Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: ****The Coming Fury

I started reading this on the train, and then realized it is the sesquicentennial of the events that took place in the book.  It is written by Bruce Catton, and is the first of a three part series.

This book covers political happennings for about a year before the first shots at Fort Sumter, and goes through the first major battle at Bull Run.  It provides a good idea of the things that lead to the war, and how the governments of the nation and the states let themselves drift down the road to war, until it was too late to avoid the clash that took four years.

It also tells of the beginning moves of the war.  The moves of the federal government to keep Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland in the union, were pivotal in determining the outcome of the war.  It is interesting how the constitution, which the federals were fighting to protect, was ignored at times in efforts to keep the union together. 

The book includes a graph of the comparative populations and industry of the North and South.  The South could only hope for a quick war, as the federal resources would soon wear them down.

I would recommend this book to those interested in this history.  I am going to read the other two books over the next couple years.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: Drawbridge California; A Hand Me Down history

This book was written by O.L. Monty Dewey in 1989.  It is copyrighted to San Francisco Bay Area Wildlife Society.  This a history of San Francisco Bay's only ghost town.  Drawbridge has not been inhabited since 1979.  This book chronicles its growth, from one building used to house the drawbridge operator, (there were actually two drawbridges) who worked for the railroad.  The rail line that went through was originally made to conduct passengers from Santa Cruz to Alameda.  The rail went through the marshland of the South Bay, and over Station Island.  The Drawbridges were built over Coyote Creek Slough and Mud Creek Slough.
The mashes were home to many bird, in season.  It quickly became a favorite spot for many bird hunters.  The primary type of building on the island was gun clubs, or sporting cabins.  Fishing and swimming were also favorite past times  Being a hunting community, most of the inhabitants were armed.  There were two hotels on the island at one time.  Others on the island built and repaired boats suitable for the sloughs.

There were three wells drilled.  The deepest reached 500 feet.  The rail line was considered main street.  During hunting season there could be up to 1000 people on the island.  However the island was isolated.  No road ever reached the island.  During its peak, there were five trains going each way daily.  There was a station of sorts with regular stops. 
The residents made their outhouses over smaller sloughs.  In this way the tides flushed the waste away twice daily.  When the tides were high, residents could boat from house to house, otherwise they used walk ways.

Several things contributed to the island becoming less hospitable.  The building of salt bonds in the marsh lands disturbed the natural movements of the tides, and the self cleaning of the ocean.  This, with the dumping of sewage into the ocean by large communities, especially San Jose, so made the sloughs not suitable for swimming.  As people drilled more water wells, the water under the island began to dry up.  It was being used faster then could be replenished.  This caused the island to sink.

There were other contributing factors.  There was a change in the rail industry.  The marshlands began to disappear because of the salt ponds and the sewage.  This meant less birds and fish, and less sport.  There was also a problem with vandalism.  Before it was actually true, the Mercury News published a report that Drawbridge was a ghost town with valuable property had been left.  Many seasonal homes were vandaled, and items were broken or taken.  During the 60s, people would visit the island, and use a homes for their dope parties.  One evening over 50 were arrested.  Another evening, one of the last residents fired a shot gun and unknown people on the island.  After this she was known as shotgun Millie.

Fire also claimed many of the old homes and buildings.  There was no fire department, and often a fire would take out more than one home. 

This book has many stories about the island.  It also shows what can happen, when we don't take care of the environment.  Responisble use of our resources is generally best.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Civil War, Utah and Stockton, CA

Colonel Patrick Connor
Utah was much isolated from the Civil War, however many people who had Utah had family members who did participate in the war.
The Deseret News talks about some of the effects of the war on Utah.  The most significant event was the change-of-the-guard at Fort Douglas.  The regular Army members headed East to take their positions in either the North or South.  Albert Sidney Johnson, who had been the commander at the Fort, joined the South as a general, and was killed at Shiloh.  When this vacancy appeared, Stockton volunteers, under the command of Colonel Patrick Connor, manned the Fort.  This article mentions that the Utah delegate suggested to President Lincoln that these men could be used in the conflict.  I know that many of the Stockton volunteers would have rather been in the "real" fighting, rather than watching the Mormons.  They also made petition to be transferred, which was denied.  It was the Stockton volunteers, and Colonel Connor, who participated int eh Battle of the Bear River against the Shoshone.  (See my previous blog on this event.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Camp Parks, Camp Shoemaker and Shoemaker Naval Hospital, Dublin

During WWII the Navy set up a regrouping camp for the reserves in Dublin.  This was the last place my father was stationed before receiving his hardship discharge.  It was normally a place for men awaiting assignment.  My father had just completed his radio engineer training at Treasure Island, and was awaiting assignment.
In Dublin there were two different bases and a hospital nicknamed "Fleet City."  Camp Parks was home to the Seabies during the war, Camp Shoemaker home to naval personnel.  My dad was stationed here.  During this time, there was a bus which would pick up the men (those who chose to do so) and take them to San Jose to work in the canning bus.  My father went several times to work in the fruit.  During the war, the labor supply was very depleted, and extra help was wanted wherever it could be found.  The men enjoyed making a little extra money.

The final part of the "City" was the hospital.  This took the general shape of a large X, but each part of the X was really several different buildings.

Shoemaker Hospital

Camp Shoemaker
To the right (West) is Camp Parks, to the right is Shoemaker Hospital and Camp Shoemaker in between