Monday, May 26, 2008

Bernard Baruch was a financier and advisor to democratic presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman. He was born in South Carolina in 1865 and died in New York in 1965.

His father was physician to Confederate general Robert E. Lee and rode with the original Ku Klux Klan when it served the purpose of running off Northern "Carpetbaggers" who came South after the Civil War to bilk the survivors out of their land.

The Baruchs moved to New York and young Barney tried his hand at Wall Street. He became a millionaire at thirty. The story told is that while the Baruch family was not religious, his mother insisted on observing Yom Kippur.

Mr. B was in the middle of a hot deal having invested most of his net worth selling short stock in a company that he believed would announce a cut in dividend the next day.

That evening his mother called to remind him the next day was the holiday, Yom Kippur. He was to spend the day with her and have no contact with the stock market.

All day long he was fidgeting at what might have happened in the market but his respect for his mother was such that he abided by her wishes.

At the end of the day he reviewed his telegrams finding that during the day his associates were imploring him to close out his position.

The morning after the holiday the stock took an unexpected large dip. He then replaced the shorted stock at a much lower price and made a fortune.

He was influential in setting up programs to increase industrial production in World War I and set Nuclear policy after World War II.

He became famous nationally when it was revealed that he often conducted business in later years from a bench in Central Park and would hold court there for for industrial titans and high government officials. When Winston Churchil visited the U. S. he taxied to Central Park to confer with Baruch.

On a warm spring day Congressman Tom Foley visited Democratic campaign Headquarters in Walla Walla. Most people were mowing lawns and other rites of early spring and as I sat next to Tom who was then Majority Whip we spoke of my former college roommate, Tom Lantos, a newly elected member of the house.

I related this story to him. One morning as Mr. Baruch entered his office adjacent to the stock market floor he was greeted by an earnest young man who handed him a letter. The missive was from a dear friend of his mother. It explained that the young man, her son, was looking forward to a career on Wall Street and any help the well known Wizard could give him would be appreciated.

Baruch took the boy by the arm. He explained the he was heading for the men's room at the far end of the floor. You will go with me as far as the door giving me an update on everything your family is doing in a very sincere manner.

Because you are with me every eye will be on you. If you you can't take it from there, you will never make it on the Street.

The next time I saw Tom Foley he reported that he followed up on our conversation encountering Tom Lantos in the House Cloak Room during a break. He invited him to sit near the entrance where all could see them and the future Speaker of the House and the freshman member had an earnest discussion about-----me.

I never heard the follow up on Baruch's young man but Tom Lantos during his lifetime became a world class legislative inspiration.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Many years ago I was visiting Los Angeles.

My Aunt Edith and Uncle Sobey lived at the La Brea Tower.

Uncle Sobey offered to take me to breakfast at the Farmers' Market not far away.

As we walked through the crowded lanes, Uncle Sobey exclaimed- Look, there is Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem! I am going over and buy him a newapaper. We spoke briefly to one of the key people in the founding ofIsrael and Uncle Sobey insisted he be allowed to pay for the L. A. Times.

Teddy Kollek was instrumental in forging the close relationship with the U. S. and the CIA.

At the height of the cold war the FBI received an offer to tempting to pass. A Russian Colonel of Counterintelligence agreed to defect if supplied with an estate and certain funds.
The FBI is charged with domestic security the CIA has the rest of the world.

J. Edgar Hoover, was dedicated to weeding out Comunist spies and he wasn't having too much success on the home front. If he could cut in on the CIA's territory, he could get the type of publicity he loved.

The defection was arranged and the defector was hidden at a safe house near Washington. As money was placed in his account he began to sing.

Certain CIA agents were in fact turncoats working for the Russians. The information was supplied to the CIA who removed the compromised agents from their posts.

The uephoric FBI inquisitors wanted more names. He said show me a list of names and I will identify the traitors -- for a price.

The CIA was going nuts. They were losing many of their best operatives some of them from cover that had taken years to establish.

At a party Mr. Kollek pulled aside the local CIA rep. He told them that his MOSAD sources in Moscow informed him that the MKVD dirty tricks people were laughing their heads off and let something slip.

They had recruited a bright Soviet army lieutentent with acting ability, trained him over a period of time and given him the forged papers with the rank of Lt. Colonel in Counter Intelligence. He was then allowed to set up contacts with the FBI and arrange a "defection" to the U. S. He was creating more havoc than they had hoped for.

Based on Teddy Kollek's report the CIA took care of their situation with the sham "Colonel" and the CIA began a a partnership with the MOSAD enjoying their having sources in places the CIA did not.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Last night we saw a performance of "Anne Frank" done professionally and with great feeling at Seattle's Intiman Theatre starring Lucy Devito, daughter of Rea Perlman and Danny Devito in the title roll.

The play begins with a comment by the Otto Frank character that after being liberated from a Nazi concentration camp he had spent months being shunted from one refugee camp to another before being released to return to Holland.

This reminded me of a conversation with a veteran infantry master sgt. who was temporarily billeted at our facility in Korea.

He reported that his son was a tank commander at the front lines. The tank was in imperative need of a new engine and orders through normal channels went unheeded. He had come to Seoul to seek direct contact with an opposite number in the Ordinance Corps. who could steal an engine destined for someone else and load it on his truck.

I understood this to mean that a couple of cases of Seagrams VO would be passed in compensation for the favor. That is the army way.

The sgt. then expanded on the value of the old boy network.

