We Love Your PIA (pain in the @%$) Jobs!

Since the third century BC we’ve taught punctuation to our kids to help make written thoughts clear and understandable. Then in 1962 the interrobang was born. It had a few years of popular use then was forgotten. Now people are talking about it again. In fact, now you can put it on your walls, wear it on clothing and wear it on jewelry. Just Google interrobang. You’ll be astounded at what you can find. So maybe the interrobang will enjoy a resurgence as a pop symbol. But will probably still be relegated to the typographic back alley.

For years now, tackling PIA Jobs has become a way of life here at KHT. Initially started by my Dad, it’s become a signature of our brand and is deeply embedded into our culture. Every single employee looks forward to when one of our customers (or perspective customers) sends us a part that’s just not consistently performing the way it should be, and asks – “think you can figure it out”? And we do! Part experience, part science, part challenge, and part sheer determination, we jump on it, experimenting, checking, testing, and trying alternate approaches until we nail it. Best of all, as the head guy, I often get the pleasure of calling my frustrated customers to say – “Yep, we figured it out”. Or for those folks who really know me, my favorite term is “THAT’S EASY!” (while writing this, I think I’m gonna add a loud bell that rings through the buildings every time we do it – just so the gang knows we did it again). And, for those who are nice enough to ask, since I just can’t stop telling anyone who will listen. It’s fun to get all technical, walking them through the details, and watching their faces sort of scrunch up – and then they simply smile and say “oh, that’s interesting” (just ask Jackie). Working with my marketing and social media teams, I make sure we include our “PIA” tag line on just about everything…and remind them “don’t forget the exclamation point!” This got me to thinking about where punctuation marks came from, and that led me to a great podcast and article from 99% Invisible. Here’s a capture of the story, and the “PIA Job!” a gentleman encountered while trying to launch a new end mark. Enjoy!

