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Captain Hank Bracker
By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Flights to Santiago de Cuba Santiago de Cuba has the Antonio Maceo Airport (MUCU/SCU), which was home to the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces. The airport is essentially a turboprop hub, however it can also accommodate mid-sized jet aircraft. There are about twenty international flights each week, but most arrivals are by domestic airlines. The eastern location and the international status of MUCU/SCU has spurred the interest of foreign airlines as a promising future destination. All in all, Cuba now has ten international airports, capable of serving long range flights. “Santiago de Cuba has the Antonio Maceo Airport (MUCU/SCU), which was home to the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces. The airport is essentially a turboprop hub, however it can also accommodate mid-sized jet aircraft. There are about twenty international flights each week, but most arrivals are by domestic airlines. The eastern location and the international status of MUCU/SCU has spurred the interest of foreign airlines as a promising future destination. All in all, Cuba now has ten international airports, capable of serving long range flights.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

It was hard for me to believe that I had graduated from High School the week before and was now a crewmember on a Dutch ship. This was my first job aboard ship and now I found myself heading down the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty. There wasn’t much time for sightseeing since the dinner chimes had been rung and the few passengers we had, were coming into the dining room. No one had explained my duties but I watched the other stewards and followed suit. I must have been a fast learner since amazingly enough all went well, and before I knew it the dining room was empty and it was cleanup time. I’m certain that having worked in my uncle’s restaurants helped but I’m glad I survived without any mishaps. I knew that tomorrow would go even smoother now that I understood the routine. I really don’t know if getting a job aboard a foreign ship was easier in the “50’s” or was it that the ship needed another steward and I was willing to be a strike breaker? No one on the ship mentioned the strike and everyone treated me as just another member of the crew. Mostly everyone aboard spoke Dutch and amazingly enough I understood them. Dutch being a Germanic language was very similar to the German spoken in the lowlands, which included Hamburg. It didn’t take long before I was answering and then conversing with the crew…. Although I was on the bottom rung of the ladder I felt right at home. My bunk was at the top of a three bunk stack in the crew’s quarters, high up against the chain locker. The bathroom, called the “head” in English, didn’t have toilets or urinals. Instead I had to perfect my aim as I balanced myself over a hole in the deck. Fortunately there were places for my feet and handholds to help me stabilize myself in this balancing act. With no partitions for modesty I soon lost my inhibitions and became deft at this. At least they furnished the paper and considering it all, life was good!

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Maine Maritime Academy is one of six maritime training colleges in the United States, and one of only two of these maritime academies which has a Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps unit. The college is affiliated under the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Mardi Gras in Cuba was one of the most uninhibited festivals I have ever witnessed. Although I do not condone the criminal elements that existed behind the festive atmosphere, I dove into the sweeping pleasures without guilt. At my age, life was to be lived, and live it I did! Most of the people surrounding me, on the packed streets of Havana, came from the United States. It also seemed that half of the Miami Police Force was there for these unrestrained festivities. Perhaps the excesses I witnessed are to be criticized, but it was all fun and well beyond my imagination. Everything was new and extremely exciting at the time. The many beautiful girls, who were said to have been exploited, certainly were as caught up in the euphoria as we were and enjoyed the moment every bit as much as we did. The decorated cars and beautiful floats with girls and guys waving, were followed by people dancing to the loud Latin beat. The jubilant parade wound its way along the coastal route to the Avenida Maceo, having started from the wide boulevard Calle G or Avenida de los Presidentes. Crowds of tourists and other revelers laughed and cheered. Smaller, but every bit as intense, were celebrations on other main streets such as Calle Neptuno. Everyone had a great time, and thanks to our officers, even our available time ashore was extended by an hour. I don’t think that it was abused by anyone, but the next day we were all tired and nursing hangovers.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

With the decline of the United States as the world’s leader, I find it important to look around our globe for intelligent people who have the depth of understanding that could perhaps chart a way to the future. One such person is Bernard-Henri Lévy a French philosopher who was born in Béni Saf, French Algeria on November 5, 1948. . The Boston Globe has said that he is "perhaps the most prominent intellectual in France today." Although his published work and political activism has fueled controversies, he invokes thought provoking insight into today’s controversial world and national views. As a young man and Zionist he was a war correspondent for “Combat” newspaper for the French Underground. Following the war Bernard attended Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris and in 1968; he graduated with a degree in philosophy from the famous École Normale Supérieure. This was followed by him traveling to India where he joined the International Brigade to aid Bangladeshi freedom fighters. Returning to Paris, Bernard founded the ‘New Philosophers School.’ At that time he wrote books bringing to light the dark side of French history. Although some of his books were criticized for their journalistic character and unbalanced approach to French history, but most respected French academics took a serious look at his position that Marxism was inherently corrupt. Some of his musings include the predicament of the Kurds and the Shame of Aleppo, referring to the plight of the children in Aleppo during the bloody Syrian civil war. Not everyone agrees with Bernard, as pointed out by an article “Why Does Everyone Hate Bernard-Henri Lévy?” However he is credited with nearly single handedly toppling Muammar Gaddafi. His reward was that in 2008 he was targeted for assassination by a Belgium-based Islamist militant group. Looking like a rock star and ladies man, with his signature dark suits and unbuttoned white shirt, he said that “democracies are not run by the truth,” and notes that the American president is not the author of the anti-intellectual movement it, but rather its product. He added that the anti-intellectualism movement that has swept the United States and Europe in the last 12 months has been a long time coming. The responsibility to support verified information and not publicize fake news as equal has been ignored. He said that the president may be the heart of the anti-intellectual movement, but social media is the mechanism! Not everyone agrees with Bernard; however his views require our attention. If we are to preserve our democracy we have to look at the big picture and let go of some of our partisan thinking. We can still save our democracy, but only if we become patriots instead of partisans!

