Sunday, 25 September 2011

Proud Dynasties in US, UK and Oz

From ERIC SHACKLE in Sydney, Australia <>

Down the centuries, Britain has recorded its royals by name, followed by Roman numerals. Henry and George are easy winners, scoring eight each. Henry VIII had more wives than George VIII.

Now we notice a similar trend in the US, where one guy boasts the proud name of Griffith Rutherford Harsh V.

He's the wayward son of neurosurgeon Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV and prominent business executive Margaret Cushing "Meg" Whitman, who hopes to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California.

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is the real name of the American film actor and director Tom Cruise. His father was  Thomas Cruise Mapother III. His great-grandfather, Thomas Cruise O'Mara,  was adopted by a Welsh immigrant named Mapother, and renamed Thomas Cruise Mapother.

Confusingly, one of Cruise's cousins,  William Reibert Mapother, another American actor who is known by that name. 

William Clinton is another dynastic name, harking back to William de Clinton, first Earl of Huntingdon (1304–1354).  An English nobleman,William Henry Clinton (1769–1846), was a British general from a prominent military family; who served in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Former US president William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III. His father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was a traveling salesman who died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. Four years later his mother married Roger Clinton, Sr. Although he assumed use of his stepfather's surname, it was not until Billy (as he was known then) was 14 that he formally adopted the surname Clinton.

Stephen Hess wrote about US dynasties in the Washington Post two years ago.
"American public life is saturated with them", he said. "Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons. Powerful individuals connected to one another by blood or by marriage who, deservedly or not, take on that most paradoxical of American labels: dynasty."

Another American, George Herbert Walker IV (born April 1969) is Chairman and CEO of Neuberger Berman.

The male children within a single nuclear family are not numbered sequentially, as all members of the larger family are part of the same numbering system. For example, the sons of Prince Heinrich LXVII Reuss of Schleiz were, in order, Heinrich V, Heinrich VIII, Heinrich XI, Heinrich XIV, and Heinrich XVI

In the UK, Tom Green told Yahoo Answers: 'I have the same name as both my grandfather and my (now deceased) great grandfather. I have a different name to my father. Does this still make me Thomas Green III?"

The "best answer": "Generally, no. However, there are specific circumstances where it would. e.g., Queen Elizabeth II was born centuries after Queen Elizabeth I. But, for us commoners, it needs to be in successive generations. So, your grandfather would have been the II (second), but you are not the III (third)."

BBC Radio 4 says, "The Dynasties series has now ended. It covered over a thousand years of influence wielded by the power brokers of Britain and Ireland.

"These are not the stories of the kings and queens of England. Instead, these are the tales of the powerful families who were there before the monarch was, and who were still there long after his or her reign - or even royal dynasty - had come to an end.

"Indeed, these are the families who have been the political and constitutional power brokers of British history, true powers behind thrones".

The BBC featured these families:

The Carringtons
A family close to the royalty and the corridors of power over the last 200 years.

The Dalrymples
A powerful Scottish family that will always be remembered for the Glencoe massacre.

The Norfolks
The Norfolks survived the demise of their mentor, Richard lll, to become of the most powerful Catholic families in England.

The Russells
The Russells were a political family that also produced a great social reformer as well as one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers.

The Berkeleys
One of the great land owning families of the middle ages, they were famously involved in the grisly murder of a monarch.

The Churchills
The Churchills achieved prominence during the Restoration but rose to another zenith in the 19th and 20 centuries.

The Irish
The mighty rebel Irish peers were a thorn in the side of England until the death of the 'Great O'Neill'.

The Despensers
The first of the medieval power brokers. Their influence spanned the reigns of three monarchs yet in the end it brought them nothing but tragedy.

The Godwines
The first of the dynasties. Their power rose in late Saxon England until one of their family, Harold ll, took the crown.

In Australia, we have a famous family, descendants of William Wentworth, whose great-grandson William Wentworth IV was a member of Parliament 1949-77.

An ABC radio feature in 2003  described William Wentworth  I in these terms: "Our greatest colonial dynasty was founded by 'the bastard son of a highway robber by a convict whore': WC Wentworth, the father of colonial self-government and an explorer of the Blue Mountains. But his birthright was hidden by his own family, using its fortune over generations to remake itself into a pillar of the establishment. Today, the money and ancestral estate are gone, the family yet to shake off its maverick legacy."