  1. In the beginning was the word, and the word was … well, actually, there was just one word … one long, endless word. For thousands of years, in some written languages, there was no space between words. People were expected to figure out sentences and clauses while reading aloud – (talk about PIA!)
  2. Scriptio continua was the dominant form of writing for the Greeks and the Romans. Sometimes, this never-ending string of letters would execute what was called an ox-turn, first reading left to right, then switching to read back from right to left.
  3. In the 3rd century BCE, a librarian in Alexandria named Aristophanes introduced the idea of putting in dots to indicate pauses, like stage directions for people performing texts out loud. Dots of ink at the bottom, middle, or top of a given line served as subordinate, intermediate and full points, corresponding to pauses of increasing length. This thinking led to: a partial thought, followed by the shortest pause, was called a comma, a fuller thought pause was called a kolon; and a complete thought, followed by the longest pause, was called a periodos – eventually lending their names to the comma, colon and period we know today.
  4. More punctuation followed. Medieval scribes gave us the earliest forms of the exclamation mark. And in the 8th century, Alcuin of York, an English scholar in the court of Charlemagne, quietly introduced a symbol that would evolve into the modern question mark. Ever since, we’ve ended our sentences with one of three ancient marks, called end marks (period, exclamation, question marks).
  5. There have, however, been attempts to expand this typographical toolkit, and include other end marks. One such example has made it into dictionaries: the interrobang (‽), created by an ad man named Martin Speckter in the spring of 1962. He realized something: many ads asked questions, but not just any questions — excited and exclamatory questions — a trend not unique to his time. (ex. Got milk?! Where’s the beef?! What’s up?! Can you hear me now?!). So he designed a mark that made it clear (visually on a page) that something is both a question and an exclamation?!
  6. The interrobang was a new kind of end mark. It denoted a question that expressed surprise or incredulity. This also made it useful for rhetorical questions, most of which are also incredulous. In an article he published, Speckter was already envisioning exclamatory-slash-rhetorical advertising slogans that could take advantage of the new mark, such as “What?! A Refrigerator That Makes Its Own Ice Cubes?!”
  7. Speckter laid out a few different potential ideas for what the interrobang should look like, but quickly zeroed in on a favorite. His design collapsed the question mark and the exclamation point into a single glyph. The two marks, instead of being placed back to back, were now conjoined, sharing the same dot at the bottom.
  8. At Speckter’s request, readers of the article also wrote in with proposals for alternate names, including “emphaquest,” “interropoint” and “exclarogative.” But he stuck with the original name — “interro” for interrogate and “bang” for the proofreader’s word for the exclamation point. (When giving dictation, people didn’t use the phrase “exclamation point.” They would just say “bang.”)
  9. But, as punctuation expert Keith Houston explains, “it’s not easy to invent a mark of punctuation that actually sticks.” Houston loves the interrobang but notes that history is littered with failed attempts to create new end marks. “Around the 16th century,” for instance, “the percontation mark, this rhetorical question mark, lasted about fifty years before it disappeared. There was one invented by a kind of renaissance man called John Wilkins who proposed an irony mark and it went nowhere.”
  10. And then there’s the interrobang, which, seemingly from the day it was born, faced a string of bad luck. For example, an article praising the interrobang appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in 1962. In the Tribune article, the writer called the interrobang true genius. Unfortunately, his article was published on the first of April and it may have been that the readers took it as an April Fool’s joke.
  11. In 1966, a company called the American Type Founders — a legendary design firm that created some of the most widely used typefaces of the 20th century — unveiled a new typeface called Americana that included an interrobang, but the foundry was in decline, and Americana was the last type typeface they ever cut.
  12. Then, in 1968, the iconic typewriter company Remington announced that their latest model typewriter would feature an optional interrobang key. Still, it was optional — an extra — costing extra money and it failed to catch on.
  13. Today, the interrobang is just barely hanging in there. It has its own character in Unicode, the common directory of symbols which all computer fonts must reference. But Keith Houston points out that it still hasn’t cleared the biggest typographical obstacle of all: “I think that in order to really consider it to be a regular mark of punctuation, people have to use it without thinking about it.” In other words: a truly remarkable mark of punctuation must be unremarkable.
  14. Alas, banality is not one of the interrobang’s strong suits. After Remington’s brief attempt to give it a key, it never made it onto any standard keyboards. And, now, if it is included in a font, it’s accessible only within a nested series of menus and selections.
  15. Houston says these are rare, but has found at least one genuinely banal interrobang, used by a man named Frank Easterbrook. Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Frank Easterbrook used it arguing the interests of the United States in the Supreme Court. In May of 2011 Easterbrook was writing a ruling for a case, the case of Sears vs. Crowley, when he realized he’d written himself into a corner. “I reached a point where I had written a rhetorical question where I was tempted to use, you know, “question mark, exclamation point, question mark, exclamation point,” he recalls. Then he remembered the interrobang. His clerks thought it was a typo, but he assured them it was quite intentional. He said he wasn’t showing off and he didn’t publicize his usage.
  16. His form of punctuation was spotted by a legal blog and added to the interrobang’s Wikipedia page. When Easterbrook learned this, he laughed. He said he never intended to draw attention to the interrobang. He just thought it was the right mark to use.

Be sure to look for my upcoming blog on when I say … “That’s easy!”




One Small Step for…

Apollo 11 blasts into space on July 20, 1969 for a couple of guys to take an historical walk on the moon!! 


Recently, Kowalski Heat Treating received a wonderful hard earned accreditation – we are now NADCAP™ certified for aerospace heat treating.  For those who may not be familiar, NADCAP™ (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program), is an unprecedented cooperative industry effort to identify a select group of top-quality vendors for the aerospace and defense industries. Special thanks to my entire team for all their hard work, and focus on quality. To put it mildly…..“I’m thrilled!”

To celebrate a bit, I went back to one of those special events locked in my memory, that still to this day amazes me, as today marks a special anniversary, not only in America, but throughout the world (and all of mankind), when almost 50 years ago today, mission commander Neil Armstrong, module pilot Buzz Aldrin, and command module pilot Michael Collins circled the moon and then landed their lunar module named Eagle on the moon. An accomplishment like this is filled with tons of facts and trivia, so for your pleasure, I picked some of my favorites – read along and check out the links, and thanks to NASA and Wikipedia for the info.

  • Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. It was the fifth manned mission of NASA’s Apollo program.
  • The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.
  • After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V’s third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered into lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into the lunar module Eagle.
  • The crew assignment was Neil Armstrong as Commander, Jim Lovellas Command Module Pilot (CMP) and Buzz Aldrin as Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) officially announced on November 20, 1967.Due to design and manufacturing delays in the Lunar Module (LM), Apollo 8 and Apollo 9 swapped prime and backup crews.  Based on the normal crew rotation scheme, Armstrong was then expected to command Apollo 11. Mike Collins, scheduled for the Apollo 8 crew, began experiencing trouble with his legs. Doctors diagnosed the problem as a bony growth between his fifth and sixth vertebrae, requiring surgery. Lovell took his place on the Apollo 8 crew, and, when he recovered, Collins joined Armstrong’s crew as CMP.
  • After the crew of Apollo 10 named their spacecraft Charlie Brown and Snoopy, assistant manager for public affairs Julian Scheer wrote to Manned Spacecraft Center director George M. Low to suggest the Apollo 11 crew be less flippant in naming their craft. During early mission planning, the names Snowcone and Haystack were used and put in the news release.  The Command Module was later named Columbia after the Columbiad, the giant cannon shell “spacecraft” fired by a giant cannon in Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moonand the Lunar Module was named Eagle for the national bird of the United States, the bald eagle, which was featured prominently on the mission insignia.
  • The Apollo 11 mission insignia was designed by Collins, who wanted a symbol for “peaceful lunar landing by the United States”. At Lovell’s suggestion, he chose an eagle as the symbol, put an olive branch in its beak, and drew a lunar background with the Earth in the distance. NASA officials felt that the talons of the eagle looked too “warlike” and after some discussion, the olive branch was moved to the claws. Armstrong was concerned that “eleven” would not be understood by non-English speakers, so they went with “Apollo 11” and decided not to put their names on the patch, so it would “be representative of everyone who had worked toward a lunar landing”.
  • When the Eisenhower dollar coin was released in 1971, the patch design provided the eagle for its reverse side. The design was also used for the smaller Susan B. Anthony dollar unveiled in 1979, ten years after the Apollo 11 mission.
  • Neil Armstrong’s personal preference kit carried a piece of wood from the Wright brothers’ 1903 airplane’s left propeller and a piece of fabric from its wing,along with a diamond-studded astronaut pin originally given to Deke Slayton by the widows of the Apollo 1 crew. This pin had been intended to be flown on Apollo 1 and given to Slayton after the mission but following the disastrous launch pad fire and subsequent funerals, the widows gave the pin to Slayton and Armstrong took it on Apollo 11.
  • In addition to thousands of people crowding highways and beaches near the launch site, millions watched the event on television, with NASA Chief of Public Information Jack Kingproviding commentary. President Richard M. Nixonviewed the proceedings from the Oval Office.
For the aeronautic – engineering gang or those of you who just want to win a bet at your favorite watering hole!
  1. A Saturn V launched Apollo 11 from Launch Pad 39A, part of the Launch Complex 39 site at the Kennedy Space Centeron July 16, 1969, at 13:32:00 UTC (9:32:00 a.m. EDT local time). It entered Earth orbit, at an altitude of 100.4 nautical miles (185.9 km) by 98.9 nautical miles (183.2 km), twelve minutes later.
  2. After one and a half orbits, the S-IVB third-stage engine pushed the spacecraft onto its trajectory toward the Moon with the trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn at 16:22:13 UTC. About 30 minutes later, the transposition, docking, and extraction maneuver was performed: this involved separating the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) from the spent rocket stage, turning around, and docking with the Lunar Module still attached to the stage. After the Lunar Module was extracted, the combined spacecraft headed for the Moon, while the rocket stage flew on a trajectory past the Moon and into orbit around the Sun.
  3. On July 19 at 17:21:50 UTC, Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit. In the thirty orbitsthat followed, the crew saw passing views of their landing site in the southern Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis) about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of the crater Sabine D (0.67408N, 23.47297E). The landing site was selected in part because it had been characterized as relatively flat and smooth by the automated Ranger 8 and Surveyor 5 landers along with the Lunar Orbiter mapping spacecraft and unlikely to present major landing or extravehicular activity (EVA) challenges.
  4. On July 20, 1969, the Lunar Module Eagle separated from the Command Module Columbia. Collins, alone aboard Columbia, inspected Eagle as it pirouetted before him to ensure the craft was not damaged. As the descent began, Armstrong and Aldrin found that they were passing landmarks on the surface four seconds early and reported that they were “long”; they would land miles west of their target point.
