The first paved coast-to-coast US highway, The Lincoln Highway, was opened on this date in 1913. Your radio is all you need to join for the Lincoln Highway anniversary on Crosscurrents, 9/10 at 8 am.
LINCOLN HYWY ON KRNN. 9/10: live on air link: http://www.krnn.org
The notionof the Lincoln Highway came from Carl Fisher, responsible for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miami Beach. With help from fellow industrialists Frank Seiberling and Henry Joy, an improved, hard-surfaced road was envisioned that would extend almost 3400 miles coast to coast, New York to San Francisco, over the shortest practical route.
The Lincoln Highway Association was formed in 1913 to develope the road using private and corporate donations. The idea was taken up by an enthusiastic public, and many other named roads across the country followed. American citizens’ desire for improved roads led to the action of the federal government in constucting roads and the creation of numbered U.S. routes in the 1920s.
The 36th President lauded for his progressive domestic policies and criticized for his foreign affairs, Lyndon B. Johnson was born on this date in 1908. You are invited to join the LBJ birthday with a historical review and Texas tunes on Crosscurrents, 8/27 at 8 am.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON ON KRNN, 8/27: Live On Air Link – http://www.krnn.org
“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.”
“If we stand passively by while the centre of each city becomes a hive of depravation, crime and hopelessness…if we become two people, the suburban af”fluent and the urban poor, each filled with mistrust and fear for the other…then we shall effectively cripple each generation to come.”
“There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few we can solve by ourselves.”
“We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.”
“A man without a vote is a man without protection.”
“Don’t Spit in the Soup, We All Gotta Eat”
“Democracy is a constant tension between truth and half-truth and, in the arsenal of truth, there is no greater weapon than fact.”
“Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.”
“Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty.”
We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. … It is time now to write the next chapter-and to write it in the books of law.
“Light at the end of the tunnel We don’t even have a tunnel we don’t even know where the tunnel is.”
“You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.”
NATIONAL RADIO DAY ON KRNN, 8/20: The first US government licensed radio station began broadcasting on the 20th of August 1920. Please join us for National Radio Day with our special salute to distinctive radio on a unique Crosscurrents, 8/20 at 8 am. Live on air link: http://www.krnn.org
Aboard his 59ft ketch, Charles Blyth on this date in 1971 arrived back to port in England to become the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world against the prevailing winds and currents. We hope to have you sail with us for Sir Blyth tribute on Crosscurrents, 8/7 at 8 am.
SIR CHARLES BLYTH ON KRNN, 8/6: live on-air link: http://www.krnn.org
British Steel Faces the Test
The Circumnavigators – by Don Holm
(c) 1974 by Donald R. Holm
originally published by Prentice-Hall, NY
– 31 –
Maureen said, “Well, why not sail around the
world the other way?” I had other things to
think about, but her words stayed in my mind.
Why not? (l)
THE TIME WAS 1950 G.M.T., DECEMBER 24, 1970. FIVE
miles to the south of Cape Horn, a long white and sleek ketch with
main and jib set, rose and fell slowly in the heave,beating against the
prevailing light winds and currents.
On board the 59-foot British Steel was not a crew, but just one
man 30-year-old Chay Blyth and he was engaged in the last great
individual sailing adventure left on the Seven Seas. He was sailing
alone around the world, the “wrong way,” east to west in the high
southern latitudes nonstop.(2)
Now on Christmas Eve, not even halfway around, Chay Blyth
broke out his “Cape Horn meal,” packed for him before leaving by
his wife, Maureen, for the occasion crab, ham, roast potatoes, and
wine. It was not so much a celebration as a milestone on his voyage,
marking passage from the Atlantic into the Pacific. He still had the
Pacific ahead of him, then the Indian, and finally the Atlantic again,
before he would see his wife and daughter once more.
But he was not exactly alone. Only the day before, he had rendez-
voused with the British H.M.S. Endurance, on ice patrol.(3) A boat
had been sent off to bring him mail, fresh fruit, bread, and whiskey.
Moreover, with his modern radio equipment aboard, Blyth had been
~ 28O ~
in contact with shore stations during the entire trip so far. Now, with
the Endurance, he was able to send out feature material for the
newspapers at home as well as still and motion pictures taken thus
far, to his agent.
This circumnavigation by Chay Blyth in British Steel was the best-
planned and equipped voyage of its kind in the history of yachting
adventures. All the skill of a century of shipbuilding had gone into
the design and construction of this modern steel yacht for the single
purpose of providing a vehicle for the last remaining spectacular
ocean stunt. To assure success, the state-owned British Steel Corp had expended about 50,000 (pounds) or $120,000, of which 20,000 had
gone into the design by Robert Clark, and the construction in record
time of only four months by Philip & Son of Dartmouth.(4) Launched
on August 19, 1970, British Steel was the epitome of modern yacht
designing and the use of steel in yacht construction. She was also
equipped with an expensive array of electronics, and other appliances
needed for one man to master this large a vessel with its cloud of
1,300 square feet of sail.