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Little kids go mutton-busting

From ERIC SHACKLE,, in Sydney, Australia. <ericshackle*>

Six years ago I wrote a story about sheep races held around the world.  I mentioned that Ric Turner, who runs an entertainment park at Bideford (pronounced Biddy-ford) in England, straps toy woolen jockeys on the backs of his sheep before sending them on their way.

Now, to my dismay, I've discovered that Americans promoting an annual fair at Puyallup, near Tacoma, Washington, put small children, aged three to six, on the backs of sheep, like riders in a rodeo.

Judging by the youngsters' expressions, as far as can be seen in a video (see below), they don't seem to be enjoying the experience. The sheep don't seem to care for it either.

These juvenile rodeos are held in many US towns. Google "videos mutton busting" and you'll find a dozen examples.  Several of these videos show toddlers being lifted on to sheep, and then being thrown off, to the applause of all except the kid's parents. Some of the kids are in tears.

 When I told Ric Turner about this, he replied:
'I'm aware that they have done mutton busting as they call it in Australia at camp drafts or rodeos for a number of year and was riding a bull at an event as a student 25 years ago when the kids were doing this.

"I think that it is pretty stupid for the children on a health and safety level when they could get badly hurt. The sheep are certainly able to carry the weight, having been trying to catch a big wether for shearing and been carted around the shearing pen, but it will be very stressful taking them out of their environment into an arena and having crowds shouting at them.

"I much prefer our sheep racing with knitted jockeys and the sheep racing for food at the end.

"I am aware that as far as animal welfare there are massively differing standards and levels of acceptable behaviour in different parts of the world. If we were to do mutton busting in the UK , the RSPCA and the general public would be in uproar."

I'd thought that mutton-busting was a unique American pastime, but according to Ric, it has also occurred  here in Australia.  Sure we have numerous  rodeos, but I've never heard of any of them ever having included mutton-busting as a crowd-pleaser.  We'll leave that to the Yanks.

"Mutton busting is a fun rodeo event for kids," proclaims McClain's Mutton Busters and Kids' Ranch Rodeo in Republican City, Nebraska.

"Straddle those sheep, hang on and go for the ride of your life.

"Fun to watch. Fun to do. It's great entertainment for everyone!

"We Provide:     Prior To Show:
15 years experience and over 60,000 riders     We register all contestants
24 foot brightly painted trailer so kids know we have arrived     We will have a release paper to be signed by the parents.
Over 30 sheep
Safety clowns who help the kids in the arena     Each contestant is weighed.
(Critical to the safety of the sheep.)
Wrangler for sheep
Coordinator for the show     Each contestant is given a number for their back and a picture of the clowns.
Small PA system     We provide helmets for safety
Jokes, laughs, and clown acts     We provide instructions on how to ride sheep
We provide insurance    

"WE DO IT ALL! All you need to do is furnish a sheep tight arena, sit back and relax!"

The story about sheep racing around the world, written in 2005, is posted here (click on cached):

Eric Shackle's eBook - Sheep Racing
- Cached

Champion racehorses burst from their starting boxes and charge towards the finish line, eager to win. Racing sheep, by contrast, usually prefer to amble.

And here's the Puyallup video:

 Mutton Bustin' at the Puyallup Fair - YouTube 5 min - 12 Sep 2008 - Uploaded by punch44
Kids ages 3-6 riding sheep. ... Mutton Bustin' at the Puyallup Fair. punch44 2 videos. Subscribe Alert icon S

Monday, 5 September 2011

Max: World's Oldest Dog

From ERIC SHACKLE in Sydney, Australia. <ericshackle*>

Max, a "mixed terrier" living in New Iberia, Louisiana, is probably the oldest dog alive in the world.  He celebrated his 28th birthday on August 9. If he survives 18 more months, he'll be the oldest pooch in recorded history.

An Australian cattle dog, Bluey, worked among sheep and cattle for 20 years, and survived until November 14, 1939, when he was put down. He had lived for 29 years, five months and seven days, on a diet of kangaroos and emus. He was the world's oldest dog, a record that has never been beaten.

"Though Max has 'slowed up' up a bit in recent years and his coarse, light brown coat is graying, he still manages to play with his owner, Janelle deRouen's visiting grandchildren in the backyard and trots through the house in search of a place to nap", Jessica Goff reported in the The New Iberian newspaper.

“'He is really protective of us and the grandkids,'  said Janelle. 'Being an old man, he is set pretty in his ways. He is just like some elderly people. He goes to bed early and wakes up with the chickens.'"

