This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2, 491) on Friday, November 11, 2022.
This newsletter is being sent out initially on Veterans Day, November 11th. This day tends to get lost among the plethora of holidays between Halloween and New Year’s Day.
Most veterans I know (and I am one of them) are appreciative that many Americans stop to remember and to say thank you. But few veterans look forward to this particular day, mainly because most of us came out of the armed services feeling as though we have done nothing more than our duty.
No one I know who served in the armed services feels as though they were a hero. Quite the opposite, in fact. The real heroes are those men and women whom we celebrate on Memorial Day—the ones who never came back from their service.
Still, Veterans Day is an important observation for America. It is important for all of us, veterans and non-veterans, to say a deep and sincere, “Thank you for your service.”
Have a great and literate weekend.
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The famous firepower of Annie Oakley
Her real name was Phoebe Ann Mosey, but the world of the late 19th and early 20th century knew her as Annie Oakley. Her skill in handling firearms with speed and accuracy made her famous and also made her rich.
Phoebe and her family could afford little formal schooling, and her family’s straitened circumstances forced them to offer the young girl to another family for her household services in return for lodging, food, and money. In her autobiography later in life, Phoebe Ann described her situation as near “slavery.”
Phoebe was mentally and physically abused by this family, which she never named but referred to in her autobiography as “the wolves.” She was often short of food, good clothing, and even shelter. Eventually, after about two years, she ran away and made it back to the confines of her own household.
It was then that the young girl took up trapping and hunting, activities in which she proved surprisingly good. Roaming through the woods near her home, she found plenty of game that would not only feed her family but that could also be sold to contribute to their support.
Phoebe was so successful with her hunting activities that she was able not only to support her family but to help them pay off their mortgage. Along with success, of course, came regional fame. Because the meat she bagged was sold in larger cities such as Cincinnati and Cleveland, the story of who actually shot the game followed closely behind.
By the time she was a teenager, Phoebe was traveling to places like Cincinnati to participate in shooting contests. It was at one of those contests that she met Frank Butler, a well-known marksman and dog trainer who boasted that he could outshoot any local gun owner. A Cincinnati hotelier, knowing about Phoebe, arranged a match between Butler and the female phenom, and Butler bet $100 on himself.
Butler was shocked when this young girl, who stood barely five feet tall, showed up with her gun and matched him shot for shot for 24 rounds. Butler missed his 25th shot, and Phoebe won the contest.
She also won Butler’s heart. The two were married a year after the shooting contest, the date of which has since been in dispute. One of the reasons for the vagueness on the date of her marriage was that once Phoebe and her husband started appearing in public shows, she wanted to appear as young as possible. At five feet tall, she always tended to look like a little girl rather than a grown woman, and that became part of her public persona.
Phoebe and Frank lived in Cincinnati for a while, and it is believed that the name “Annie Oakley” was taken from the Oakley section of Cincinnati. They joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in 1885, and she was given the nickname of “Watanya Cicilla” by fellow performer and one-time Native American rebel, Sitting Bull. The name morphed into “Little Sure Shot.”
Annie Oakley became so popular that she was earning more than any other performer in the show except for a while Buffalo Bill himself. In addition to the Buffalo Bill shows, Annie performed solo shows to earn extra money.
When the show was taken to Europe, she astounded many audiences with her extraordinary abilities. Those audiences included Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm, who, the story goes, asked her to shoot the ashes off of his cigarette. The ashes came off with no harm to the Kaiser.
Annie Oakley used her fame and fortune to support causes that would expand opportunities for women. She famously petitioned President William McKinley to allow women to join the armed forces and to participate in combat. When Theodore Roosevelt succeeded McKinley after the president’s assassination, Oakley made the same request of him. Neither president granted that request, but Oakley had made her point.
In 1901, Annie was involved in a serious train accident and the resulting paralysis, even though temporary, curtailed many of her public performances. She gave private lessons to girls and women who wanted to learn how to shoot, and one estimate is that as many as 15,000 females were taught by her.
She was a strong believer in the fact that women could and should handle a gun “as naturally as they know how to handle babies.”
Annie Oakley found herself caught up in controversy in 1904 when a newspaper story, produced by the William Randolph Hearst syndicate, said that she had been caught and arrested for stealing in order to support a cocaine habit. The woman in question was actually a burlesque performer in Chicago who had given her name as Annie Oakley. The real Annie Oakley threatened to sue the newspapers that had run the story, and most of them printed a retraction and an apology. William Randolph Hearst did neither. Instead, he sent an investigator into Darke County, Ohio to see what he could dig up on Oakley and her past. The investigator found nothing.
Oakley spent much of the next six years suing Hearst and other newspapers and ended up spending more than she collected.
She and her husband continued public performances and private lessons. In late 1922, they were involved in a car accident that forced her to wear a steel brace on her right leg. After a period of rehabilitation she went back to public performances setting records for her shooting ability wherever she went. Her health declined, however, and she died of pernicious anemia at the age of 66 in 1926.
