Of 1980s Television and Hockey Heartthrobs

Posted in Television history at 8:30 pm by admin

For the past several months, I have been conducting background research for a lifelong learning course and book project that are both devoted to television series of the 1960s through the mid-1990s. As part of this scholarly endeavor, I re-watched seven seasons of “vintage” MacGyver starring Richard Dean Anderson. Thereafter, I worked my way through a succession of other series either starring or co-starring Richard Dean Anderson: Stargate SG-1, Legend, Emerald Point N.A.S. (I could only find four episodes of the series), and lastly, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Admittedly, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this eclectic mix of series of yesteryear and lamented the fact that two of the series that I grew especially fond of namely, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Legend, only lasted one season or less.

Given my enthusiastic response to what has been dubbed the “Richard Dean Anderson retrospective,” several of my colleagues and students have remarked that Anderson must have been one of my teenage idols.

In fact, no posters or photos of Richard Dean Anderson nor any other television, film, or music personalities of the 1980s adorned my bedroom walls, school locker, or other personal effects.

So, who or what did I admire enough to merit a place in my personal space? The following is a partial list of my displayed items:
• An “I’m Proud to be a Farmer” bumper sticker
I confess that I have never been a farmer; however, I did spend quite a few weekends on my aunt and uncle’s farm during my youth.
• A Harley Davidson motorcycle banner
For some reason, I was fascinated with Evel Knievel. That fascination translated into a mutual affection for Harley Davidson motorcycles.
• Assorted political cartoons from the Reagan era
I loved collecting editorial cartoons from the 1800s through the 1980s and eventually majored in political science as an undergraduate.
• Several of my own drawings
“Amateur” would be a kind description for my works.
• Photos of assorted animals
I have a lifelong affinity for domestic and wild creatures, both great and small
• A postcard from Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon
Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon and nearby Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, were among my family’s favorite weekend getaway destinations.
• Postcards from Dorset, England
The postcards came from my father’s pen pal, whom he had met while stationed in Dorset during World War II. They corresponded for almost fifty years.
and last but not certainly not least…
• A photo of the New York Rangers ice hockey team
The photo included my favorite player—Ron Duguay—who certainly didn’t look like a stereotypical hockey player.

So, there you have it. I forsook the plethora of teenage heartthrobs of the early 1980s for a bumper sticker extolling farming, a Harley Davidson banner, personal artwork, editorial cartoons, English postcards, animal pics, and the New York Rangers hockey team!


Curling Sweeps Back to Hoboken, New Jersey

Posted in curling, North American History at 8:44 pm by admin

This week Hoboken, New Jersey’s waterfront is hosting the “Hoboken Huddle,” billed as a food and fun-filled event for Super Bowl 2014 attendees, city residents, and anyone else interested in the event’s varied offerings.

Interestingly, curling, the centuries-old sport of the stone and broom serves as the Huddle’s featured attractions. Beyond the Super Bowl, curling enthusiasts hope that showcasing the sport at the Huddle will help promote public awareness of the somewhat obscure pursuit in the weeks leading up to 2014 Sochi Olympics, where it has been officially part of the winter Olympics program since the 1998 Nagano games.

Although curling and Hoboken, New Jersey may seem like a curious combination, in actuality, the sport and Hoboken share deep-rooted historical bonds. In fact, in the late 1800s, an enclosed rink on the corner of Grand and Twelfth Streets served as the home of the New York Thistle Curling Association, at the time one of the United States’ premier curling clubs.

On January 14, 1893, the New York Herald reported that the Thistle’s “old fashioned house warming” celebrating its “new club house adjoining the rink,” had attracted “fully four hundred curlers” the previous day. According to the Herald, highlights of the gala opening included a match comprised of curlers from “[a]ll the prominent clubs in the East,” including a contingent of “old-time curlers” who were purportedly “over seventy-five years of age”. After the match concluded, the festivities wrapped up with an evening dance. (“A Gala Time for Curlers,” New York Herald, January 14, 1893, 8).

The Hoboken rink, among the first in North America to install electric lights, also hosted a variety of skating events including a “national medal” match between the John o’ Groat and Empire Curling Clubs and the National Amateur Skating Association’s annual figure skating championship in January and February 1893 respectively (“The Thistles are Good Curlers;” “General Sporting Notes”).