The man himself was no ordinary sailor. In fact, Chay Blyth had a
reputation of being a non-yachtsman, somewhat disparagingly, as it
were. All of his yachting so far (and including this trip) was re-
garded as “publicity yachting.” Even Blyth thought of himself as an
expert in survival, not as a sailor.(5)
Born May 14, 1940, in Hawick, Scotland, he joined a parachute
regiment when he was eighteen. At twenty-one, he was already a
sergeant with experience in several overseas assignments. He had
completed the Arctic Survival School as well as the Desert Survival
School, and had become an instructor in the Eskdale Outward
Bound School by 1966, when an officer named Captain John Ridg-
way of the Parachute Regiment at Aldershot called for a volunteer to
accompany him on a rowing trip across the Atlantic in an open
dory.(6) The stunt was successfully completed in ninety-two days, and
for his part, Blyth was awarded the Empire Medal. In 1967, he left
the army and the following year entered the Sunday Times Golden
Globe Race around the world.(7)
Blyth’s participation in the race ended off Cape Town when his 30-
foot Kingfisher-class Dytiscus pitchpoled backward (bow over stern).
Making port, Blyth repaired the vessel, and with his wife, Maureen,
who had flown to Cape Town, sailed back to England. Home again
in civilian life, Blyth took a job as a salesman for a beverage
company. But he was restless without a physical challenge, and seri-
~ 281 ~
ously considered a suggestion by a former buddy in the Parachute
Regiment that they cross the Andes and canoe down the Amazon for
kicks. He even went to London and talked to the pros on Fleet
Street, who advised him the Amazon stunt would probably arouse
the most interest, since everything had already been done in the
yachting arena. Later, he remembered a chance remark by Maureen,
and the idea of a nonstop singlehanded voyage around grew upon
In March, 1969, he went to the Birmingham Boat Show, and there
met a former newspaperman and public relations practitioner named
Terry Bond. Out of this meeting evolved a working partnership and a
plan which was presented to the British Steel Corporation, which was
casually shopping around for some way to publicize its image.
Next came months of planning, designing, conferences, setbacks,
hectic preparations, and inevitable frustrations. For this kind of
project, one needs a course in survival to maintain one’s health and
sanity. Finally, on Sunday, October 18, Blyth went aboard the sleek
new yacht from the jetty of the Royal Southern Yacht Club in the
Hamble River with Maureen and a party of friends for one last
farewell. They motored down to the starting area near the Hook
Buoy in Southampton Water. There, Maureen and their friends
were taken off by the Blue Crystal, and Chay was alone waiting for
the starting gun to be fired by Commodore A. R. Lightfoot.
In the melee that followed, as the fleet escorted him out to the
Needles, one of the launches rammed his boat and cut a nasty dent
in the sleek white topsides. But he was on his way, on the most
spectacular adventure of his young life, and the one which would
bring him a share of British maritime immortality to say nothing of a
His route was to take him south to Cape Horn, west against the
Roaring Forties, across the Indian Ocean, around Cape Horn, and
back up the Atlantic to England, for the most part against prevailing
winds and currents. What else was left to do if one were to record
another first in a bluewater yacht? Since Captain Joshua Slocum’s
voyage, which started it all, hundreds and maybe thousands of yachts
had sailed around the world in all directions. As Professor Roger
Strout had remarked back in the 1930s on his circumnavigation,
everything that came after Magellan was anticlimax. Sir Francis
Chichester had beaten the average wool and grain clipper ship time,
east-about, when in his late sixties. The young merchant marine
officer, Robin Knox-Johnston, had become the first to sail around
~ 282 ~
nonstop, also east-about. Dozens of stunters had rowed across the
oceans, even long before the ordeal completed with Captain Ridg-
way. Circumnavigations had been made by concrete vessels, by
catamarans and trimarans, and even by an amphibious Jeep. Until
someone came up with a suitable private submarine capable of sailing
around the world underwater, the only remaining feat was a wrong-
way nonstop singlehanded passage.
Physically as well as spiritually, no man was ever better prepared
for such an undertaking than Blyth. In robust good health, full of
zest for life and adventure, his reactions and coordinations sharpened
by years of commando training, even a wrong-way voyage was ex-
pected to be an easy cruise.
Sailing down the Atlantic, he had trouble in the northeast trades
with the sails. Off the Rio de la Plata, he encountered a pampero
and could not lower his mainsail because of jammed slides, making
necessary a hazardous trip up the mast. Off Cape Horn, he was
driven south into the ice fields by a Force 9 gale in enormous seas
that smashed his self-steering gear beyond repair and caused a serious
head injury. From then on, he had nothing but trouble.