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

One of my tasks was to set the table for the family. They ate in the dining room and we ate in the kitchen. They ate off of plates but we ate directly off the table. Yes, we ladled the food directly onto the table, even the gravy! I never heard of doing this… perhaps it was a German tradition that I had never heard of. I tried to treat this as a joke and once asked Clarissa if we should pour the coffee and milk onto the table as well. My joke didn’t go over very well and Brigitte brought things back into true perspective when she reminded me that at least we had milk and coffee and that I shouldn’t upset the family. As long as we weren’t abused this would have to do for now…. !

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Tamara Bunke was the only woman to fight alongside “Che” during his Bolivian campaign. She was an East German national, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 19, 1937, of Communist activist parents. As a child, her home was frequently used for meetings, hiding weapons and conducting other Communist activities. After World War II, in 1952 she returned to Germany where she attended Humboldt University in Berlin. Tamara met “Che” Guevara when she was an attractive 23-year-old woman in Leipzig, and he was with a Cuban Trade Delegation. The two instantly hit it off as she cozied up to him and, having learned how to fight and use weapons in Pinar del Rio in western Cuba, she joined his expedition to Bolivia. Becoming a spy for the ELN, she adopted the name “Tania” and posed as a right-wing authority of South-American music and folklore. In disguise, she managed to warm up to and entice Bolivian President René Barrientos. She even went on an intimate vacation to Peru with him.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

For a few years after leaving Cuba, Marita was looked after and protected by a mobster named Ed Levi. It was his job to protect her from, what was considered, a likely attempt on her life by “Cuban Intelligence Operatives.” In 1961, Marita met Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the former President of Venezuela, in Miami. Marcos told her that he was anxious to meet her because he knew she had been “Fidel's girl." He successfully pursued Marita, and when she gave in, they had an affair that resulted in the birth of a daughter. She now lives in New York City.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

A high school dropout, Robert Vesco bilked and conned his way to riches. Two times Forbes magazine named Vesco as one of the 400 richest Americans. The articles simply stated that he was a thief. As a man continually on the run, he was constantly attempting to buy his way out of the many complicated predicaments he got himself into. In 1970, Vesco made a successful bid to take over Investors Overseas Services (IOS), an offshore, Geneva-based mutual fund investment firm, worth $1.5 Billion. Employing 25,000 people and selling mutual funds throughout Europe, primarily in Germany, he thought of the company as his own private slush fund. Using the investors’ money as his own, he escalated his investment firm into a grand “Ponzi Scheme.” During this time he also made an undisclosed $200,000 contribution to Maurice Stans, Finance Chairman for President Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President, known as CREEP. To make matters worse, the media discovered that his contribution was being used to help finance the infamous Watergate burglary.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Our laughter became more raucous as our fooling around intensified. All this suddenly ended when we heard a loud intense knocking on the door. Once again, the doctor had had enough and came up to complain about the noise we were making. These old houses didn’t have any insulation between the walls to dampen the noise. Instead, it was kind of like being inside a drum. In a way, I could understand why he was upset and we could have been more considerate, but on the other hand, we just didn’t give a damn! It might also have been that he knew what we were doing and didn’t like it. In the puritanical 1950’s this sort of thing was frequently frowned upon and perhaps still is, but inconsiderate as it may have been, we didn’t care! Es tut mir leid! (German for I’m sorry! Said in a sarcastic way.) Laughing, Ann told the doctor that we would behave. As he started back down the stairs, she turned to me and said, “Let’s go down to the basement.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

The Caribbean is still an exciting destination. I have been to just about every notable island surrounding this sea and have yet to be bored. Some of the islands are administered by other countries like Saint Martín; some are independent countries such as Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The languages differ from island to island and include English, French, Spanish, Dutch Haitian Creole and Papiamento although English is understood on most islands. This time I returned to the Dominican Republic, an island nation that I first visited when Santo Domingo was called Ciudad Trujillo in 1955 and have returned numerous times. I have also been to Haiti the country that shares the Island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic and I have stood at the mountainous border dividing the two countries. Driving around the country offers magnificent views with every turn in the road. On this visit I enjoyed the northern Atlantic coast named the Amber Coast because of the amount of amber found there. The primary site along the northern coast is La Cordillera Septentrional. The amber-bearing stones named clastic rocks are usually washed down the steep inclines along with sandstone and other debris and are even found in deep water at the end of the run. The Amber Coast of the Dominican Republic has mostly low mountains and beautiful beaches. Overlooking the city of Puerto Plata is Mount Isabel de Torres, which is covered by dense jungles but can be ascended by a cableway. Some of these jungle areas were used as sites for the movie Jurassic Park. A new 30 acre tourist port for Carnival Cruise Lines has been constructed in Amber Cove at a cost of $85 Million. It is one of the newest destinations to visit in the Caribbean and well worth the effort.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

