Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 30

Eastland disaster on July 24, 1915

Hundreds drown in Eastland disaster on July 24, 1915.

Hundreds drown in Eastland disaster: On this day in 1915, the steamer Eastland overturns in the Chicago River, drowning between 800 and 850 of its passengers who were heading to a picnic. The disaster was caused by serious problems with the boat's design, which were known but never remedied.

The Eastland was owned by the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company and made money ferrying people from Chicago to picnic sites on the shores of Lake Michigan. When the Eastland was launched in 1903, it was designed to carry 650 passengers, but major construction and retrofitting in 1913 supposedly allowed the boat to carry 2,500 people. That same year, a naval architect presciently told officials that the boat needed work, stating unless structural defects are remedied to prevent listing, there may be a serious accident.

On July 24, employees of Western Electric Company were heading to an annual picnic. About 7,300 people arrived at 6 a.m. at the dock between LaSalle and Clark streets to be carried out to the site by five steamers. While bands played, much of the crowd—perhaps even more than the 2,500 people allowed—boarded the Eastland. Some reports indicate that the crowd may also have all gathered on one side of the boat to pose for a photographer, thus creating an imbalance on the boat. In any case, engineer Joseph Erikson opened one of the ballast tanks, which holds water within the boat and stabilizes the ship, and the Eastland began tipping precariously.

Some claim that the crew of the boat jumped back to the dock when they realized what was happening. What is known for sure is that the Eastland capsized right next to the dock, trapping hundreds of people on or underneath the large ship. Rescuers quickly attempted to cut through the hull with torches, allowing them to pull out 40 people alive. More than 800 others perished. Police divers pulled up body after body, causing one diver to break down in a rage. The city sent workers out with a large net to prevent bodies from washing out into the lake. Twenty-two entire families died in the tragedy.

Most of the corpses were taken to the Second Regiment Armory, which is now home to Harpo Studios and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Some of the show's employees have claimed that the studio is haunted by ghosts of the Eastland disaster.

The Eastland was pulled up from the river, renamed the Willimette and converted into a naval vessel. It was turned into scrap following World War II. All lawsuits against the owners of the Eastland were thrown out by a court of appeals and the exact cause of the tipping and subsequent disaster has never been determined. History Channel / Wikipedia / Chicago Tribune

Eastland disaster: The Eastland lies on its side in the Chicago River (Chicago Tribune) ● The Eastland on its side in the Chicago River (Chicago History Museum) ● Rescuers remove the body of a dead girl from the Chicago River following the S.S. Eastland sinking disaster (Chicago Tribune) ● The tugboat Kenosha served as a floating bridge to let survivors reach safety (Chicago Tribune).

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Dynamic threat assessment

(DOD) Dynamic threat assessment: (DDS) An intelligence assessment developed by the Defense Intelligence Agency that details the threat, capabilities, and intentions of adversaries in each of the priority plans in the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. Also called DTA. (RAND Corporation - Rand.org)

Surface combatants

The Old Salt’s Corner

Surface combatants (or surface ships or surface vessels) are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.

The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a “surface ship” may range in size from a small cutter to an aircraft carrier, the weapons and tactics have some commonality, more so than for submerged vessels. They look unusual and different from cruise and other ships. (Wikipedia / U.S. Navy / Bremerton Olympicnlus Peninsula Council of the U.S. Navy League)

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

You can tell a lot about a woman’s mood just by her hands. For instance, if they are holding a gun, she’s probably angry.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948 - assassination by shooting)

“What I Have Learned”

Past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post.

~ L. Thomas Holdcroft (December 10, 1745 – March 23, 1809)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Amoeba races demonstrate a fun way to promote interest in science

The game is on

BOSTON, Massachusetts - Bioengineers who work with Dictyostelium slime molds held the “Dicty World Race” in Boston in May for a $5,000 prize and intellectual adulation in August at the Annual International Dictyostelium Conference in Potsdam, Germany. The molds oozed down the 800-micrometer (0.0315 inches) track, lured to the finish line by ordinary bacteria that the molds normally enjoy. A team from the Netherlands beat out 19 others for the coveted prize. (Among the other “games” scientists play, mentioned in the same Nature.com story, is the “Prisoners’ Smellemma”, in which players mix obscure samples in a test tube and smell the result to guess what their opponent used.) (Amoeba races) Nature

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why do we roll out a “red carpet” for celebrities and special guests?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why do we roll out a “red carpet” for celebrities and special guests?

The red carpet treatment dates back to the 1930’s, when a carpet of that color led passengers to a luxurious train, the Twentieth Century Limited, which ran between New York and Chicago.