  5. Five minutes into the descent burn, and 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above the surface of the Moon, the LM navigation and guidance computer distracted the crew with the first of several unexpected “1202” and “1201” program alarms. Inside Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, computer engineer Jack Garmantold guidance officer Steve Bales it was safe to continue the descent, and this was relayed to the crew. The program alarms indicated “executive overflows”, meaning the guidance computer could not complete all of its tasks in real time and had to postpone some of them.
  6. Due to an error in the checklist manual, the rendezvous radar switch was placed in the wrong position. This caused it to send erroneous signals to the computer. The result was that the computer was being asked to perform all of its normal functions for landing while receiving an extra load of spurious data which used up 15% of its time. The computer (or rather the software in it) was smart enough to recognize that it was being asked to perform more tasks than it should be performing. It then sent out an alarm, which meant to the astronaut, I’m overloaded with more tasks than I should be doing at this time and I’m going to keep only the more important tasks; i.e., the ones needed for landing.
  7. When Armstrong again looked outside, he saw that the computer’s landing target was in a boulder-strewn area just north and east of a 300-meter (980 ft) diameter crater (later determined to be West crater, named for its location in the western part of the originally planned landing ellipse). Armstrong took semi-automatic controland, with Aldrin calling out altitude and velocity data, landed at 20:17:40 UTC on Sunday July 20 with about 25 seconds of fuel left.
  8. Throughout the descent, Aldrin had called out navigation data to Armstrong, who was busy piloting the LM. A few moments before the landing, a light informed Aldrin that at least one of the 67-inch probes hanging from Eagle‘s footpads had touched the surface, and he said: “Contact light!” Three seconds later, Eagle landed, and Armstrong said “Shutdown.” Aldrin immediately said “Okay, engine stop. ACA – out of detent.” Armstrong acknowledged “Out of detent. Auto” and Aldrin continued “Mode control – both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm – off. 413 is in.”
  9. Armstrong acknowledged Aldrin’s completion of the post landing checklist with “Engine arm is off”, before responding to Duke with the words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Armstrong’s unrehearsedchange of call sign from “Eagle” to “Tranquility Base” emphasized to listeners that landing was complete and successful. Duke mispronounced his reply as he expressed the relief at Mission Control: “Roger, Twan – Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
  10. Two and a half hours after landing, Aldrin radioed to Earth: “This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He then took communion privately.
  11. Armstrong initially had some difficulties squeezing through the hatch with his Portable Life Support System (PLSS). According to veteran Moon-walker John Young, a redesign of the LM to incorporate a smaller hatch had not been followed by a redesign of the PLSS backpack, so some of the highest heart rates recorded from Apollo astronauts occurred during LM egress and ingress.
  12. At 02:39 UTC on Monday July 21, 1969, Armstrong opened the hatch, and at 02:51 UTC began his descent to the lunar surface. The Remote Control Unit controls on his chest kept him from seeing his feet. Climbing down the nine-rung ladder, Armstrong pulled a D-ring to deploy the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA) folded against Eagle‘s side and activate the TV camera, and at 02:56:15 UTC he set his left foot on the surface.
  13. Despite some technical and weather difficulties, ghostly black and white images of the first lunar EVA were received and broadcast to at least 600 million people on Earth.  Although copies of this video in broadcast format were saved and are widely available, recordings of the original slow scan source transmission from the lunar surface were accidentally destroyed during routine magnetic tape re-use at NASA.
  14. While still on the ladder, Armstrong uncovered a plaque mounted on the LM descent stage bearing two drawings of Earth (of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres), an inscription, and signatures of the astronauts and President Nixon. The inscription read: Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.
  15. Six hours after landing, Armstrong stepped on to the moon’s surface, and declared, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”  He was joined by Aldrin about 20 minutes later and then spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth.
  16. Armstrong said that moving in the lunar gravity, one-sixth of Earth’s, was “even perhaps easier than the simulations … It’s absolutely no trouble to walk around.” Testing methods for moving around included two-footed kangaroo hops. The PLSS backpack created a tendency to tip backward, but neither astronaut had serious problems maintaining balance. Aldrin remarked that moving from sunlight into Eagle‘s shadow produced no temperature change inside the suit, though the helmet was warmer in sunlight, so he felt cooler in shadow.
  17. The astronauts planted a specially designed U.S. flag on the lunar surface, in clear view of the TV camera. Sometime later, President Richard Nixon spoke to them through a telephone-radio transmission which Nixon called “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.

Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can’t tell you how proud we all are of what you’ve done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.


Taking a break. Advertising people…you gotta love ’em. This art was developed for a Carlsberg Beer ad. While this is a marvelous image, (you can find posters of it on ebay & Amazon) the links below are totally real and even more incredible.

CLICK – Video of the very first moon landing of the apollo 11 mission in 1969! Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon with his now legenday words “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” This is a truly amazing video and it was in 1969!!! If you think about it, you have orders of magnitude more processing power in your mobile phone than they did in the whole space craft!! Incredible!

CLICK – A NASA page with full audio of Armstrong preparing to walk on the moon with a transcript to follow as you listen.   Also, scroll down half way to see Neil collecting moon dirt and rock samples. (originally16 mm film)  Then scroll to the bottom to see the guys taking the US flag to plant from two angles. (TV transmission from the ground and 16mm film from the lander) WOW!!

CLICK – On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men on the moon when they landed in the Sea of Tranquility. During their initial 21-hour foray onto the lunar surface, they received a telephone call from President Nixon. This is historic footage of that interaction. (The call was made around midnight, so some reports list the call as happening on July 21.) Nixon himself considered it the most important call he had made during his time in office, even more specifically, “the most historic phone call ever made from the White House.”



… and the Comets

(left column top to bottom) That’s the man, Bill Haley. The real King of Rock ‘n Roll! ; The band with the bassist and the sax player doing their thing. I imagine this horrified the parents of the day; If that guy in the military uniform looks like Elvis Presley, it is. Back stage at Haley’s 1958 European tour in Germany. That bottom photo of teens dancing is from the movie “Rock around the Clock” and represents what really did horrify parents of the day. But they dressed nice and not a tattoo in sight. (right column top to bottom) Loads and loads of albums and 45 RPM singles produced in his fabulous game-changing career.

The other morning, I arrived earlier at the office than I usually do (5am), took an extra-long morning run in down past the Rock ‘N Roll Museum and then logged on for the daily production reports.  I took pause of the amazing efforts of my staff, monitoring all the jobs that run overnight, keeping everything on track for the morning shift to come in and pick up where they left off.  In sort of a crazy way, it got to thinking about each hour – one o’clock, two o’clock, and it reminded me of that great fun dance tune by Bill Haley and the Comets (perhaps it was my encounter with the Rock Hall earlier).  Yep, you know what happens next – I started singing the song in my head, over and over, and then finally sat down at the computer to see what I could dig up.  And sure enough, some fun trivia and history on Bill and his famous Cleveland Rock Hall inductee band. So, for my music trivia gang, here you go (I included some early history, as I’m always intrigued where musicians came from, their families and influences – be sure to click on the links to some really great tunes – and special thanks to history-of-rock.com, You Tube and my guys who keep the shop humming all night long.