During World War II, the SS San Pasqual was outfitted with machine guns and light cannons.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Founded in 1917 by Peter Brandal, it was named Ny-Ålesund or New Ålesund. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognized Norwegian sovereignty and established Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. It is only 769 miles from the North Pole on the island of Spitsbergen. Ny-Ålesund located at is on the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago and holds the distinction of being the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. Owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry and is not incorporated, however it does have a port which accommodates cruise ships, an airport, a post office, the Svalbard church and the Norwegian Seamen's church. Ny-Ålesund has an all-year permanent population of 30 to 35 which expands to about 120 people in the summer. For accommodations there is the Nordpolhotell, opened on 3 September 1939, and considered the oldest and perhaps the most expensive place to stay in Ny Ålesund. In the 17th and 18th centuries the island was first used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries. Coal mining was started at the end of the 19th century. Now there are fifteen permanent research stations run by agencies from ten countries. Perhaps the best known is the Global Seed Vault. Deep inside a mountain, it was built to stand the test of time and is considered a fail-safe seed storage facility strong enough to face most natural or man-made disasters. It is also the center for international arctic scientific research.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

As soon as I felt that we were a safe distance away from Bischoffsheim, I recovered my suitcases and fortunately got a ride from a farmer back to Rosheim, where I boarded the train leaving for Strasbourg. I recall looking out of the train window at newly dug trenches and wondered how many soldiers would make them their eternal resting place. There were also heaps of ammunition for weapons called Panzerschreck which were similar to American bazookas. If a soldier could approach close enough to a tank so that he could fire at it, it would cause the tank to explode. Here in Rosheim, the Germans were definitely expecting the arrival of the French Army and were preparing for the assault. Photo Caption: German Soldiers firing a Panzerschreck Captain Hank Bracker, who served with the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps, is the author of the multi-award winning book, “The Exciting Story of Cuba” has now written “Suppressed I Rise.” This book is for anyone interested in a very personal human view, of the history of World War II. A mother’s attempt to protect and raise her two young daughters in hostile NAZI Germany challenges her sensibilities and resourcefulness. Both books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and many Independent Book Stores.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Within minutes the four of us were dressed and standing outside of our room, at attention. We listened very carefully to the instructions that were being broadcast over the infernal loudspeaker, conveniently mounted on the bulkhead, just outside of our room. I already detested the blaring sound of the PA system and my first full day at the Academy had hardly started. We were instructed to go down to the Quarterdeck near the lobby and get into the chow line for breakfast. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t even notice that the sun came up while we were chowing down. Following breakfast, all of us had to report to the ship’s store for the purpose of being fitted for our denim working uniforms, which included a U.S. Navy foul weather jacket. Our other uniforms would be issued at various times during the first week, but for now these dungarees would be the only uniform we would need. By the time it was 10:00 a.m. we looked like Q-Balls with our regulation haircuts, were dressed in our newly stenciled uniforms, had eaten breakfast, made our beds and squared away our quarters and oh yes, it was only the beginning, the best was yet to come!

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

….In time, the Europeans brought in pigs and horses, both of which were allowed to run wild and multiply. Pigs in the wild soon became aggressive feral boars with tusks, eating everything in sight. Corn, which the Indians depended upon, was attacked and uprooted by the pigs before maturing, thus leaving the Indians without an important source of nourishment. Although pigs provided a necessary source of protein, they were also known to host worms and parasites, and spread viruses such as influenza. If undercooked, the meat could cause trichinosis infections that, depending upon the severity, could result in death in four to six weeks. The sailors returning to Europe brought with them tobacco and syphilis, both of which could be fatal. Syphilis is the gift that keeps on giving and soon spread throughout Europe and England. Unknown prior to the discovery of America, it became another blight on the European continent. Because of their close connection, many people were convinced that pigs were the carriers of Syphilis. Perhaps they were right…. .

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

It was a long time since I had had anything to eat and I was becoming very hungry. I didn’t know where my next meal would come from and I knew that I was facing a long journey ahead. Hunger was something we all learned to live with in wartime Germany. The compartment was now completely full. Looking out to the passageway through the inside window, I could see a German soldier standing in the crowded passageway. He had his back to the outside window and I could see his reflection and knew that he had field rations attached to his belt. As he glanced towards me, he could see how hungry and drawn I looked. I was grateful when he kindly offered to share his rations with me. Although many people became nasty and bitter because of the trials of war, there were still some kind and decent people left. There was no doubt but that this war had left an indelible imprint on everyone!

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was born in 1882, was considered a hero in Jersey City, although I don’t think that my parents saw him that way. He was born in Dutchess County, NY to a prominent Dutch family and, much later, when I lived in Pawling, New York, I got to know his son, Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. What I remember most vividly, was walking up and down Nelson Avenue on April 12, 1945, announcing that the President had died in Warm Springs, Georgia. I was not yet eleven years old when I followed the details of the transfer of power to Harry S. Truman, who succeeded him to the presidency. Over a year had passed since American troops had landed in Italy and started reclaiming Europe. Hitler committed suicide and Germany surrendered to the Allies a few days later on May 7, 1945, freeing me from the unfounded suspicion of being a Nazi and part of the evil empire in the eyes of my schoolmates.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

On Sunday evenings, there was a comparatively vast array of radio shows from which to choose. Frequently I would lie in my bed with my father, who would pull the covers over our heads and pretend that we were in a cave. This is how we would listen to shows such as Jack Benny, The Great Gildersleeve with Harold Peary, The Fred Allen Show, and The Edgar Bergen Show. As a ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen had Charlie McCarthy and the slow-witted Mortimer Snerd as puppets. For us the last show of the evening was always Your Hit Parade sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes, starring Snooky Lanson, Gisele MacKenzie and a host of other well-known singers of that period. Although my father was a strict disciplinarian, on Sunday evenings he usually relaxed things and we would enjoy our time listening to the radio together.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Boating is a wonderful and relaxing pastime, however it is not without its hazards.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