Oakley’s skill with a gun, her talent in developing a public persona, her gender, and her size all left an indelible image on the American public. It is an image that survives even a century after her death.
The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery”
The Fugitive and the story from whence it sprang
If you were watching primetime television in the 1960s, you probably tuned into an hour long thriller titled The Fugitive. The show starred David Janssen and ran for a full four seasons.
And even if you were not quite old enough to watch the TV show, you probably saw the 1993 movie of the same title that starred Harrison Ford.
Both the movie and the television show were built on the same premise. A doctor is wrongly convicted of killing his wife. On his way to prison, the doctor, whose name in the television show and the movie is Richard Kimble, manages to escape.
His escape means that he has the opportunity to track down the person who really murdered his wife. And so the adventure begins.
The real life incident that sparked the premise of the TV show and the movie is the case of Sam Sheppard, a surgeon in Cleveland whose wife Marilyn was murdered in their home in 1954.
Sheppard said that on the night that his wife was murdered, he had been sleeping on a downstairs sofa when he heard noise coming from his wife’s bedroom. He went upstairs and encountered a “bushy-haired” intruder. Sheppard said that he was knocked out by the man but that he recovered in time to chase him across their lawn. Once again, Sheppard said, the man beat him senseless.
All the while, the couple’s son was asleep in his own bedroom.
The Cleveland police did not believe Sheppard’s story, but they could gather very little evidence to refute it. The newspapers, radio reporters, and television journalists in the city at the time gave massive coverage to the case, mainly because it involved prominent and wealthy people. Most reporters believed the police version of events, and journalists throughout the city became frustrated when authorities failed to charge Sheppard with the murder.
Newspapers began beating the drum for Sheppard’s indictment, and one newspaper published in large, bold type the headline: “Quit Stalling—Bring Him In.”
Sheppard was eventually indicted for the murder, and his trial could rightly be called a “media circus.” The court offered Sheppard very little protection against the possibility the jurors might be influenced by what they had read and heard rather than by the evidence presented inside the courtroom.
Sheppard was eventually convicted and sent to prison. Here’s where his story diverges from the fiction of television and the movies. He never escaped from jail and was never on the run. Instead, from prison he appealed his conviction numerous times without success. In 1964, a U.S. district judge heard his case and decided that he had been denied due process because of the overwhelming publicity that his case had been given.
The decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court. In 1966 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sheppard and ordered a new trial. The ruling issued by the court is an important one in the annals of media law because it acknowledges that the First Amendment rights of the press to cover a trial can conflict with the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a fair trial.
In his new trial, Sheppard was acquitted and set free. No one was ever convicted for the murder of Marilyn Sheppard.
The real life case of Sam Sheppard and the fictional story of Richard Kimble may have begun at the same place, but they diverged so considerably that some have claimed there was really no connection at all. Sheppard’s case should be remembered for its importance to media law. The Fugitive simply made compelling television and cinematic drama.
Kill the Quarterback is part of four group giveaways during the month of November:
Each of these giveaways includes more than 20 books of various sub-genres. You can download any or all of them in exchange for your email address. The email address will be shared among all authors participating in the giveaway. The purpose of these giveaways is to get books into the hands of readers and to increase email lists for the authors.
It helps me a great deal if you use these links to take a look at the offerings even if you don’t select any of these books. Many thanks.
Vince V.: 1. As with most holidays, Halloween has been ruthlessly hijacked by commercial interests. 2. James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer was the first novel I remember being completely transported by at age 12. 3. Never read All Quiet on the Western Front but today’s political environment has given me a new reason to study and be wary of all things involving Nazis. I thought we were safe from autocracies but that has proven not to be the case.
Cathy D.: Enjoyed your newsletter. The write-ups on the past are always informative and delightful. Thanks.
Finally . . .
This week’s watercolor: Lemmy the cat
Best quote of the week:
An artist discovers his genius the day he dares not to please. André Malraux, novelist, adventurer, art historian, and statesman (1901-1976)
If you are looking for a quiet, meditative, non-theological but scriptural podcast to start or close your day, try pray-as-you-go.org. The podcasts are 10-12 minutes long, and they feature beautiful music, a scripture reading, and a very short devotional. It’s a great respite from an otherwise all-too-noisy world.
If you are interested in reading scripture, either the Old Testament, the New Testament, or both, you might be interested in the videos, commentary, and podcast of the BibleProject.com. The people who work on this site have done some deep and thoughtful reading of the Bible, and the videos they have produced (generally shorter than 10 minutes) are both entertaining and enlightening. They view the Bible as a single entity with a single purpose, and their approach is both delightful and refreshing.
Helping those in need
Fires in California, freezing weather in Texas, hurricanes on the Atlantic Coast, tornados in Tennessee, and now coronavirus — disasters occur everywhere. They have spread untold misery and disruption. The people affected by them need our help.
It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here).
When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to this one or to yours.
Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.
Last week’s newsletter: Ignatius Sancho, jettisoning bad behaviors, local authors follow-up: newsletter, October 28, 2022
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