Monday, December 21, 2015

Churchill's Historic, Lengthy Stay at the White House During December 1941, Just Weeks After Pearl Harbor

This grand and moving piece on Churchill's lengthy stay at the White House in December 1941 over Christmas, just weeks after Pearl Harbor, is a great historic read.

I highlight: "On Christmas Day, Churchill, the Roosevelt's and the rest of the White House party sat down to oysters, clear soup, turkey, chestnut dressing with giblet gravy, beans and cauliflower, and sweet potato casserole."

"In the autobiography she wrote after her husband's death, Eleanor told of how Churchill "stayed up talking, drinking brandy and smoking cigars until 2 or 3 a.m. By all accounts, the only drinking problem Churchill had was when his exacting demands were not met. On the day of his arrival, the White House butler was told how to keep him happy. The menu is recorded in Cita Stelzer's "Dinner With Churchill": "I must have a tumbler of sherry in my room before breakfast, a couple of glasses of scotch and soda before lunch, and French Champagne and 90-year-old brandy before I go to sleep at night."

"David McCullough tells of Churchill joining Roosevelt on a White House balcony for the ceremonial lighting of the National Christmas Tree. The two men addressed a crowd of 20,000 on the White House lawn and a nationwide radio audience. The prime minister went on to say:
"This is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and, with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other. "Still, he said, it was entirely appropriate to pause to celebrate Christmas. "Let the children have their night of fun and laughter," he said. "Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world."

The next morning, Churchill and Roosevelt, surrounded by security men, attended a Christmas service at a nearby Methodist church.

The photos above are FDR & Churchill at Christmas Dinner together, White House 1941, and FDR & Churchill lighting the National Christmas tree, from White House balcony, after US entry into WW2, December 1941.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Brief History of the Montgomery Bus Boycott - The Spark Which Began the Modern Civil Rights Movement

This is a wonderful piece of American and civil rights history.  Below is a description, written by my friend David Abzell, of his father's role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Both David and his father Joe were Press Secretary's (in different era's) to Alabama Governor George C. Wallace.  Joe was City Editor of the Montgomery Advertiser at the time of the boycott (December 1955).  Again, this is quite a piece of history:

David Abzell:  "The man who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott 60 years ago this month was Edgar Daniel “E.D.” Nixon, a black Pullman car porter who led the local chapter of the NAACP. Rosa Parks was the secretary of the NAACP and was personally picked by Nixon to undergo arrest and serve as the plaintiff in the test case regarding bus segregation laws. Nixon also tapped a young minister named Martin Luther King to serve as the spokesman for the Boycott.
On the eve of the Boycott, Nixon called my father, Joe, who was city editor of the Montgomery Advertiser and a long-time friend, and said he had a “big story” for him. Dad would write the very first article about the impending Bus Boycott using the information that Nixon supplied to him, but in order to protect his friend from retribution from the city's leaders, my father attributed the source to an unnamed white woman who got a tip from her black maid.
Dad would serve as a pallbearer for Nixon when he died in 1987. One of my prized possessions is this photo that E.D. Nixon signed for my father with the inscription, “Joe Azbell did more for blacks than any white man in America.”

Below is a short clip (10 minutes) from a documentary of the events and the players surrounding the boycott.  Mrs. Parks, Mr. Nixon, and Joe Abzell are prominently featured in the video. (The video must be viewed on youtube. After clicking on the arrow center screen, click on the youtube icon in the lower right corner of the screen and you will be directed to it).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"The Birth of a New American Political System", by Bill Moyers

In this great piece, the great American liberal thinker, Bill Moyers, presents the case for a new American political system he sees developing. He says, "based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name. And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so."

"Let me make my case", Moyers says, "however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: 1) political campaigns and elections; 2) the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; 3) the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; 4) the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and, 5) the demobilization of “we the people.”

He concludes, "much of it may be happening in a purely seat-of-the-pants fashion. In response, there has been no urge to officially declare that something new is afoot, let alone convene a new constitutional convention. Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon and the officials of the national security state."

Finally he says, "out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening."

Read for yourself.  It is an excellent, important piece.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interesting, Perplexing Times In Which We Live As We Approach the Second Half of 2015

Interesting times in which we live. We are in quite a transitional time, which is difficult for many people. Globalization, rapidly changing demographics, pronounced shift left on social issues, end of two terms of an African American president, good possibility of woman president on the horizon, America's changing role in the world, extreme income inequity, disorder in many regions of the world, emerging rival super powers in the world, all combine to require seeing the world clearly and unemotionally, requiring unbiased pursuit of new solutions to problems of the much different world in which we find ourselves. I am reminded of the Einstein quote, "We can't our solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them." And, I see clearly, that the same old 20th century political alignments, arguments, bickering will quickly deem us, individually and collectively as a nation, irrelevant. 

I am with Thomas Friedman, my candidate for best lead paragraph on a news article so far this year goes to Tom Goodwin, an executive at Havas Media, whose essay March 3 on began: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.”