The Communist Party of Cuba really had its start during the 1920’s, but not wanting to appear all too radical, the founders dropped the word “communist” and softened its name to the “Popular Socialist Party.” The more radical faction of the party eventually won out and again changed the name of their party to the more militant “Communist Revolutionary Union.” One of the primary founders and leaders of this Communist movement was our young man in Havana, “Julio Antonio Mella.” He never accepted things at face value and challenged authority whenever he felt that they were becoming abusive or self-serving. There was no doubting that he always stood out from the crowd. Not only was his influence felt among the students and faculty but he also had a reputation as an audacious ladies’ man. Being handsome, well-built, with a head of wavy brown hair and sensuous lips, he was known to have bedded many of his female followers. Some of these women said that he resembled a Grecian God. Athletically inclined, he worked out and also became a valued member of the university rowing team. The young lady that was with him when he was assassinated was Tina Modotti.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

No place in Haiti was easy to get to and to drive to their lodge would take a couple of hours, so they sent a van to pick us up. It was already evening and the sun had just set, as we made our way up into the mountains behind Port-au-Prince. As we bounced along the dirt road winding through the hills, I could distinctly hear the rhythm of drums and see fires on the distant mountains. Mrs. Allen, who was with us, explained that in the 1940’s devout members of the Catholic faith considered the Voodoo rites an abomination of their faith. They armed themselves and started to eradicate from Haiti what they considered a cult. The entire thing turned into a war! They burned voodoo temples and shrines, and killed some of the practitioners as well as voodoo priests. In the end, the Catholic hierarchy gave up and after a time reached a tacit understanding with them. They now allowed Voodoo drums and songs to be sung in Catholic Church services and ignored what they once called devil worship.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

His manner became threatening as he stretched out his fat neck and pushed his bullhead at me. Smelling his hot breath and feeling his spit on my face, I heard him yell, “Who did you talk to?” “Why do you want to know?” I bravely asked, expecting the worst. “Answer me!” he repeated. “Give me the name of the person you sheltered!” I faltered, knowing that bad things were about to follow. Here I was just helping a German soldier and this Nazi bureaucrat took it upon himself to punish me. His three huge gold rings cut my face deeply as he repeatedly slapped my face, shouting obscenities. Shaken, I stood there trembling, trying to wipe my bleeding nose and expecting additional blows. Very timidly one of the other women asked just what it was he wanted to know. I stood with my head bowed, as he continued with his demands. I knew that he wanted me to reveal the corporal’s identity. He also wanted the names of the other soldiers who were with him in the village. I told him that they were just German soldiers that needed help! Not even knowing the circumstances, he accused them of being cowards or scared rabbits, Etappenhasen, as he called them. This was a derogatory name given to soldiers suffering from “shellshock” or Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Frightened of what could happen to them, these soldiers in Bischoffsheim stayed close to the mess hall, or goulash kanone as it was called. The local authorities had authorized our helping them and I just couldn’t betray these men! Who was this bully to get involved? I think he was just one of those “Little Hitlers” trying to make a name for himself!

By Anonym 19 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

The Milky Way, which is our galaxy, will collide with its nearest neighbor the Andromeda Galaxy. The two galaxies are heading towards each other at a wickedly high snail’s pace, of about 75 miles per second. This massive crash is expected to occur about 3 to 4 billion years from now.” My suggestion is to keep your head down! Captain Hank Bracker

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

On May 17, 1913, Domingo Rosillo and Agustín Parlá attempted the first international flights to Latin America, by trying to fly their airplanes from Key West to Havana. At 5:10 a.m., Rosillo departed from Key West and flew for 2 hours, 30 minutes and 40 seconds before running out of gas. He had planned to land at the airfield at Camp Columbia in Havana, but instead managed to squeak in at the camp’s shooting range, thereby still satisfactorily completing the flight. Parlá left Key West at 5:57 in the morning. Just four minutes later, at 6:01 a.m., he had to carefully turn back to the airstrip he had just left, since the aircraft didn’t properly respond to his controls. Parlá said, “It would not let me compensate for the wind that blew.” When he returned to Key West, he discovered that two of the tension wires to the aircraft’s elevators were broken. Two days later, Parlá tried again and left Key West, carrying the Cuban Flag his father had received from José Martí. This time he fell short and had to land at sea off the Cuban coast near Mariel. Sailors from the Cuban Navy rescued him from his seaplane. Being adventuresome, while attending the Curtiss School of Aviation in 1916, Parlá flew over Niagara Falls. In his honor, the Cuban flag was hoisted and the Cuban national anthem was played. The famous Cuban composer, pianist, and bandleader, Antonio M. Romeu, composed a song in his honor named “Parlá over the Niagara” and Agustín Parlá became known as the “Father of Cuban Aviation.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

In 1947 Cuba, clandestently Meyer Lansky acted as a go-between, establishing a cooperative atmosphere between Batista and the Mob. Both Lansky and Batista were outsiders to the Sicilian-run criminal organization, but they both were ambitious and had greed as a common value. This unholy alliance continued as long as Batista’s interests coincided with the interests of the Mafia. During a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, Batista offered Meyer Lansky control of the racetracks and casinos in Havana if he would help him return to the Cuban presidency. Now that the Mafia could clearly see the potential Havana had to offer, they decided to move ahead on the racketeering venture in Cuba. Batista became an important part of the complicated puzzle. Although the former Sergeant/Colonel had lived in exile, he finagled his return to power as a Senator, providing the Mafia with a way of openly buying their way into Cuba. Meetings between Batista and Meyer Lansky provided them both with a common goal. The planning for a territorial takeover began, with both men maneuvering to improve their advantage. Lansky figured out how to make money and Batista offered him his cooperation and protection in return… depending of course, on Batista’s return to the Presidency. Read the award winning book “The Exciting Story of Cuba,” page 205

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

During the mid-1930’s Jorge's father arrived in Camagüey, looking for work. Being single, he asked some of the locals where he could find a brothel with some “Fun Girls.” After getting explicit directions, he started walking along the winding streets of the city, but the maze proved more confusing than he had expected. So, instead of finding the brothel, he wound up staring at the gates of the cemetery. He was at the dead center of town!

