It Ought to Be a Holiday

Levi Stubbles was born in Detroit 78 years ago today. As Levi Stubbs for more than 40 years he was the lead vocalist of The Four Tops.

The Four Tops were one of soul music’s most popular and long-lived vocal groups. This quartet from Detroit endured for more than 40 years without a single change in personnel. …

The Four Tops consisted of lead singer Levi Stubbs, first tenor Abdul “Duke” Fakir, second tenor Lawrence Payton, and baritone Renaldo “Obie” Benson. Working closely with the in-house songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, the Four Tops cut some of Motown’s most memorable singles during the label’s mid-Sixties zenith. The list of classics recorded by the Four Tops during this fruitful period includes “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love” and “Bernadette.” Between 1964 and 1988, the Four Tops made Billboard’s Hot 100 chart 45 times and its R&B chart 52 times. Twenty-four of their singles made the Top 40, and seven of those entered the Top 10.

While their career took off at Motown, the Four Tops had a significant prehistory before arriving at the label, having already logged nearly a decade in show business. Stubbs and Fakir attended Pershing High School in Detroit’s North End, while Payton and Benson attended Detroit’s Northern High School. The four young men met at a friend’s birthday party, where they first sang together. …

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

It’s Stubbs who sings:

Now if you feel that you can’t go on
Because all of your hope is gone
And your life is filled with much confusion
Until happiness is just an illusion
And your world around is tumbling down
Darling reach out
C’mon girl
Reach on out for me
Reach out for me

You will note it was never Levi Stubbs and the Tops, unlike Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or Diana Ross and the Supremes. Stubbs had the opportunity to lead or go solo, but he stayed loyal to his friends for life. He died in 2008.


First Wave at Omaha Beach

Unlike what happens to other great battles, the passing of the years and the retelling of the story have softened the horror of Omaha Beach on D Day.

. . .

In everything that has been written about Omaha until now, there is less blood and iron than in the original field notes covering any battalion landing in the first wave. Doubt it? Then let’s follow along with Able and Baker companies, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Their story is lifted from my fading Normandy notebook, which covers the landing of every Omaha company.

“First Wave at Omaha Beach” by S.L.A. Marshall


We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Eisenhower Message

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces:

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944. Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The free men of the world are marching together to victory.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Tiananmen

The Chinese army crackdown on the protests in and around Tiananmen Square was 25 years ago today. According to estimates by the Chinese Red Cross (accepted at the time by the U.S. State Department) some 2,600 protesters and military were killed and another 7,000 wounded.

This declassified State Department cable (June 22, 1989) provides the account of a witness to the violence on the night of June 3-4. The students believed that the military would be firing rubber bullets. The witness tells that “he had a sickening feeling when he noticed the bullets striking sparks off the pavement near his feet.”

This second declassified cable provides an hour-by-hour chronology of the events of the night of June 3-4, 1989.

While difficult to read, these documents tell the story as American diplomats reported it.

Tiananmen

NewMexiKen took this photo in Tiananmen Square just three years after the events there. The building in the background is the Great Hall of the People. At left is the Monument of the People’s Heroes.


The 19th Amendment

SECTION 1. The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Congress sent the 19th Amendment to the states for ratification on this date in 1919. By August of 1920, the necessary 36 states (of 48) had ratified the amendment and it went into effect.

It’s interesting to note the 12 states that had not yet ratified, including several that had rejected the amendment.

  • Connecticut ratified in September 1920.
  • Vermont ratified in 1921.
  • Delaware rejected the amendment in 1920, but did ratify in 1923.
  • Maryland rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1941.
  • Virginia rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1952.
  • Alabama rejected the amendment in 1919, but ratified it in 1953.
  • Florida ratified in 1969.
  • South Carolina rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1969.
  • Georgia rejected the amendment in 1919, but ratified it in 1970.
  • Louisiana rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1970.
  • North Carolina ratified in 1971.
  • Mississippi rejected the amendment in 1920, but ratified it in 1984.

Not that long ago.

For comparison, the 15th amendment, ratified 50 years earlier.

SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

And the 26th, ratified in 1971.

SECTION 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

SECTION 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Pat Boone

. . . is 80 today.

Boone had grandchildren at the same school NewMexiKen’s children attended nearly 40 years ago. He showed up at “Back to School Night” once or twice, and I have to admit he was about the handsomest, youngest looking grandpa you’d ever see. Of course, he was only 41 or 42.

It’s hard to believe I was ever so young I thought 41 was old enough that someone could “look good” for 41?

Only Elvis sold more records than Pat Boone in the late 1950s.