In order to continue to try and see, and more clearly understand, the environment in which the successful candidate for President will find themselves, here is an excellent, even critical, Thomas Friedman article, "Jeb, Hillary, Facebook, and Disorder."

~ Bob Godfrey

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tweet Goes Viral Showing SC Officer Helping White Supremacist in Medical Distress During KKK Rally at SC State House

Above is a powerful photo which son Rob, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of South Carolina, took with his cell phone during a KKK Rally at the SC State House this weekend, which continues to appear across the country, here at 

Below is his original tweet which went viral; 5000 retweets and counting at this point (photo was included):
Rob Godfrey @RobGodfrey: ·
"not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down."

As an aside, Officer Leroy Smith is Major Leroy Smith, Director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and he sits on the Governor's Cabinet.  He is generally always in uniform, not coat and tie, working along side his fellow officers, so as to be perceived as an equal by them.

Such a poignant and inspiring image and tweet, as South Carolina continues to set an example for the nation of civility, forgiveness, and redemption.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Poignant Pictures During The Day Before and The Day of The Confederate Battle Flag Being Lowered

Lots of media around Columbia this week. But none of them noticed when Gov. Haley took an early afternoon walk on the grounds to observe the flag area, the day before the flag came down.......with son Rob. No words.
Gov. Haley, son Rob, and others doing a run-through before ceremony to take down the Confederate Battle Flag.  It's time. The war ended 150 years ago.

A Wonderful Old Country Hymn

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Great Day in the History of the American Presidency - Full Text

Just imagine. Imagine. Imagine.

Very direct and close descendants of southern American slaves, people oppressed in the low-country of South Carolina for generations, nine of their own gunned downed by a madman racist.........and then, America's first African American President of the United States shows up in their honor, takes to the pulpit in Charleston, and delivers one of the great and moving Presidential addresses and sermons of our lifetime. He celebrated nine precious, God-loving, God-fearing lives, stated the continued case of racism in America, and called for action on America's continued cultural plight, racism.

He stirred beautiful, healing emotions, and concluded with an impromptu version of Amazing Grace, with the organist chiming in.  It was such a moving, grand way to honor a people and a section of America too long ignored and overlooked by preaching and singing of God's Grace as so beautifully reflected in the lives and the families of those slain.

It was a breathtaking, breathtaking sermon/speech and rendition of Amazing Grace.  God Bless the dead, the people of the low-country, and a great and healing President of the United States.

A Great Day in the History of the American Presidency - 'Amazing Grace'

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Precious Family Reflections on a By-Gone Era

Well, on this, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's assassination, it is fun and interesting to reflect on the fact that our family was and is connected, as were most southern and northern families who were in America at that difficult time, to the Civil War and events surrounding it.  Below is a brief family reflection.

This is a response to a question put to me by my son on this day:  "Dad, didn't MawMaw used to say she had a family member who could remember and would tell them about when President Lincoln was assassinated?"

Dear Rob:

My Mother's dear grandmother, Nancy Ann Poythress, Mama Lois' and Aunt Annie's Mother, was born April 14, 1863 (I have the family Bible for documentation), two months after the Battle of Gettysburg and two years, exactly, BEFORE President Lincoln's assassination, which, as you know, occurred 150 years ago today, April 15, 1865.

Mother loved her Grandmother Poythress dearly (Grandmother Bass, not so much :)) and talked about her so very often as an adult, and my guess, was constantly at her knee as a child.  Mother loved her so much that, as a three-year old in 1921, she absolutely refused to move with her family to Toccoa Ga., where Warren was born in 1922, unless Grandmother Poythress came along with them as well. (And she did, and lived with them in Toccoa.  Before this, Mother and Grandmother Poythress were staying with Aunt Annie Poythress Webster and her husband Rudolph 'Rude' Webster in Richmond, as you know, the national Confederate capital during the Civil War, the place Lee and Grant met in 1865 to draw up the conditions of surrender before executing them at Appomattox Courthouse, halfway between Richmond and Roanoke).

So it is very likely that Mother heard many stories and reflections of Lincoln's assassination at the knee of her dear Grandmother Poythress, from what Grandmother Poythress recalled as 2-year old, as well as from what she heard from others.  (We definitely have memories from when we were age two;  I recall clearly the day of Graham Murphy's death, when I was age two, and his body being transported from my Grandmother's house, 628 Summit Ave. ; I lived two houses away). 

Rob, thank you for prompting this important history and these precious memories, on this, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's death, the 152th anniversary of my Great Grandmother Poythress' birth year, the 115th anniversary of my Grandmother Lois Poythress Bass Murphy's birth year, and the 97th anniversary of my dear, dear Mother Zenobah Bass Godfrey's birth year.  "Bless be the tie that binds.......'

Peace be with you, Daddy.

