Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 40

Benedict accomplice hanged on October 2, 1780

Benedict accomplice hanged on October 2, 1780

Benedict accomplice hanged: Thirty-one-year-old British Major John Andre is hanged as a spy by U.S. military forces in Tappan, New York, on this day in 1780.

Andre, an accomplice of Benedict Arnold, had been captured by Patriots John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart on September 23 after they found incriminating papers in his boot. The papers revealed that Andre was returning from a secret meeting with U.S. General Benedict Arnold, commander of West Point, who had offered to surrender the strategic Hudson River fort to the British for a bribe of £20,000. Upon hearing of Andre's capture, Arnold fled to the British warship Vulture and subsequently joined the British in their fight against the Patriots.

After being sentenced to death by U.S. authorities on September 29, Andre was allowed to write a letter to his commander, General Henry Clinton. Andre also wrote a letter to General George Washington in which he asked, not that his life be spared, but that he be executed by firing squad. Death by firing squad was considered a more “gentlemanly” death than hanging.

Members of the Continental Army respected Andre's bravery, including Washington, who wanted to find a way to spare Andre's life. Believing that Andre had committed a lesser crime than Benedict Arnold, Washington wrote a letter to Clinton, stating that he would exchange Andre for Arnold, so that Arnold could be hanged instead.

When he did not receive a reply to his offer by October 2, Washington wrote in his “general order” of the day, “That Major Andre General to the British Army ought to be considered as a spy from the Enemy and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations it is their opinion he ought to suffer death...The Commander in Chief directs the execution of the above sentence in the usual way this afternoon at five o'clock precisely.” History Channel / Wikipedia / Mount Vernon.org

Wikipedia  Image: Benedict Arnold / George Washington

Battles of Saratoga / Surrender of General Burgoyne by John Trumbull by John Trumbull (September 19 and October 7, 1777)

“You, Sir, are a Spy” British spy Major John Andre (on trial after being betrayed by Benedict Arnold, the court sentenced Andre to death by hanging. / Last Moments of Major Andre" / Execution of Major John Andre by Hamilton)

“Crossing the Line”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Crossing the Line” The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. The tradition may have originated with ceremonies when passing headlands, and become a “folly” sanctioned as a boost to morale, or have been created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the Equator are nicknamed (Trusty/Honorable) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs.

Equator-crossing ceremonies, typically featuring King Neptune, are also sometimes carried out for passengers' entertainment on civilian ocean liners and cruise ships. They are also performed in the merchant navy and aboard sail training ships.

The two-day event (evening and day) is a ritual in which previously inducted crew members (Trusty Shellbacks) are organized into a “Court of Neptune” to induct the Slimy Pollywogs into “the mysteries of the Deep”. Physical hardship, in keeping with the spirit of the initiation, is tolerated, and each Pollywog is expected to endure a standard initiation rite in order to become a Shellback.

Once the ceremony is complete, a Pollywog receives a certificate declaring his new status. Another rare status is the Golden Shellback, a person who has crossed the Equator at the 180th meridian (International Date Line). The rarest Shellback status is that of the Emerald Shellback, which is received after crossing the Equator at the prime meridian. When a ship must cross the Equator reasonably close to one of these meridians, the ship's captain will typically plot a course across the Golden X so that the ship's crew can be initiated as Golden or Emerald Shellbacks.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

If two mouses are mice and two louses are lice why aren't two houses hice?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.”

~ Bertrand Russell

“What I Have Learned”

Experience is knowing a lot of things that you shouldn't do.

~ Anonymous

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)

Rolf Buchholz, World's Most Pierced Man, Denied Entry to Dubai

Rolf Buchholz, World's Most Pierced Man, Denied Entry to Dubai

German Rolf Buchholz, who owns the Guinness Book world record for most body piercings (453), said he was upset to be denied entrance into United Arab Emirates in August to fulfill a performance of sorts at Dubai’s Fairmont Hotel.

Buchholz said officials gave no explanation, although in addition to the piercings (example: at least 50 beads stuck to his lips), he has also implanted horns in his forehead. NBC News

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Where did the rude middle finger salute come from?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Where did the rude middle finger salute come from?

When the outnumbered English faced the French at the Battle of Agincourt, they were armed with a relatively new weapon, the longbow. The French were so amused that they vowed to cut off the middle finger of each British archer. When the longbows won the day, the English jeered the retreating French by raising that middle finger in a gesture that still means, among other things, “in your face”.

Image: Where did the rude middle finger salute come from? (Bing Image Search - Sign Language Editor, Vulcan Salute, Big Bird, Obama Middle Finger)

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Whipping Boy”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Whipping Boy:” A scapegoat. One who is singled out for blame or punishment.

“Whipping Boy” was an established position at the English court during the Tudor and Stuart monarchies of the 15th and 16th centuries.

This may not have been quite as bad as it sounds. The whipping boys weren't hapless street urchins living a life of torment, but high-born companions to the royal princes.

They were educated with the princes and shared many of the privileges of royalty. The downside was that, if the prince did wrong, the whipping boy was punished. It was considered a form of punishment to the prince that someone he cared about was made to suffer. Phrases.org.UK

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Jarhead: Any piece of paper authorizing something (light duty chit, leave chit, etc.) within the Naval establishment.

JARTGO: Just Another Reason To Get Out. “A grain of sand on the beach of reasons to get out of the Navy.”

Tire Chaser: Term used usually by Aviation Boatswains Mates to describe Blue Shirts or Chock Walkers on the flight deck and hangar bay of an aircraft carrier.

Titless Wave: A yeoman or one who performs clerical duties. At one time, yeoman was one of the few positions open to female navy personnel or Waves.