Jessica Goff continued, "deRouen acquired Max as a 6-week-old puppy in 1983 from a local sugar cane farmer who had a litter of six, she said. Ever since, the dog has been a part of her family, which includes her husband, Billy, and her five children and now grandchildren.

"'Other than having a tooth pulled, Max has never had any major health problems', Janelle deRouen said.

"I'n recent years he began suffering from cataracts, but his eyesight is still relatively keen.'  She said she doesn’t know the secret to his longevity, other than she keeps him up to date with his annual shots and keeps him away from table scraps.

“'These days he is just happy to wake up every day,' she said. 'He just sits and lounges till he falls off to sleep.'

"Though unofficial, Max has even been recognized as the world’s oldest dog by British newspapers The Daily Mail and The Telegraph which featured Max’s 26th birthday party two years ago in their publications.

“'It’s discouraging that we haven’t heard back [from Guinness World Records] so that it’s official,' she said. 'But we know, and everyone who knows Max already knows that he is the world’s oldest dog,' she said Thursday as the timeworn terrier dozed off by her feet.

“'It’s discouraging that we haven’t heard back so that it’s official. But we know, and everyone who knows Max already knows that he is the world’s oldest dog.'"

Here are photos of Max taken two years ago:

And here's Janelle deRouen with Max

Friday, 2 September 2011

World's Two Oldest Columnists Call It a Day

From ERIC SHACKLE in Sydney, Australia.,ericshackle*>

The world's two oldest columnists have both just thrown away their quills, or stopped tapping their computer keyboards.

In the US, Margaret Caldwell (104) has quit writing for the Desert Valley Times, and in Ireland, James Kelly (100) has written his last column for the Irish News.

"Everyone misses Margaret's column, but she felt she was repeating herself,and didn't have anything new to offer," says David Bly, editor of the Desert Valley Times, in Mesquite, Nevada.

"Her health is poor, but she's still alert and full of laughs.

"She leaves on a high note: her column has been awarded first place in non-staff columns by the Nevada Press Association. This is the second time she was won that award."

Earlier this year, the Irish News published this tribute to its veteran columnist:

Centurion columnist retires

The oldest newspaper columnist in the world, James Kelly, has written his final column, at the grand age of 100.

AdTech Ad
Mr Kelly joined The Irish News in 1928 and on Saturday he celebrated his birthday and the end of his time at the paper at a party with friends and family.He has written about Northern Ireland's major issues for the past 82 years, covering everything from the opening of Stormont in 1932 to the introduction of Home Rule, 40 years later.
After his long and distinguished career with The Irish News, the west Belfast man said he knew it was time to step down from his column:

Here's a story I wrote about Margaret Caldwell two years ago, when she was a feisty 102. It was published by the South Korean newszine OhmyNewsInternational:

Margaret Caldwell, 1940s pin-up girl and friend of famous film stars, now 102 years old, is the world's oldest newspaper columnist. She lives in Nevada, but never visits Vegas.

"I think the slogan 'What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas' is totally wrong," she told OhmyNews. "It denotes the wrong kind of reputation for Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas should be in the public domain as far as I am concerned."

Margaret writes a weekly column for the Desert Valley Times in Mesquite, Nevada, owned by Gannett Co., Inc. which publishes 85 daily newspapers, including the national newspaper USA TODAY (circulation 2,284,219), and nearly 900 non-daily publications

David Bly, editor and general manager of the Desert Valley Times, says "I interviewed Margaret as a centenarian, and was so taken with her wit and sharpness I asked her to write a weekly column, which she has been doing faithfully ever since under the title, 'Memoirs of a Crone,' which was her choice of titles.

"She simply writes about her life, and our readers are very fond of her... She still has a way with words."

OhmyNews interviewed Margaret by email. Here is the Q and A:
When and where was your first writing published?

My first writing was published in 1980 by Warner Books, a novel called "Born To The Sun." I have written another book which is a sequal called "I Married A Genius", which I am presently attempting to sell.

Which newspapers or magazines have published your work?

Margaret Caldwell in 2009

I wrote for the Chicago Tribune during World War II as Administrator for Women's Activities Civil Defense and now here in Mesquite for the Desert Valley Times.

How many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren do you have, and where do they live?

I only have one child, a daughter, who lives with me here in Mesquite. [Her 76-year-old daughter, Patrisha, posts Margaret's columns for her.]

When and why did you move to Nevada?