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

In 1960, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked into an idealistically-driven Cold War, pitting the Capitalistic West against the Communistic East. Cuba, unable to be self-sufficient, had to pick a side. With the United States putting economic pressure onto the relatively small country, Castro did the only thing his pride would allow. Voicing disdain for his neighbor to the north, Castro proclaimed that his ideological views paralleled those of the USSR. Meeting with the Soviet Premier Anastas Mikoyan, Castro agreed to provide the USSR with food and sugar, in return for a monetary infusion amounting to a $100 million loan, as well as industrial goods, crude oil and fertilizers. Castro’s first public admission that his revolution was socialistic was during his speech honoring the people killed in the air strikes of April 15, 1961, during the Bay of Pigs operation. The Cuban government then took over all the banks, except two Canadian ones.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

I figured that it wouldn’t take me all that long to walk the steep incline from the docks, past the warehouses, up to Congress Street and then down to State Street. I was on my way, snow or no snow! Bundled up in my gloves, woolen thirteen-button bell-bottomed uniform pants, navy blue shirt and pea coat, with the flaps up, I negotiated the slippery steep incline of High Street. I knew that I was in Maine, known for adverse weather, but this was unreal. It was all I could do to hang onto this precious cargo with my cold fingers in my wet gloves, and put one foot in front of the other. Little by little, I made progress against the elements but, the longer it took to walk the distance, the more I looked like a snowman. Now the white stuff was getting heavier, and started to pile up. It stuck to my uniform, turning the dark blue to white. By the time I got as far as Congress Street, my feet and fingers were totally numb again, and my ears frozen. The box was getting heavier by the moment and I couldn’t even cover my ears with my hands. Finally I just put the box down into the snow, crouched down against a building, and pulled my pea coat over my head. Breathing into it, I managed to generate a little heat. I pressed the flaps of the coat against my ears until I could feel them again. Aside from my frozen feet, I warmed up enough this way to be able to continue. Picking up the box, I got up and once again faced the harsh elements. There was little sign of life, and with this cold wind, I could easily have gotten frostbite. Most people who lived in Maine had better sense than to be out under these arctic conditions. The plows had not cleared the streets yet, and behind me I could see a lone car spinning its wheels, trying in vain to make the steep grade. Once again I had to put down the box. I took off my gloves and tried to warm my hands by blowing onto them, as I did a little dance stomping my feet, but nothing helped anymore; my hands and feet were numb. When I picked the box up again, the bottom was caked with snow, making matters even worse! With only a short distance left I thought about Ann and so I continued trudging on.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Of all the theaters I miss from the 1950’s and before, the Hudson Theatre tops the list. It was built in what was then called Union Hill, early in December 1907. It was actually known as “The Hudson Burlesque,” and it featured striptease artists such as Lili St. Cyr, Gypsy Rose Lee and Tempest Storm. Being too young to get into the theatre on my own, I usually offered an adult standing in line some money to take me in. Once inside, I would head for the front of the theatre to the fire exit on the right side of the orchestra seating. It was all prearranged with my friends waiting outside! With one kick, the door would open, allowing them to come streaming in. There were not enough ushers to catch us all, so some of us would invariably be caught and evicted; only to try and gain access again. It was all great fun! Its demise came in 1957 after the theatre owners took out the comedy acts and replaced them with more featured strippers. Society balked, arrests were made and the curtain came down!

By Anonym 19 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

We both enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant and talked until after midnight, leaving only when the staff made it clear that they wanted to close.The next day after breakfast and a reluctant goodbye, I caught the morning train to Hamburg, Germany. Amsterdam had been bombed by the Nazis at the very beginning of the war, destroying about a square kilometer in the central section of the city. The surrounding infrastructure had also been bombed and getting from place to place was not easy. Many bridges had been destroyed, and getting around took much longer than it should have, but people took it in their stride and were patient. The train to Germany was pulled by an old steam locomotive, which chugged through the Dutch lowlands and typical picturesque communities. Looking around I saw little or no signs of war damage in these rural areas. It was not until the train reached the border, that the horrors of World War II became apparent.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Once, just west of Framingham on the Worcester Turnpike or Route 9 in Massachusetts, I caught a ride in a truck that had worn brakes. The driver, a jolly red-nosed individual with a white beard who could have passed as Santa Claus, suggested that I might want to get out considering the situation regarding the truck’s brakes. Not wanting to turn down a ride in the middle of the night, I rode it out with the driver. Going uphill was all right, but coming down was decidedly hairy. The driver knew what he was doing and used his engine to slow himself down, but he had to depend on his emergency brake if he wanted to, or had to, stop. At one traffic light, which was on a downhill slope, he couldn’t bring his rig to a stop and just blew through the intersection, horn blowing, weaving past the cross traffic. I hung on enjoying the excitement as the driver narrated his moves, as if he was telling a story. I watched and listened to him, too caught up in this wild ride to get concerned about the danger. There were a number of downgrades where he totally lost control of our speed, but fortunately the upgrade would slow us down again. He relied on his loud air horn, which sounded even louder in the dark of night. Fun was fun and eventually we got to Worcester, where I was glad to get off in one piece. I hope that he got his load to where it was going, but I knew that the farther west on Route 9 he went, the more mountainous the terrain would become and I didn’t want any part of that. Besides, this was where I needed to get off. My next leg would take me through Sturbridge and then on to Connecticut. .