  1. Billy Haley and his Comets fused elements of country music, Western Swing, and black R&B to produce some of rock and roll’s earliest hits.
  2. Bill Haley was born in Highland Park, Michigan on July 6, 1925 to William and Maude Haley. The couple’s second child, Haley had a sister Margaret who was born two years earlier. When Haley was four while having an operation to repair an inner ear ailment the doctor accidental cut an optic nerve. The result was that Haley would never ever see out of his left eye.
  3. The Haley’s had moved to Detroit from Firebrick, Kentucky, where William Sr. found work in a nearby service station as a mechanic while his wife gave piano lessons in their home for twenty-five cents an hour. Maude Haley, a woman of strong religious convictions, had come to America with her family from Ulverston in Lancastshire, England before the First World War. Later the family moved to Boothwyn, near the town of Chester, Pennsylvania.
  4. At thirteen Haley received his first guitar. His father taught him to play the basic chords and notes by ear. It was at this time he began his dream of becoming a singing cowboy like the ones he idolized every Saturday afternoon at the movie houses in nearby Marcus Hook or Chester.
  5. In June of 1940, just before his fifteenth birthday, Haley left school after finishing the eighth grade and went to work bottling water at Bethel Springs. This company sold pure spring water and fruit flavored soft drinks in a three-state area. Here he worked for 35 cents an hour, filling large five-gallon glass bottles with spring water.  Only the absolute best of the best were making a living from making music. At 18 he made his first record “Candy Kisses” and for the next four years was a guitarist and singer with country and western bands.
  6. After time on the road with the Down Homers, Haley returned to his parents’ home in Booth’s Corner in September of 1946. He was ill, disillusioned and so broke he had to walk from the train station in Marcus Hook four miles to Booth’s Corner. His only request to his mother was not to tell anyone he was home, not even his fiancé Dorothy. Bill fell into bed and slept thirty hours. Over the next two weeks Mrs. Haley slowly nursed her itinerant son back to health.
  7. By the age of 21, Haley felt he wasn’t going to make it big as a cowboy singer and ill left the ‘Downhomers’ and returned to Chester to host a local radio program. At this time, he also married his childhood sweetheart Dorothy Crowe a beautiful part American Indian girl.
  8. Haley was hired in 1947 as musical director for radio station WPWA.
  9. It was during this time that he put together a band The Four Aces of Swing that performed on his show.
  10. In the summer of 1950, through the efforts of Jimmy Myers, Bill Haley and his Saddlemen cut their first records. They were on Ed Wilson’s Keystone label, a small Philadelphia independent publisher. The songs were standard western swing tunes: “Deal Me A Hand” /” Ten Gallon Stetson” and “Susan Van Dusan” /” I’m Not to Blame.”  They were the first recordings of the band that would become the nucleus of the world-famous Comets.
  11. With their new, exciting sound, the name “Saddlemen” no longer seemed appropriate. According to Marshall Lytle, it was Bob Johnson, Program Director at WPWA who first suggested the name Haley’s Comets. “Ya ‘know, with a name like Haley, you guys should call your group the Comets!”
  12. Just before the Thanksgiving holidays in 1952, Haley’s band changed their name and their image for the last time. The four young musicians, turned their backs on their beloved country/ western music and bravely faced an unknown future as “Bill Haley and His Comets”.
  13. One example of that change was “Rock the Joint” which sold 75,000 copies. In 1953 he wrote “Crazy Man Crazy” which became the first rock and roll record to make the Billboardpop chart reaching the Top 20.
  14. On April 1st, 1954, Myers, Gabler and Bill Haley met in Decca’s New York offices. The three men discussed a contract for four records a year, a standard royalty of 5% of sales, $5,000.00 in advance royalties and the understanding that Decca would mail out each release to two thousand disc-jockeys with full support publicity. Support included full page ads in Billboard and Cash Box magazines! With the deal set and signed, the three men shook hands and agreed on a recording date four days after the Essex contract was due to expire.
  15. It was while at Decca that Haley fell under the influence of Milt Gabler who had produced Louis Jordan. Gabler would convince Haley to change his sound. That change would be evident when on April 12th 1954, at Pythian Temple Studio with the recording of “Rock Around the Clock.” The song that introduced rock & roll to America. “Rock Around the Clock.” The song was a modest hit, until it was used as the title track of “The Blackboard Jungle,” a movie about juvenile delinquents, some 12 months later, and then it exploded.
  16. His next record a cover of Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll’ was a top ten hit.  It was the first rock & roll record to sell a million copies
  17. The next really big hit came with “See You Later Alligator” which sold a million copies within a month.
  18. In September 1955 band members Dick Richards, Marshall Lytle and Joey D’Ambrosio went to the Comet’s manager Jim Ferguson and asked for a raise. Turned down, they gave two weeks notice, and went and signed with Capital Records and recorded as the Jodimars. Lytle was replaced by Al Rex,Haley’s original basist from the Saddlemen, D’Ambrosio by Rudy Pompilli and Richards by Ralph Jones.
  19. In 1957, Haley began touring in Britain as his popularity began fading at home. The first American Rock and Roll star to come to Britain, he was met with large and enthusiastic crowds. The British soon found out what American teenagers already knew. Haley with his spit curl was old (30), overweight and rather mechanical when compared to Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Elvis who were younger and who’s music was more exciting. Bill Haley & His Comets were there first, but now they were part of the “establishment”.
  20. After 1957 Haley had a few minor hits but spent the remainder of his life touring and playing Rock and Roll Revival shows throughout Europe and the US. In the early morning hours of February 9th, 1981, Bill called two of his sons, Scott and Jack, and had his last known conversations. He died, in his sleep of an apparent heart attack, about 6:30 that morning at his home in Harlingen, Texas.
  21. Although several members of the Comets became famous, Bill Haley remained the star. With his spit curland the band’s matching plaid dinner jackets and energetic stage behavior, many fans consider them to be as revolutionary in their time as  the Beatles were a decade later. Haley and his band were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Oh, What the Heck, Crank Up the Sound!

