Tag Archives: Neglected history

NON-DILLINGER: JELLY NASH

FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE 

Jelly NashJELLY NASH

Real Name: Frank Nash

Birth – Death: February 6th, 1887 – June 17th, 1933

Lore: Frank Nash got his nickname “Jelly” from the chemical jelly explosives he used to crack safes.

Reality: Supposedly the nickname was actually short for “Jellybean,” which Nash was called in his youth because it was a slang term for a sharp dresser. As ZZ Topp said “Every girl’s crazy ’bout a Jell-eee-beeeeeaan.”

Criminal Career: After serving in the U.S. Army from 1904 to 1907, Jelly Nash began applying some of the skills he picked up in the military to committing criminal acts. Tradition holds that Nash robbed close to 200 banks during his career. 

Frank was so successful that his first conviction didn’t happen until 1913, and then only because he showed some uncharacteristic greed and treachery. He and “Humpy” Wortman stole around $1,000 from an Oklahoma store and while Wortman was digging a hole to hide the loot, Jelly shot him in the back and made off with all the money.

(Lore: Humpy Wortman got his nickname from his tendency to hump the legs of his fellow criminals.  Reality: I just made that up.) Continue reading

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FLASHMAN: LINKS TO MY TOP FIVE

Royal Flash posterWOW! Reaction to my Top Five Harry Flashman Novels blog post continues to amaze me! I’m always glad to share my odd enthusiasms with others so it’s been great to bring The Flashman Papers to the attention of new readers. Here in one convenient post are the links to my individual reviews of the Top Five and to my brief look at Flashman’s encounter with young Abraham Lincoln in Flash for Freedom

Flashman's Lady 25. FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH (2005) – Setting: Abyssinian Military Expedition of 1867-1868    CLICK HERE   

4. FLASHMAN AND THE DRAGON (1985) – Setting: Anglo-French Military Expedition to Peking in 1860    CLICK HERE 

3. FLASHMAN’S LADY (1977) – Setting: Campaign against the Borneo Pirates and captivity by Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar, 1844-1845    CLICK HERE 

2. FLASHMAN IN THE GREAT GAME (1975) – Setting: The Great Mutiny in India, 1857-1858    CLICK HERE   

Flashman at the ChargeAND 1. FLASHMAN AT THE CHARGE (1973) – Setting: The Crimean War, 1853-1856    CLICK HERE

*** FOR MY BRIEF TAKE ON HARRY FLASHMAN’S ENCOUNTERS WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN FLASH FOR FREEDOM (1971) – CLICK HERE 

*** FOR MY LOOK AT THE TOP SEVEN ROBERT LUDLUM NOVELS CLICK HERE 

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PRESIDENTIAL LOSERS: PROS AND CONS

mascot new look donkey and elephant headsHappy Presidents Day Weekend! Over the years Balladeer’s Blog’s irreverent, tongue-in-cheek looks at the pros and cons of U.S. Presidents have been among my most visited items.

For a change of pace here’s a look at the pros and cons of the LOSERS who were left in a defeated heap enroute to the Oval Office. In reverse order:

hillary-clinton-haitiHILLARY CLINTON (Lost to President Donald Trump)

Motto: “When the money keeps rolling in (to your fake charity), what’s a girl to do? Skim a little (well, quite a lot, actually) off the top for expenses wouldn’t you?”

Nickname: The Rapist’s Wife/ Crooked Hillary 

Hillary clinton dough nationPro: Her childish refusal to address her own supporters the night Donald Trump utterly humiliated her provided a look at how truly petty, shallow and classless she is. 

Con: She and her fascist followers tried to threaten the members of the Electoral College into casting their votes for her instead of Trump, thereby reaching the absolute lowest and most disgusting level that any American politician has ever sunk to. 

MITT ROMNEY (Lost to Obama)

Motto: “Pushing women back to the Fifties … the EIGHTEEN fifties!”

Nickname: The Mormon Mondale/ Ol’ Sploog Face (tie)

Pro: His even more pathetic running mate Paul Ryan actually made him look good by comparison. 

Con: Was so thoroughly inept he managed to lose to Barack Obama even after voters saw what a disaster he was.

John Mccain cheatingJOHN MCCAIN (Lost to Obama)

Motto: “I didn’t spend years in the pockets of the McCain Foundation’s billionaire donors just to watch a candidate even MORE deeply in their pockets beat me … but once Barack did I was happy to kiss his butt!” Continue reading

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U.S. PRESIDENTS FROM EISENHOWER TO TRUMP

It’s Presidents Day Weekend! Here are some takes on the more recent presidents.  

EisenhowerDWIGHT EISENHOWER

Character Type: Well-meaning but befuddled sitcom grandfather.

Military Service: World War One and World War Two

Motto: “FOOORE!” (Remember,  the traditional cry as you’re teeing off in golf? Oh, never mind!)

Nickname: Uncle Milty

Pro: Knew enough to distrust Richard Nixon long before it became the national pasttime. 

Con: Was the first president to pronounce nuclear as “nucular”.

john f kennedyJOHN F KENNEDY

Character Type: Rich playboy who disdained both Liberals and Conservatives and played by his own rules.

Military Service: World War Two

Motto: “Thank God for television!”

Nickname: FDR  

Pro: The man was shrewd enough to distrust both liberals and conservatives equally. I can’t praise that attitude highly enough given our present circumstances. 

Con: Continue reading

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VALENTINE’S DAY SHOUTOUT TO FORMER PRESIDENT MCKINLEY AND HIS WIFE IDA

MckinleysSince today is Valentine’s Day AND we have Presidents Day coming up here’s a brief shoutout to the often neglected love story about President William McKinley and his wife Ida Saxton McKinley. The McKinley years were far enough away that there is a certain sincerity to their relationship that could never be trusted in these days of endless media overload. 

