to catch his killers. In return, the police arresting dozens of known criminals with connections to Italian criminal families.

Over six months of investigations go by until 19 men were arrested for the murder of Chief Hennessy. Because the killing of a lawman was seen as being as heinous as could be, the accused were held without bail. By March of 1891, nine of the accused men who were tried were acquitted or were declared mistrials.

Unlike what took place in Tombstone, New Orleans residents organized and formed a vigilante group the size and scope of a small army. In fact, their anger came to a head on March 14th, 1891, when thousands of vigilantes gathered outside the prison.

Once there, they demanded that the killers be handed over and the prison officials declined. It was then that the citizens forced their way into the prison looking for those accused of murdering Chief Hennessy. It was then that those angry citizens found 11 of the 19 Italian men who were accused of murdering their beloved Police Chief.

For the next little while, no one spoke of the legal technicalities that prompted their acquittals or what led to the mistrials, There was only a seething emotion of desire to rid New Orleans of the killers of a man who they saw as someone only doing his duty.

David Hennessy was from there. He was one of their own. He was a friend and a neighbor. He was a protector who was trying to clean up things and make their city a better place. Those citizens saw their job as being no different than that of a surgeon cutting out a cancer growth, and this pushed them. Believing the jury had been bribed or coerced, the citizens hanged all 11 of the men accused of Chief Hennessy's murder. That mass lynching is considered the largest known mass lynching in American History.

One of the most interesting aspects of this is that there was all sorts of press coverage of the trial and what took place afterwards. The assassination was connected to the Mafia, the Italian criminal element. The trials and then the mass lynching was sensationalized and actually stoked the anti-Italian sentiment in New Orleans at the time.

I read where one writer about this said that those reporting what took place would not meet modern journalistic standards, but I think they certainly would as sensationalism is widespread these days. Yes, to the point where Americans today have less trust in the press than ever before.

While the murder, the brutal assassination, of Chief Hennessy is said to have led to a sensational trial that made national headlines. Part of the sensationalism came directly as a result of the acquittals and mistrials. No one believed such a thing would take place after the evidence was presented. The idea that the justice system was corrupt angered the citizenry.

Their anger also made headlines. After all, it's not everyday in America, even back then, when thousands of residents turn into vigilantes to do what the courts didn't do. Those vigilantes were not going to let acquittals and mistrials cheat them out of seeing justice being had.

At the time, it was believed that those lynched were indeed men who worked for the Mafia as killers. Subsequently, citizens believed that those assassins deserved their fate.

It is interesting to note that New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy is today credited with "being the first law enforcement professional to identify the Mafia in America and attack it with some degree of success." Some believe that, "He must be viewed as law enforcement's first martyr in the fight against organized crime."

And imagine, that was  in New Orleans in 1890. The year 1890 is not exactly a year when most think of the Mafia being in American cities. Yes, especially in cities West of New York City. It's certainly not a year that most think of as a time when the Mafia already had a foothold in America.

Tom Correa