“Bill Haley was a celestial body that inhabited planet earth. He gave the teenagers something they never had before – their own music!”  –Unknown

CLICK – Clip from the movie “Rock Around the Clock” (1955)
CLICK – Bill Haley & The Comets sing one of their biggest hits – Shake Rattle & Roll.
CLICK – Bill Haley & His Comets – See You Later Alligator
CLICK – “Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie” or “Razzle Dazzle” is a 1952 song composed by Bill Haley and first recorded by The Esquire Boys in 1952. It was recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets on September 22, 1955 and was released in October of 1955 as a single in the U.S. on Decca, backed with “Burn That Candle”. It reached #23 on Billboard, #24 on Cash Box, and #4 on the RU charts in January, 1956. The song was featured in the 1956 movie Rock Around the Clock (Wikipedia).
CLICK – Bill Haley and the Comets sing “Tequila” (live in Belgium, Brussels 1958) at the Royal Flemish Theatre.



Stars and Stripes Forever

From Betsy Ross to Buzz Aldren to our hometown streets, our flag has so much meaning to us. It’s our common bond. It’s our badge of honor. Representing the freedoms, opportunities and choices we’re all guaranteed to have.


This past week I had the pleasure of celebrating the Fourth of July with friends and family.  I go all in of course – all the classics of food, fun and drinks, and of course fireworks.  In my small community, we have a tradition called Bay Days, where a traveling carnival comes to town – rides, arcade games, dunk tanks, live concerts, politicians walking about, car shows, an old vintage baseball game and a whole bunch of local clubs and organizations selling everything from grilled Italian sausage – golden brown with yummy sweet peppers and caramelized onions, on a crunchy roll topped with spicy mustard wrapped in aluminum foil of course – (not that I enjoyed one or two or….??), Boy Scout’s selling ice cream, Men’s Club pizza, Kiwanis curly fries, and classic sugar-coated waffle cakes.  Unlike most people who come mostly for the rides – I’m not conflicted at all between the food and the entertainment.  It’s all about the food – just ask Jackie!  From the park where all of this fun takes place, I can see downtown, the amazing sunset over Lake Erie, and the American Flag flying over City Hall.  It got me to thinking how lucky we are in our county to live and work together with so many people of all backgrounds, ages and beliefs, all under one meaningful flag. I did a little searching and found some cool trivia about our glorious flag.  Special thanks to pbs.com for the trivia. Enjoy.