Years before they were President and First Lady the McKinleys lost both their daughters in tragic circumstances. Ida was never the same and became epileptic plus showed signs of other disorders. As president, William happily restructured the usual social agenda for First Ladies to accommodate Ida’s special circumstances.

Ida was permitted to sit rather than stand for the endless receiving lines that STILL take up too much time in the world of politics. McKinley’s administration had Vice President Hobart’s wife tend to many of the strenuous hostessing activities that First Ladies usually have to endure.

Perhaps most touchingly, President McKinley had Ida sit right next to him at formal meals rather than at the opposite end of the table, as was the usual custom. He did this so that when Ida had one of her epileptic seizures at the table he could place a napkin over her face to prevent guests from noticing. Although personally, I’ve always been convinced that the guests were just pretending not to notice. But that’s just me. 

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SIXTEEN OVERLOOKED SECRETARIES OF STATE

With Presidents Day coming up on the 19th Balladeer’s Blog has been presenting some seasonal posts. A fair amount of our past presidents had served as Secretary of State in earlier administrations so that is the tie-in to the upcoming holiday. 

Timothy Pickering1. TIMOTHY PICKERING (1795-1800)

Served under: Presidents George Washington and John Adams

Noted for: Conspiring with Alexander Hamilton to undermine some of the policies of the Washington and Adams administrations. When Adams discovered this he ordered Pickering to resign, but Pickering refused, forcing Adams to fire him. Pickering remains the only Secretary of State to officially be fired by the President.

2. HENRY CLAY (1825-1829)

Served under: President John Quincy Adams

Noted for: Fighting a duel with Senator John Randolph, one of Clay’s critics who felt he had struck a “corrupt bargain” with Adams to get this prized cabinet position. Also for completing the first commerce treaties between the young United States and the various nations in Scandinavia and Latin America.

3. JOHN FORSYTH (1834-1841)

Served under: Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren

Noted for: Obtaining long-disputed reparations from France for U.S. commercial losses suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. Also for threatening to resign early in Van Buren’s administration before his relationship with the new president improved.

Daniel Webster4. DANIEL WEBSTER (1841-1843 and 1850-1852)

Served under: Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Filmore

Noted for: Negotiating a treaty which set the boundaries between Maine and New Brunswick, encouraging a popular uprising in Hungary and for dying in office in 1852. But mostly for his distinguished Senate career and for his fictional role in the story The Devil and Daniel Webster.

5. WILLIAM MARCY (1853-1857) Continue reading

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TOP FIVE FLASHMAN NOVELS: NUMBER FIVE

For Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE  . For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.

Flashman on the March5. FLASHMAN ON THE MARCH (2005)

Time Period: The 1867-1868 Abyssinian military campaign and rescue mission.

This volume of The Flashman Papers is set right after Harry’s unsuccessful attempt to spirit away Mexico’s overthrown Emperor Maximilian before he could be executed. (Well it wasn’t Flashman’s fault. As history tells us, Maximilian DID refuse to escape with the conspirators who busted in to save his sorry butt.)

Synopsis: After a passionate farewell kiss from (the real-life) Princess Agnes Salm-Salm, Harry Flashman further raises the ire of his Austrian escorts by seducing a young, blonde and buxom Hapsburg aristocrat on the trans-Atlantic voyage with Maximilian’s coffin.

In Trieste, with the Austrians planning to unleash their wrath on Flashman as soon as the ceremony for Maximilian is over, our main character bolts for the British consulate. HMG is happy to have Sir Harry on hand and entrusts him to escort the notorious 100,000 Maria Theresa Thalers being sent to finance General Robert Napier’s upcoming Abyssinian Expedition.   

Flashman on the March 2That expedition is being launched to free British captives being held and tortured by the (historically) unhinged Emperor Theodore II of Abyssinia (Called Ethiopia today). 

Before Colonel Flashman knows it he’s caught up in a clash with Muslim slavers on the Red Sea, then breezing right along to the Eritrean port of Zula, embarkation point for the British campaign into Abyssinia.  

The author George MacDonald Fraser’s descriptive talents were in top form in Flashman on the March. As fans well know, Fraser creates scenes in the reader’s mind that surpass the biggest-budgeted cinematic blockbusters.

This particular tale lets him fully unleash his genius for seeming to take his audience to faraway planets while never leaving the Earth. Abyssinia/ Ethiopia feels menacingly alien and its hostile terrain might as well be on an orbiting asteroid as we get dragged into deadly danger with the reluctant Flashman.   

Harry and his Royal Marine escorts eventually catch up with General Napier far inland, and even though our protagonist officially turns over the shipment of Thalers he is still at Napier’s mercy in terms of papers and transit orders home to England. 

With the British forces – complete with 44 war elephants from India – moving more slowly than anticipated, Napier decides to send Flashman on ahead of the main army.

Harry’s orders: a) to rescue the hostages by any means necessary if the opportunity presents itself, if not, then b) to covertly keep tabs on the location of the hostages in case the Emperor decides to take them even further inland and c) to feel out Theodore’s many enemies in the war-torn country and try to recruit ad hoc allies to prevent the Emperor’s army from escaping.   

Kevin Kline good FlashmanFlashman’s guide, translator and fellow warrior will be the beautiful Ethiopian woman Uliba-Wark, half-sister to the country’s Queen. Uliba-Wark has a small domain of her own and is up to her neck in Abyssinia’s countless political and sexual intrigues & rivalries.

A running battle on horseback which leaves Harry and the warlike beauty as the sole survivors enroute to her castle is just a hint of the wild bed and battle action that lays ahead.   Continue reading

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