In late February, near New Zealand, he suffered a severe knock-
down by a graybeard wave which bent the mast and damaged the
rigging When he crossed the southern Indian Ocean, he was bat-
tered for five days by the worst storm he had ever experienced, and
probably one which he could not have survived had not his steel
vessel been built like a submarine. He was driven five hundred miles
off course by it.
Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, he was forced to spend as long
as twenty hours at a time steering. On June 28, he crossed his out-
bound track, having technically circumnavigated. On July 19, he
celebrated his daughter’s birthday with a special pack of goodies, and
was spoken west of Ushant by the H.M.S. Ark Royal. He sailed
through the tunny fleet, and, on July 31, a chartered airplane with a Sunday Mirror team flew over to take photos. Navy ships stayed with him the rest of the way while he toasted himself with champagne and
prepared himself and the ship for the homecoming.
On August 2, the Blue Crystal came out to meet him and to lead
him to a mooring at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The voyage was
over, the 292-day passage, Hamble to Hamble, the fastest nonstop on
record. His welcome was even bigger than those of Rose, Chichester,
and Knox-Johnston; and unlike those homecomings, as the British
Steel sailed up the Solent, the yacht looked as if it had just come out
~ 283 ~
of the yard, topsides spotless, gear in first-class condition. Blyth,
himself, clean-shaven and dressed in his best, bounded about the
deck ebullient of spirit and in the best of health. The grueling voyage
had been carried off in the best British tradition; and with superb
timing, Blyth managed to make his appearance in the midst of Cowes
Week. And to complete the tableau, he was greeted personally by the
Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, and Prime
Minister Edward Heath.
Upon his return, the yacht was given to him to keep, and the
young national hero went on to share the limelight with Sir Francis
Chichester, Sir Alec Rose, Knox-Johnston, and the others.(8)
~ 284 ~
– end Chapter 31 –
The Massachusetts General Court authorized construction of the first lighthouse in America in Boston’s Outer Harbor on this date in 1715. We hope you can find your way to the safe harbor of KRNN for a Boston Light tribute on Crosscurrents, 7/23 at 8 am. BOSTON LIGHTHOUSE ON CROSSCURRENTS, 7/23 at 8 am LIVE ON-AIR LINK: http://www.krnn.org
BOSTON LIGHT HISTORY IN BRIEF:
The historic Boston Harbor lighthouse, known as Boston Light to locals, was built in 1716 on Little Brewster Island, a spot of land 8 miles east of Boston.
First Lit: September 14, 1716 Built By: the Colony of Massachusetts
Current Tower Construction & Facts:
Year Built: 1783
Tower Height: 89 feet
It was originally 75 feet.
In 1859 it was raised to 89 feet and a new lantern room was added.
76 steps to the top
Foundation: Granite Ledge
Construction Materials: Rubble Stone/Brick Lining
Markings: White with Black Lantern
Relationship to Other Structures: Separat
Benjamin Franklin, 12 years old at the time, was urged by his brother to write a poem based on the disaster. The young Franklin wrote a poem called The Lighthouse Tragedy and hawked copies on the streets of Boston. Franklin later wrote in his autobiography that the poem was “wretched stuff,” although it “sold prodigiously.”
A cannon, America’s first fog signal, was placed on the island in 1719. Passing ships would fire their cannons when passing nearby in times of fog, and the keeper would reply with a blast from the light station. The cannon, cast in 1700 and possibly relocated from Long Island in the inner harbor, served on Little Brewster Island for 132 years.
In 1794, Knox’s yearly salary as keeper was set by the federal government at $266.67, which was raised to $333.33 in 1796.
Although I have not read very much about the Light, I did notice a story onlineabout a dog after my time out there. When I arrived on the island, there was a
dog there named “Bear,” a black Newfoundlander; it was rumored she was givento the Light by Mr. Snow and was sixteen years-old in 1968.
By 1989, the Coast Guard had automated almost every lighthouse in the United States and Boston Light was scheduled to be the last in this process. Preservation groups appealed to Congress and the Coast Guard, and with the help of Senator Edward M. Kennedy funding was appropriated to keep Coast Guard staff on Little Brewster, making the island a living museum of lighthouse history
In September 2003, Sally Snowman was appointed as the new civilian keeper — the first civilian keeper since the Coast Guard took over in 1941, and the first woman keeper in the lighthouse’s long history.
An inventor who revolutionized garment manufacturing with his patented stitching machine, Elias Howe was born on this date in 1819. You can tune up your sewing machine while you seamlessly listen on your radio to the Howe birthday on Crosscurrents, 7/9 at 8 am.
