The Samuel Brannan Story

Samuel Brannan

In 1848, a worker of John Sutter found gold in California. Sutter had reason for wanting to keep the find quiet, but he didn’t count on Samuel Brannan, who was soon running down the street yelling “Gold! Gold on the American River!”

Brannan, a former Mormon, businessman and journalist, wasn’t crazy – and had no desire to look for the valuable mineral – but he knew that a mad rush of fortune hunters was his key to fame and fortune. He would become California’s first millionaire, only to die poor and in relative obscurity.

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The Ghost Blimp of 1942

The Ghost Blimp of 1942

On the 127th episode of Coffee With Jeff, I tell the amazing mystery of the crew of the L-8 Blimp.

On August 16, 1942, a blimp carrying two men left the coast of San Francisco to look for, and possibly destroy, enemy submarines. Five hours later, the airship was found, crashed in the middle of a suburban street. The two navy men were gone.

To this day, no one knows what became of the two men, leading some to call the mysterious airship… The Ghost Blimp.

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The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil

On the 126th episode of Coffee With Jeff, I have the story ofThe Jersey Devil.

The Jersey Devil was a local legend in the Pine Barrens area of New Jersey for over 250 years but during a week in January of 1909 dozens, some say 100s, of sightings cause it to be a national sensation. They say it is a kangaroo-like creature with the head of a goat, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail. And it makes a “blood-curdling scream”. Was it Mother Leeds’s thirteenth child and what did Benjamin Franklin have to do with it?

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The Pauline Cushman Story

Pauline Cushman

During the American Civil War, actress Pauline Cushman stopped in the middle of a performance and said to the audience, “Here’s to Jeff Davis and the Southern Confederacy, May the South always maintain her honor and her rights.”

She was immediately fired from the theater company and quickly became a celebrity with the Southerners. She started a new career; a spy for the Union Army during the bloodiest war that the United States had ever been involved in! This is her story.

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Three Mile Island

Three Mile Island

In the 1970s, nuclear power plants were popping up everywhere in the U.S.A. So quickly, in fact, that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn’t have the resources to keep up. One of these plants was Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. On the night of March 28, 1979, lights and alarms began going off like it was The Forth of July in the reactor control room. Something was wrong, and for the next few days, the world waited to see if southern Pennsylvania was going to be a nuclear wasteland!

In a strange coincidence, a film called The China Syndrome was releases just weeks before our story takes place, the story of an accident at a nuclear power plant. The term “China syndrome” describes a imaginary result of a nuclear meltdown, where reactor components melt through their containment structures and into the underlying earth, “all the way to China”.

Three Mile Island is located in the Londonderry Township of Pennsylvania, in the southern area of the state, in an island in the middle of the Susquehanna (SUS QWA HANNA) River. The Island was giving the name of Three Miles because it is located three miles downriver from Middletown, Pennsylvania.

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The Story of the “City of Liverpool” 1933 Air Disaster

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This story is not just about the crash of a plane called “City of Liverpool” which crashed in 1933, and many consider it to be the first case a sabotage in air flight, but also my attempt to find the truth of what actually happened. You see, the Internet is filled with people who just repeat what other have written, as if, because if it on the Internet, it must be true. In this case, I visited many website that talk of this air disaster and they all pretty much have the same story. For me, if at all possible, to fine the original source, at well researched book or a new paper article from the time it happened. I ask, are people just repeating a bit of fiction, a lie, that they got it from a source they assumed was telling the truth? I am sure I’ve done that is some of my stories in the past.

First, lets have a quick history of the events that happened on March 28, 1933. The aircraft called “City of Liverpool” took off from Haren Airport in Brussels, Belgium at around 12:30 pm on a two-hour journey to Croydon Airport in South London. On board the plane was 12 passengers and three crewman. Our story concerns three of them, 69-year old Manchester dentist Dr. Albert Voss, 16 year old Lotte Voss, and 32-year old Louis Ottewell Dearden.

The investigation report wrote, “While cruising at 4,300 feet and 95 knots, radio navigator informed ATC that all was OK on board. Few minutes later, a fire broke out in the cabin. Immediately, crew reduced altitude to perform an emergency landing but at a height of sixty meters, aircraft stalled and crashed in an open field. Nobody survived.”

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Celluloid of the Strange & Unusual, Part 2

Strange Films!

In the second episode of Celluloid of the strange & Unusual, I bring you my thoughts on three more films, Life of an American Fireman (1906), Harold and Maude (1971) and Daisies (1966). All three of these films a really love and thing are important.

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The Dreamland Fire of 1911

Dreamland Fire

There is an area in the southwester part of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City known as Coney Island. Coney Island is a popular tourist attraction that is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year, for its beaches, amusement parts and food. But the Coney Island of the 21st century doesn’t compare with the spectacle of what it was in the early twentieth century. Between the years of 1880 and 1940 was considered the Theme Park era of Coney Island with a size and scope that is hard to comprehend today. This was the place were Hotdogs and Rollercoasters were invented. At its height, along with many independent amusements parks, Coney Island had three major parks, all competing with each other, Luna Park, Steeplechase Park, and, Dreamland. Dreamland, the subject of todays show, was built in 1904 and it was designed to be bigger and better, with elegance far beyond the noise and chaos of Luna Park and it would be gone seven years later. I mean, completely gone.

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The Story of Alice Guy Blaché

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In the late 19th century a new industry began, filmmaking. In the beginning, it was open to anyone, man or women, who wanted to try. That would change once big money got involved, and some would be pushed aside and forgotten about.

Are you ready to hear that story of a remarkable woman named Alice Guy Blaché who helped create the art of film and how Hollywood and history left her behind? Today we have her story.

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The Story of Liz Carmichael and The Dale

Liz Carmichael & Dale

There was a car that you probably never heard of, a car that was all set to revolution the auto industry that never made it into production. It was going to be a lightweight, fuel-efficient and inexpensive car, weighing in at 1,000 pounds, would sell for less than $2,000 and would get an amazing 70 miles per gallon. This car that was set to transform the auto industry was called The Dale.

A slick, six-page, fill-color brochure showed the futuristic, banana-yellow Dale in all its glory. The cover of the brochure read, “The new 70 mpg Dale. Dollar for dollar, the best car ever built! Inside were even more remarkable claims, “ The most exciting new car of this century” “The first Space Age automobile” “Design and built like it’s ready to be driven to the moon.”

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