"Attack of the Fifty States"

Chapter 1
Attack of the 50 States: Alabama

By Bill Schott

I left my parents' home in Punta Gorda, Florida and pointed my Gran Torino to Lawton, Oklahoma.

Trying to get to Oklahoma from Florida required my driving through several southern states.  The trip was going well until I passed through Montgomery, Alabama. That's when I was pulled over by a county sheriff.

"What's your hurry, son?" he asked as he looked into my car from the driver's side window.

"No hurry, officer. I'm just headed to my new base in Oklahoma."

"Is that so? Well you have Michigan tags on this sports car. Is Alabama a new short cut to Oklahoma?"

I was a bit confused at this point. There was no reason, in my mind, for my being pulled over in the first place.

"Can you tell me why you pulled me over, officer?"

"I'm waiting on your answer to my question, son."

"Okay, officer, here's the story. I used to live in North Carolina, but I got transferred to Fort Sill in Oklahoma."

"They issuing Michigan license plates in the Carolinas now?"

"No, sir. My car is still registered in Michigan, where I bought it. My parents had flown up from Florida and were visiting family there. We traveled back together to their home in Florida."

The officer looked at me, seemingly trying to find holes I my story.

"So did you stop by Fort Bragg and show your folks around?"

"We drove through Camp Lejeune; I'm a marine."

"So they transferred you from the Marines to the Army? Can you do that now? I don't think so, son."

"Can you tell me why you pulled me over, officer?"

"Sure, son. I believe you were swerving over the center line and speeding. Those are two indicators that a driver is under the influence. Your story about why your Yankee car is racing through my state makes me wonder if you're not a drug smuggler. What's this car got under the hood? Is it a 400?"

Suddenly the gravity of my situation was much clearer. I suspected that my 'Yankee' plates got me pulled over and that I would be lucky to leave here with a traffic ticket.

"It's got a 351 Windsor with a high rise manifold, Holley four-barrel, and dual exhaust."

"Sounds like some pricey upgrades for a soldier."


"On your way to a soldier base, right?"

"I'm an instructor."

"Drill Instructor?"


The officer stared at me for a few seconds. He still hadn't asked for my driver's license, registration, or proof of insurance. I was hoping that was a good sign and not a drill still to come. 

"So, you're a Marine who teaches the weather to the Army, ramming your beefed up Michigan hot rod from Florida through Alabama, on your way to Oklahoma." 

"Exactly -- uh, except, I'm sure I wasn't speeding."

The officer smiled as he looked over my sleek, yet jacked, royal blue with a silver streak, shiny, waxed, muscle-(looking) car. 

"Well, since you're on your way to help defend us from bad weather I suppose I ought to let you get to it. Obey the speed laws, and remember to get us fair skies for the holidays."

I thanked the officer and drove off wishing I could rent some license plates to drive through Mississippi and Arkansas. 


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 2
Attack of the 50 States: Alaska

By Bill Schott

It was the beginning of the Reagan Administration and the end of my second hitch in the Marines. I was a bit burned out with my position as a recruiter for the Corps in Detroit, Michigan. I couldn't bring myself to re-enlist for another three years of selling the USMC to teenagers, so I took my option and left the military to seek my fortune in Alaska.

My second sister, Muriel, and her second husband had moved to Fairbanks in the early 70s. My older brother, Albert, joined them soon after, though they lived in separate towns.

Muriel's husband had started out driving a dynamite truck on the Northern Ridge for about six months. The work was dangerous and required he be away from home for weeks at a time. The separation and the darkness of the midnight sun season had its effects on both my sister and Alan's morale and mental stability.

She had invited me up since there was talk that the pipeline was adding a gas line and a thousand new jobs would be created. By the time I had gotten there, however, the situation had changed. The President announced that we were in a recession and soon after the economy tanked. Alan's friend let him stack shelves in his store to make ends meet.

My brother lived in the town of North Pole. Yeah, I know. He also lived on Sesame Street, so most times when I told folks that they didn't believe I actually had a brother. He was recession proof, as he was the only transmission mechanic in North Pole and also drew work from Fairbanks. He was rolling in dough, but no one would ever guess it. Albert was both a hermit and, well, fiscally conservative. He lived in a thirty-foot trailer that had six inches of polyethylene foam covering it for insulation. He could heat the place with one space heater. His refrigerator was a root cellar and he managed the mobile home park he lived in, rent free.

I was now in Alaska with no job and no apparent prospects. Staying with my siblings was a temporary situation, but I needed to get work and support myself. I had two or three qualifications that might serve me with luck on my side.

I had just come off a recruiting gig and had been trained to convince high school graduates with scholarships and money to enlist in the United States Marine Corps instead. Having done that for a couple years, I figured I could sell a car to an Alaskan. There were three dealerships around, but they weren't hiring and I hadn't brought a wardrobe that was car sales appropriate.

I actually found an ad in the paper for a ballistic meteorologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. What? This was my original job in the Corps. I drove over for a personal interview. None of us could believe that this job and I were here at the same time. I mean, not just a meteorologist, but a ballistic meteorologist whose specialty was missiles flying through the air.

The university had planned to launch rockets into the heavens to recreate the Northern Lights artificially, as a study of which gases were present.  Sadly, however, with the recession, their funding was delayed and would be doubtful before the next calendar year.

I was turning into Benjamin Franklin's three-day guest. I'd been there almost three weeks and had driven my sister to drink (though I think she already knew the way) and had somehow given my brother's wife the impression that I was flirting with her.

I summoned all my rainy day resources and flew back to Michigan as soon as possible. There I tried working in a plastics factory for a few months, but making bathtubs and toilets for mobile homes was not that fulfilling. Nothing was. Nothing was the Marine Corps. What could be?  I eventually re-enlisted in the Marines and stayed another sixteen years until retirement.

My brother remained in Alaska and passed away there, having returned to Michigan only four times in fifty years.

Muriel is still there. She lives alone since her husband's passing, and has never set foot out of the state except to attend our parent's funerals.

I vowed to never return, but my wife and I took a cruise there a couple of years ago. Totally different experience.


Chapter 3
Attack of the 50 States: Arizona

By Bill Schott

As I look back on it now, 1969 was a big year for me. In the fall I would begin my high school career at Lakeville. This would begin my ascension to greatness. Maturity and advanced intellect awaited me in the next decade. Men would soon be landing on the moon; President Nixon was going to end the war in Vietnam; and all of my older siblings had moved out of the house except one. All I had to do now was survive the family trip across the western United States.

Every year since I could remember, our family took a week’s vacation to Oscoda, Michigan. We had a cabin there that sat camouflaged in the white birch and pine trees. The only way to find it was to drive two miles after the last street light and keep looking left.

It was rustic, one-room, with an actual ice box for refrigeration; a hand pump outside that had to be mounted and primed for water; and a pot-bellied stove with which to heat and cook. There was one bed for the parents and the concrete floor for the rest. All bathroom needs were split between a metal wash bowl and the outhouse located about forty feet behind the building.

For me it had always been charming, because I had been the youngest and all the prep work was completed by the others. I merely picked huckleberries, went hiking with my older brothers, and spent the day at Lake Huron.

That was then. This year, with everyone out of the house and on their own, it was just my older brother, Albert, and me to enjoy this special time with our parents.

My dad had decided that we would take a two-week car trip out west. He had planned it on his Rand-McNally Atlas, complete with scheduled KOA campground stops, visits to historic national monuments, and American Express traveler checks to pay for it all.

I'm certain that the position behind the steering wheel was a place where a man could feel pride in his ability to provide his kids with a view of these United States that a lot of folks will never get to do in person. With a lot of planning he was able to cull this vacation time out of his work schedule, save up the money necessary to complete the trip, and plan a route that would not cost an excessive amount of money, but facilitate maximum touring.

I could probably place this preamble in front of many states of which I will eventually mention, as they were a part of this summer expedition. One that pops into my mind now is Arizona.

I had heard of the Grand Canyon, but had never been there. I was only fourteen, of course, and hadn't taken many steps out of my home town. The Grand Canyon was a place that everyone knew about because of the prevailing western television shows of my youth, which mentioned the huge site even if the cowpokes were from Texas or Colorado. The local excursion expert on the Detroit station would have a guest in who brought film taken while visiting the enormous, natural wonder. Still, when we finally arrived, it was beyond explanation.

There had only recently been barriers established to keep curious visitors from taking the gravity tour over the side. That fencing, as I remember it now, was still very near the edge, and only informed people not to move beyond that point. It seems that even today, people will move past sturdy fencing to get an opportunity to fall into the canyon.

There was a lot of climbing and walking involved in the dry, summer heat. There were no places to drink water, so we had brought a thermos with us. It was tall, glass-lined, and the only source of water we had. I'm sure there were vendors around with soda pop for sale, but I didn't have any money, and my father had a negative view of both syrupy, carbonated drinks, and spending money on them. The thermos emptied quickly, making it easier to carry, but left me less enthusiastic to do so.

At the end of our visit, I was truly amazed at the immensity of the Grand Canyon, and happy that I had seen it. I was also dehydrated, and sucked on the faucet of the next sink we came to, like a runt pup on a hind teat.

The other sights I recall were the tall, striated hills, carved out from the vastness of the painted desert. As if by design, the bright rock cliffs sat with multicolored, horizontal swaths of starkly clashing ore presentations. These were majestic and awe inspiring monuments to the movement of God's hand across the planet. Of course, I had to observe them from the crowded back seat of a sweltering vehicle through windows seemingly made to challenge this type of viewing. 

After our visit, and a bivouac in the Williams, Arizona KOA campground, we were on our way east to New Mexico. Since I am approaching this anthology of the states alphabetically, it will be a minute before we get there, but it was a watershed moment to be sure.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 4
Attack of the 50 States:Arkansas

By Bill Schott

When I think of different states in America, I am usually responding to some outside reference that catches my attention and leads me back to one in particular. The Statue of Liberty brings New York to mind, as Hollywood summons California.

Arkansas has only occurred to me three times as a place of interest. The first peculiarity was, of course, why wasn't it pronounced Ar-Kansas? This likely first presented itself in grade school as we learned about and pronounced the fifty states.

I have discovered it is technically illegal to mispronounce "Arkansas" while in Arkansas. It seems that In 1947 the pronunciation of the name of the state was legally mandated to be three syllables, the accent on the first and last, with the final 'S' silent.

The reason Arkansas entered my radar again was its geographical location, obligating my briefly passing through it, via Interstate Highway 40, to get from Oklahoma to Missouri, whenever I was traveling east.

Arkansas again became my focus with the election of Slick Willy Clinton as the forty-second President of the United States. Suddenly, Arkansas was important. Bill Clinton had been governor there. Being a governor of a state was apparently the position which best prepared someone to be the nation's leader. It seemed like it was only then that I realized that Jimmy Carter had been governor of Georgia, Ronald Regan had been governor of California, and George Bush had been governor of Texas.

Still, Georgia seemed like a well-known place, with Atlanta and Ray Charles singing about it. California was most of the West coast, and Texas was, you know, Texas.

Arkansas, to me, was just a place that reminded me of Kansas. Now, it was the home of the new Commander in Chief. I learned about the state throughout the tenure of President Clinton in office.
I also learned about the draw of politics as a way to meet women.
Although he "never had sexual relations with THAT woman", there were a bevy of others that he had.

Still, I don't mean to get off the real subject, Arkansas. I found it almost impossible to believe it is home to the only diamond mines in the United States. I was less surprised to discover it is the spinach mecca.

The only other thing I recall about Arkansas is that whenever I hear the name of its capital, Little Rock, I automatically enter a stream of consciousness that takes me to Little Big Horn, General Custer, yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye, The Beatles, a bug, Volkswagen, Fahrvergnugen, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Mary Poppins, Doe, a deer, a female deer...


Chapter 5
Attack of the 50 States: Calif.

By Bill Schott

It was the last day of September, 1974. I had officially enlisted in the United States Marine Corps that morning, for three years. The government van was soon cruising down Interstate 75 headed for the Detroit Metro airport. Alice Cooper's "Eighteen" was jamming on the AM radio as we pulled up to the terminal entrance.

"Let's go, Schott," said the Marine recruiter, as we exited the vehicle and walked into the building. I recall this being the first time he had not used my first name.

We walked past several lines of folks leaving for various destinations, until arriving at the United Airlines desk. There, he said a few words to the man at the ticket counter, and received a small envelope.

"Follow me," he said, and walked across the terminal to a group of teenagers standing in a rectangular formation. There was another Marine waiting there with a clipboard, and dressed a bit differently. Where my recruiter had a white, barracks cover with a leather bill, short-sleeve, khaki shirt and blue trousers, with red piping down the legs, this new sergeant wore a green garrison cover, long-sleeve shirt with a tie, and green trousers. He also wore a stern face.

"About friggin' time you showed up, recruit," he said to me, as if I was somehow responsible for our late appearance.

My recruiter handed him the envelope and nodded a goodbye to me. His expression had changed from cheerful to blank, as I assume the responsibility of getting me to this hand-off area was now completed. We were eventually herded to a outbound gate, and our tickets exchanged for boarding passes.

"You will go to the seats, which are assigned to you on these passes," said this new Marine sergeant. "This 747 goes straight through to San Diego. When it lands, someone will meet you as you disembark."

After he spoke, we were led onto the plane and it was soon in the air headed west to California.

I'm sure San Diego was a great place to visit, but I would never really know that for a few years. My first experience would be at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) for basic training, better known as boot camp.

Describing all that occurred for the next three months of training is the stuff of legend and has been captured faithfully by many writers and movie-makers through the years. I can't account for any other eras or places than mine. All I can say for sure is that I have never worked harder, been more uncertain of survival, or been so happy to have completed something than in that space of time before Christmas 1974.

I graduated boot camp on Christmas Eve, flew back to Michigan, and can safely say that the only parts of California I actually saw were the San Diego Airport, which sat next to the base, the homes on the side of the hill that loomed over us as we ran or marched along, and Edson Range at Camp Pendleton, where we force marched twenty-seven miles through the mountains to qualify with the relatively new M-16 rifle. That visit to the Golden State was a cloistered struggle which could have occurred anywhere.

It wasn't until 1980, coming back from a year in Okinawa, Japan, that I returned to MCRD and California. This is where Marines go to be trained as recruiters. This arrival, stay, and graduation were a world apart from my first visit here.

This indoctrination into the Marine-on-the-street world of military recruiting was the same length as basic training. Though intense and rigid, this time spent in California allowed for free time to explore the city of San Diego. If only I had.

Recruiter School was all about becoming a poster-boy jarhead, who can sell the socks off qualified, military-available, enlistment candidates, as well as march in veterans' and other civic events. The recruiter is the link between the youth, cowering in their college dorms, or standing in line to be accepted, and the careers in the Corps. He or she is also the bridge between the modern military and all of the veterans who are silently remembering their hitch, or actively honoring all who served through participation in chartered organizations.

All that being said, graduating is not easy or automatic, so, instead of enjoying the civilian sights outside the compound, I slept, ran, worked out at the gymnasium, read our many manuals, and slept some more. I did sneak out into Old San Diego the night before graduation to have a beer with the class and cadre.

After leaving California in December of that year, it wasn't until after leaving the Marines, returning, Beirut, divorce, second wife, two more kids, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, retirement, and ten years of teaching high school in Michigan that my wife and I returned to California.

We were going on a mission trip to the Baja in Mexico, so we decided to make a vacation of it. Flying to San Francisco, we strolled those hilly streets, calling to mind the iconic car chase through the streets of Frisco in the movie, "Bullet", with Steve McQueen. We sailed by Alcatraz on a ferry, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and ate for the first time at In-n-Out Burger. The temperature, we were told, was a constant 75 degrees, with a nice breeze.

Our plan was, after leaving our hearts in San Francisco, to drive a rental car down the Pacific Coast Highway to meet our fellow missioneers in San Diego. That would have been a ten hour drive, through what is billed as the most scenic, inspiring, escapist traveling experience in North America. However, Kathy, my wife, saw a film of an area through the mountains that looked like all the scenes of cars careening through guard rails that she had seen all her life and refused to travel by car. We flew to San Diego.