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Finally I just put the box containing the brownie mix down into the snow, crouched down against a building, and pulled my pea coat over my head. Breathing into it, I managed to generate a little heat. I pressed the flaps of the coat against my ears until I could feel them again. Aside from my frozen feet, I warmed up enough this way to be able to continue. Picking up the box, I got up and once again faced the harsh elements. There was little sign of life, and with this cold wind, I could easily have gotten frostbite. Most people who lived in Maine had better sense than to be out under these arctic conditions. The plows had not cleared the streets yet, and behind me I could see a lone car spinning its wheels, trying in vain to make the steep grade. Once again I had to put down the box. I took off my gloves and tried to warm my hands by blowing onto them, as I did a little dance stomping my feet, but nothing helped anymore; my hands and feet were numb. When I picked the box up again, the bottom was caked with snow, making matters even worse! With only a short distance left I thought about Ann and the aroma from baking brownies, so I continued trudging on. I could now see the statue of Longfellow, slouched in his massive chair. “Hi, Henry. What do you think of this glorious weather?” Not getting an answer was answer enough. I was convinced that his bronze butt was frozen to the chair, but in spite of the weather, he still looked comfortable!

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

In 1948, Carlos Prío Socarrás replaced Grau as the President of Cuba. He then stayed in power until March 10, 1952. Carlos Prío Socarrás was known as “The Cordial President.” He once admitted, while talking to a friend, that, “Yes, they say that I was a bad president, but I’m still the best president that Cuba ever had.” Page 206, “The Exciting Story of Cuba” by Captain Hank Bracker

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

It was another beautiful crisp, clear day, in what has always been considered picturesque Überlingen. The village was internationally known for its traditional beauty and was a popular vacation destination long before the war. As usual, there was just a hint of a breeze off the brilliantly blue lake and I could understand why so many Germans would come here for their urlaub or vacation. Having a little money left over from the last check sent by Mina, I found a nice room for the three of us, overlooking the lake at a classy resort hotel. For the next two days we lived quite comfortably in our new surroundings. In fact we even enjoyed a real hot bath, something that I had almost forgotten. As I soaked in the warm, sudsy water I could hear my children laughing and giggling in the next room, and longed for a time when the world would be at peace again. During the day we walked along the shore of the beautiful Bodensee, but in the back of my mind, I knew that this was nothing more than a horrible illusion and couldn’t last; besides I had to find work. In reality, the children and I would have to settle in somewhere so that we could find some sort of stability. It was also important that they enroll in a school again. That “somewhere” turned out to be a room in a house owned by two old ladies who took in boarders. The old house faced the railroad station and was quaint in the old world style. It fit right into the picture postcard appearance of romantic Überlingen. Erika, the younger of the two ladies, was very kind and helpful to me. There were also two other tenants, Mr. and Mrs. Koestoll. He was German and she seemed to be what could be considered a typical French housewife, who devoted her life to her German husband. Herr Koestoll, was old and feeble and they sustained themselves on a very small pension. In fact it was so bad that he couldn’t even afford shoes. However their happiness didn’t seem to depend on money. I grew very fond of them for the short time that we knew each other.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Tomás Estrada Palma was a Cuban-born American citizen, who was a moderate and had worked with José Martí in New York. He became the leader of the Cuban Revolutionary Party after Marti’s death. On December 31, 1901, Tomás Estrada Palma was duly elected to become the first President of Cuba. Estrada Palma and the Cuban Congress assumed governance on May 20, 1902, which then became the official birthdate of the Cuban Republic. In 1906, Estrada Palma appealed to the United States to intervene in the revolt that threatened his second term. As Secretary of War during the Roosevelt administration, William Howard Taft was sent to Cuba, after having been the first civilian Governor-General of the Philippines. For the short period of time from September 29, 1906, until October 13, 1906, Taft was the Provisional Governor of Cuba. During this time, 5,600 U.S. Army troops were sent to Cuba to reassert American authority, giving Taft the muscle to set up another provisional government. Later, on March 4, 1909, Taft was elected the 27th President of the United States.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