Just for MARINES - U.S. Marines

Just for you MARINE

Chit: Any piece of paper authorizing something (light duty chit, leave chit, etc.) within the Naval establishment.

Chop Chop: Quickly or in a hurry. Derived from Chinese by the old China Marines.

Chopper: Helicopter

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

APG - Advanced Pay Grade

Opportunity to advance to a higher pay grade based on previously obtained experience.

ASVAB - Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Test administered by the military to determine qualification for enlistment in the Armed Forces.

BMT - Basic Military Training

Initial instruction given to new military personnel.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VX-9 - Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9: “Vampires” NAWS China Lake, California

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Is there really a race of blue people?

Is there really a race of blue people?

A race of blue people existed in the Appalachians. The blue Fugates weren't a race but rather an excessively tight-knit family living in the Appalachian Mountains. The patriarch of the clan was Martin Fugate, who settled along the banks of Troublesome Creek near Hazard, Kentucky, sometime after 1800. His wife, Mary, is thought to have been a carrier for a rare disease known as hereditary methemoglobinemia, which we'll call met-H.

Due to an enzyme deficiency, the blood of met-H victims has reduced oxygen-carrying capacity. Instead of being the usual bright red, arterial blood is chocolate brown and gives the skin of Caucasians a bluish cast. Hereditary met-H is caused by a recessive gene. If only one of your parents has this gene, you'll be normal, but if they both have it, there's a good chance you'll be blue.

None of Martin and Mary Fugate's descendants would have been blue had they not intermarried with a nearby clan, the Smiths. The Smiths were descendants of Richard Smith and Alicia Combs, one of whom apparently was also a met-H carrier. According to family historian Mary Fugate, the first known blue Fugate was born in 1832. Because of inbreeding among the isolated hill folk — the Fugate family tree is a tangled mess of cousins marrying cousins — blue people started popping up frequently thereafter. A half dozen or so were on the scene by the 1890s, and one case was reported as recently as 1975. They were quite a sight. One woman is said to have had lips the color of a bruise.

In 1960 a doctor named Madison Cawein heard about the blue Fugates and succeeded in tracking down several of them. Luckily some cases of hereditary met-H among native Alaskans had been written up in the medical literature not long before, so he was able to diagnose the problem fairly quickly. He also prescribed a simple, if temporary, cure — the chemical methylene blue, which replaced the missing enzyme in the blood. The results were dramatic. Within minutes after getting a dose, the blue Fugates became a normal pink for the first time in their lives.

Today, what with increased prosperity and mobility, the Fugates get around a lot more and the likelihood of further instances of blueness is thought to be low. Straight Dope


Ruth in 1920, in New York Yankees uniform (United States Library of Congress)

Sports 1935 Wikipedia

World Series Champions: The Detroit Tigers defeat the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 2

● On May 25, Babe Ruth has a last hurrah, hitting three home runs against the Pittsburgh PiratesThe final one, the last of his 714 career home runs, sets a baseball record that stood for 39 years. This homer is the first to clear the right field grandstand at Forbes Field and is measured at 600 feet (183 m).

NFL Champions: Detroit Lions defeat the New York Giants 26–7

Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Maroons sweep the Toronto Maple Leafs 3 games to 0/p>

U.S. Open Golf: Sam Parks Jr.

U.S. Open Tennis (Men/Ladies): Wilmer Allison / Helen Jacobs

Wimbledon (Men/Women) (Men/Ladies): Fred Perry / Helen Moody

NCAA Football Champions: Minnesots Golden Gophers shared with SMU Mustangs.

Kentucky Derby: Omaha becomes the 3rd horse to win the U.S. Triple Crown

Image: Babe Ruth Ruth in 1920, in New York Yankees uniform (United States Library of Congress)



● Because of fears that the Japanese, who had attacked Pearl Harbor less than a month earlier, might attach California, the Rose Bowl game of 1942 between Oregon State and Duke University was moved east to Duke's hometown in Durham, North Carolina. It didn't, however, help the home team. Oregon won, 20-16.

● Sylvester Stallone earned $23,000 for his work on "Rocky" (1976). In 1999, he earned $20 million for “Into Thin Air”.

● In 1893, Milwaukee's Pabst beer won a blue ribbon at the Chicago Fair, and was sold thereafter as Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Answer to Last Week's Test

The 1990 edition of “Who’s Who in America” contained 10 lines of information about a former President but there were 28 lines devoted to his wife. Who was the president and First Lady?

Answer: President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan.

Joke of the Day

After many years of marriage, a husband has turned into a couch potato, became completely inattentive to his wife and sat guzzling beer and watching TV all day. The wife was dismayed because no matter what she did to attract the husband's attention, he'd just shrug her off with some bored comment.

This went on for many months and the wife was going crazy with boredom.

Then one day at a pet store, the wife saw this big, ugly, snorting bird with a hairy chest, powerful hairy forearms, beady eyes and dribble running down the side of its mouth.

The shopkeeper, observing her fascination with the bird, told her it was a special imported “Goony bird” and it had a very peculiar trait. To demonstrate, he exclaimed, “Goony bird! The table!” Immediately, the Goony bird flew off its perch and with single-minded fury attacked the table and smashed it into a hundred little pieces with its powerful forearms and claws!

To demonstrate some more, the shopkeeper said, “Goony bird! The shelf!” Again the Goony bird turned to the shelf and demolished it in seconds. “Wow!” said the wife, “If this doesn't attract my husband's attention, nothing will!”

So she bought the bird and took it home. When she entered the house, the husband was, as usual, sprawled on the sofa guzzling beer and watching the game. “Honey!” she exclaimed, “I've got a surprise for you! A Goony bird!”

The husband, in his usual bored tone replied, “Goony Bird, my foot!”