We stayed at the Hyatt, across from the San Diego Convention Center. The 2012 Comic-Con was happening that week and I thought we might go, since we were there. That's when I found out two important items of which I had not, until that time, been aware. You don't just up and buy tickets to this event, as it had been sold out for months. Also, it ain't cheap. Scalpers were getting four hundred dollars for tickets. We watched television and went to sleep early.

Two days later we drove off to Mexico, did that, and returned to San Diego a week or so later. We were only hours in the state before flying back to Michigan.

Have not returned to California since. I do often recommend San Francisco to friends who enjoy walking, biking, or piloting a Segway (which they still rent to tourists).


Author Notes Image from Google.

Chapter 6
Attack of the 50 States:Colorado

By Bill Schott

I remember Colorado for many things through the years. I was there as a teen, and as one of my last operations in the Marine Corps thirty years later.

The state was on our route while vacationing with my family through the West, back in late Sixties. We visited Rocky Mountain National Park, though I don't remember much about it.
What I do recall was my parents bickering about directions, what to visit, and why the car was running rough. The answer to all of those items will be in reverse order.

The thin air in the Rockies meant that we had to reset the gap on the car's spark plugs. That required a stop at a service garage, and a long wait to get in for the maintenance. The loss in road time and the heat caused a few tempers to flare. I was cool headed for reasons of being the youngest and least formidable.

Since we spent so much time with the spark plug affair, we gave a wink and a nod to the rest of the state as we cruised on through.

In between my story involving the Marines, Haiti, the Air Force, and Red Bag gun powder, I would inject the Colorado asides that pique interest in the state.

John Denver is one. He sang Rocky Mountain High. He lived in Aspen. His real name was Deutschendorf. Wonder why he changed it?

Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational Mary Jane. Rocky Mountain High indeed.
Colorado is Spanish for red. The reddish sandstone can be seen in layers throughout the state. I'm seeing a connection here.

Wasn't that interesting? Google, man.

Related to this state, in a roundabout way, was the last couple years of my military career. I had recently returned to Headquarters 10th Marines, 2d Marine Division from the United Nations US Support Group in Haiti. I was the Operations Sergeant Major during the attempted rebuilding of the government in Port au Prince in the late Nineties. All branches of the military took turns rotating in to continue that effort.

The reason this fits into this story is that the staff NCOs hung out together and became quite close. The majority of personnel at that time were from the Air Force. We compared notes and I realized that comparing a career in the Air Force and one in the Marines was like comparing the junkyard dog with Lassie. One will serve you until you finally shoot it, while the other will always look like she's getting her picture taken.

Leave Haiti, go to states, get new orders to Inspector/Instructor duty in Waterloo, Iowa.
I know; what's in Waterloo, Iowa? Reservists. "I and I" are the active duty staff who run the reserve station while those folks are living regular civilian lives. I should expand on that when we get to Iowa.

I was an artillery operations chief, which means our battery and I took howitzers around the country to blow up things to train for war. There is no real estate in Iowa that Iowans want pot-holed, so we had to travel to places like Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin; Twentynine Palms, California; and Fort Carson, Colorado.

The latter is where this story has taken us. Our unit flew out and commenced repositioning acreage on that Army base. We went there because our long-firing ammunition has too much distance potential to be safely fired in conventional impact areas.

While we were there, and not working, we left the reservists with their commanders and drove twenty miles over to Peterson Air Force Base. We talked to some folks from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) who are part of that missile defense program. The Air Force chow hall, or dining facility, as they called it, was like lunching with the Queen. Marine chow halls have the task of making sure one's cause of death isn't starvation. Beyond that, I can't recommend them. The Air Force Aerospace Feeding Spectacular is like going to Disneyland with your taste buds.

While I was there, I mean within two minutes of getting off the truck, I ran into a Staff Sergeant I served with in Haiti. She was the logistics guru there, but here in Colorado she ran the dining facility. What luck! She took our group to the nicest spot in the building where the cadre eat. She regaled my Marines with my exploits in Haiti, and I described all the strange and unique happenings of which she had been a part. Good times. My people agreed that she was a very nice person with great leadership abilities.

We left that base and returned to Ft Carson. Our mission there included firing Red Bag gun powder. This is the maximum charge used in a M198 155 mm howitzer. It had to be used with rocket-assisted ammunition to get it far enough into the atmosphere when the secondary boosters ignite. This takes the round thirty kilometers or better. These are great for killing enemy combatants that don't even know you're in the area.

We had a nice time in Colorado and eventually traveled back to Waterloo -- my last duty station.


Chapter 7
Attack of the 50 States: Connect

By Bill Schott

When I think about Connecticut, all my thoughts are gray and cold. I want to be happy, perhaps thinking about Mark Twain's 'Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'. The 1945 film, 'Christmas in Connecticut' should make me feel good. Barbara Stanwyck does a thing with a guy in a place during that other thing.

Neither of these 'ups' can distract from the downs of my history with Connecticut.

As a child and an adult, I failed to spell the state correctly on my first effort. The silent C always eluded me. My brother would always pronounce it as Conn-neck-ti-cut. He also pronounced the K in knife and the P in psycho.

Connecticut is always difficult to find on a map. It's couched on the east coast, hiding next to Rhode Island. My brother pronounced the H in that state name too. Let's not forget opossum. But I digress.

I understand that Connecticutians are fleeing the state daily to escape incredibly high taxes. Truth be known, they may have tired of spelling it wrong and having to correct those who mispronounced it.

Before leaving this state, and I apologize to all those from Connecticut for my brevity, I would mention both nutmeg and the Connecticut Compromise.

In 1787 Connecticut's legislature presented the idea that states could be evenly represented, despite the size or population, if they all had two senators and representatives for different regions of the individual state. This became the Great Compromise and part of the Constitution.

Connecticut is known as the Nutmeg State, although not a single nutmeg tree grows there. Some confusing legend allows that sailors would bring the nutmeg seeds back from Indonesia and sell them to peddlers in America. The seeds were really expensive, so half of the barrels sold were simply carved wooden balls that would pass for the seeds, which look similar to walnuts to me. So, the nickname seems to indicate a heritage of 'being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs'.  Sounds like a good place to start a political system, doesn't it?

I can only say that Connecticut is easier to say than the native tribal name of Quinnehtukqut, which I would most certainly misspell.


Author Notes Image from Google.

Chapter 8
Attack of the 50 States:Delaware

By Bill Schott

The state of Delaware has come into my life three times that I know of. It would be four times if I were to include this article. So, I guess it's four.

When I was young our parents decided to go on some road trips for summer instead of our usual trip up to northern Michigan and a week of roughing it. The time spent in a rustic cabin in the woods, and extensive time on the beaches of the Great Lakes was replaced with a five by two foot space in the rear seat of a Buick Skylark. This I shared with my brother as we were taken along on a trip to discover America.

In the previous year, when I was twelve, we went out West to see the history there. On this summer we were traveling around New England. During this time I'm certain we passed through Delaware. Of course, these states are all pretty close, so we may have passed through two or three times while traversing the pre-Highway 95 roads.

I don't recall anything from Delaware that stuck with me, as I spent most of my time vying for space in the back seat with my growth-spurting, older brother and his wish-I-was-with-my-girlfriend-not-you attitude. His misery made my misery miserable.

In a fast-forward move, I take you with me on a C-5 taking off from Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. It was 1991 and we were the advance party for 4th Battalion, 12th Marines. We had come there to pick up, among others, a battery of artillery from 10th Marines, who had flown up from 2d Marine Division in North Carolina.

To back up just a bit, we were at Dover AFB as part of the weirdest trip I had ever been on.

Desert Shield was happening in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of January that year. I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and not scheduled to participate, as 2d Marine Division from Camp Lejeune was running the show for the Marines. However, they wanted a fourth battalion, so my battalion offered our artillery battery to augment a new battalion to go to war in Kuwait.

We left as an advance party from Japan, but were not authorized to fly over China. So, we flew around the world the other way, touching down on Wake Island, Hawaii, Alaska, and Delaware, before continuing to Brussels, and then Saudi Arabia.

I especially remember Dover AFB, not as a standout location, although the scene of hangars full of combat troops headed for war was exhilarating, but as the place I mailed my last letter.

Throughout our ridiculous trip from Okinawa to this air base, I had chronicled it all in a letter to my wife. It had become quite lengthy, and I had developed the idea in the back of my mind that I might not return home. Searching, I found a mail box and sent my huge letter out so she would know I was thinking of her, always.

Then we were off to Desert Shield/Desert Storm. You probably read about it in the papers.

I visited Delaware two more times in the last two years. My oldest brother, Leonard, a widower, had decided to remarry at the age of seventy-four. Charlu, his new bride, and he invited us to the nuptials. It was quite life affirming. My second visit was to say goodbye to my brother the next year, as he had developed leukemia that was not reasonably treatable at his advanced age.

Not to end this visit to Delaware on a sad note, Pamela Spice, aka Pam(respa), sent me some data about Delaware that you will find interesting.

Delaware is called the First State because it was the first state to ratify the constitution.

Pam was from the town of Magnolia. It was basically a rural town with farms, growing soy beans and corn. There were a number of orchards, as well, but much later, those gave way to developments.

Her father was in the Air Force, and that's how she ended up in Delaware. He was a mechanic on the C-5 planes.

Also, many people may not know that the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs at Dover Air Force Base is where remains of those killed in action are processed and returned home.

Corporations establish residence in Delaware because there is no sales tax, and the cost of living is not high. DuPont and Latex Corporation are examples.

The Delaware Blue Hen is a blue strain of American gamecock. It was adopted on April 14, 1939, as the state bird of Delaware. It is one of three U.S. state birds that is not a species native to the United States.

Thank you, Pam, for the additional information and interest in my Attack of the 50 States series.

Thanks to everyone else who is following along. Can you guess where we are going next?


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 9
Attack of the 50 States: Florida

By Bill Schott

Florida is a place that meant almost nothing to me until 1973. Before that, it was the location in America that Ponce Deleon entered to search for the fountain of youth. That made the place seem enchanted when I was nine, and Mrs. Thompson taught us what passed for history in the sixties. I say sixties, but I am sure our text books were assembled by Rosey the Bookbinder back during the second world war.

It wasn't until after I graduated from high school that Florida's importance was made clear to me.

My parents had planned to retire in the same year that I was out of school. Being eighteen, it was assumed that I would be off to pursue my dreams somewhere. The other five children had headed off to make their futures; it was now my turn. This, however, came as a rude awakening to me. Retirement? Why was I the last to know? Had they discussed this at some time before now? It seems that I had been either left ignorant of this huge move, or, more likely, simply too self-involved to realize that the times, they were a changing.

My parents packed up the Oldsmobile with what they needed to drive south. I was left in the care of my second oldest brother, Bob. He had bought our family home from my father and he would be partially funding their retirement with his mortgage payments.

One proviso that they had insisted on was that he, my brother, allow me to stay with him, rent free, until I was ready to move on. This nugget was not shared with me, however, so my brother accepted rent and food money from me to live there.

Life and its dramas went on from there. I left to join the Marines a year later, in 1974, and visited my parents in Punta Gorda, Florida a total of four times in twenty years. We did see each other when we met back in Michigan each summer, but Florida was never much of a draw for either my first wife or the second one. The latter might say that the third one won't like it either.

We did go and visit my parents there one year as part of a circular vacation. My wife and I had looked at some time-shares in North Carolina. We survived the high pressure salesmen and left with a weeks vacation in Orlando and four tickets to Disney World. While we were there we decided to make the most of it, so we booked a meeting with developers in Kissimee to look at some time-shares there. We prevailed again and scored tickets to the Universal Theme Park. The kids and us had a great time. 

During this trip we also visited my parents on the other side of the state. This was looked at as somewhat of a survival mission, since my parents had no air conditioning or drinkable water. Summer in Florida, even though we lived in North Carolina, was a test of endurance. The humidity and my having to re-enter the parent/child relationship with folks was a strain for me. In retrospect, I see it now as my selfishness in wanting to be an adult, while my mother simply wanted to dote on us, and my father only wanted to control every situation.

My kids enjoyed their time with my folks, and the feeling was mutual. My son climbed up into the orange tree in the back yard and pulled down grapefruit-sized juicers. All the fruit we ate came from right there, but the water we drank was brought from the other side of town, since their well was polluted with sulfur.

There were two times I visited Florida that stand out above others.

In 1995, while I was serving in Haiti, I learned that my father had been hospitalized for some reason, no one knew. I asked my commander if I could take a week and visit them. It was arranged. I flew to Miami and rented a car to drive across Alligator Alley, which is a part of Interstate 75 that crosses the Everglades. My folks lived on the west side of the state above Fort Myers and south of Tampa.

When I got there, my mom greeted me at her door gasping for air. I immediately drove her to her doctor and she was seen right away. I discovered that her mind was not clear and she had overdosed herself on heart medicine. The doctor didn't impress me as overly concerned, and I assumed he was simply the doorman for the final exit.

When we got home, I left her there and walked a couple of miles uptown to the Punta Gorda Hospital, or whatever it was called. My dad had undergone exploratory surgery and had been waiting to be discharged. He didn't know I had come to Florida and had expected to leave the hospital and go home in the car he'd driven there. He could barely walk.

After getting home I discovered that he had been told that he had cancer throughout his body and it was inoperable. I extended my stay there for ten more days to ensure my mother was recovered and stable and that my father was able to function alright. Then, I had to leave.

It was a couple of years later, as we expected our dad to succumb, that our mom died suddenly from a heart attack. One year later, my brother Bob and I sat with our dad, in hospice mode at his house, and marked his passing.

Before he died, my dad, never wanting to let the government get any more of his money than could be avoided, divvied it out to his six kids over a two year period so that no one paid any taxes.

That would be an ending for my relationship with Florida, but my in-laws also wintered there each year in a home in Zephyr Hills. My wife's brother, Tom, had been a professional football player and, subsequently, a successful businessman. He was able to buy my wife's folks a home and keep it up for years. He also used it for intermittent golf outings as part of his business.

My wife's parents, my second parents really, were two of the greatest people you could ever hope to meet, let alone be legally related.

Unfortunately, on what became their final visit up from Florida to Michigan to see Tom, who had had a heart attack, my father-in-law suffered a brain hemorrhage and passed away.

We've never returned to Florida since the end of the millennium. I understand that they currently have the record as the dumbest pandemic awareness state in the United States.
I have to add that to the hanging chads in the 2000 election, where the final tally was decided by Jeb Bush, then governor, and his Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, who was George Bush's campaign chairman.  No conflict of interest there.

Cape Canaveral. I remember that all the rockets left from there. They called it Cape Kennedy for a while, but it's since reverted to the original name. Remember the The Right Stuff? Remember when we went to the moon in 1969? Then, we had to stop doing that and fund the Vietnam War. After that they went commercial with the space shuttles. They're all up on blocks in somebody's palmetto field now, since the corporate race to have the first private business on the moon has begun.

We cannot leave Florida without acknowledging hurricanes. I took a look at the list and the one that stands out for me was Charley in 2004. It wiped out Punta Gorda, where my folks had lived. If they had still lived there, they would have likely died there.

I know this seems out of place, but I have to admit that I never got the capital of Florida right until I actually drove through Tallahassee. I can't be the only person who thought Miami was the capital. Tallahassee? It's like a trick question on Jeopardy.
"Davy Crocodile wore his alligator boots to Florida's capital."
"What is Miami?" Haaaannnnnkkk!!

On that note, I will ease up north a bit and pick a peach in Georgia. See you there.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 10
Attack of the 50 States: Georgia

By Bill Schott

Georgia on my mind. This idea launches many others as I contemplate this huge state on the eastern seaboard. Note: I am kidding with the country of Georgia as my image. Relax.

I remember Atlanta Airport especially. Whenever I had orders anywhere, I had to fly to the east coast hub, which was gigantic. Planes landed on one side of the mile-wide airport and departed on the other side. I would always have a sea bag (duffel) and a clothing bag to haul from end to end.

Orders from North Carolina to California? Fly to Atlanta and then east. Orders from Iowa to Texas? Fly to Atlanta then to the gulf.

What I always hated about Georgia was how long it is. When driving from Michigan to Florida, once I reached Georgia, I thought I was almost there. Six hours later I reached the Florida state line.