Three years later, in January 1896, the New York Herald related that “curling ‘stanes’ [were once again] humming in every direction from early afternoon until nearly midnightat the Thistle Rink and provided its readers with the following account of the day’s activities:

During the afternoon a point competition was held between members of the Thistle Club. The prize, a handsome gold medal, was carried off after a spirited contest by Robert Lander, who retired from the rink with the creditable score of 20. In the evening a spirited match for a beef and greens dinner was played on rink No. 1 between members of the Excelsior Curling Club. Mr. Detrich’s team was victorious by a score of 17 to 8, and last night they partook of an old time Scotch dinner at the expense of Mr. Clayton’s team. There was also the annual match between the president’s and vice president’s team of the St. Andrew’s Club. The president’s team was victorious after a close contest, winning by a score of 10 to 6. On rink No. 3 a scrub match between members of the Thistle Club was held. It was hotly contested from start to finish, and won by Lander’s team, who turned in a score of 19” (“Curling at Hoboken. Robert Lander Won the Point Competition after a Hot Contest,” New York Herald, January 11, 1896, 11).

As the above historical snippets attest, the Hoboken Huddle marks a long overdue homecoming for a sport that played a role in Hoboken’s history more than a century ago.


“Curling at Hoboken. Robert Lander Won the Point Competition after a Hot Contest,” New York Herald, January 11, 1896, p. 11.

“General Sporting Notes,” New York Herald, January 30, 1892, p. 9.

Griffith, Janelle. “Super Bowl 2014 Fan Guide: Events in Hoboken.” NJ.com, January 8, 2014, updated January 14, 2014. http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/01/super_bowl_2014_hoboken_parties.html (accessed January 24, 2014).

“The Thistles are Good Curlers.” New York Herald, January 30, 1892, p. 9.




Remembering Some Famous Military Figures Associated with Cobourg, Ontario: General Arthur Currie’s Libel Suit

Posted in Cobourg Ontario, North American History, Ontario, World War I at 8:17 pm by admin

Sir Arthur Currie

Sir Arthur Currie (Image from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

As Cobourg strived to return to normalcy following World War I, the resort community garnered international attention owing to a dramatic trial which scrutinized wartime actions of General Sir Arthur Currie, Canada’s highest ranking military officer. After the War, Currie became Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University at Montréal. The retired general brought the $50,000 libel action against W. T. R. Preston, a “politician and publicist;” together with F. W. Wilson, the publisher of the Port Hope Guide.[i] In a June 13, 1927, Guide editorial, Preston accused Currie of ‘deliberate and useless waste of human life’ at Mons on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Specifically, Preston claimed that Currie “‘conceived the mad idea that it would be a fine thing to say that the Canadians had fired the last shot in the great war’” in order “‘to glorify the Canadian Headquarters Staff.’”[ii]

Preston, however, was not the first to censure Currie for the alleged actions cited in the editorial, since similar allegations had been voiced earlier in the House of Commons and elsewhere. Nonetheless, Preston’s editorial represented a breakpoint for Currie, who, until the filing of the lawsuit, maintained a “policy of silence.”

The trial, which the Chicago Tribune pronounced as “perhaps the most extraordinary in Canadian history” and the “second battle of Mons,” opened on April 16, 1928, in the Ontario Supreme Court Assizes at Cobourg.[iii] Thereafter, each day’s proceedings were closely followed by newspapers throughout North America. Finally, on May 1st, “[a]fter days of testimony by Canadian soldiers who fought in the World War,” as the Tribune recounted, the jury entered a verdict in favor of Currie,” to the cheers of “one man” who reportedly rejoiced at his “former leader’s victory.” In the end, while Currie’s courtroom victory helped preserve his public image as a military officer, he derived relatively little monetary compensation from the defendants, since the Court assessed damages at $500 rather than the $50,000 Currie originally requested.[iv]


[i] “Canada to Give Arthur Currie Hero’s Funeral: Commanded Dominion’s Forces in War,” Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1933, 20.


[ii] “Defends Conduct at Battle of Mons: Gen. Currie, Examined in Libel Suit, Declares No Canadians Fell on Armistice Day,” New York Times, March 12, 1928, 4.


[iii] “Canada to Give Arthur Currie Hero’s Funeral.”; “War Chief will Answer Charge of Cowardice,” Chicago Daily Tribune, April 13, 1928, 12.


[iv] “Canada to Give Arthur Currie Hero’s Funeral.”


Remembering Some Famous Military Figures Associated with Cobourg, Ontario: Father Francis P. Duffy

Posted in Cobourg Ontario, North American History, World War I at 5:57 pm by admin

Given that 2014 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, it seems fitting to highlight several famous military figures from the First World War who were associated with Cobourg, Ontario.