This slice of life happened during the depression era, late 1920’s and early 1930’s in Hoboken, NJ. Will such hard times happen again as the “Rich get richer and the poor get poorer?” “Fischer & Koenig’s factory building had been built in a wedge of filled-in land between the cliff side road of the palisades and the railroad tracks. Although some unwieldy power tools had already been invented, and were in use since the end of the nineteenth century, they were seldom used at home or in small factories such as the one where my father worked. As in most shops of that era, everything was custom-made. My father did almost everything by hand, including the staining, polishing and finishing work of furniture, tabletops and caskets. It was an era when things were still done the old-fashioned way. With jobs scarce and difficult to find, he worked long hours in the cold building with nothing more than an open steel drum outside the door, in which scrap wood was burned so that the workers could occasionally warm their hands. Under these horrid conditions, it didn’t take long for his nose to run, his hands to become raw and cracked, and his lips to become chapped. It seemed that he constantly had a cold and problems with his feet. Studying the faces of people back then, you could see the intense hardship in their weathered faces.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Sundays when they could come, my mother would bring a piece of cake and some cookies from the bakery. Of course, the cookies and the cake were past their prime, but that was just the way I liked them. I really don’t know how happy my parents were to see me since most of the time they were there; they would talk to my teachers in conference, and then tell me all the things I had supposedly done wrong. Sadly, I would always wind up with a lecture on how bad I had been and what was expected of me. It was something I had grown to expect, but more importantly, I was grateful for the cake and pastries. I have no idea why, but they also brought me cans of condensed milk. I can only guess that they believed that the thick syrupy milk, super saturated with sweet, sweet, sugar, would give me the energy I needed to think better. After one such visit, I made the mistake of leaving my cake unattended. It didn’t take long before it grew legs and ran off. I couldn’t believe that one of my schoolmates would steal my cake, not at a Naval Honor School! Nevertheless, not being able to determine who the villains were, I hatched a plan to catch the culprits the next time around. Some months later when my parents returned to check on my progress, my mother brought me a beautiful double-layer chocolate cake. This time I was ready, having bought all the Ex-Lax the pharmacy in Toms River had on hand. Using a hot plate, I heated the Ex-Lax until it liquefied, and then poured the sticky brown substance all over the cake in a most decorative way. With that, I placed the cake on my desk and invitingly left the door open to my dorm room. I wasn’t away long before this cake also grew legs, and, lo and behold, it also disappeared. The expected happened, and somewhat later I found the culprits in the boys’ bathroom, having a miserable time of it. Laughingly, I identified them as the culprits, but didn’t turn them in. It was enough that I caught them with their pants down!

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

A Signal” Anarchists in 1921 Cuba Cuban anarchists started to gain strength as early as 1921, when they handed out pamphlets and periodicals on the streets. In its ltimate form, anarchists seek freedom not only from government but also from any infringement of their ideologies, such as religion and capitalism. They believe that they should be able to do whatever they want to, as long as it does not interfere with others, although bomb throwing and shooting people in the streets certainly seemed acceptable to them. From Page 128 of “The Exciting Story of Cuba” Captain Hank Bracker

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

It was a glorious experience to travel by rail for the children and the panoramic views of Africa through the big glass window in the back of the last car were beyond description. It was just as you would expect it to be as described in a vintage National Geographic magazine, with springbok and other wild animals abounding. The distance is approximately the same as from New York to Chicago and took an overnight. Adeline and Lucia talked late into the night as the children tried to hear what was being said. There was a lot of catching up to do, but it had been a long and exhausting day and the next thing they all knew, was that it was the following morning and the train was approaching Cape Town, affectionately known as the “Tavern of the Seas.” When the train finally came to a halt, after being switched from one track to another through the extensive rail yards, the realization sank in that this was their new life. Kaapstad, Cape Town in Afrikaans, would be their new home and German, the language they had spoken until now, was history. A new family came to meet them and helped carry their luggage to waiting cars. All of these strange people speaking strange languages were uncles, aunts and nephews. An attractive elderly woman who spoke a language very similar to German, but definitely not the same, was the children’s new Ouma. However, to avoid confusion she was to be addressed as Granny. She lived in a Dutch gabled house called “Kismet” located in a beautiful suburb known as “Rosebank.” This would be their home until Adeline could find a place where they could settle in and start their new life.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Once back in Castine, I knew that I had to get serious. I was lucky that studying came easy for me. Perhaps in a way I should have seen it as a curse, since I could grasp what was required of me without too much effort. Although I had to study, I still always had time to fool around. During the final weeks I pored over my books, but on weekends when my classmates continued to study, I hitchhiked to Portland. Ann knew that graduation was near and mentioned that she wanted to go to New York, where we could remain closer to each other after graduation. It sounded good, but I reminded her that I would be going to sea and that it could be with almost any shipping company, and for extended periods of time. I had no idea where in the world I would be going and to me it didn’t really matter. We decided that after taking my Coast Guard Exams, we would take a bus to New York City and she could stay in a room at the YWCA near Journal Square.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Castine predates the Plymouth Colony by 7 years and, being one of the oldest settlements in America, has a rich history. Founded during the winter of 1613 as Fort Pentagöet, named after the French Baron of Pentagöet, Castine is located in eastern Maine or “Down East,” as it is now popularly called. During much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the French Parish of Acadia included parts of eastern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. The pine-forested land of French controlled Maine extended as far south as Fort Pentagöet and the Kennebec River. That same year, 1613, English Captain Samuel Argall raided Mount Desert Island, the largest island to be found in present-day Maine, thus starting a long-running dispute over the boundary between French Acadia and the English colonies lying to the south. In 1654, Major General Robert Sedgwick led 100 New England volunteers and 200 of Oliver Cromwell's soldiers on an expedition against French Acadia. Sedgwick captured and plundered Fort Pentagöet and occupied Acadia for the next 16 years. This relatively short period ended when the Dutch bombarded the French garrison defending Penobscot Bay and the Bagaduce River, thereby dominating Castine in 1674 and again in 1676. It was during this time that they completely destroyed Fort Pentagöet. After the Treaty of Breda brought peace to the region in 1667, French authorities dispatched Baron Jean-Vincent de Saint- Castin to take command of Fort Pentagöet. The community surrounding the fort served as the capital of this French colony from 1670 to 1674, and was named Castine after him.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Fidel Castro's justice, while seeking refuge with his rebel troops in the Sierra Maestra mountains, was harsh and the penalty for violating some of his rules was death.” See page 286, "The Exciting Story of Cuba