I think of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, 'Gone With the Wind' and the following film depicting the antebellum and reconstruction era South and the plantation aspects of the civil war in the state of Georgia. In the era of BLM, the entire idea of slavery, unless emphatically condemned while wringing hands about white privilege, is verboten. What was a prize-winning novel and academy award-winning motion picture, is now shelved and awaiting a time when history can be told again without pretending it didn't happen.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born there in 1929. He is basically the eternal face of the civil rights movement. Aside from being a Nobel Prize recipient, he inspired a three-day holiday which most people observe along with Uncle Sam, and has more streets named after him than Main.

Anybody remember Jimmy Carter? I immediately think of Gerald Ford getting beaten by a Democrat from Georgia who no one had ever heard of before. Then there were the peanuts, the Billy Beer brother, the "I have lusted in my mind." Playboy interview, and, finally, the Iran Hostages.

Ted Turner. Need I say more? 1976 Superstation WTBS, 1980 CNN, 1985 buys MGM, 1986 creates Goodwill Games when U.S. boycotts Olympics, 1988 TNT, 1992 Cartoon Network, 1994 TCM, 1996 sells it all to Time-Warner. Did I mention the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks?

Peanuts may be big in Georgia, but they are the number one producer of pecans, peaches, and Vidalia onions in the world. Somebody there invented Coca-cola in 1886. I think they still make that.

I could probably say more about Georgia, which I spent the majority of my time there waiting to board a plane for somewhere else, but we are headed for Hawaii.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 11
Attack of the 50 States: Hawaii

By Bill Schott

Hawaii, I understand, is a great place to jump into a volcano.

My personal experience with the islands, known together as Hawaii, is brief and rather depressing. So, before relating that story, I will run through a few other connections I have with the state.

There are eight bigger islands and a bunch of smaller ones  that make up Hawaii.  Hawaii (big volcano), Maui (touristy fun stuff), and Oahu (Pearl Harbor) are the biggest ones.  Sparing you the long history of the fiftieth state, I will note that my wife was ten when it was made so. She recalls the helmet fire in Washington, D.C. over how to sew on the forty-ninth star for Alaska, then, BINGO, Hawaii made an even number. Flag makers both happy with the new number and sad to have to eat those flags with forty-nine stars.

My uncle and aunt were stationed on Hawaii in the Vietnam era. That's when I heard about the muu muu, which my aunt wore all the time after returning to Michigan. I mean -- all the time. I'd describe it as a table cloth with a neck hole.

Everyone I knew, as I was growing up, who had an opportunity to visit Hawaii, talked about the Don Ho Show, luaus, hula dancers, volcanoes, and expensive everything. I would expand on all those things, except for Don Ho, Hawaii's answer to Elvis, but you already know about all those other things.

My daughter vacationed on the big island for her honeymoon. Her parents-in-law had a timeshare and gifted that season to them. They had a great time flying over volcanoes, swimming with sharks or dolphins, one of the two, and spending their wedding cash. Don Ho had passed away a decade before, so his show probably wasn't that great.

My stop on Hawaii was less than a week long, but seemed like a month. While our unit was flying around the world to get to the war in Kuwait, we had to layover in Hawaii for plane repairs.

During the Southwest Asia War, Desert Storm, all transport planes were in the air twenty-four hours a day hauling personnel and cargo to the war front. Our C-5 needed some work before hopping over the Pacific Ocean, the entire United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and Europe.

Unfortunately, our orders were that as soon as the plane was ready, which would be only "a matter of hours", we'd have to re-board. We were stuck in an empty barracks on Camp Smith in Kaneohe Bay. There was no commissary or exchange as all the main troops were deployed. We were restricted to the barracks until the plane was fixed. Every couple of hours we were told to get ready, orders were pending. Three days later we finally boarded for Alaska.

The commander allowed the Marines who were actually stationed in Hawaii to spend those three days with their families. He was, by the way, from Hawaii as well. My thoughts now, in the cool of the present day, are that we remained on Hawaii three days so that the C-5 crew, the jarheads stationed there, and the plane could take a nice rest before heading off to the mother of all wars. The rest of us waited, packed, gear on, waiting for the word to board every couple of hours. We finally did, having never even seen the ocean or anything of interest.  Hawaii, the island paradise.

I know I haven't done this state justice, but I'm certain, although most will never visit it, they know all about it.

I can't leave without recalling the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which brought America  out of our isolationist stupor and launched us into World War II.

Barrack Obama and my cousin, Onalea Hemingway, were born there. I don't know who else.

Certainly, more can be said about the islands, and someone probably will. For now though, I will catch a wave and ride it back to the mainland. Aloha!


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 12
Attack of the 50 States: Idaho

By Bill Schott

How often do you think of Idaho? If you only think of it when you see a potato, I feel it's safe to say you're in good company. I think of Idaho whenever I'm really thirsty. There hangs a tale.

Back when our family travelled across the western United States we passed through the great state of Idaho. Of all these states, I never figured Idaho for being the driest and hottest. It was a drought season, apparently, though the fifty-foot geysers of irrigating spray in the potato fields made it seem more like selective hydrating.

When we stopped at a greasy spoon for some lunch, I asked for a glass of water. The waitress (neither she nor I realized she was a server at that time) looked at me like I had asked to peek up her dress. She informed us that there was water rationing going on and we would only be able to order bottled soft drinks, milk, juice, or coffee.

After eating, we were informed that the bathrooms were off limits to children, which was me, without adult supervision. Imagine a fourteen-year-old going to the bathroom with his dad. It was a one-holer to boot.

All of this waterlessness was later magnified when little William, after filling the big thermos with water at a speak-easy water faucet, dropped it on the rocky, unforgiving ground. The sound of instant 'ice', rattling inside the former water bearing cylinder, made all crests fall. I was now both the youngest AND dumbest Schott.

Since that was the height of interesting items to share about Idaho, I will end with a few observations:

Noisy Boise might be a good slogan to lure people to Idaho, thinking that it was a happening place. Kind of like Greenland did. Look it up.

A fun party game might be bobbing for french fries. Sure, it sounds dangerous, but only if you really want to win.

J.R. Simplot Company is the nation's biggest potato distributor. Simplot struck a deal with Ray Kroc early on; they now provide over half the fries for McDonald's.

According to Wikipedia, another great innovation to come out of Idaho was nuclear power. It was at the Idaho National Laboratory in the 1950s where nuclear power was first harnessed and used to power an entire city. This innovation was a long time coming and one that put Idaho on the map for science and technology.

Did we know that Idaho was on a map for science and technology? Is this the same nuclear power we normally think of? It's not the power that we see lighting a flashlight bulb wired to a potato, right?

Anyway, we finally left Idaho headed for Washington. However, for us now, the next stop is Illinois. Land of Obama.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 13
Attack of the 50 States:Illinois

By Bill Schott

Being from Michigan, Illinois is a place I have to drive through to get where I'm going. When we left for Oklahoma, we had to cut through the corner of Illinois to get to Missouri to go south. Of course, when going to North Carolina or Florida, Illinois was not even on our map.

Aside from being a geographic hurdle on my way elsewhere, Illinois, essentially, is where one finds Chicago. Al Capone found it. Richard J. Daley found it.The Cubs and the White Sox found it, and Bob Fosse found it.

I'm not going to expound on Chicago, as Chi Town, the Windy City is well covered.

Some highlights of Illinois are that they have eleven nuclear power plants. In comparison, China has fourteen. Illinois produces thirty percent of the state's electricity in this manner. Springfield is the capital of Illinois. Homer Simpson lives in Springfield and works in a nuclear power plant.

Land of Lincoln. Illinois is known as this because Abraham Lincoln moved to Illinois in his twenties and began his political career. He was a resident when elected to the Presidency. I will leave Lincoln to others to talk about.

Barrack Obama, our forty-fourth President, was a senator from Illinois before reaching the White House. He was the first African American to hold the office.

There are probably many interesting facts about Illinois that will not appear here, but are available both online and in Illinois.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 14
Attack of the 50 States:Indiana

By Bill Schott

Tread lightly on the Hoosiers, Bill. You know Judiverse is close to Terre Haute, and we wouldn't want Dean Kuch to be conjured up to defend his home either.

It may be that Indiana, like Illinois, is too close to me to perceive a difference between what they have and what's in my back yard in Michigan.

I may have to simply look up the facts and find what is surprising, interesting, or worth a call to Ripley's.

Remembering a song I heard once called "Indiana Wants Me". I recall the lyrics also stated "Lord, I can't go back there!" Not a selling point.

There are the Indianapolis Colts (formerly the Baltimore Colts) who actually tip-toed out of Maryland one night in 1984 to get into a new stadium, a better economy, and outflank the former state's plans to seize the Colts' property.

Professional basketball's Indiana Pacers are the state's NBA members. Pacers alludes to horse racing and the pace cars at the Indianapolis 500.

You might know that the Indy 500 is part of the Triple Crown of Automobile Racing, which also includes Lemans and the Monoco Gran Prix.

The racial breakdown of Indiana is 85% white, 10% black, 3% Asian, less than half a percent indigenous peoples, and, apparently, an Hawaiian who plays football at Notre Dame.

Yes, there are the fighting Irish at Notre Dame, the Hoosiers of Indiana University, and the Boilermakers at Purdue. Typically these three schools break down to being best at football, basketball, and drinking beer with whisky chasers, respectively.

This is going to be a quick pass through the Hoosier State, but I promise that all reviews will likely include what I missed. See you in Iowa.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 15
Attack of the 50 States: Iowa

By Bill Schott

My final duty station in the United States Marine Corps was at the Iowa Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Station located, appropriately, in Waterloo.

Reservists are military personnel who live civilian lives most of the time, but become active duty one weekend a month and for two weeks in the summer. Iowa is an artillery station, so we went to nearby Wisconsin on weekends to shoot, and as far away as California or New York in the summer.

Having reached my twenty-year goal for retirement from the military, with two years left on my enlistment, I accepted a post as an active duty instructor for reservists.

This would be a four to six year duty station, so at some point I would be expected to re-enlist to complete that commitment. The plan for my wife and me vacillated between re-upping for eight years and retiring at thirty years, or leaving after twenty-two years. The decision was eventually made for me.

Before that, I have to talk about my family.

My wife was in her mid-thirties when we married. She was used to being a respected professional and an individual. After marrying me, she became my dependent, subsequently falling under my social security number for all access. She was literally told that her SSN didn't matter. She left her career, which paid her double what I made, to marry me and live on my pay check. So, it was a culture shock. We had been married ten years when we moved to Iowa.

My two children, Adam and Katie, nine and seven at the time, made this final move within the Marines with all the maturity they could muster. Adam had moved from North Carolina, where he was born, to Oklahoma, when he was two.  Katie was born in Oklahoma, and both moved to Michigan with their mom two years later when I was sent to Okinawa, and then Kuwait. They eventually moved back to North Carolina before this last transfer.

We found a house for rent in nearby Gilbertville. It was a small town, literally built around a Catholic Church. All the inhabitants were catholic -- except us. We found a Methodist or Nazarene Church in Waterloo.

Iowa is a flat state. Lots of corn, pigs, and farmers.

There's no Iowa professional football team because, as the joke goes, if THEY got one, then Minnesota would want one too.

Two things of note happened while we were there. Almost six thousand Serbian refugees immigrated to Iowa and took all the jobs others wouldn't do. As a whole, Iowa was the better for it.

Also, tens of thousands of ancestral farmland  was being sold off to building speculators, so the state legislature had to pass a law preventing sale of farming property to anyone who wasn't going to farm it.

I had been in the Marines for twenty years and never been seriously hurt. I went through the Beirut bombing in 1983, Desert Storm in 1991, Somalia in 1993, Haiti in 1995, but only broke a toe once. In Waterloo, Iowa, within a year, I fell chasing a fly ball at a baseball game and dislocated my shoulder so badly, I received 10 percent disability when I retired. Also, while running down a steep embankment during PT, I ripped the meniscus in my left knee. During a scope surgery they discovered arthritis all over. They recommended a knee replacement, but the military wouldn't do it and allow me to remain on active duty.

So, it was decided I would retire with twenty percent disability and let the VA handle it. That was the end of my military career.

One thing I recall about Iowa was learning of the Sullivan Brothers. Five brothers from Waterloo asked especially to serve together on the same ship during World War II. They did, but all died on the USS Juneau when it sank during the Battle of Guadalcanal. A navy destroyer was named for them, the USS TheSullivans.

Leaving Iowa was a sad and happy time for us. This would be the family's last move, hopefully, and the end of a world I'd known for half my life.


Author Notes Image is of the Sullivan Brothers, taken the day their ship, the USS Juneau, was commissioned.

Chapter 16
Attack of the 50 States: Kansas

By Bill Schott

From Dodge City to Dust in the Wind, Kansas has a lot to explore.

In 1827, Fort Leavenworth became the first white settlement in Kansas. The 10th Cavalry , an African American Regiment, otherwise known as Buffalo Soldiers, were established there.

Exodusters were black refugees who traveled to Kansas to escape the oppression of the post-Reconstruction South. During the 1870s, 40,000 African Americans migrated from those white supremacist states and settled in Kansas.

With the opening of the Chisholm Trail in the 1870s, the Wild West era also opened. Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp all gained fame during those fast times. Cattle drives brought beef herds to Dodge City, which was the launch point for the train carrying cattle East. Eight million head of cattle went through there every year. Somewhat related to that, White Castle, the first hamburger joint, started in Wichita. Today, there is not even one in the entire state.

Kansas became a 'dry' state, where alcohol was outlawed, from 1861 to 1948. So, of course, no one drank.

The rock band, Kansas, came out of Wichita in the 1970s. "Carry On My Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind", I think, are their major songs; both are from the album "Leftoverture".

I have to admit that most of this information came from Wikipedia. I did know some of it from military history classes and watching TV westerns for the first fifteen years of my life.

Personally, I rode through Kansas with my folks when I was a kid, but I have no memories of it beyond what I could see from the backseat of a Buick Skylark.

Before leaving I must remind you that Clark Kent grew up in Smallville, Kansas.

After leaving, you can safely say, "We're not in Kansas anymore."


Author Notes Topeka is the capital, not Kansas City. You're welcome.

Image is from Google.

Chapter 17
Attack of the 50 States:Kentucky

By Bill Schott

I spent some time in Kentucky a few years back when I was best man at a fellow Devil Dog's wedding. My friend, Hank, invited me to his parents house in Covington, a stone's throw away from the Ohio River to the north, and a river width away from Cincinnati, Ohio.

We were the only Jarheads there, but, as I recall, there were local reservists and recruiters from nearby who wore their uniforms and formed a sword bridge (some call it a tunnel, and others, a gauntlet) for the couple to march away under. As the final arch, I did manage to swat the newly betrothed Mrs. Arnett on her derriere with my NCO sword as they passed, to welcome her to the Corps. Everyone enjoyed that, though I believe she had mixed feelings. Good times.

This Blue Grass State is also known for horse racing. The first leg of the Triple Crown of Horse Racing is run at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The other two, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, are run in Maryland and New York, respectively.

Blue Grass, by the way, is a type of grass that grows thick and tall. It's plentiful in the South. Blue Grass music is a popular banjo and fiddle grouping which is very popular in the states, especially below the Mason-Dixon line. I might note that the "Dueling Banjos" scene from the film Deliverance, would be an example of this genre.

Bourbon is distilled only in America and is stored in new, charred oaken barrels. It's roots are traced back to Scottish still runners in Kentucky, in the colonial days. Jim Beam is considered the biggest producer of this type of whiskey in the world.

Moonshine is STILL popular here, and the source of many a wild tale of rum-runners, revenuers, and rehab. It's an un-taxed, illegal, and practically pure alcohol. Many have literally gone blind drinking it. Everclear is a brand of legal moonshine that is sold in package stores. It is 190 proof.

Kentucky is one of the largest producers of coal in the United States. Eighty-six percent of their coal goes to in-state electrical power plants, and much of it is shipped abroad. Recent energy source concerns, including clean, renewable methods, have led to mine closures.

Mammoth Cave National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. It has the longest cave system in the world. There are a thousand miles of extended caves, with more than half still unexplored. Mammoth Cave itself is accessible and both guided and self-paced tours explore it daily.