PS  Above are two pictures of Grandmother Poythress and the obituary for my Great Great Grandfather, T. P. Bradshaw.  He was my Great Grandmother Nancy Ann Poythress' (who we have been discussing) father.  As you see, further supporting our speculation of discussion of Lincoln's assassination, he was a proud veteran of the Civil War.  Also, as you see, Nancy Ann Poythress' residence in the obit is listed as Toccoa Ga. further supporting the wonderful story of Mother's refusal to move to Toccoa unless her grandmother came along.  As you see also, the final paragraph indicates my Great Great Grandfather was a "highly respected citizen" and his death brought regrets to the entire community.  Thankfully! Emoji  (Grandmother Nancy Ann Poythress, according to Warren, died in 1952 at age 89.  She was long divorced from her husband, Thomas Poythress, who was a traveling piano tuner by profession).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Sometimes I feel as though I am age 18 again on the Elon campus, especially on beautiful North Carolina Spring days like today.  I actually was age 18 as a student on the Elon campus, almost 50 years ago.  Now I am there participating in a wonderful Life@Elon learning community for adults over age 50.

Today, as on many days, I took a long walk on the picturesque campus before class.  Sometimes I have coffee and read my Nook at the Elon Coffee Shop on main street. Often I browse through books and look for sales in the Barnes and Noble campus shop just off campus. I can be caught catching a glimpse at baseball practice, where I spent many days those many years ago.

Today our Life@Elon class was about gaining a better understanding of current events in the Middle East. The class was conducted by campus minister Rev. Dr. Jan Fuller, a Yale Divinity graduate and long-time resident of the Lebanon, and Rev. Dr. Ron Shive, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Burlington. Their concise and clear outline of the foundation and history of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, along with a brief history of Islam, was outstanding and informative.  They ended by proposing ways Americans might become engaged to become helpful. I feel much more informed about an area critical to world peace, understanding, and coexistence.

This Thursday members of our learning community will be provided the opportunity to see and hear the famous and popular Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He currently hosts a popular science television program, in addition to being a great spokesman and proponent of climate change and it's impact, which is an area of great concern and interest to me. 

I am fortunate to be part of this a great Elon University adult learning community. Elon has been important in my life, and as I approach age 67, it continues to be.  How wonderful.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Last Man Standing

I had a good day Friday.  I attended the memorial service for friend Fred Williams, a pillar of the community and the church, who was born in 1915, 100 years ago.  The service was conducted by my wonderful pastor, Rev. Alan Sherouse, a 30-something, born in the 1980s.  Alan nailed it, knocked it out of the park. It was a wonderful worship service, a celebration of a fascinating 20th century entrepreneurial journey underpinned by devote Christian faith. It was topped off for me by having lunch with another wonderful friend who was born in 1925, 90 years ago (I had taken him to the service).

The best part of the day was seeing my Uncle Warren Bass, Fred's best friend, born in 1921, 94 years ago.  In my family (among his generation), and among most of his friends, Warren is the last man standing.  He has been a rock of the family. Such an example. My day caused for such reflection, such introspection, such feelings of blessing and gratitude.

These guys grew up in difficult times, the Great Depression, World War Two, the beginnings of America's ascension.  They did so well. They did what they had to do. To be around them, to listen to them, to observe their humility, is a such blessing.  Due to 'father time', such experiences will be, at this point, short-lived. They are leaving us, literally, daily.

The friend I had lunch with, Ray Anderson, is a 1949 Georgia Tech graduate who grew up on a 25,000 acre plantation outside of Memphis.  He married a New Orleans girl 65 years ago.  He is a devote Christian, his son a pastor in Macon, he's an avid Braves and Georgia Tech fan, an industrial engineer by trade, overseer of the Triad Montenyard community for 40 years, an overall wonderful, interesting guy.

But then, there is Uncle Warren.  The last man standing.  In my family, there was, to say the least,  maverick, interesting characters in that generation, all unique, leaving mark and impression on the world and on all of us. 

But then, Warren, the last man standing. Thankfully, I'll see him and I'll visit with him Sunday, at the First Baptist Church of Greensboro.

If you have occasion to be around any pre-1925 born soul in the coming weeks, listen, observe, be grateful.  It'll make your day.

Yeap, I had a good day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 2015 APIC Dixie Chapter Meeting and Show

Saturday, March 7, is the date for the 2015 Dixie Chapter Meeting and Show of the American Political Items Collectors (APIC). It will be held in Greensboro at the Holiday Inn Airport on Burnt Poplar Rd. (I-40 and Hwy. 68)  There will be collectors and dealers in from all over the country. APIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of material relating to political campaigns.

The show is from 8:30 to 2:00 on Saturday, March 7 (Friday evening there will be room hopping and a hospitality suite; all are invited). Admission Saturday is $3.00. Above is some of my collection which will be on display. 

Like many others, I will be set-up and will be showing, trading, buying, and selling. Please come out if you have interest. It is a blast. Bring any items you may wish to have appraised by the nation's top dealers at no charge.

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