Father Francis P. Duffy

Father Francis P. Duffy

Among the most notable World War I military figures intimately linked to Cobourg was Father Francis P. Duffy. Born in Cobourg on May 2, 1871, Duffy later graduated from St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Thereafter, he relocated to New York City, where he taught at St. Francis Xavier’s College and was subsequently ordained a priest in 1896.

At the onset of the Spanish–American War in 1898, Father Duffy served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and also as chaplain for the 69th Infantry of the National Guard. Almost two decades later, when the United States entered World War I in 1917, Father Duffy accompanied the members of the 69th to Camp Mills, Long Island, whereupon the group was assigned to the legendary 42nd or Rainbow Division. At the time, Father Duffy was also named the senior chaplain of the Division. The 42nd Division owes its name to the Division’s then Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur, who observed that the group, comprised of National Guard units from twenty-six states, “stretches like a Rainbow from one end of America to the other.”

In recognition of the intrepid chaplain’s heroic actions under enemy fire during a July 1918 battle,  the United States and France bestowed the Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre respectively upon the clergyman.

In the decades following World War I, the exploits of Father Duffy and his comrades captured the imagination of the American public. Their exploits even served as the basis for the 1940 Hollywood action-adventure motion picture, The Fighting 69th, starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien and George Brent.


Father Duffy Square (i.e., the northern triangle of Times Square in New York City) in June 1943

Father Duffy’s indelible influence upon soldiers and civilians alike was also evidenced in May 1937, when a large statute of the beloved chaplain was unveiled on the northern triangle of Times Square in New York City.

Seventy-seven years later, Father Duffy still stands tall at the site, aptly dubbed Father Duffy Square.






Duffy, Francis P. Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism of Life and Death with the Fighting Sixty-Ninth. With an historical appendix by Joyce Kilmer. New York, NY: George H. Doran Co., 1919. Available via Google Books.

“Father Duffy Dead; Won Fame in War.” New York Times, June 27, 1932, p. 1.

Internet Movie Database. The Fighting 69th.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (Image source).

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Father Duffy Square. New York, NY: The City of New York, n.d. (accessed January 6, 2014).

New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs. “42d Infantry Division Story of the Rainbow Patch.” S.l.: New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs, n.d. (accessed January 7, 2014).





Just Published: Of Iron and Ozone: The History and Residents of the American Summer Colony in Cobourg, Ontario

Posted in North American History at 6:11 pm by admin

A new book by Dr. Marsha Ann Tate, Of Iron and Ozone: The History and Residents of the American Summer Colony in Cobourg, Ontario, traces the transformation of Cobourg, Ontario, a community nestled on Lake Ontario’s northern shore into a renowned North American resort following the U.S. Civil War. The book also highlights the key role played by central and western Pennsylvania industrialists in the development of the Canadian resort which counted among its seasonal residents: a) the wives of Ulysses S. Grant and Jefferson Davis; b) numerous veterans of the Union and Confederate Armies; c) high-ranking federal, state, and local government officials; d) wealthy U.S. and Canadian businesspeople; e) actors and musicians; as well as f) working-class families. In addition, the book includes a comprehensive listing of the names, hometowns, and occupations of Cobourg’s American summer colony residents. Of Iron and Ozone is the first volume in a three-part series of books that explores the multi-faceted relationships that existed between U.S. capital, commerce and tourism in Ontario during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The book is available on Amazon and Kindle.

The book also has a companion website, The American Summer Colonies at Cobourg and Muskoka, Ontario


War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemorations Continue Throughout the Summer

Posted in North American History at 6:42 pm by admin

The War of 1812 Bicentennial continues to be commemorated in both Canada and the United States, with many events planned for the upcoming summer months. For example, three notable battles of the War to be commemorated in Ontario between late May and early July include:

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Stoney Creek
May 31, 2013–June 2, 2013
Battlefield House Museum & Park, Stoney Creek, Ontario

Laura Secord Bicentennial Event & Walk/200th Battle of Beaverdams
June 21–23, 2013
Queenston, Ontario to Thorold, Ontario

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm
July 12–14, 2013
Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario

A comprehensive, month-by-month listing of upcoming Bicentennial-related events is available at The Official War of 1812 Bicentennial Website (http://www.visit1812.com/).

No matter whether you are a history buff, are curious about Laura Secord—one of Canada’s legendary female heroines—or are merely interested in taking a unique summer getaway, these and many other War of 1812 related commemorations will make worthwhile and enjoyable additions to your summertime vacation schedules.