Tobacco is still a big cash crop in the southeastern states, but Kentucky is limited to fire-cured products like snuff and chewing tobacco.

Aristocratic Kentuckians are sometimes given the ceremonial title of Colonel. Somewhat like a knighthood, the title is an indication of an individual's contributions to the state. Probably the most famous one I can think of is Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame. He's long gone, but KFC lives on.

Daniel Boone lived in Kentucky, founding Boonesboro. As a pioneering explorer, he discovered the Cumberland Gap, which became a key passageway through the Appalachian Mountains.

Before I wander out of Kentucky and end up in Louisiana, via the Fanstory Gap, I want to apologize to any Kentuckians, or others who feel I have given short shrift to the state. I promise that I have under-investigated all states equally, and that nothing has been taken seriously.


Chapter 18
Attack ofthe 50 States:Louisiana

By Bill Schott

Louisiana is a state that makes me smile when I think of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Fat Tuesday sends one's thoughts back to France, as this area was once part of the enormous Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.

Billy and Wyatt, the two dope dealers from the movie, Easy Rider, met their end in Louisiana. A couple of typical locals dispatch them with shotgun blasts. That's Southern hospitality. 

That was in the sixties, but:   "in 1814 we took a little trip, down with Colonel Jackson to the Mighty Mississip; we took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we fought the bloody British at the shore of New Orleans."  Johnny Horton song. 

This state always makes me think of crawdads, or cray fish, catfish, and Cajun food in general, which is spicy hot.

A lot of folks speak Creole, which is a French derivative language. 

Hurricane Katrina blasted through Louisiana back in 2005, causing 120 billions dollars in damage and killing many. It is classified as the worst hurricane to make landfall in history. 

The Mississippi River runs through the east and southern part of the state and empties into the gulf at New Orleans. 

I have driven through Louisiana before. My memory of it was that it was hot, humid, and not all that welcoming to Northerners. Sob. 

Looks like I'm done here. Let's go to Maine. 


Author Notes Image from

Chapter 19
Attack of the 50 States: Maine

By Bill Schott

Maine is the northernmost state in the lower forty-eight, connecting only to New Hampshire . It is surrounded on the north by Canada and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.

Pretty much its name comes from a French city and likely means 'land'.

It's part of what's known as New England, which are a cluster of states to the northeast. It always reminds me of a turkey leg when viewed on a map which designates what's America and what's Canada.

It has thousands of acres of timber, pristine lakes, and is THE place for lobster and clams. Ninety percent of the country's lobster dinners come from Maine. Blueberries are plentiful as well, filling 90% of the nations need. (These numbers are from Wikipedia so, yeah)

There are ninety-five lighthouses along the three-thousand mile coastline of the state. 

I recall in boot camp, one of our drill instructors, Staff Sergeant Martinez, was from Texas. He told the recruits who said that they were from Texas to never say it. They, in his opinion, were not good enough to possibly be from the same state as he. If they were ever asked where they were from, they were to answer, "Maine". It was another big state. He was joking of course, unless he tested them and they said Texas; then the thrashing began.

Derry, Castle Rock, and Salem's Lot, Maine are three fictional towns used by horror writer, Stephen King, in his novels. The author has said that each town is based on the city of Bangor, in which he would find areas for scenes and sit nearby and write.

"Remember the Maine" was a call to arms to rally Americans into the Spanish-American War back in 1898. The battleship USS Maine was sunk in the the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Secretary of the Navy at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, although probably knowing it was a boiler accident, instead accused Spain of treachery. Some say it was the imperialistic American government's pursuit of Cuba that led to this action. Those cigars must really be just that good.

You may want to know more about Maine. Good luck with that.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 20
Attack of the 50 States:Maryland

By Bill Schott

When thinking of Maryland, I recall three instances when I had to go there. Once was intentional and the others because I was on my way to somewhere else.

I entered the Marines as a ballistic meteorologist. Part of that job requires launching balloon-borne radiosondes which measure temperature, pressure, and humidity in the atmosphere. This data and the wind directions aloft are used to plot artillery firing information for first-round effect on enemy targets.

The equipment we used in the seventies was developed in the fifties. It was tube-driven, heavy, and out of date with the times. So, in the eighties, it was finally replaced. The manual, written by the electronics company in Maryland, needed to be adjusted and verified for non-engineers to use on the job. I was sent to Baltimore to review, revise, and verify the manual for this new equipment.

That was when I discovered the reason for beltway highways around cities. The drive from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Baltimore was doubled because of the time it took to get past Washington, DC. Thirty-five miles an hour for a hundred miles is maddening.

A few years later, seeking a position on the Marine Corps Institute correspondence course writing staff, I had to drive to Marine Barracks Washington, DC to interview. That drive straight through to DC was crazy slow. Like a parking lot being towed by a giant snail, the traffic dragged along.

Talking to Marines who lived there already, they said they came to work two hours early every morning to avoid the soul-killing morning commute. DC lies at the top of Virginia, but they had all bought houses in Maryland. It was twice as far to drive, the taxes were much higher, but the drive to work less stressful than if they lived in Virginia. 

I didn't take that job, as the writing aspect at MCI would be second to the daily practices for the weekly public parades. I didn't see myself doing those highly coordinated rifle spinning drills. 

The third time I passed through Maryland was to visit my oldest brother who lived in Delaware. Coming from Michigan, I had to pass through Maryland for about thirty minutes. That was enough time to miss the same toll both going east and then going back west. So, the state snapped a picture of my license plate and sent a bill for the toll through the mail. They assumed I had tried to avoid the toll, so I was charged the toll and a fine. Bless them.

I realize I haven't expounded on the state of Maryland much, but, well, they dunned me on that toll, so, back at you, Maryland. 


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 21
Attack of the 50 States: Mass.

By Bill Schott

Massachusetts is the next on this tour of the United States by way of the alphabet. This is essentially the first colony (Since Virginia and the Lost Colony)

It borders on the Atlantic Ocean and five other states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

To race through history, I'll simply shout out important names and your mind can fill in the rest. Ready?

Plymouth Rock!
You should be whispering under your breath, "Mayflower, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving..."

Massachusetts Bay Colony! Colony? Colonies? Thirteen colonies! Thirteen states. United States!!

Your whispering is now muttering while you look around the room, "Puritans, Cotton Mather, ..."
Then you shout, "Salem Witch Trials!"

Boston Tea Party (Coffee starts percolating)

Paul Revere (One if by land; two if by sea)

Battle of Concord --- Old North Bridge --- Shot heard 'round the world!!!

Abolitionists John Brown, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony contributed to Massachusetts's actions during the Civil War. Massachusetts mounted the first Black regiment with White officers, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

The Kennedys:

Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, robber baron, has kids:
John F. Kennedy, PT 109, Profiles in Courage, Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, 35th President, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, assassinated, Magic Bullet, Pristine Bullet, MacGruder Film, grassy knoll. JFK replaces Ben Franklin on the fifty-cent piece.

Bobby Kennedy, Attorney General, Mafia, Jimmy Hoffa, Sirhan Sirhan, assassinated "Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? Can you tell me where he's gone? He's walked on over the hill with Abraham, Martin, and John."

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics, Peace Corps, son-in-law Arnold Swartzeneggar.

Ted Kennedy drives off bridge, drowns his secretary, no charges, remains in Senate for life.

The term, Banned in Boston, seems to get its origin from the 1888 banning of Huck Finn by the Concord, Massachusetts Public Library. Conservative restrictions since then are sometimes branded with this phrase.

Boston Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Islanders, New England Patriots,  Boston Marathon.  Cheers.  

My personal experience with this state, aside from driving through it, is that my life insurance company is Massachusetts Mutual. I recommend them. 


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 22
Attack of the 50 States:Michigan

By Bill Schott

I now begin the task of writing about my home state of Michigan. I was born in Flint in 1955. Lower Michigan is shaped like a mitten, so Flint is in the lower 'thumb' region. A Michigander would point to his/her palm to indicate where that was.

I never really learned much about Michigan until I was middle-aged. I think my family was in survival mode all of my younger life, with my parents trying to keep it together with six kids. The schools never taught about Michigan, though I did learn about Christopher Columbus, Ponce Deleon, Magellan, and that there were three Presidents: Washington, Lincoln, and whoever was in the office then. I didn't realize that JFK was President until LBJ was.

We did learn about the Great Lakes, but the minutia that would make that information important was not impressed on me. I considered the mnemonic use of HOMES for remembering the large lakes my great feat.

Many people know that the Great Lakes surround Michigan and make the lower peninsula highly recognizable on a map. What some don't know is that there is an upper peninsula of Michigan. An explanation for that comes later. The two are separated except for the man-made Mackinac Bridge.

The early history of the territory that would be Michigan is woven together with other tales of explorers who came through waterways from the east to hunt and trap where only indigenous peoples had before. French explorers followed the Saint Lawrence River from the eastern coast of Canada, down to Lake Ontario.

The French controlled that region until losing it to the British, who lost it to American forces during the revolution.

The capital of Michigan was once Detroit, but it was always in danger of attack from the waterways by British forces. For protection, the capital was moved inland to Lansing.

Michiganders (or Michiganians, as some insist) have a nickname of WOLVERINES. This, like other proud names, began as a taunt. During the Toledo War in 1835, between the Michigan Territory and the state of Ohio, people of Michigan were called wolverines, as that animal was considered a stinky, filthy and otherwise useless creature. Rising to that occasion, the name became synonymous with Michiganders being tenacious and dangerous opponents.

The result of the Toledo War was the city and port of Toledo becoming a part of Ohio, and Michigan expanding its territories to include nine thousand square miles now referred to as the U.P. (Upper Peninsula). The rivalry between Michigan and Ohio has lived on since.

Michigan became the 26th state of the United States just after South Carolina, a slave state, which took precedence due to the process of statehood directed by the Missouri Compromise.

Skipping ahead a century or so, Michigan became an industrial hub due to the invention of the automobile and its main production being done in Michigan. GENERAL MOTORS (Chevrolet, Pontiac, GMC, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac); CHRYSLER (Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymoth); and FORD (Mercury and Lincoln) were all built there with headquarters in Detroit. Everyone who didn't work for a car company, probably worked for a satellite industry that supplied them.
The automobile industry, and the unionized labor, is credited for helping create the MIDDLE CLASS of America. Cars meant people traveled and needed GASOLINE to get to MOTELS to buy SOUVENIRS or go to RESTAURANTS.

The automobile industry was so vital, when Ford Motor Company stopped manufacturing cars for a year back in 1929, the domino effect created what was eventually the Great Depression.

My father worked at Buick most of his life and retired. My oldest sister married a man who worked at Chevrolet his entire adult life, my oldest brother became an engineer and worked for General Motors. My next older sister went through two husbands who both had worked for Chrysler. My next older brother worked at Buick from seventeen until he retired thirty years later. Only my next older brother and I avoided that route and left Michigan for other careers.

Michigan's best feature is its climate. Unlike the South, where it's hot and muggy or just hot, Michigan has four distinct seasons of deep winter, flowery spring, sunny summer, and
a cool, beautiful fall. It was once known as the Water Winter Wonderland.

People snow ski at Mount Holly, sail and fish on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, hunt all over the northern lower peninsula and the upper peninsula, and run, walk, hike, ride, fly, and camp everywhere else.

I could probably probe around and pull out a number of natural resources like timber and minerals to talk about, but they are kind of boring. I'm just going to throw out a few biggies for me, give them a nickel explanation, and drive on.

The Soo Locks: this engineering feat allows ships to traverse from Lake Superior to the thirty-foot lower Lake Huron and eventually Lake Michigan.

The Mackinac Bridge: connects the five-mile span between upper and lower Michigan.

Mackinac Island: is a non-motorized tourist site where Fort Mackinac is located. There are summer tours which cover historic sites, geocaches, shopping, water activities, and other stuff. The Grand Hotel, an historic and palatial landmark is still active and was the site of the 1980 film, Somewhere in Time, with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. There hadn't been any cars on the island for over a century, until Vice President Pence insisted that his motorcade be allowed access last year.

Frankenmuth: a town in the thumb area that is world famous for its Bavarian theme, including food, spirits, authentic recreated sights, and the giant Christmas store, Bronners. One can find a road sign advertising Bronners on Interstate Highway I-75 North leaving Miami, Florida, and when traveling south from Toronto, Canada.

Lumberman's Monument: a site honoring Michigan's logging industry, and includes forty-foot carved, wooden statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

SPORTS!!! Love or hate those Detroit Lions. Always rooting for the Detroit Tigers. Hoping for the best with the Detroit Pistons. Usually dependable Detroit Red Wings. The newly formed professional soccer team, Lansing Ignite.

Bigger than the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio is the rivalry between the University of Michigan (U of M) Wolverines and the Michigan State University (MSU) Spartans. Both are usually in the top five during the playoffs of major college sports.

HUNTING and FISHING!!! Deer, bear, turkey, ducks, salmon, smelt, bass, trout, pike, and sturgeon.

I lived my first nineteen years in Michigan, but didn't really appreciate it. The next twenty-five I spent in the the South, or out of CONUS. The last twenty years I've been back in Michigan and can only say that I liked the people of the southern states I was in, North Carolina and Oklahoma, but love everything else about living here.

Go Blue!


Author Notes HOMES= Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior
Mackinac is pronounced Mack-in-aw
CONUS = Continental United States

Image from Google

Chapter 23
Attack ofthe 50 States:Minnesota

By Bill Schott

I'm going to try not to go too quickly through Minnesota, as I spent so much time on Michigan, that I may only have a whistle stop amount of intel on MinneSOta, yah?

The capital of Minnesota is Saint Paul. I know, you thought it was Minneapolis, the twin city. Minnesota Twins, get it? No, it's St. Paul. Fifty-three percent of the state lives near Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The state was largely settled by Scandinavian, German, and Czech families, and that remains the majority culture. Minnesota Vikings, get it? In the last decade an Asian populace has developed as well.

Minnesota is the northernmost of the forty-eight contiguous states. It borders Lake Superior to the east, Canada to the north, Iowa to the south, and North and South Dakota to the west.

Speaking of Dakota, they were the prominent indigenous nation in this area. Minnesota is a Dakotan name for 'blue water'.

When I lived in Iowa, we took the opportunity to drive up to Bloomington, Minnesota to go through the famous Mall of America. The huge shopping center [boasts more than 520 stores, 60 restaurants, Nickelodeon Universe (a 7-acre indoor amusement park), SEA LIFE Aquarium, a comedy club, world-class gaming and entertainment centers, the LEGO Store, mini-golf, and tons of other family attractions and nightlife options.]

Let's not forget that the fictional town of Frostbite Falls is the home of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bulwinkle J. Moose. If you look closely you might also spy Boris Badinov and Natasha lurking behind a Douglas Fir tree.

I'm heading for M-I-SS-I-SS-I-PP-I.


Author Notes Minnesota Twins are their professional baseball team
Minnesota Vikings are their professional football team.

Chapter 24
Attack o the50states:Mississippi

By Bill Schott

I really can't find much motivation to talk about Mississippi.

I have decided to let the movies made about Mississippi speak for themselves:

Ghosts of Mississippi
In the Heat of the Night
Mississippi Burning
Murder in Mississippi
When We Were Colored
Roll of Thunder
Summer in Mississippi

Nuff said.


Author Notes BLM

Chapter 25
Attack of the 50 States:MissourI

By Bill Schott

My family drove out west when I was thirteen. We traveled across the northern states, passed through the western and southwestern one, and headed back north through the state of Missouri. Not coincidentally, I have come to this very state in my attack.

When I think of Missouri I typically think of Mark Twain. He gave us The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a rollicking good, young man's tale of high jinks and adventure.. The story featured Tom, of course, and his best friend, Huckleberry Finn. Injun Joe and Aunt Polly were the adults of different extremes.

Eight years later, Twain wrote what readers thought was a sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The second novel, though humorous, was darker and did a hatchet job on the post Reconstruction era South. It was banned, at first, but eventually became what it considered the first fully American novel. It is the topic of debate still.

Now, I know I got off track there, but I really like those books, as well as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, The Prince and the Pauper, and the rest.

