Daily dose: Local histories, Pearl Harbor Day, celebrating Blago's sentencing, not so bad being president

Daily dose: Local histories, Pearl Harbor Day, celebrating Blago's sentencing, not so bad being president

Local history

In 1911, the first shipment of Christmas trees and holly and mistletoe trimmings is expected to arrive in Champaign next week and immediately be placed on sale. It is estimated that approximately 3,000 trees will be sold locally. The price range for the trees is anywhere from 25 cents to $5 or $6. The most expensive trees are those used for church and Sunday school entertainment.

In 1961, Harvey Acton of Danville has joined the list of declared Republican candidates for justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Acton was one of two legal secretaries to the late Justice George Bristow of Paris, whose death created a vacancy on the court. Acton, 48, has practiced law in Danville since his graduation from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1937.


Pearl Harbor Day memories

From today's News-Gazette column ...

Dec. 7, 1941, was just another pleasant Sunday for 7-year-old Stan Rankin of Champaign.
He remembers going to Sunday school, having a noon dinner with his family at his grandparents’ home at 207 W. Green St. and heading to the Virginia Theatre for a movie with his mom and dad. The movie, according to newspaper ads from that day, was “Keep ’Em Flying” with Abbott and Costello. (“America’s favorite comics with a bombload of belly-laughs!” read the advertisements).
“You got a reduced rate if you bought a ticket before 2 o’clock,” Rankin remembered.
“Halfway through the movie, the projector was turned off, the lights came up and the curtain was drawn back on the stage,” said Rankin, 77 and still living in Champaign. “The theater manager came out and said there was a national emergency and that anybody stationed at Chanute Field (in Rantoul) must leave and return to the base and that this is an order, and that anybody else associated with the military had to go home and await further instructions. That’s all we were told.”
Several men got up and left the theater, he recalled.
“About 15 minutes later, the movie resumed,” Rankin said. “After that, we went home and gathered around the RCA Victor radio to listen to all the news. But really, I think it took 24 to 36 hours before anyone got the straight scoop about what had happened.”
Even today, 70 years later, Rankin said his memory is jolted every time he returns to the Virginia.
“I can still spot approximately where we were sitting that day,” he said.

I also talked to a few other gentlemen I wasn't able to include in the column.

I also talked to Philip Dziuk of rural Homer who was 15 at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and ended up serving in the Pacific Theatre after graduating from high school in rural Minnesota.

"In the middle of Minnesota, Pearl Harbor is just not something in your vocabulary. We were all shocked. The idea that that could happen just wasn't in the works," he said.


Barak Rosenshine of Urbana wrote:

"On the afternoon of December 7, 1941 I was leaving the Central Park
Theater on the west side of Chicago (about a mile and a half from your
father’s Crawford Theater) when we heard a newsboy shouting “Japanese
bomb Pearl Harbor, Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.”

But I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was. And when I got home, I said, “Mommy, the Japanese
bombed Pearl Harbor, is that bad?”

The next morning our class began a new reading lesson. These lessons
always began with 10 new vocabulary words, and the teacher asked us to
give a sentence using each new word. I remember that everyone gave a
sentence about how we would beat the Japanese.

Later, the classes were taken to the assembly hall where we heard the
speech that President Roosevelt gave to Congress. I recall hearing the
president saying “Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last
night, Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night, Japanese forces attacked
the Philippine Islands. Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island,”
and I remember thinking, “Why can’t he just list these places; why does
he keep repeating “Last night Japanese forces?”

We had no clue.

State employees celebrate Blagojevich sentencing

From the State Journal-Register ...

Lori Coonen and Joan Egizii say they organized a party Tuesday to celebrate disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing in order to “give Springfield a little closure” over his tumultuous reign.

“I don’t think he realizes the damage that he’s done,” said Coonen, who was one of 16 IDOT workers fired during the former governor’s administration in 2004. Coonen was reinstated in April after the state lost a federal wrongful termination lawsuit. She received a financial settlement from the state in addition to a raise.

Egizii works in IDOT’s traffic safety division, which Blagojevich in 2008 tried to move to Harrisburg.

To say Blagojevich was unpopular in Springfield is a gross understatement. The former governor received 21 percent of the vote in Sangamon County in his 2006 re-election campaign. His arrest on corruption charges three years ago this month was met with jubilation in much of the capital city.

State workers complained for years that Blagojevich installed cronies in high-ranking agency positions, did not give raises to non-union middle managers and moved state jobs to his hometown of Chicago. Democrat Blagojevich’s election was also a shock to the local political system after 26 years of Republican rule, in which Sangamon County Republicans provided political foot soldiers and campaign contributions for the GOP while receiving state patronage jobs.

Egizii and Coonen expected about 50 people – fellow state workers, family members and friends -- to show up at the Brickhouse Grill and Pub for what they billed as a celebration of the Christmas season and Blagojevich’s sentence, which U.S. Judge James Zagel is expected to hand down today in Chicago.

Even with their anger at Blagojevich, Egizii and Coonen did express sympathy for Blagojevich’s two daughters who probably will be deprived of their father for a decade or more. Prosecutors have recommended a 15- to 20-year sentence.

“We feel terrible for them,” Coonen said.



Being president is good for your health

From the Los Angeles Times ...

Do U.S. presidents really age twice as fast as the rest of us while they occupy the Oval Office?

Dr. Michael Roizen says the answer is yes. And he sounds like he ought to be a reliable source. Roizen graduated near the top of his medical school class at UC San Francisco, did his residency at a Harvard hospital,  edited six medical journals and currently serves as chairman of the Wellness Institute at the esteemed Cleveland Clinic.

Roizen is also the guy behind RealAge, whose premise is that one’s calendar age isn’t necessarily in sync with the actual wear and tear on the body. (For instance, Roizen is 65 years old according to the calendar, but his RealAge is only 43.8, according to the RealAge website.) Along with celebrity doctor Dr. Mehmet Oz, he cowrote “You: The Owner’s Manual” and a related series of books.

Apparently, Roizen applied some of this thinking to 20th century presidents and to George W. Bush. In the days leading up to President Obama’s inauguration, Roizen told CNN that “The typical person who lives one year ages one year. The typical president ages two years for every year they are in office."

In August, when Obama celebrated his 50th birthday, CBS News repeated the claim that “presidents undergo a process of accelerated aging while in office,” citing the CNN report.

This caught the eye of S. Jay Olshansky, a sociologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health. He is also a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Center on Aging, and studying the limits of human longevity – and the health and policy consequences of same – is his specialty.

Olshansky decided to put Roizen’s claim to the test with actual data.  Here’s how he did it:

First, Olshansky looked up the age of each U.S. president when he was inaugurated, along with his age at death if he died of natural causes. (Presidents who were killed in office were excluded from the analysis.) Based on the age at inauguration, Olshansky used life tables from the Social Security Administration to calculate each president’s remaining life expectancy. (For presidents who served during the 1700s and 1800s, he used life tables from the French Human Mortality Database, since there were no U.S. records at that time.) But he modified that life expectancy by subtracting two days of remaining life for each day in the White House.

Of the 34 presidents who died of natural causes, 23 lived longer than his modified life expectancy (the one that took account of his supposed accelerated aging while serving as commander in chief). Olshansky calculated that for these presidents, their average estimated age at death was 67.0 years, but in real life they lived to an agerage age of 78.0 years. For the 11 presidents who died before reaching their estimated life expectancy (which was 67.8 years, on average), their average age at actual death was 62.1 years. His results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.



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