He had been captured by the Germans in the invasion of North Africa and shipped to a prison camp in Germany.

Almost three years later as American troops broke the backs of the Warmacht, the prison guards fled leaving the gates open. The captives gingerly at first began making their way West toward the American lines.

Streaming along the roads some partly dressed in cast off German uniforms they encountered the vangard of the advancing army.

Their joy at being reunited with their fellow GI's was short lived. They were met at gun point.

Enemy soldiers wearing American uniforms and speaking passable English had created havoc behind U. S. lines. Everyone was on his guard.

If you are Americans answer this. Who won this year's Worlds Series?

Gee, tell us we want to know.

Who is Dick Tracy's current nemisis? What is Frank Sinatra's current best selling record.

Man, we have been locked up in a prison camp and our captors have not shared that information with us.

A decision had to be made so the released captives were sent to a fenced camp at the port.

Weeks went by and the detainment camp grew larger and larger and noone in authority seemed to be in a hurry to check the verity of the detainees.

The sgt. noticed a troop ship in the harbor being loaded with troops. He asked a guard who the lucky guys were who were going home. The guard replied that they were not lucky GI's but German prisoners of war being transported to U. S. prison camps.

You mean they are going to the U., S. and we are rotting here! Who is in charge of this port?

The guard mentioned the name of the General commanding the port.

I was the General's driver at Fort Riley. Get word to him I am here!

Within an hour a General's jeep pulled up to the stockade. The General imediately recognized the Sgt. After a short conversation an order went out in no uncertain terms from the General.

Get the those dammed prisoners off that boat and get these poor guys home as quick as possible.

In a matter of hours the sarge and his buddies were on their way home.

That is the army way.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Jean is renting a condo in New York for her upcoming trip. She indicated her plan was to there by taxi.

Someone asked her if the info she had incuded the address.

This sparked an old memory stream.

I was probably nine or ten years old. My mother was sending me to Portland to stay for a few weeks during the summer with my aunt Mollie in the care of my grandmother.

Grandmother spoke very little English. Her treat was to spend some time with her Yiddish speaking friend Mrs. Schahtz.

We embarked on the Toonerville trolley that pulled our sleeping car to the Wallula Junction to hook onto the Mainline train for Portland.

Arriving in Portland we collected our luggage including my Colson full size bicycle bought for me so that I could "grow into it".

We exited the station to the cab stand. The courteous driver stowed our luggage in the trunk of the vehicle advising grandmother there was a fifty cent charge for the bicycle.

We installed ourselves in the traditional passengers seat and the driver cranked the engine.

Where to?

Grandmother responded, " To Mrs. Schahtz' house."

Yes, Mrs Schahtz' house. But what is the address?

Grandmother knew the house. Grandfather had driven her there several times in the big blue Auburn but she had absolutely no idea of the address. If she had it in her purse the stress of the moment panicked her.

I want to go to Mrs. Schahtz' house. Mrs. SCHAHTZ!

The driver jumped out of the cab and litterally threw up his arms and shouted, HOW SHOULD I KNOW WHERE MRS. SCHAHTZ LIVES.

I, imbued with the admonition that children should been seen and not heard sat by as a very quiet witness.

Actually the driver not wanting to loose a fare plus the fifty cents for the bicycle, disapeared and returned momentarily with a Portland telephone directory. He skimmed down the column of "S'
and called the first names of the three likely suspects. Grandmother identified a likely Schahtz and the cabbie took us to the right one first off.

It occurred to me years later that we could have called my aunt who had to have the address to pick me up.

For years a family catch phrase when one of didn't have an answer was, "How should I know where Mrs. Schahtz. lives?"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dan put a hit counter on my blog site
I resisted for some time strictly for ego considerations. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to know if anyone was reading the results of my two finger typing.

It seems people far and wide are landing on my site. I perceive the message of those who stay less than the average 43 seconds.

Noticed I am even getting hits from the Middle East. Of course that is lead in to the story.

When I broke up my Palouse street residence nine years ago I was amazed at the things we found.

One was a letter from an Egyptian high school student.

I was in the second or third grade and the assignment was to write a letter to a pen pal overseas.

It was necessary to include a picture of onesself. The picture I sent was of a six year old proudly dressed in chaps, a cowboy hat, a bandana and a toy gun in a holster strapped to my side.

The reply came.

These were great times in Egypt. The headline news of the day was the marriage the sister of King Farouk to the Shah of Iran. If they only knew the future.

The letter ended with a request that I send him my pistol so that he could shoot birds.

My parents were horrified. No way was I to send this Arab a gun, even a toy one.

At the age of seven or eight I was aware that there was animosity between Arabs and Jews.

My mother's aunt was a pioneer in what was then the Brittish protectorate of Palestine. In the 1920's she and her husband had been among the founders of the Egged Bus Co-op so my mother
followed the news of attacks on the builders of what would be Israel.

As a sidelight I might mention that I spent time looking at the archives of my home town newspaper. On the day I was born, September 26, 1929, Arab marauders murdered thirty young students who were camping in a valley near Jerusalem.

By coincidence I was able to visit the place. It was the home of our tour guide. His residence on the West Bank was actually a concrete blockhouse. The valley is still considered an invasion route to Jerusalem.

Arabs say they are angered by the founding of Israel sixty years ago.

Anyone who studies history knows that the case is far more complex and includes the perfidy of the Brittish Foreign Office who promised the land to the Jews after World War l and at the same time told the Arabs they could have it.