I nowadays think of the movie The Outlaw Joesy Wales which involved a Missouri farmer who became a guerilla fighter for the South in the Civil War and chased by bounty hunters for war crimes afterward.

Back to our family trip though, we stopped at my aunt's home in St. Louis. My dad had not seen her in twenty years and I had never met her. She was very kind and welcoming, as I recall, and her husband reminded me of the actor Reginald Gardiner, with a pencil-thin mustache and Brylcream hair. Nice fellow.

The Gateway Arch had been completed recently, but the traffic, congestion, and likely, cost, to visit the six-hundred-and -thirty foot long and tall structure proved to be a deal breaker. Skipped it.

Jesse James was born in Missouri and became a famous train robber after the Civil War. The James Gang was both notorious and idolized by poor folks who felt the men were a kind of modern Robin Hood bunch.

James Gang ...... Joe Walsh ...... Eagles ........ Hotel California

Random? Sure.

Spirit of St. Louis
Meet Me in Saint Louis, Louie
Going to Kansas City

Last summer, my wife and I visited Branson, Missouri. We saw a few shows, but the Sight and Sound Theater had a mammoth production of Samson. It's a 240 degree, moving stage with a multimedia presentation.

I'm sure I missed some Missouri highlights, or, more likely, most of them. Best I can do is try and give Montana a better deal.


Author Notes Image from

Chapter 26
Attack of the 50 States: Montana

By Bill Schott

So Montana, which is Spanish for mountain, is half prairie and half Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains define the Continental Divide, which delineates the watershed passage of runoff water between what goes to the Pacific and what heads to the Atlantic. This runs right through Montana.

About ten percent of Yellowstone National Park is in southern Montana. The majority is in Wyoming to the south.

Helena is the capital of this state and I'm beginning to fall asleep.

Ninety percent of the state identifies as white: diversity reversity (I just coined that phrase, but you may steal it).

My family traveled through Montana in 1969. I recall mountains, the radiator overheating, and arguments. 

I am going to depend on the readers to fill up this post. You tell me what you know and I will include it post posting (I believe I just coined that phrase as well. What a day, hey?).

The following will be your input. Thank you in advance:

Mary Kay Bonfante included that her husband Jorge and she visited Montana in 2009 They had a great time, spent mostly with family members who live there year-round. 

They went to the zoo at Yellowstone National Park, and the most notable animals there were wolves and bears. The bears were "problem bears," with a very special job: to test the strength of dumpsters, in how well they kept the bears out. It was a win-win situation, because the problem bears were kept out of the wilderness, and away from encounters with humans, and at the same time, they served the important purpose of helping to make dumpsters bear-proof against other bears. Once a bear becomes too accustomed to being fed by human refuse, he becomes a problem bear, unfit for a national park, because it puts both the bear and the people around him in danger. Bears should not be socialized with humans. 

They saw some incredibly beautiful sights in Montana. They passed through an area called "Big Sky," and Montana is generally considered Big Sky country. When there was a storm, huge hailstones came down, in the late summer! They saw the geysers in Yellowstone National Park, notably Old Faithful. There were hot springs, mineral pools, streams and wildflowers. 

They went to an outdoor shooting range, and Mary Kay tried using her brother Jim's gun. She was a pretty good shot. They were concerned about this one chipmunk who seemed to have a death wish, a strange tendency to climb the targets on the shooting range. Fortunately they weren't aiming for this poor creature, and he escaped unscathed. 

President Obama was visiting Montana at the same time they were. Besides spending time with both her brother Jim and his wife, and her sister Tricia and her family, Mary Kay spent about a week at a Day's Inn. The hotel employees were super nice. The Secret Service guards were also very well behaved, and made decent neighbors. It seems that the President was flying between two towns in Montana, and to protect him, they used three helicopters: he was only flying in one of them, and the other two were decoys. If someone wanted to attack his helicopter, they'd have to be willing to take a gamble, or shoot down all three birds: more work than your average assassin is willing to do. As history confirms, nothing sinister befell President Obama in Montana, and the Secret Service did a great job. 

She had some very memorable family times and witnessed the christening of her twin baby nieces. Her husband got virtually run over by her brother's two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, who were very friendly. All in all, it was a very successful and enjoyable trip.

Lyenochka says 
to include something about Glacier National Park. She's never been, but hears it's amazing. She also loves Yellowstone. According to Helen, Montanans are strong people, but when they get tired, they go out west and adapt to having to live closer to their neighbors. 

Ben Colder said that the fly fishing is the best in Montana.  I remember the story "A River Runs Through It" is set in Montana. 

Hanna Montana, y'all. 


Author Notes Image from Google.

Chapter 27
Attack of the 50 States:Nebraska

By Bill Schott

Nebraska is important to our family because of my brother-in-law, Tom Alward. He was a guard for the Nebraska Cornhuskers throughout his college career from 1970 through 1974.
He was drafted into the NFL's New York Jets, then joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Finally, he moved to the WFL's Birmingham Vulcans, retiring from football when that league folded.

A couple of years ago, Tom's son, my nephew, Trevor, received his PhD in Education from Nebraska.

I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but my family drove out west from Michigan in 1969 when I was thirteen. I recall riding through Nebraska only because, in 1984, I watched the Stephen King movie, Children of the Corn, set in Nebraska. The image of miles and miles of corn stalks on either side of the road was reinforced and has supplanted any other sights I may have seen in that long, flat state.

In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act went into effect to open up the Great Plains to settlers. That act cancelled out the Missouri Compromise and all future states would be on their own to decide if they were slave states or not. This, among other things led to southern states seceding and, of course, the Civil War.

The third novel in Willa Cather's trilogy of the Great Plains (O Pioneer, Song of the Lark, My Antonia) took place in Nebraska.

Father Flanagan's Boys Town is in Lincoln, Nebraska. It exists now, but I still remember the 1938 movie with Spencer Tracey and Mickey Rooney. Father Flanagan always said, "There's no such thing as a bad boy."

Wars in Nebraska:
Quadruple Alliance // Spain, Pueblo, & Apache vs Pawnee & Otoe
1855      First Sioux War      //  Brulé vs United States of America
1859      Pawnee War         //  Pawnee vs United States of America
1864      Cheyenne War      //  Cheyenne, Arapaho & Lakota vs Nebraska settlers
1865       Colorado War        //   Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux, & Arapaho vs USA
1876       Great Sioux War    //   Cheyenne vs United States of America

The capital of Nebraska was Lancaster.  In 1868 that city was renamed Lincoln in honor of the assassinated president.

Famous folks from Nebraska:

William Jennings Bryan      Lawyer  prosecuted Scope's Monkey Trial
Johnny Carson                   Tonight Show host for 30 years
Willa Cather                        author of O Pioneer   and My Antonia
Dick Cavett                         talk show host
Dick Cheney                       vice president
Hillary Swank                      actress
Cliff Hillegass                      Cliff Notes

I hope you've read enough about Nebraska. 


Chapter 28
Attack of the 50 States: Nevada.

By Bill Schott

Let me just start out telling you that neither Las Vegas nor Reno are the capital of Nevada. It's Carson City.

Nevada has come into my life a couple times, though I was more a spectator in both occurrences.

When my family drove out West in 1969, Las Vegas was a place that we spent the night. Since we entered the city during the daytime, the swanky light show was not available. We did pass all the big hotel/casinos and found a motel on the outskirts of town. I recall the portable marquee stated there was NO POOL FOR CONSERVATIVE LODGERS. I wasn't sure that meant that the lack of a pool was good for cheapies like us, or that the person who proved to be too stingy with his money would be barred from the pool that existed. I just know that there must not have been a campground close by.

There were slot machines in every available space. We stopped at a local grocery store. Where you find an ATM today, there was a trio of "one-arm bandits". I was eager to give it a try, but it seemed you had to be twenty-one to drop a coin in. I practically begged to lose my quarter in the fun machine, but my parents felt that would be breaking the law. I was already feeling the gambler monkey climbing on my back. There were slot machines in the bathrooms as well.

When I was in the Corps, and we would travel to Twentynine Palms, California, when the post exercise liberty was sounded, buses would take mock war-weary troops across the state line to Nevada to party in Laughlin. I recall one of our artillery men got off the bus, entered the door of a casino, put a quarter in a machine, and won $5000. He collected his winnings and called it a night. I heard he slept in the bus.

After researching Nevada, I have decided to just pop a few things in that interest me.

The Comstock Lode. Silver everywhere. Bonanza!!

The Ponderosa. The Cartrights. Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository

Hoover Dam

Harold Robbins wrote The Carpetbaggers; one of the characters was Max Sand; his backstory included his changing his name to Nevada Smith; that backstory became a screenplay with Steve McQueen called Nevada Smith; that character and his name inspired a George Lucas character named Indiana Smith, which was eventually changed to Indiana Jones.

Nevada is mostly desert, so it was not that attractive to potential growth. The state decided to liberalize their laws to get people and industry to move there.

There is no sales tax or corporation tax in Nevada. They legalized gambling, prostitution, and marijuana. None of that is as big a deal today, since what were our vices are now our habits.

Tax laws were so lax that there were no necessary records needed, therefore no government scrutiny. That sounds like a perfect place for organized crime to move in.

Bugsy Seigal, a gangster, opened up the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in the 1940s, in Las Vegas. He interested the Chicago mob in the idea and the city took off and became the gambling mecca. His reward was a bullet in the eye.

Quicky marriages. Quicky divorces.

I end this attack by telling you that Nevada means snow. 


Author Notes Image from Google.

Chapter 29

By Bill Schott

New Hampshire is one of six states referred to as New England. The others are Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

It's bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. The capital is

State motto is "Live Free or Die". The state's nickname is "The Granite State"; guess why.

In 1776, New Hampshire established its own state constitution and became one of the original 13 colonies that signed the United States Declaration of Independence. Then, in 1788, it ratified the United States Constitution.

Many French Canadians migrated to New Hampshire in the late 19th century; today 24.5% of the state identifies as French Americans.

Some of the highest ski mountains are on the east coast; New Hampshire's major recreational attractions include winter sports, hiking and mountaineering. The White Mountain National Forest links the Vermont and Maine portions of the Appalachian Trail.

Among prominent individuals from New Hampshire are Daniel Webster, Horace Greeley, Mary Baker Eddy, Robert Frost, Alan Shepard, Adam Sandler, restaurateurs Richard and Maurice McDonald (Golden Arches guys) and President of the United States Franklin Pierce.
That's all who are listed in Wikipedia, so the rest are either chopped liver or not really from New Hampshire.

My middle son got his Masters in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

New Hampshire has the shortest ocean coastline of any state in the United States, approximately 18 miles long.  About 7 miles offshore are the Isles of Shoals, nine small islands known as the alleged location of one of the buried treasures of the pirate Blackbeard.

Starting in 1952, New Hampshire became the location for the first presidential primary in every presidential election year. It is the most important testing grounds for candidates for the Republican and Democratic nominations.

New Hampshire's energy consumption is the lowest in the country. The Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant provides 57% of New Hampshire's electricity generation. Approximately 32% of New Hampshire's electricity consumption came from renewable resources (including nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, and other renewable resources). New Hampshire was a net exporter of electricity, exporting 63 trillion BTU (British thermal units).

The state has no general sales tax and no personal state income tax, but the property taxes are killer.

I was going to include an extensive list of folks from all walks of life and professions who are from this state, but there are too many and they are found on Wikipedia so, have at.

I have left a ton of stuff out about everything from NASCAR to summer stock theaters, but I am just one man with more states to minimally describe and possibly slander.

We are now leaving the much touted New Hampshire for the often maligned New Jersey.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 30
Attack ofthe 50States:NewJersey

By Bill Schott

New Jersey is home to the highest number of millionaires per capita in America, and their public school system consistently ranks as the top of all fifty states.

Doesn't that sound boring already? I must admit there is a lot of very cool colonial, Revolutionary War, and just Jersey data to be found. None of it interests me, so I am going to the meat of the matter and plopping in highlights.

Let's see if this sets the tone: It's illegal to
 wear a bullet-proof vest while committing a murder in New Jersey.

New Jersey is known as the Garden State; a nickname credited to Benjamin Franklin, because of the tremendous agricultural varieties in the state. It's the biggest in cranberries and blueberries.

More cars are stolen in Newark, New Jersey than New York City and Los Angeles combined. Hoo HOO!

New Jersey is the birthplace of modern paleontology. In 1858 the first complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

The first ever brewery in America was opened in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1642.

Monopoly, the board game, is based on the actual streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Atlantic City has the largest boardwalk (six miles) in the world. It's the home of the Miss America beauty pageant. Donald Trump owned a hotel and a casino in Atlantic City, The  Taj Mahal, but it eventually failed.

The Holland Tunnel between New Jersey and New York became the first ventilated underwater tunnel in 1927.

Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Jerry Lewis (comedians); Buzz Aldrin (astronaut), Aaron Burr (vice president), Count Basie (jazz musician), Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen (rock stars), Grover Cleveland (president), Stephen Crane(song writer), Albert Einstein (duh!), Richard Nixon (Tricky Dick), Norman Schwarzkopf (five star general), Frank Sinatra (Old Blue Eyes), Whitney Houston(singer), Paul Simon (song writer), Jack Nicholson, John Travolta, and Bruce Willis(actors) are some famous New Jerseyans.

Jersey Shore
The Real Housewives of New Jersey

The Apprentice filmed at Trump Organization properties in New Jersey
Aqua Teen Hunger Force set in New Jersey
Batman set in Gotham City, a fictional city of New Jersey
Boardwalk Empire set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition Era
Cake Boss  set at Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken
The Sopranos filmed in Essex County in New Jersey 

Okay some history:
1660=Dutch settle in the New Jersey area
1664= British seize control of New Jersey
1756=Princeton University established
1766=Rutgers University established
1783=Princeton serves as the nation's capital
1790=New Jersey is the first state to sign the Bill of Rights
1804=Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr duel at Weehawken   My Shot
1879=Thomas Edison invents a incandescent lamp at Menlo Park
1880-2020= a bunch of other stuff happened

I have no particular memories of New Jersey other than my family drove through it on the way to Maine, which I have no distinct memories of either.

I do have some interesting recollections of New Mexico. Let's go there and remember to take a left turn at Albuquerque.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 31
Attack ofthe 50 States:NewMexico

By Bill Schott

New Mexico

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this, but when I was a freshly minted teenager, my parents, brother, and I traveled in a Buick torture chamber to the western United States. At some point we entered the impossibly barren and rest-stopless state of New Mexico.

Since I had destroyed our one container for carrying water, making me the local zero, we travelled miles and miles being thirsty and loathing me. I thought Arizona was the hottest and cruelest state to ride in a back seat through, but I was corrected when we entered New Mexico.

New Mexico has a large U.S. military presence marked notably with the White Sands Missile Range. Various U.S. national security agencies base their research and testing arms in New Mexico, such as the Los Alamos National Laboratories. During the 1940s, the Manhattan Project developed the first atomic bomb and tested it.

Navajo and Apache populated this region before it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598. It was named Nuevo Mexico after the Aztec Valley, more than 250 years before the country of Mexico. So, the state of New Mexico was not named after the country of Mexico.

New Mexico came into the nation's consciousness with the television series, Breaking Bad, and its spin off, Better Call Saul. 

Back to me. I recall only two things from our endurance test across New Mexico: the hilarious rest stops and my brothers time behind the wheel.

The rest stops in New Mexico were only a 55 gallon barrel for trash, period. We traveled miles anticipating a stretch, pee, and a drink, but all the rest stops were just a place to throw away our trash.

Eventually we got to Albuquerque. Someone had the famously bad idea of having my brother, Albert, try out his new driver's license while negotiating the city traffic. The images of my mother's back-seat pleadings, my father's stroke-level screams, and my brother's contrary piloting skills still reside in my memory. This is how it would feel to be in the backseat of a clown car, on fire, driving off a cliff, with the volume on the radio turned to brain scan.

I was asked to include Roswell and Area 51. I can include Roswell, where in 1947 a high-elevation, experimental, meteorological balloon, carrying something classified, landed in the desert. Government secrecy fomented conspiracy theories about an alien spacecraft crash that still exist today. If it were a flying saucer, some green goblin with a new license was probably behind the wheel. Area 51 is in Nevada, so I'll pop that in there. 

