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).

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