Five bucks short of 100


About nine years ago I was blessed with a gift of serendipity.  A young man emailed me after finding and buying “A Bird’s Eye View” for his grandfather’s birthday.  Mike told me that his grandfather was the “ship’s tenor” and he was alive and well and wanted to meet me.  A guy named Pat Fedele.  The drive from where I live to his house is 8 1/2 hours (on a good day), depending on the mad road conditions in and around Los Angeles.  I finally got to meet him.  Over several additional visits, Pat told me many Boston stories (which are scattered throughout the Baked Beans books.)

Pat was born on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1924. (Picture on right taken in 2011.)

There’s no way to talk about Pat and not talk about his love of singing.  I mentioned in an earlier post that whenever we talk on the phone, I get a song.  In a post just before Christmas, I included a song from a c.d. that he gave me.  (He was 87 years young when he recorded it.) In honor of Pat on his 95th birthday, here’s another:

Keep singing, my friend.  Happy Birthday.  Love this guy.


p.s.  to all our friends celebrating Easter and/or observing Passover  –  Peace.  To everyone else, Happy Spring.  Peace.

San Pedro


The Boston returned to San Pedro (CA) for repairs and upgrades in March 1945.  San Pedro, as referred to by the men, was a town and harbor adjacent to the growing Los Angeles Harbor and adjacent Terminal Island – the center point of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor complexes (now the Port of Los Angeles.)  This was an important Navy facility during the War.

Naval Air Station San Pedro, June 30, 1945 (wikimedia)
US Naval Air Station San Pedro, May 7, 1945 (wikimedia)
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – neighbors on San Pedro Bay.
Center – Terminal Island, left – San Pedro    (

There was a Time . . .


. . . when Americans pulled together and headed in the same general direction.  Let us not forget the contributions that women workers made to the war effort.  Pictures by Fenno Jacobs:

Four workers at the Vega Aircraft (B-17’s) plant in Burbank, (CA), on their lunch break
Workers inside the Douglas aircraft plant at El Segundo (CA) prepare engines that will power SBD Dauntless dive bombers. Aug. 1943. (Steichen at War)


Goin’ Home (for awhile)


Signalman George Pitts:
March 7, 1945:  The Boston got underway today with her Homeward Bound pennant flying 800 ft. in the air.  Six inches per man is what the pennant is supposed to represent.  While leaving Ulithi, all the carriers, cruisers, batts. and destroyers bid us a “bon voyage.”

March 17, 1945:  The Hawaiian Islands popped up over the horizon this afternoon. As we came into the Harbor we could see Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which Paul Veno + myself visited before.  It sure is wonderful to see some kind of civilization.  God knows how I’ll feel when we pull into California.

The Boston pulls out of Ulithi in early March 1945 and heads home (to San Pedro, CA) for major repairs and overhauls. (Homeward Bound Pennant seen above.)

Trade Embargoes Pushed Japan to the Brink


Some years ago, I was in a trade show in Dallas.  It was my first time in that city. My hotel room windows looked down across boulevards and an overpass and gave me a direct view of the Book Depository and the grassy knoll(s).  Naturally I walked there, wanting to see for myself one of the most jarring and unforgettable locations of my life.  When I reached the sidewalk in front of the infamous building, I was surprised to see several people with posters, signs, diagrams, dvds and the like.  They were Conspiracy Theorists, each one rabidly railing about “what really happened here.”

All these years later, conspiracy theorists of every ilk have so permeated our daily lives and the media with their rantings that I think it has become increasingly difficult for us to “separate the wheat from the chaff”.  I mention all this, because in this last segment looking at the major things that led up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. trade embargoes in the months leading up to the “Day that lives on in Infamy” pushed Japan into desperate measures.  Much of the info available online drips with political overtones suggesting the FDR pushed the embargoes knowing it would cause Japan to retaliate militarily and “force us” into war; thus assuring he would be re-elected.  Writers suggest the FDR knew the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming, and looked the other way so we would have an excuse to declare War on Japan and get re-elected.  My experience in Dallas with “deep state” plot(s) theorists rings all sorts of flashing lights and waves red flags in my little brain at these assertions.  (If you are a “Believer”, I imagine you’ll call me naive.)

Let’s look at the highlights of the trade embargoes against Japan in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor.

In 1938, our government, concerned by the sabre-rattling and mushrooming armament manufacturing in Germany and Japan, began urging aircraft manufacturers to cease selling planes to countries who were using them for attacks on civilian populations. In 1939, the list was expanded to any aviation materials or technology.  The Treasury Dept urged banks to stop extending credit to Japan.

In July, 1939, the U.S. terminated it’s 1911 Commercial Treaty with Japan.

In July, 1940, Congress passed the Export Control Act, which authorized FDR to restrict and prohibit the export of war materials. In September, export of iron and scrap steel to resource-poor Japan was prohibited.  On September 27, 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, becoming allies with Germany and Italy (“Axis Powers”.)  On October 16, FDR imposed an embargo on all exports of steel ans scrap iron to any destination other than Britain and Western Hemisphere nations.

On July 26, 1941, FDR froze all Japanese assets in the United States. A week later, he embargoed all oil exports to Japan.  British and Dutch oil embargoes from their Asian colonies to Japan were also put into effect.

On Dec 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.