ELIAS HOWE ON CROSSCURRRENTS, 7/9: live on air link: http://www.krnn.org
Playlist to include: In My Own Fashion; Sharp Dressed Man; A Lawyer And A Draper; Her Strut; Needles And Pins; A Good Idea At The Time; Heart Machine; Silver Thread And Golden Needles; Ain’t No Easy Way; and Pincussion… among others.
An advocate for civil rights when appeared before, and served on, the U.S. Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall was born on this date in 1908. You are invited to join the concurring opinion before the radio court of tunes for the Marshall birthday on Crosscurrents, 7/2 at 8 am. Live on air link: http://www.krnn.org
His words are relevant today as a reminder to us all:
At a time in our history when the streets of the Nation’s cities inspire fear and despair, rather than pride and hope, it is difficult to maintain objectivity and concern for our fellow citizens. But, the measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis. No nation in the recorded history of man has a greater tradition of revering justice and fair treatment for all its citizens in times of turmoil, confusion, and tension than ours. This is a country which stands tallest in troubled times, a country that clings to fundamental principles, cherishes its constitutional heritage, and rejects simple solutions that compromise the values that lie at the roots of our democratic system.
~~~ Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, Concurring opinion (January 17, 1972
America must get to work. In the chilled climate in which we live, we must go against the prevailing winds. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust. We must dissent from a nation that buried its head in the sand waiting in vain for the needs of its poor, its elderly, and its sick to disappear and just blow away. We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education, or hope. We must dissent from the poverty of vision and timeless absence of moral leadership. We must dissent, because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.
~~~ Speech delivered on September 6, 1990, before the Annual Judicial Conference of the Second Circuit, quoted in Supreme Justice Speeches and Writings Thurgood Marshall. Edited by J. Clay Smith, Jr., 2002
The legal system can force open doors, and sometimes-even knock down walls, but it cannot build bridges. That job belongs to you and me. The country can’t do it. Afro and White, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, our fates are bound together. We can run from each other, but we cannot escape each other. We will only attain freedom if we learn to appreciate what is different, and muster the courage to discover what is fundamentally the same. America’s diversity offers so much richness and opportunity. Take a chance, won’t you? Knock down the fences, which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side. We shall have liberty for all.
~~~ Speech delivered on September 6, 1990, before the Annual Judicial Conference of the Second Circuit, quoted in Supreme Justice Speeches and Writings Thurgood Marshall. Edited by J. Clay Smith, Jr., 2002
Customary greeting to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, What’s shaking, chiefy baby?
~~~ Source: quoted by M.D. Davis and H.R. Clark in Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench, 1992
KING GEORGE III ON CROSSCURRENTS, 6/4: The British monarch presiding over the loss of the American Revolution, King George III was born on this day in 1738. Including a playlist of some of unusual British 60’s mod musicians, America’s last monarch has a birthday party to which you are welcome is celebrated on Crosscurrents, 6/4 at 8 am.
HOME GROWN: George III became heir to the throne on the death of his father in 1751, succeeding his grandfather, George II, in 1760. He was the third Hanoverian monarch and the first one to be born in England and to use English as his first language.
BUSY MAN: George III was devoted to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. They had 15 children, 13 of whom reached adulthood.
GEORGE, THE SCIENCE GUY: George III was the first king to study science as part of his education (he had his own astronomical observatory), and examples of his collection of scientific instruments can now be seen in the Science Museum.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME: The American War of Independence ran from 1775 to 1783 and resulted in Britain’s loss of many its colonies in North America. France was eager to retaliate against Great Britain following their defeat during the Seven Years’ War.
HE LIKED A GOOD RIDE: In 1760 George III commissioned the Gold State Coach is an enclosed, eight horse-drawn carriage still used by the British Royal Family today.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: George III’s accession in 1760 marked a significant change in royal finances. In 1760, it was decided that the whole cost of the Civil List (judges and embassadors etc.) should be provided by Parliament, in return for the surrender of the hereditary revenues by the King from the Crown Estate for the duration of his reign.
ROYAL REAL ESTATE KING: George III bought Buckingham House (now known as Buckingham Palace) in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James’s Palace, where many court functions were held. Buckingham House became known as the Queen’s House.
PAPER BACK WRITER: One of the most cultured of monarchs, George III started a new royal collection of books (65,000 of his books were later given to the British Museum, as the nucleus of a national library) and opened his library to scholars.
DUKE OF DIRT: During his reign, George III acquired the nickname ‘Farmer George’, in part due to his agricultural interests and in part as a playful pun.
HOSPITALIZATION; After serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801, George became permanently deranged in 1810. He was mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign; his eldest son – the later George IV – acted as Prince Regent from 1811. Some medical historians have said that George III’s mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.