The history of our flag is as fascinating as that of the American Republic itself. It has survived battles, inspired songs and evolved in response to the growth of the country it represents. The following is a collection of interesting facts and customs about the American flag and how it is to be displayed.

  1. On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
  2. The origin of the first American flag is unknown. Some historians believe it was designed by New Jersey Congressman Francis Hopkinson and sewn by Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross.Perhaps the best-known figure from the American Revolutionary era who wasn’t a president, general or statesman, Betsy Ross (1752-1836) became a patriotic icon in the late 19th century when stories surfaced that she had sewn the first “stars and stripes” U.S. flag in 1776. Though that story is likely apocryphal, Ross is known to have sewn flags during the Revolutionary War.
  3. The name Old Glorywas given to a large, 10-by-17-foot flag by its owner, William Driver, a sea captain from Massachusetts. Inspiring the common nickname for all American flags, Driver’s flag is said to have survived multiple attempts to deface it during the Civil War. Driver was able to fly the flag over the Tennessee Statehouse once the war ended. The flag is a primary artifact at the National Museum of American History and was last displayed in Tennessee by permission of the Smithsonian at an exhibition in 2006.
  4. Between 1777 and 1960 Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.
  5. Today the flag consists of 13 horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
  6. The National Museum of American History has undertaken a long-term preservation project of the enormous 1814 garrison flag that survived the 25-hour shelling of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by British troops and inspired Francis Scott Key to compose “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Often referred to by that name, the flag had become soiled and weakened over time and was removed from the museum in December 1998. This preservation effort began in earnest in June 1999 and continues to this day. The flag is now stored at a 10-degree angle in a special low-oxygen, filtered light chamber and is periodically examined at a microscopic level to detect signs of decay or damage within its individual fibers.
  7. After a British bombardment, amateur poet Francis Scott Key was so inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry that he wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sept. 14, 1814. It officially became our national anthem in 1931.
  8. In 1892, the flag inspired James B. Upham and Francis Bellamy to write The Pledge of Allegiance. It was first published in a magazine called The Youth’s Companion.
  9. In 1909, Robert Peary placed an American flag, sewn by his wife, at the North Pole. He also left pieces of another flag along the way. It is the only time a person has been honored for cutting the flag.
  • On Aug. 3, 1949, President Harry S. Truman officially declared June 14 as Flag Day.
  • In 1963, Barry Bishop placed the American flag on top of Mount Everest.
  • In July 1969, the American flag was “flown” in space when Neil Armstrong placed it on the moon. Flags were placed on the lunar surface on each of six manned landings during the Apollo program.
  • The first time the American flag was flown overseas on a foreign fort was in Libya, over Fort Derne, on the shores of Tripoli in 1805.

Some tips on how to proudly display the Stars and Stripes:

  1. There are a few locations where the U.S. flag is flown 24 hours a day, by either presidential proclamation or by law:
  • Fort McHenry, National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland
  • United States Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia
  • On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts
  • The White House, Washington, D.C.
  • United States customs ports of entry
  • Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge
  1. The flag is usually displayed from sunrise to sunset. It should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously. In inclement weather, the flag should not be flown.
  2. The flag should be displayed daily, and on all holidays, weather permitting, on or near the main administration buildings of all public institutions. It should also be displayed in or near every polling place on election days and in or near every schoolhouse during school days.
  3. When displayed flat against a wall or a window, or in a vertical orientation, the “union” field of stars should be uppermost and to the left of the observer.
  4. When the flag is raised or lowered as part of a ceremony, and as it passes by in parade or review, everyone, except those in uniform, should face the flag with the right hand over the heart.
  5. The U.S. flag should never be dipped toward any person or object, nor should the flag ever touch anything beneath it.


John Wayne Recites and Explains the Pledge of Allegiance (1972) CLICK HERE