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Cuban Aircraft are Seized During the early 1960’s, Erwin Harris sought to collect $429,000 in unpaid bills from the Cuban government, for an advertising campaign promoting Cuban tourism. Holding a court order from a judge in Florida and accompanied by local sheriff’s deputies, he searched the East Coast of the United States for Cuban property. In September 1960, while Fidel was at the United Nations on an official visit, Harris found the Britannia that Castro had flown in to New York. That same day the front page of The Daily News headlined, “Cuban Airliner Seized Here.” Erwin Harris continued by seizing a C-46, which was originally owned by Cuba Aeropostal and was now owned by Cubana, as well as other cargo airplanes. He seized a Cuban Naval vessel, plus 1.2 million Cuban cigars that were brought into Tampa, Florida, by ship. In Key West, Harris also confiscated railroad cars carrying 3.5 million pounds of cooking lard destined for Havana. All of these things, excepting the Britannia, were sold at auction. Nikita S. Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, replaced the airplane that had been confiscated. On September 28th, Castro boarded the Soviet aircraft at Idlewild Airport smiling, most likely because he knew that his Britannia airplane would be returned to Cuba due to diplomatic immunity.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

The fact that my parents did not have the where-with-all to buy toys, didn’t slow me down. Sometimes at the nearby dumps or in garbage cans, I would find discarded toys that could be repaired. In some cases, my father would restore a toy, such as my pedal fire engine that he fixed and repainted. My cousin Walter and I enjoyed years of peddling around, bumping into things and pretending to put out non-existing fires. Never mind that it had been restored, for us it was as good, if not better, than new. Papa was fairly handy. He didn’t always get it right, but more often than not he fixed things good enough for them to work again. He was also a reasonably good artist and painted copies of artwork done by well-known artists. For whatever reason, I never saw him do anything original, but his work did inspire me to try painting and construct things by myself. Much of the material I used came from the other side of U.S. Highway 1, or Tonnele Avenue, where the dumps were located. I didn’t know it at the time, however Tonnele Avenue was named after John Tonnele, a farmer and politician in the 1800’s. There were also some railroad tracks that I had to cross, but the dangers of crossing a highway or railroad tracks didn’t stop me, even though there were frequent articles in the Jersey Journal of people getting hurt or killed doing exactly this. To me the dumps were a warehouse of treasures.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

…we dipped down into the tunnel taking us under the Hudson River and into the heart of the “Big Apple.” I knew New York City well, so it only took minutes before I found my way to 42nd Street and was on the Great White Way! There was a sense of excitement being surrounded by people who all seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. I ambled over to 8th Avenue, and found one of many bars advertising two drinks for the price of one. I entered thinking that in uniform I looked old enough to be served, but was still surprised when it happened. I don’t remember how much money I had on me, but it couldn’t have been much. Sitting at the bar, I blended in and no one seemed to care, so I had the second glass of what must have been the cheapest whiskey ever sold. Fortified by liquid courage, I started to feel bigger than life, and I thought to myself that if nobody else cared, why should I? The world was my oyster and I was the “King of the Hill.” The bartender asked if I wanted another drink. Looking at my watch I suddenly realized that it was later than I thought…. Where had the time gone? I had to get back! I had just arrived in the City and couldn’t believe how fast the time had flown by. I hurried to the new Port Authority Bus Terminal two blocks away and luckily caught the bus to Perth Amboy just in time. I felt a little lightheaded, but had it together enough to realize that I was racing against the clock. The bus seemed to take forever, making many more stops for red lights than I expected….

By Anonym 18 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

The color of the ocean certainly looked different as we steamed north, using the Gulf Stream to give us an additional 3 knots of headway. The beautiful green sea gave way to a steel-colored blue-gray frigid foam. It was early spring now and although the weather in New England still had the feeling of winter, the migratory birds knew better. The cold wind hummed as it blew through the ships rigging and with every turn of the screw, we relentlessly inched farther North. After three months of tropical weather, we now welcomed the dryer frosty air. We represented Maine, this was our environment, and this year, March did not disappoint us. We knew enough to expect that in this changeable weather it could snow well into April. In fact the farmers in the Northeast call a late snow “Poor man’s fertilizer.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

In 1628, French pirates and marauding, escaped slaves plundered Santiago and burned Havana to the ground. Even the Dutch, led by Piet Heyn , sacked the Spanish fleet lying at anchor in Havana harbor. page 83, "The Exciting Story of Cuba

By Anonym 15 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Cohorting with a foreign power to overthrow the government or purposely aiding the enemy is an act of Treason!

By Anonym 16 Sep

Captain Hank Bracker

Having been married twice before, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed the conveniences and trappings of having a wife, but resented the responsibilities, not to mention the constraints, of raising children. He loved his six-toed, polydactyl cats that required far less care, and frequently were left to fend for themselves at his home in Key West, Florida. Writing was his life and having been a reporter and journalist for the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star Weekly gave him the experience and knowledge needed to write the gritty accounts of the Spanish Civil War and World War II. His work took Papa Hemingway to the far reaches of the globe; however he enjoyed life in Key West where he had fishing friends and drinking buddies. He always enjoyed the company of the people he was with, and Sloppy Joes was his favorite haunt. It was here that he spent hours imbibing and sharing stories with fishermen, beach bums and tourists.