Seeing the Texas border sign made my heart flutter with the anticipation of eventually getting out of the 'cage' and not being in New Mexico.


Chapter 32
Attack ofthe 50 States: New York

By Bill Schott

Researching items for New York has left me quite frustrated. There isn't enough space in this article to hold just the 'Oh, really?' things, let alone the 'You have got to be kidding me!' stuff.

As much as I have disappointed people on my not-all-inclusive, drive-by treatments of the first thirty-one states, I figure there is no way I could satisfy all of the New Yorkers, New York-philes, or the What-about-'Friends' folks.

I will do what I can to include what I know, along with what I deem suitable for public consumption.

New York City, often called simply New York, with 3.3 million people within 304 square acres, is the most densely populated city in the United States.

Yankees. Mets. Giants. Jets. Islanders Rangers. Knicks. Nets. NYCFC, Red Bulls

New York City was the first capital of the United States. George Washington was inaugurated on Wall Street.

New York Post established in 1801 as a Federalist newspaper by Alexander Hamilton.

The Big Apple: Brooklyn. Staten Island. Bronx. Manhattan. Queens.

Cooperstown: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Catskill Mountains: Rip Van Winkle       Dirty Dancing


Wall Street

United Nations

Empire State Building        King Kong

Twin Towers        911

Adirondack Park: six million acres of protected land.

Central Park

Harlem      Renaissance     Globe Trotters      The Apollo

Statue of Liberty



Niagara Falls


Grand Central Station

My family travelled to the east coast in 1970, the year after we had driven out West. I recall New York City for all that I didn't see. We avoided a lot of those dense traffic areas, though we did pass by the Empire State Building. I saw the entrance and a few thousand people milling around. I felt like a bug riding through a shag rug.

I think my dad was simply trying to get through the city. Between the mountains and the city, I feel New York was chiefly presented to me through the filter of a man tired of driving.

The scenery of New York was probably beautiful and awe-inspiring, but after fifty years I confuse it with the mountains of South Korea in my memory.

My daughter went on a mission trip to New York City after her high school graduation. She and her group worked in the Bowery and slept on the floor of a church there.

My wife and daughter had a week together with three other women in New York City. They saw Wicked on Broadway, shopped in Times Square, rode the subway, visited Ground Zero, and bought the Brooklyn Bridge.

I think we're through here, so -- start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today.


Chapter 33
Attack ofthe50 States:N Carolina

By Bill Schott

The Carolinas were pretty much just a geography answer to me until I was nineteen. I'm not even sure I knew the difference between them and the Dakotas. Now that I think about it, I probably got that geography question wrong.

When I decided to join the Marines in 1974, I quickly learned that Parris Island (yes I spelled it right) was in South Carolina and contained the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. In North Carolina, Camp Lejeune was the headquarters for the 2nd Marine Division. (There are four divisions: Camp Pendleton, California has the 1st Marine Division; Okinawa, Japan, the 3rd; and all the Marine Corps Reserves make up the 4th MarDiv.

Once I finished boot camp, which was surprisingly in MCRD San Diego, California, not SC, and I finished my MOS school in Lawton, Oklahoma, I was assigned to HQ Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Group, 2nd Field Service Support Group, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. I was in North Carolina.

The military town outside Camp Lejeune was Jacksonville. This was the mid-seventies and Vietnam was almost in the books. The town reflected the times and was packed with bars, strip joints, tattoo parlors, whore houses, and lawyers. The attorneys represented the bar brawlers, sexual assault assailants, victims of crooked businessmen, and those being blackmailed by prostitutes' pimps' lawyers.

Outside of this area, the state of North Carolina was a beautiful and friendly place to live. I was surprised, after growing up in Michigan, how downright neighborly folks were. Being part of the Bible Belt accounts for some of it, but the general population lived life at a little slower and relaxed pace.

I was married right out of boot camp and lived off-base in town. My first hitch was three years and I was ready to move on. I had made it to sergeant in two years, which I discovered later was considered impressive. I think, being married, I avoided a lot of the snares that get Marines in trouble and slow down their careers.

My wife managed to get pregnant a few months before my hitch was up, so we decided to re-enlist. The economy under Presidents Ford and Carter was in sad shape, so staying made sense.

After that three year term, we left the Marines and North Carolina. Within two years we were back and I found that my old unit, 2nd FAG, had been disbanded and the artillery batteries were absorbed by 10th Marine Regiment.

The rest of my story goes on a bumpy ride, so I will take this opportunity to beef up your Nort-Cacalacki history.

North Carolina is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state's capital and Charlotte is its largest city. Charlotte is the largest banking center in the nation after New York City.

NC was established in 1729 as one of the original Thirteen Colonies. North Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I; Carolus being Latin for "Charles".

North Carolina was the 12th state to ratify the United States Constitution.

It declared secession from the Union in 1861, becoming the last of eleven states to join the Confederate States; restored to the Union in 1868.

Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the first heavier-than-air aircraft at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina's Outer Banks in 1903. The state's license plates say "First in Flight".

North Carolina's elevations go from the highest point east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet, in the Appalachian Mountains, to sea level on the Atlantic coastal plain.

Within a year of returning to the Corps and North Carolina, I was sent to Beirut, Lebanon. After that debacle, I returned to find I was getting divorced. Long story short, first wife out, next wife in. Then within a year, we transferred out of North Carolina to Oklahoma.

Three years there, a year in Okinawa, which included Desert Storm, and I was sent again to 10th Marines in North Carolina. My new wife and new family remained there until we transferred to my final duty station in Iowa.

Did I mention South Carolina? I will in the next installment. Meet you in Myrtle Beach.


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 34
Attackofthe50States:North Dakota

By Bill Schott

I just finished North Carolina and was on my way to under-explain South Carolina when I remembered that I was proceeding alphabetically. So, now I will tell you everything you need to know from my point of view about NORTH DAKOTA.

The capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo.

Fargo means two things to me. First was the flood back in 1997. The Marine Corps Reserve in Iowa sent troops to help deliver aid to those North Dakotans affected. We loaded trucks, unloaded trucks and delivered stuff.

The movie Fargo was a classic made by the Coen Brothers and supposedly based on the true story.

North Dakota has the the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation (after Hawaii).

North Dakota contains the tallest man-made structure in the Western Hemisphere, the KVLY-TV mast. It is 2063 feet tall. The only structure taller is in Dubai.

The Great plains covers all of North Dakota which was once peopled by the Dakota or Lakota tribes, otherwise known as the Great Sioux Nation, who were eventually assigned to reservations in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

In one of the oldest, unresolved cases in U.S. legal history, United States v. Sioux Nation the Supreme Court ruled that the United States was wrong in breaking the terms of that treaty. It seems all white settlements were banned there, but when gold was discovered in 1874, there was a gold rush. The government reassigned the Lakota, against their wishes, to other reservations in western South Dakota, breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation into smaller portions.

The Supreme Court awarded eight Sioux tribes $106 million in compensation. The Sioux Nation has refused to accept the award, saying they want their land returned. The money is still held in accounts at the Treasury Department, accruing interest. It's valued at over $1 billion.

Lots of gas, oil, and mining going on in North Dakota, along with the largest wheat fields in North America. This state and Kansas are considered the Breadbasket of the free world.

Once again, leaving trillions of pieces of data unreported, I am leaving this place for Ohio.


Chapter 35
Attack of the 50 States: Ohio

By Bill Schott

Ohio’s flag is the only non-rectangular U.S. state flag.

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio

May of 1970 National Guardsmen shot four anti-war protesters on the campus of Kent State University.

I attended a high school newspaper publishing class during the summer of 2004 at Kent State and stood at the spots where the students died. There are fixed pillars in the parking lot where they fell.

I've driven through Ohio hundreds of times on my way to somewhere else.

The Cleveland Clinic is the country's leading heart surgery hospital. My mother-in-law received a triple by-pass and two valve replacements in the same surgery; a record there.

Ohio in Seneca language means "the Great River".

August 1914 the world’s first electric traffic signal installed in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Wright Brothers repaired, rented, built and sold bikes in Dayton, Ohio, before building the first practical airplane in 1905

Chillicothe was the first capital of Ohio. It was moved to Zanesville in 1810, back to Chillicothe in 1812, and then Columbus 1816. 

Seven American Presidents were born in Ohio:  Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A Garfield, Benjamin Henry Harrison, William F. McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding.

The nickname “Buckeye State” comes from the buckeye tree, which grew abundantly on the state’s plains and hills.

Akron, Ohio is nicknamed as the Rubber Capital of the World. Goodyear was founded in 1899.

Farming is Ohio’s number one industry and contributes more than $100 billion to the state’s economy. 

The fire in a coal mine set by its workers in 1884 near New Straitsville, Ohio is still burning.  It is estimated that more than two hundred square miles of coal has burned. Smoke emerges from the soil of the Wayne National Forest.  This reminds me of the movie, Silent Hill.

The world’s largest annual gathering of twins is organized in Twinsburg, Ohio. 

The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton.

John Glenn –  the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, and Neil Armstrong – the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969 were both Ohioans.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was designed by a 21-year-old, Maya Lin, from Ohio.

Ohio has the largest Amish population of any state in the nation.

Cincinnatti is also known as Sin City.

The Erie Canal reaches from Cincinatti to Toledo connecting the Ohio River to Lake Erie. 

I'm headed for Oklahoma.


Chapter 36
Attack of the 50 States:Oklahoma

By Bill Schott

Oklahoma became a state in 1907 during the Teddy Roosevelt 
Administration. Sooners were settlers who had raced into the 
territory to stake claims prior to statehood. 

"Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain." 
The Broadway show's theme song became Oklahoma's state 
song in 1956. 

The first time I was in Oklahoma I was in the backseat of the now infamous family car on the third turn of the Schott Derby. Our family was heading east on Will Rogers Highway, otherwise known as Route 66. We had left New Mexico, crossed the top of Texas, and eventually plowed through the Sooner State. I only recall it because I still watched reruns of the television show, Route 66, when it appeared on Channel 50, the Canadian station.

Since my dad was in the automobile building business, this highway was significant as an artery which was developed to allow people to cross America in cars. Also, Will Rogers was still a familiar name in entertainment, as he was a sort of Mark Twain for the southwest. "I never met a man I didn't like." was his motto. His friendship with Wiley Post is a story too big for this Attack of the 50 States segment.

The next time I was in Oklahoma was for my military occupational specialty (MOS) training at Fort Sill. I was trained in Artillery Ballistic Meteorology. I was a bit of an oddity as the only Marine in the class. The soldiers were asking me endless questions about boot camp, as they figured it must have been grueling. At that point in my career, I assumed all training was the same. It definitely was not.

I graduated that school and went to my first duty station at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Within a year, I was back in Oklahoma to take an electronics maintenance class. In the Marines, units hated to send equipment out for repair because of the long down time. So, they sent operators back to be trained in electronics to prevent that from slowing down firing missions.

While I was there I visited the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge with a couple other Marines. We were young and foolish and thought it was funny to throw rocks at a buffalo, which was lying in a huge puddle in an opening. 

One of the other sergeants told us that the most the bison would do would be to pretend to charge. He informed us that this is where the term 'Buffaloed' comes from. 

Well, he charged and the sergeant I mentioned ended up behind a tree that the buffalo was continually head-butting to get to him.  Eventually it lost interest and we all left to find Meers, a famous hamburger place.

It was a shack, but it served foot-wide 'beefalo' burgers, which were made from bison crossed with longhorn cattle. I guess they were good.   We also went, the next weekend, to Medicine Park and ate at the famous Old Plantation Restaurant. You could order a huge steak that had been butchered that day, or a catfish meal made from fish you watched being hauled out from a man-made stream. Rustic to the max, with all the trappings that were there when the place was opened by a famous rodeo rider back in the 1920s.

Because meteorolgy and geological survey were in the same unit, cross-training was allowed so as to maximize the potential of the men in the unit. I was sent back to Fort Sill to attend the Fire Direction Course. This was an artillery target location and liquidation class which taught students how to locate areas on a map, plot their location, plot the coordinates of those spots, and the artillery pieces within a battery (company).  Then the unit computed gun data to send a huge bullet to an enemy location to go boom. Top of my class, of course.

When I had done all I could in Camp Lejeune, as a meteorologist and surveyor, I was transferred to Oklahoma as a meteorological instructor. I had been divorced and remarried within the last couple years, so I went there with my new wife and our one year old son, Adam. 

My daughter, Katie, was born at Reynolds Army Hospital. Therein lies a tale of medical inepitude and apathy which marks that evolution in maternity as a stunning argument for justifiable homicide.

The Army is socialized medicine at its worst. A woman will see a "doctor" during her pregnancy at various times. It will likely never be a gynecologist, or more than a physcian's assistant. The maternity ward had a sign posted that stated: YOU ARE NOT SICK. DO NOT EXPECT SPECIAL TREATMENT.  That was a policy they maintained as I felt they could not have cared less about my wife on her delivery day.

The nurses were never around, I found them smoking outside a door when my wife was crying for an epidural. It was always too soon until, in their extended absences, it was too late, and she had to give birth without it.

The doctor was unavailable, so they snagged an intern out of the hall to deliver my daughter. In recovery, the nurse told my wife that when she had rested for an hour, then she could walk down the hall, get sheets, and change her own bed. After that they brought our daughter and expected us to leave as soon as possible.

It was time to stop making babies so I had vasectomy while there. That's a story for another time.

While there I took advantage of the extra time not in the field to go to night school. I was able to finish an Associate Degree in Science at Cameron University before my three year tour there was over.

I requested to extend my stay in Oklahoma for another year, but I was instead given orders to Okinawa, Japan. So, I sent my family off to stay with her folks in Michigan, while I went on my one-year tour of the Pacific, which included a visit to Kuwait in a war called Desert Storm.


Chapter 37
Attack of the 50 States: Oregon

By Bill Schott

My first thought when talking about the state of Oregon is the Oregon Trail. It was a 2200-mile wagon train route that connected the Missouri River to Oregon. It spanned part of what is now Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

Oregon is known as "The Beaver State".

The name 'Oregon' is believed to have come from French word 'ouragan' (meaning "windstorm" or "hurricane"), referring to the powerful winds of the Columbia River.

Crater Lake, in Oregon, is the deepest lake in the U.S. and one of the deepest in the world at 592 feet.

Mt. Hood in Oregon is the second most explored mountain in the world after Mount Fuji in Japan.

Portland, Oregon has 60 breweries, which is more than any other city in the world.

In 1994, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, resulting in Oregon's suicide rates being some of the highest in the nation.

Mill Ends Park is the smallest national park in the U.S. It's two square feet.

Oregon residents own one-fourth of the country's total llama population.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory, in Tillamook, Oregon, is the largest cheese factory in the world

The official state nut of Oregon is the hazelnut. The hazelnut is also known as the filbert. Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire U.S. commercial crop.

Nike was started in Oregon. An Oregon State University student was paid $35 for the swoosh design used on their products.

Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations.

The world's biggest living thing is the honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) of Oregon. It covers 2200 acres and is estimated to be over 2400 years old.

Timberline Lodge, on Mt. Hood, served as the scenic backdrop for the movie, The Shining.

Ursula K. Leguin, of Portland, one of my favorite science fiction writers, penned the great sci-fi novel "The Lathe of Heaven" in 1971. In the tale, George Orr changes reality in his dreams, but no one knows but he and his psychiatrist. It is a supreme study of human nature, misguided interference, and cause and effect which, although written fifty years ago, holds up today.

The Oregon wildfires killed at least 11 people, burned more than 1,000,000 acres, and destroyed thousands of homes.

I realize, as usual, I have left out your favorite facts about this state. Happy Day.


Author Notes Image from Google. Research from various internet sites.

Chapter 38

By Bill Schott

Pennsylvania, one of the original thirteen colonies.

Philadelphia was the seat of the federal government from 1776 to 1800. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution drawn up in 1787.

Harrisburg is the capital, though no one ever guesses that when playing states games. .

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Erie are some of its most important cities.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is the site of the pivotal battle of the Civil War.

Pittsburg was the steel-making capital of America until businesses turned to foreign companies.