I moved to Nevada to be with my daughter and son-in-law, now deceased, in 1997. They lived in Las Vegas and I lived with them for several years.

Do you ever visit Las Vegas and play the slots? Have you written about gambling?

I do not visit Las Vegas. I don't care for gambling and am not a gambler. However, if I do want to throw away some money, there are three casinos in Mesquite where I can go. I do, sometimes, like to go to the casino for a buffet, but that is all.

Do you agree with the slogan "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas"?

I think the slogan is totally wrong. It denotes the wrong kind of reputation for Las Vegas. What happens in Las Vegas should be in the public domain as far as I am concerned.

What are your favorite subjects in your columns?

The only things I write about in my columns are my life experiences and my thoughts on what is going on right now. I have had a long life and met a lot of people, famous or not, and have had a lot of experiences.

Do you receive much feedback?

I have received some postcards and letters but not many. However, my daughter and I are constantly getting verbal feedback from people in this town whenever we go out.
One of those people is Barb King, who praised Margaret's and daughter Patrisha's performances in a New Year's Eve stage show a few weeks ago.

"In this play she [Margaret] was Miss Patience, and what a wonderful job she did re-creating a sweet, prim and proper school marm who had once been engaged to the sheriff.," Barb wrote. "Margaret continues to amaze everyone who meets her, with her wonderful humor and fabulous abilities with story-telling."

Margaret's columns cover a wide variety of subjects, ranging from "My First Kiss" to her latest column, "Hard times again - when will we ever learn?."

She wrote "My First Kiss" last year, when she was only 101. Here's a copy:
When I was young, about nine years old, there was a preacher who came to our country schoolhouse to preach.

Mama, who was very religious, always went to hear him and took me along. He almost always brought his granddaughter who was my age. On one occasion Mama gave me permission to return with them to Ackley, a small town about 15 miles away.

I couldn't believe my eyes when we were served dinner by the wife. The preacher got a serving of a very savory roast, the rest of us half of a boiled potato, no butter, just salt, and no dessert, while he had apple pie.

I was hungry when I went to bed with his granddaughter and hungrier after being served a small bowl of gummy oatmeal for breakfast. It was at that time I began to make decisions. I took my paper bag of possessions and, after telling the minister's wife where I was going, I left.

I went to Grandma Johnson, who was raising my dead sister's little boy, my nephew Lyle, who is, at this time, 80 some years old and living in Yuma, Arizona. Grandma Johnson opened her arms. The rest of the week was pure joy. We went to a dance at the little town hall. Grandpa took me to the dance and then said, "You know the way home. See you later," and left.

One of the neighbors had a boy of about 11 who danced with me and later walked me back to Grandma Johnson's house. He was so polite. He opened the gate in the back yard fence and walked me up to the house.

I was thrilled and tongue-tied. We stood at the door staring at each other, when he suddenly grabbed and kissed me, turned and ran like the hounds of hell were after him.

I forgot to worry about getting back home; the preacher would have to take me. Gee whiz, he really kissed me! What was his name again? I couldn't remember. The kiss on my cheek still tingled.
You can see five photos of Margaret at different stages of life posted on MySpace.

And here's an edited copy of this remarkable woman's autobiography:
I was born on Feb. 1, 1907, in the backwoods of Minnesota on a homestead, 25 miles from Backus, which now has a population of 2,500 people, the year before Henry Ford came out with his first Model T Ford.

I have seen the history of the 20th century; watched the boys leave for war -- World War I, that is, as well as World War II, The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraq. I remember the 1918-1919 flu epidemic.

Any 100 year old has done a lot of living. I think I have packed more into my lifetime than most.

I have:

  • lived all over the country, from California to New York City to Richmond, Virginia,

  • seen the first rocket go off at White Sands, New Mexico,

  • visited Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, among other places,

  • counted movie stars such as Lillian Roth, Marie Dressler, Peggy Ann Garner, Elizabeth Taylor and Wallace Beery as friends,

  • started the Virginia Cerebral Palsy Association and spoken at the Virginia Health Conference on Crippled Children,

  • worked as Authorization Manager for Lord and Taylor in New York City,

  • made a commercial for McDonald's,

  • met Grant Woods, Albert Einstein, Bill Pachner, Gustav Rehberger, Leonard Goldenson, founder of ABC, among others,

  • published a successful novel and written another for the Eldred (my maiden name) family.

    I am presently completing another novel about a marriage made in heaven or hell, as the case may be.