The Twentieth Century was the most famous in America and was totally first class, with accommodations and dining car menus that were considered the height of luxury. Walking the red carpet to the train meant you were about to be treated like royalty. Wikipedia

Image: Red Carpet (Google Image Search)

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Short shrift”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

A shrift was a confession made to a priest. Criminals were allowed to make a short shrift before they were executed. So if you gave somebody short shrift you gave them a few minutes to confess their sins before carrying out the execution.Phrases.org

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Boat Ho: Usually refers to females aboard ship that are assumed to be promiscuous.

Duck Dinner: Slang for Dishonorable Discharge.

Freeboard: On a ship or boat, this is the vertical distance between the waterline and the “gunwale”.

PRT: Physical Readiness Test. A sailor is required to perform a certain number of sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run in a given time (which varies based on age and gender).

Just for MARINES - U.S. Marines

Just for MARINES

CAP: (aviation) Combat Air Patrol. (Vietnam) Combined Action Platoon, Marines and Vietnamese soldiers working together, generally as part of the “Pacification Program”.

Cap: (Vietnam) To fire at something or someone. See Busting Caps. From the act of busting the primer cap on a round of ammunition.

Captain Jinx of the Horse Marines: A popular square dance tune from the 19th Century. The captain is actually an Army officer but the tune was so popular that no application of fact could change the words.

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

TNS - Technology Needs Survey

TOA - Total Obligation Authority

TOR - Trouble Observation Report

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFC-13 - Fighter Squadron Composite 13: “Saints” NAS Fallon, Nevada

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Working in a prison can be a seriously dangerous job—especially if you're vastly outnumbered by the hordes of dangerous inmates

Prisons have found something that keeps them from having to hire more guards - you probably have one too!

Working in a prison can be a seriously dangerous job—especially if you're vastly outnumbered by the hordes of dangerous inmates. The most logical way to deal with an unruly crowd would be to hire more guards to keep everyone in line. Luckily, there's a much more economical solution, and one that probably keeps a lot of us out of trouble as well!

The Nielson Company reported that TV viewing in the United States was at an all time high in 2009, with children averaging about eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other non-school related tech. It works as a way to pacify agitated individuals—which is why cable television is so prevalent in prisons.

Private prisons recognize that inmates with cable television are much more quiet and subdued. This is how they get around having to spend more money on staff while keeping a safe and relatively quiet prison. Of course, you probably shouldn't let them watch “Prison Break” in case they start getting some crazy ideas! (OMGFacts) / (Films For Action)

Image: Puss and Boots - The Look


The Army Black Knight celebrated the end of Wold War II in 1945 by going 9-0 and claiming their second straight National Championship.

Sports 1945 Wikipedia

Note - many sporting events did not take place because of World War II

World Series Champions: The Detroit Tigers defeat the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 3

Negro World Series: Cleveland Buckeyes swept the Homestead Grays 4 games to 0

NFL Champions: Cleveland Rams at Cleveland, Ohio defeat the Washington Redskins 15-14

NBL Champions: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons win three games to two over the Sheboygan Redskins

Stanley Cup Champs: Toronto Maple Leafs win 4 games to 3 over the Detroit Red Wings

U.S. Open Golf: Not played due to World War II

U.S. Open Tennis (Men/Ladies): Sergeant Frank Parker / Sarah Palfrey Cooke

Wimbledon (Men/Women): Not Held

NCAA Football Champions: Army Cadets

NCAA Basketball Champions: Oklahoma A&M

Kentucky Derby: Hoop Jr

Image: The Army Black Knight celebrated the end of Wold War II in 1945 by going 9-0 and claiming their second straight National Championship. (Army's National Championship finished weeks 7-9, playing #2 Notre Dame, #6 Penn, and #2 Navy winningthose games 48-0, 61-0, and 32-13 respectively.)

Most Popular Christmas gifts 1945




● During the Second World War the American automobile industry produced a grand total of 139 cars. Instead, that huge industrial capacity had been transformed into the “arsenal of democracy”, turning out, in breathtaking volumes, the material that allowed the Allies to win the war. The Ford Motor Company alone had more military production than the entire Italian economy in the war years.

● “Corduroy” comes from the French, “cord du roi” or “cloth of the king”.

● A device invented as a primitive steam engine by the Greek engineer Hero, about the time of the birth of Christ, is used today as a rotating lawn sprinkler.

Answer to Last Week's Test

How many Giant Sequoia tree seeds are there in a pound?

Answer: About 91,000. The seeds of the largest tree (by volume) in the world are between 1/5th and 1/7th inch long and about 1/250 inch wide - no bigger than an oatmeal flake. Giant-Sequoia

Joke of the Day

Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day, picked out a box of tampons and proceeded to the checkout counter.

The man at the counter asked the older boy, “Son, how old are you?”

“Eight”, the boy replied.

The man continued, “Do you know what these are used for?”

The boy replied, “Not exactly, but they aren't for me. They're for him. He's my brother. He's four. We saw on TV that if you use these, you would be able to swim and ride a bike. Right now, he can't do either one.”