The Crayola Factory in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, produces 3,000,000,000 crayons each year.

The Philadelphia Zoo was the first public zoo in the United States and was founded by Benjamin Franklin.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is the home of the famous Groundhog's Day groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Remember the movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray? A classic.

The nation's first oil well was dug at Titusville in 1859.

Pennsylvania's sports teams are : Phillidelphia Phillies and Pittsburg Pirates in baseball.
Phillidelphia Eagles and Pittsburg Steelers in football.

Phillidelphia 76ers in basketball.
Phillidelphia Flyers and Pittsburg Penquins in hockey.

HERSHEY, Pennsylvania is the chocolate capital of the United States.

My family, meaning my wife and kids, drove to Philladelphia to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the United States in 2001. We couldn't get anywhere near where President Bush was giving his speech, so we had to watch the ceremony on television in our hotel in the next town over.

We did finally get to Independence Hall. My wife sang "Someone Open Up a Window" from the musical 1776, as it was a scene in this hall. The kids and I looked around pretending we didn't know her. We also saw the Liberty Bell in its glass home. 

My son had a conversation with a Ben Franklin lookalike, who spoke about his activities during those heady days 225 years ago. 

We traveled southeast to the Pennsyvania Dutch Country. There we learned that they weren't Dutch, but German. Since we were German Americans we had something to talk about. 


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 39
Attackofthe50States:Rhode Island

By Bill Schott

Rhode Island's name was inspired by the Isle of Rhodes.

In the 1636, Roger Williams, a minister, seeking religious and political freedom, left the Puritans in Massachusetts, purchased land from the indigenous Wampanoag, and founded Providence, Rhode Island.

Rhode Island was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state and the first to take military action against England by sinking one of their ships.

The First Amendment concepts of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of public assembly were based on Rhode Island laws.

Rhode Island is the smallest state in size in the United States. It's 48 miles north and south by 37 miles east to west. Over 400 Rhode Islands can fit inside of Alaska, and almost 4,000 can fit in America.

The first circus in the United States was in Newport, Rhode Island in 1774.

The American Industrial Revolution started in Rhode Island in 1790 with the water-powered cotton mill.

Rhode Island was home to the first National Lawn Tennis Championship (the precursor to the U.S. Open) in 1881.  I guess that's why Rhode Island is home to the Tennis Hall of Fame.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, founded in 1828, is best known as the site of JFK's marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.

The Flying Horse Carousel, in Watch Hill, is the nation's oldest carousel. 

George M. Cohan was born in Providence in 1878. He wrote, "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy," "You're a Grand Old Flag."

Rhode Island is known for making silverware and fine jewelry.

The White Horse Tavern was built in 1673 and is the oldest operating tavern in the United States.

Religion in Rhode Island: 81% Christian (56% Catholic, 24% Protestant, 1% Other)

Rhode Island and Utah are the only two states in which a majority of the population are members of a single religious body.

Portsmouth is home to the oldest schoolhouse in the United States. The school was built in 1716.


With more than 1,000 manufacturers, Rhode Island is a leading jewelry producer and was once known as the Jewelry Capital of the World.

America’s first Jazz festival was held in New Port in 1954.

The Rhode Island red chicken is the state bird.

I had a classmate in school who met a girl and moved with her to Rhode Island to work on her father's chicken ranch. He returned a year later, alone, skeletal, and calling himself Heroin Cindy. He blamed his condition on tending chickens.


Author Notes Image from Google.

Chapter 40
Attackofthe50States: S Carolina

By Bill Schott

South Carolina first came on my radar when my Marine recruiter told me about Parris Island. That is where Marine Corps boot camp on the east coast is located. For reasons better saved for another story, I ended up going to MCRD San Diego, California.

After being assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, one of the weekend attractions for Marines and Sailors was Myrtle Beach, in South Carolina. Back in the seventies, it was a place to party like it was 1999. Nowadays, Myrtle Beach has been built up to be a huge tourism area, world-class golfing spot, and destination for family vacations.

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union.

A coastal cannon position, Fort Sumter, became the site of the first battle of the Civil War.

The rest of the Civil War and Reconstruction looks bad for SC and is a bit depressing. I'll skip it and pretend the Ku Klux Klan, Black suppression, and female disenfranchisement weren't a big part of their history.

Hilton Head, an island off the coast of South Carolina, attracts over two million tourists every year.

On June 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman, who had been born into slavery, led Union troops on a raid to Hilton Head, South Carolina. The raid liberated 800 men, women, and children from slavery.

In 1900, 60% of South Carolinians were African American. However, the state was generally repressive for blacks, so many left the state during The Great Migration to the North. Today about 30% South Carolinians are African Americans.

South Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that grows tea.

Drayton Hall is one of the oldest and best-preserved plantations not only in South Carolina but also in the entire United States.

South Carolina houses the only colony of free-ranging rhesus monkeys in the United States. There are about 3,500 monkeys on Morgan Island, which is also known as Monkey Island.

The largest tires in the world, earthmover tires that measure 14 feet across, are made in Lexington, South Carolina.

South Carolina is home to the legendary Angel Oak Tree, which shades an area of 17,000 square feet with its enormous limbs. This Live Oak tree is considered to be over 500 years old and is one of the oldest living things east of the Mississippi. The tree gets its name from the Angel family who once owned the land the tree is on, on John’s Island, south of Charleston.

Columbia is the capital of South Carolina. Named for Christopher Columbus.

South Carolina is one of the top three peach-producing states in the nation and, not surprisingly, the state fruit is the peach. However, before it was known as the Peach State, it was the Iodine State.

South Carolina is home to the world’s hottest chili pepper, Smokin’ Ed’s “Carolina Reaper,” grown by Ed Currie of the PuckerButt Pepper Company. Currie’s peppers are so hot that often people who eat them will spasm and vomit.

The first club for golfers in the United States was created by Scottish settlers in Charleston, South Carolina, on September 29, 1786.

Wild hogs roam much of South Carolina.

South Carolina is divided into three distinct land regions:  Coastal Plain, the Piedmont (plateaus), and  the Blue Ridge Mountains.

South Carolina does not have any professional sports teams. There is no NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, or MLS.

The Baha’i faith is South Carolina’s second-largest religion, after Christianity. Founded in Iran in 1844, the Baha’i faith teaches two principles: the oneness of mankind and the oneness of world religions.

Several popular movies were filmed in South Carolina, including The DI, Full Metal Jacket, Prince of Tides, The Swamp Thing, Sleeping with Enemy, and The Notebook.

I hope this was enough information about South Carolina. South Dakota is next.


Author Notes Info gleaned from FactRetriever and wikipedia. Image from Google.

Chapter 41
Attackofthe50States:South Dakota

By Bill Schott

My family took a car tour of the western United States back in 1969. We left from Michigan and traveled across the northern states. On a straight line across Lake Michigan, through Wisconsin and over Minnesota, we finally reached South Dakota.

I appreciated our time in South Dakota more than most of the other states. It may have been a combination of its being so different from the other states I'd been through, and it was still early in our trip.

We traveled through the Badlands and into the Black Hills. I had never seen these areas outside of television, and that being in a TV western and in black and white.

We visited Mount Rushmore to see the Presidential carvings. We saw them from about a half mile away, as my folks weren't thrilled with the idea of the crowd and the walk uphill.  

We also visited where the memorial carving of Crazy Horse was going to begin. In 1876, Crazy Horse led a band of Lakota warriors against General Custer’s Seventh U.S. Cavalry battalion.  They called this the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. Today the warrior chief is revered as a great strategist.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie,  grew up in DeSmet, South Dakota.

The 1870s gold rush town of Deadwood became a National Historic Landmark in 1961. Historic Old West legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are connected with the town.  Hickok died at a poker table shot from behind. He held Aces and Eights in his hand which has since become known as the Dead Man's Hand. Both he and Calamity Jane lie at rest in a Deadwood Cemetary.

South Dakota has one of the largest American Indian populations at around 60,000 people and nine tribes.

It’s the home of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota tribes, which form the Sioux Nation.

The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs in South Dakota contains the largest collection of Columbian mammoth and Woolly mammoth bones ever discovered.

Our drive through South Dakota was a good time in a trip which would get better and worse.


Author Notes Images from Google

Chapter 42
Attack ofthe 50States:Tennessee

By Bill Schott

Tennessee Ernie Ford and Tennessee Williams were my first introduction to Tennessee. One was a funny hillbilly-type I saw on Ed Sullivan, and the other was not. Whenever I heard either name I thought it was the same person.

Now I can separate the two men by knowing one sang "Sixteen Tons" and "Pea Pickin' Time in Georgia", and the other wrote "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

I later learned that Tennessee was a state.

My niece and nephews, on my wife's side, all moved to Tennessee. They went separately and to different locations. Lara and her family moved to Knoxville, Matt moved to Lebanon, and Jon went to Franklin.

Matt and Jon had two goals. Matt was a data programmer and song writer, while Jon was a chemical engineer and a song writer. Both are successful in their 'day jobs' and both have their hands in the song-writing industry. Lara is a CPA but uses it only during tax time. She is a piano instructor and, online, teaches conversational English to kids in China.

All three play in their mega-churches and each have successful kids of their own.

Remember Tennessee Tuxedo? He was a talking penguin with a walrus sidekick. The penguin sounded just like Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 from CONTROL. Wonder why?

Tanasi was a Cherokee village that British explorers came upon. By 1850 the spelling was normalized to Tennessee after the territory was severed from North Carolina and the Southwest Territories.

The state was last to secede from and first to re-enter the United States during the Civil War.

Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state, and more soldiers for the Union Army than any other Southern state.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was a huge energy project begun during the Great Depression. TVA provides energy through nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas-fired, hydroelectric, and renewable generation. It services most of Tennessee, and parts of the surrounding states.

Nashville is both the state capital of Tennessee and the country music mecca of the United States and probably the world. I could expound on that, but come on. Music City, Grand Old Opry, Hee Haw...

Tennessee's nickname of "The Volunteer State" comes from the valor of its soldiers at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

The Tennessee State Capitol was designed by architect William Strickland, and when he died before the building was completed, he was entombed inside the capitol's walls.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee is known as the Energy Capital of the World for its work on the atomic bomb and continuing research into energy usage.

Tennessee is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the country's most visited national park.

Tennessee borders 8 other states. (Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama,Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri).

Hattie Caraway, a Tennessee native, was the first female United States Senator.

Tennessee is the home of Mountain Dew, which was originally created as a soda to mix with whiskey.

Jack Daniels. Nuff said.

Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee native, held every local, state and federal level elective office - including President of the United States. He was also the first president to be impeached. (He also mucked up The Restoration by being such a racist dipstick).

Graceland, Elvis's home in Memphis, is the second most visited home in the country.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The motel has now been preserved as the American Civil Rights Museum.

When my family visited Tennessee on one of our trips there for a graduation or wedding, we dropped by Beal Street to see the jazz mecca. Unfortunately, it was nine a.m. and the only jazz was on the radio. The street was a ghost town.

So, we drove over to the American Civil Rights Museum, which is built onto the motel where MLK was assassinated.

On that same visit to Tennessee we went to Gatlinburg to see a Dollywood-run Medieval jousting show. We ate a whole chicken we had to tear apart.

We spent the evening in a chateau in the hills. My wife was so afraid of the spiraling two-lane roads, we had to get someone to deliver our groceries for fear of driving the narrow, unmarked road at night. Having the locals pass you doing sixty didn't help things.

Davy Crockett was an American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician. Known as the "King of the Wild Frontier", he represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the Texas Revolution. Remember the Alamo?

Speaking of which, I'm off to Texas.


Author Notes Image from Google.

Info from Google various sources.

Chapter 43
Attack of the 50 States: Texas

By Bill Schott

Texas is the second largest state in the United States, since Alaska joined in 1959.

Texas, which derives from a Native American word meaning friend, is called the Lone Star State. It used to be an independent republic, once it freed itself from being a possession of Mexico.

Texas shares borders with Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, as well as the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. The south coastline borders the Gulf of Mexico.

I once read a James Michener novel, Texas, which, through the telling of a fictional story, explains Texas to the reader. It essentially begins in 1535 in Vera Cruz, Mexico, and spans four centuries up to the 1980s. I learned how the Mexicans and white settlers lived peacefully until the battle for independence. Texas was a part of Mexico and the white settlers were subject to Mexican law. This meant that they had to be Catholic and married to receive free land. Since many men left their wives behind, they married local women to obtain land.

The lack of religious freedom and the increase of white settlers led to the war for independence.  General Santa Anna led a brutal campaign creating a great hatred of Mexicans by the Texans. This hatred and distrust lasted for years after the war.

Michener also covered problems with the Indians, the problem of water, and the development of the cities. The discovery of oil, and appearence of oil millionaires, made people think that all Texans were rich. 

Six Flags Over Texas, a Texas company that franchises theme parks, takes its name from the several flags flown over Texas. The Spanish flag, France owned it for a while, Mexico, their independent republic banner with a lone star, the Stars and Stripes, and the Confederate flag.

After the Civil War Texas dominated the cattle industry. This image of cowboys defines Texans still today.

The world's first rodeo was hosted in Pecos, Texas. The annual Houston Livestock Show is the largest rodeo in the world. The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show in Fort Worth is the oldest. 

Prior to World War II Texas had four industries: Cattle, Oil, Cotton, and Timber. 

Oil came on strong in the 20th century and allowed Texas to make huge investments in industries, universities, technology and as of now have 54 companies on the Fortune 500. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would have the 10th largest economy in the world.

Sports are big in Texas. Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans in the NFL; Hoston Astros and Texas Rangers in MLB; San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks in the NBA; Dallas Stars for the NHL; and Houston Dynamo is the sole MLS team.

When we lived in Oklahoma my wife's parents visited us a couple times. One year we invited them to spend Christmas with us and avoid the snow in Michigan. That year we had a once-a-century blizzard and spent the holiday stuck inside. The next time, was in the summer. We drove to Texas to visit the Alamo in San Antonio. I didn't realize it was so far away. We did see the Alamo. It was, I must say, a bit underwhelming, being surrounded by tall, modern office buildings. 

While we were close, we drove over to Laredo, which is a border town. We hadn't planned on it, but Nuevo Laredo was just across the border, so we visited Mexico.  My wife and mother-in-law were really in their element haggling with street venders. 

Joke Time....A Texan and Kentuckian met in the airport bar and began bragging about their states. 
"Everything's big in Texas. We could put a dozen Kentuckys inside our state."
"We've got enough gold in Fort Knox to build a wall around the whole state of Texas."
"You build it and we'll buy it."

Some final volleys:

Houston, we have a problem.

Who shot J.R.?

Remember the Alamo.

Everything is Big in Texas


Chapter 44
Attack of the 50 States: Utah

By Bill Schott

In the summer of 1848, flocks of seagulls came to Mormon pioneers' rescue by gorging themselves on the crickets that were destroying their newly planted crops. The Mormon Church dedicated the Seagull Monument in 1913. In 1955, California Seagull was designated the Utah state bird.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed when the Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined rails at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory.

A hundred years later, in 1969, my family (parents, brother, and me) drove out west. I may have mentioned it before. We eventually passed through the state of Utah.

I remember floating in the Great Salt Lake. It was easy because there is so much salt in it, everything is buoyant. Unfortunately, I was floating on my back and opened my eyes -- arrrgg! Salt water really stings the eyes. I needed help walking out of the water to the shore.

The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) accounts for more than half the population of Utah.

Mormons believe in polygamous marriage and some still practice it today. The state had to outlaw it in order to join the Union in 1896, but it is still practiced without legal interference.

Whenever I think of Mormons I think of Donnie and Marie Osmond. They were a squeaky-clean outcropping of the Osmond Brothers, who were a white version of the Jackson Five.

Back to Utah.

Levan, is "navel" spelled backwards. It is so named because it is in the middle of Utah.

Utah is the site of the nations first department store. Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution was established in the late 1800's. It is still in operation today as ZCMI.

Rainbow Bridge, (below) nature's abstract sculpture carved of solid sandstone, is the world's largest natural-rock span. It stands 278 feet wide and 309 feet high.

The average snowfall in the mountains near Salt Lake City is 500 inches.

Utah's snow is unusually dry, earning it the reputation of having the world's greatest powder. Fourteen Alpine ski resorts operate in Utah.

State symbol: The Beehive symbolizes thrift and industry.

The name Utah comes from the Native American Ute tribe and means people of the mountains.

During World War II Alta ski center became involved in the war effort when paratroopers from the 10th Mountain Regiment trained on its slopes.

Utah's professional sports teams include the Utah Jazz of the NBA, andthe Utah Grizzlies Hockey club of the International Hockey League.

Utah has five national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.

Utah has seven national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Natural Bridges, Dinosaur, Rainbow Bridge, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanogos Cave and Hovenweep.

Utah has two national recreation areas: Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon.

Utah has six national forests: Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-LaSal, Uinta, and Wasatch-Cache.

The Heber Valley Railroad's magnificent steam engine and ten passenger railroad cars have been filmed in over 31 motion pictures over the past 20 years.

The 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, also known as the Fightin' Fuujins, became the U.S. Air Force's first operational Tactical Fighter Squadron in March 1980. The squadron's nickname, "Fuujin", refers to the Okinawan god of wind.

The city of Hurricane lies in line with traffic going to the National Parks and Lake Powell. Average daily traffic on Hurricane's State Street is 7,397 visitors per day, or over 2.7 million visitors a year.

Kanab is known as Utah's Little Hollywood because of the large number of motion pictures that are filmed in the area.

Beaver is the birthplace of Butch Cassidy, the notorious western outlaw.

Utah has 11,000 miles of fishing streams and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs.

The name "Utah" comes from the Native American "Ute" tribe and means people of the mountains.

The federal government owns 65% of the state's land.

The Great Salt Lake, which is about 75 miles long and 35 miles wide, covers more than a million acres.

That's all I have on Utah, so I'm heading for Vermont. 


Author Notes Images from Google as well as the data.

Chapter 45
Attack of the 50 States: Vermont

By Bill Schott

The name Vermont is French for green mountains.  

Before Vermont became the 14th state, it existed as an independent nation for 14 years. 
The independent state of Vermont Republic was created after a revolt by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in 1770.

Vermont is one of the six New England states. The other five states are: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Vermont is the only New England state without direct access to the Atlantic.

The first postage stamp made in the U.S. was made in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1846.

Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President and Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, were both born in Vermont. Both were vice presidents who stepped up after the death of the sitting presidents.

Thinking of Vermont reminds me of maple syrup.

The state is the largest producer of maple syrup in the country and 35 percent of market.  

Dummerston, Vermont is the birthplace of snow golf thanks to Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book series, who invented the sport at his home, within the four years he lived in the United States. 

Vermont has the highest ratio of dairy cows in the United States.  At one point, it was home to more cows than humans.


Vermont’s Lake Champlain crosses national borders into Canada. It borders Vermont, New York, and Quebec and is the center of the region’s ecosystems.  It also has a monster in its depths named Champ. The Discovery Channel investigated the claim and, guess what, couldn't find him.

Wilson Bentley, a Vermont farmer, invented an advanced technique to capture snowflake images. His approach enhanced photographic precision as no two flakes are the same.

Legislators enacted a ban on billboards to preserve the state's natural beauty. 

One of the locals, Jake Burton, a former ski racer, designed and manufactured 'snurf' boards. Snowboarding is now a recognized sport.

Vermont stands out as a place with no skyscrapers. Its tallest building Decker Towers, in Burlington, has 11 stories and it stands 124 feet tall.

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream still operates from headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. 

Vermont’s largest employer is IBM.

Vermont became the last to get a Walmart store in 1996. 

Skiing is big in Vermont. Known as the "Beast of the East," the ski resort in Killington has a 3,050 feet vertical drop. The resort has seven peaks and it is also the highest lift serviced mountain in the state. It is the highest skiing elevation in Vermont (4,241 feet at the summit of Killington Peak.)

The Vermont Danby Quarry is the world’s largest underground marble quarry in the world. The quarry is entered through the same opening that has been in use for over 100 years.


The state has more than one hundred covered bridges; more than any other U.S state.

Vermont’s landscape is 77 percent forest. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors to the state’s mountains, lakes, and hiking trails.

The state is home to two native tribes. The Iroquois: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca;  and the Algonquin: Abenaki and Mohican.  Both inhabited vast areas in the Vermont area beginning in 8500 BC. There is a lot of history between these indigenous people and the Europeans, but - that will have to be another time.



Author Notes Image and info data from Googled sources on Vermont.

Chapter 46
Attack ofthe 50 States: Virginia

By Bill Schott

Virginia has a big place, in my view, in our nation's history.

In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent English colony in the New World. It was named after Queen Elizabeth I, who was called the Virgin Queen.

Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution.

In the American Civil War, half the state wanted to join the Confederacy while the other wanted to remain in the Union, leading to a split that created West Virginia.

Before the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia had the most number of slaves, followed by Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. Each of these states had more than 400,000 slaves.

In the Civil War, more battles were fought on Virginia soil than in any other state.

Virginia was known as the "Birthplace of Presidents." Eight U.S. presidents (more than any other state) were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia in 2011 was felt by the almost a third of the population of the U.S. The Earthquake also did shake some neighboring Canadian provinces to some extent. The effect of the quake was so prominent that it cracked the Washington Monument.

Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk Virginia, is the world's largest naval base.

After California, Virginia has the second highest concentration of tech workers of any state in the U.S.

Virginia is "Home of the Internet." Loudoun County hosts data centers that handle three quarters of the web's traffic.

Virginia is home to the largest office building in the world -- the Pentagon. The Pentagon serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense including all four military services--Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force. It has three times the floor space as the Empire State Building.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, with 17.6 miles span (shore to shore), is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex.

The Chesapeake Bay is one of the world's richest marine-life estuaries. Finfish, blue crabs, oysters, and clams can be found there.

The first peanuts grown in America were from Virginia. Peanut butter was first introduced at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and became a source of protein during the first two world wars.

"Virginia Is For Lovers" is one of the most well-known tourism campaigns ever.

The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach allows up-close experience with German, British, and American aircrafts that used to fly during World Wars I and II. They still operate to date.

Portsmouth, Virginia is a must-visit for history buffs. The Path to History takes you through the first naval hospital in America all the way to the oldest naval shipyard where USS Langley, the first aircraft carrier, was engineered.

Hampton Public Piers links to the Maritime Center where a wide range of water activities happen.

Adventure Park at Virginia Beach, offers zip-lining through hop bridges, trees, and aerial trails. There are various levels of parkour to choose from. At night the park hosts glow lights or stranded lights, making it a spectacularly lit sanctuary.

The Great Dismal Swamp, a wildlife refuge, is a nature conservancy of 112,000 acres and home to hundreds of bird species, butterflies, and mammals.

In Norfolk, Virginia, mermaids, the mythical sirens of the ocean, are the symbol of the city. People pose for photos at the 100 statues scattered across the city.

Richmond, the capital, was the first city to successfully incorporate an electric street car into the transport industry. The Richmond Union Passenger Railway is a reliable street car system that is still used today by members of the public.

Scientists discovered a massive crater at the Chesapeake Bay in 1983. The 53-mile wide crater is estimated to be 35 million years old.

Alexandria, Virginia is the Ice Cream Cone Capital. People stroll along cobblestone streets on the beautiful riverfront.

A City Named After George Washington's Adopted Son's House: George Washington Parke Custis lived in Arlington House. He owned a plantation in the estate and lived in the Arlington House till his death. His daughter inherited the house but the property was later converted into a national cemetery. Arlington House is a museum today.

New River, one of the oldest rivers on the planet flows from the south to the north. Its formation happened before the mountains. The ancient river is the oldest in North America despite its name 'New River'.

A Distinct Accent on Virginia Island: there is a wide variety of English accents in Virginia. But in Tangier Island, you will find a peculiar dialect that is not found elsewhere. This small island was initially occupied by early British colonies in the late 17th Century. Most residents today speak in the unique accent that is closer to British than American English.

Pony Swim at Chincoteague is a celebrated event where saltwater cowboys swim with wild horses. Ponies are paraded for auction to raise cash for the local fire department.

State Motto Sic semper tyrannis (Thus always to tyrants)


Author Notes Image from Google

Chapter 47
Attackofthe50 States: Washington

By Bill Schott


Washington is in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first U.S. president, the state was made out of territory ceded by the British Empire in 1846. It became the 42nd state in 1889. 

The state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, Oregon to the south, Idaho to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north.  

Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is often referred to as Washington state to distinguish it from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

My wife and I stayed at a hotel in Seattle, a few years ago, on our way to catch a cruise to Alaska. Our room overlooked the blocks where the 1962 World's Fair was held. Many of the structures built for that event still stand including the iconic Space Needle.  

Sixty percent of Washington's residents live in Seattle.  It is the center of transportation, business, and industry along Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean consisting of numerous islands and bays. (When I think of Puget Sound I remember An Officer and a Gentleman.  Navy Cadet Zack Mayo versus Marine Master Sergeant Emil Foley. Joe Cocker sang "Up Where We Belong".)

Some other shows filmed in the state of Washington:
Sleepless in Seattle 
Twin Peaks was filmed in North Bend, WA
Northern Exposure was about Alaska, but was filmed in Roslyn.
Paralex View (government intrigue)
The Twilight Saga (vampires and werewolves with teen angst)
Vision Quest (high scool wrestling)
North to Alaska (John Wayne and Maureen O'hara)
First Blood (Rambo I)
Harry and the Hendersons
(Big Foot)
10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew in high school)
The Ring (Japanese horror)
The Postman (post-apocolypic mail delivery)
The Spy Who Shagged Me (Austin Powers)
The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan)
Dante's Peak (Volcano)

That last film reminds me that Mount St. Helens, near Portland, WA, which erupted on May 18, 1980. There were 57 people killed and 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway destroyed.

Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano, is the state's highest elevation, at almost 14,411 feet. 

The state has rainforests and mountain ranges in the west and north which lead to intensive agriculture in the east and central areas.

Washington is a leading lumber producer: Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa pine, white pine, spruce, and cedar.

Washington is the nation's largest producer of apples, hops, pears, raspberries, spearmint, cherries, apricots, asparagus, peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint, and potatoes.

Livestock, salmon, and halibut contribute to the state's economy.

Washington ranks second only to California in wine production.

Washington has aircraft and missile industries and shipbuilding. 

Washington has more than a thousand dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage.

Washington is one of the wealthiest and most socially liberal states in the country.

  • It was one of the first to legalize cannabis (which I guess we don't call marijuana any more).
  • Among the first to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • First to provide legal abortions on request before Roe v. Wade.
  • Approved physician-assisted suicide and along with Oregon, California, Colorado and Vermont, and Washington, D.C., legalized the practice.
  • Criminalized the sale, possession and transfer of bump stocks, along with California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
Professional sports in Washington:
  • MLB = Seattle Mariners
  • NFL = Seattle Seahawks
  • MLS = Seattle Sounders
  • NHL = Seattle Kraken
  • NBA = { }

It is a bit chilly in Washington, so I am going to West Virginia.


Author Notes Image and data from Wikipedia and various sources on Google.

Chapter 48

By Bill Schott

West Virginia became a state at the start of the Civil War. Delegates from northwestern Virginia decided to break away from Virginia.

Initially they wanted to call their new state Kanawha, after the indigenous people in the area. Eventually, the name West Virginia won out.

West Virginia was a key border state during the war and was one of two states (along with Nevada) admitted to the Union during the Civil War.

It is part of what is commonly referred to as Appalachia, within the Appalachian Mountains. That reference sometimes lends itself to a hillbilly profile.

The state is noted for its mountains and rolling hills, as well its significant logging and coal mining industries. It is also known for skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and hunting.

Point Pleasant, W.Va. Is center of the universe for The Mothman Legend.

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV gives a ghost tour.

The West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, WV has a Paranormal tour.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in Rock, WV has a creepy tour.

The West Virginia Roadkill Cook-Off in Pocahontas County features raccoon, possum, squirrel, venison, and mystery meat.

Charleston's Yeager Airport is named after Chuck Yeager who made history in October 1947 when he flew the Bell X-1 rocket at 700 mph and passed the speed of sound. Sonic booms became commonplace.

Weirton is the only city in the United States that runs from one state border to another. It shares borders with Ohio to the west and Pennsylvania to the east.

Base jumpers use the New River Gorge Bridge, in Fayette County which is the longest steel-span bridge in the Western Hemisphere. China's Shanghai's Lupu Bridge is the longest in the world.

Frank Buckles who was the last surviving veteran of World War I was a resident of Charleston. He died in 2011 at 110 years old.

Grafton, West Virginia, was where the first Mother's Day was celebrated on May 10, 1908.

The largest fingerprint database in the world lies with the FBI crime data center in Clarksburg, WV.

West Virginia is the second-largest producer of coal behind Wyoming.

Finally, I remembered John Denver's song, "Country Roads", is one that West Virginia has claimed as one of their state songs. Research says that West Virginia is in the song because Maryland didn't fit the meter. Also, Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah River are sights in Virginia.

I'm going to Wisconsin.


Author Notes All sources from Google and wikipedia. Image from Google.

Chapter 49
Attack ofthe 50 States:Wisconsin

By Bill Schott

In 1969 my family took a trip out West. We lived in Michigan, so the most direct route was to swim across Lake Michigan. Fortunately there is a ferry which hauls people and vehicles across the great lake. We boarded the S.S. Badger, a coal-fired deep water ship which took us 62 miles from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The ship travels the waters today, but is more of an event than a necessity.

We saw all kinds of brewery signs in Milwaukee, when we drove through, that I know we'll never see again: Schlitz, Stroghs, Drewrys, Blatz, Black Label, Goebels, Falstaf, and Red Cap. Of course, I haven't had a beer since 1985, and they're not advertised on television, so I don't even know if they still make Pabst, Budweisser, or Michelob either.   In the military I learned to appreciate Heineken, Andeker, Coors, Suntory, and OB. But, I digress.

The state is one of the nation's leading dairy producers and is known as "America's Dairyland"; it is particularly famous for its cheese. Manufacturing paper products, cranberries, ginseng, and tourism are the major contributors to the state's economy.

The Green Bay Packers are a unique part of Wisconsin. The team is owned by the families in Green Bay. My son-in-law is a diehard Detroit Lions fan, which seems to make him a Cheese-head hater. 

When I worked in Iowa with the Marine Corps Reserve, I drove once a month to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin to schedule artillery firing ranges and allocate munitions. 

I think everyone knows that Wisconsin is the cheese place. There are lots of great things to do in this state.  


Author Notes Image is from Google

Chapter 50
Attack of the 50 States: Wyoming

By Bill Schott

Our family drove through Wyoming fifty years ago and visited Yellowstone National Park. The most popular attractions include Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

I recall we found a campsite that wasn't taken so we pitched our tent and went to sleep. Rangers woke us to say we were in a wide area where a rogue bear had been tracked. We had to move a few hundred feet up the road at night.

We visited Devil's Tower National Monument. Although I had never heard of it before, the following year it was made famous as the landing area for the aliens in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

The first people who lived in this region were called the Paleo-Indians. By the time the Europeans arrived the land was inhabited by a large number of Native American tribes. Some of the major tribes were the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Ute, and Shoshone. They relied heavily on the buffalo for food, shelter, tools, clothing, and more. They lived in tepees that could be easily moved as they followed the giant buffalo herds.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. A large part of Wyoming was included in the land.

In 1807 part of the Lewis and Clark expedition discovered the great geysers of Yellowstone. In the following years fur traders and trappers came to Wyoming.

The first permanent settlement in Wyoming was Fort Laramie which was established in 1834. Several hundred thousand people traveled through Wyoming between 1840 and 1870.

The Pony Express also ran through Wyoming in 1860, but it was quickly replaced by the telegraph.

Famous outlaws like Butch Cassidy hid out in Wyoming towns and robbed trains. Much of the land became cattle ranching land where cowboys lived working the herds.

Native Americans were not happy with the white man taking over their land. They began to fight back. The Lakota and Cheyenne Indians led by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse organized and fought against the U.S. in Red Cloud's War. They lost and were eventually assigned to reservations.

July 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state.


Author Notes Image from Google. Info from Google sources and

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