Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Cold Comes the Night" with Alice Eve and Bryan Cranston (2013)

Riveting is the one word which bests describes this film. Chloe, played by Alice Eve, is a single mother living in a run-down road side motel. Her daughter lives with her. The local DSS wants her to move from the transient hotel or lose custody of her child. She plans on leaving but is trying to save enough money.

The motel doubles as a brothel run by local police officer Billy, played by Logan-Marshall Green. He is corrupt and ruthless. And though he doesn’t know it, he is about to meet his match in TOPO, played by Bryan Cranston. TOPO is a mysterious figure who is passing through town with a driver and a whole lot of cash. When the driver gets involved with one of the local girls at the motel and is killed, TOPO has no one to finish driving him on his mysterious journey.

As TOPO uses Chloe to try and finish the job he was paid to do, she realizes that his eyesight is failing; which is why he had a driver in the first place. Essentially trapped in the motel with no transportation he is forced to use both Chloe and her daughter as his eyes; as well as shields.

When the car TOPO was being driven in is impounded he must use her connections with Officer Billy in an attempt to retrieve the cash hidden in the car. But Billy has gotten to it first. This begins a deadly game of cat and mouse as TOPO looks to get back the cash, along with a bit of revenge.

Tautly directed and tersely written, this film will have you stuck in your seat for the full 90 minutes. Outstanding performances by all make this one a sure fire winner.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kings Highway - 1906 and 1907

The Brighton line at Kings Highway and East 16th Street has been elevated since 1907. This photo from the “Brooklyn’s Mother Road” site;  purports to be a photo of Kings Highway in 1906 with the tracks at the street level. You can see them running left to right in the foreground. That means this photo is facing either East or West on the Highway. The following photo shows the same location 1 year later with the new elevated station in place, leaving me unsure that the first photograph is really correct as to location. 

Although the tracks are in the street, which is consistent with the original Brighton line location, the street looks too un-developed in the first photograph. And, in the second photograph, the buildings don’t look brand new and the sidewalks don’t have the strips of earth for planting. Still, though, the first photo is a great reminder of the days before the Brighton line was elevated. 

The 1907 photo is more emblematic of the Kings Highway we all remember growing up. The candy store is already there on the right, hidden by the delivery wagon. The station platform doesn't look quite the same. I think the station platforms were extended later on.

I really wish that the first photo had a better description of which way it is facing. If it is facing east then it is possible that the street beyond East 16th Street had not yet been developed. That kind of makes sense, as the Kings Highway Savings Bank on the corner of East 16th Street didn't go up for another 20 odd years.

But, if the photograph is located correctly then it was taken just a few feet from where Dubrow’s would eventually rise on the left; and Rainbow Shops would later stand on the right.

Brooklyn; especially Kings Highway; has a long and storied past. If you were raised there then you have the fortune to be able to go on line and find these old photos. If you were raised in a small town somewhere it can be very hard to find old photos such as these to piece together the growth of your town; or in this case a neighborhood.

If anyone has any further information on that first photo; showing the tracks of the Brighton line at street level; please let me know. Like many of the people I grew up with, I have been collecting these old photos from the internet. They make a fascinating study in urban growth.

But even more important for me, the ones from the 1930’s on are a visual record of the places my Mom and Dad used to go as kids, and later as teenagers. I can’t look at a photo of the Kingsway Theater for example, without thinking of the night my mother first met my father there. He was 17 and working as an usher.

It’s the same with the photos of the train station itself. Whenever I see those older photos I remember the story of the Blizzard of 1948. My father’s family had moved to Manhattan by then, and my father had to make the trip from the Upper West Side to Kings Highway to see my Mom.

The blizzard story was one of my favorites. My Dad made the trip, which took hours in the storm, only to arrive at Kings Highway and then make his way on foot from East 16th Street to Bedford Ave where my Mom lived. He made it, and had to stay the night and the next day until the storm had passed.

No point to this post; just my way of putting down on paper some of the stories I want to pass down the line for my children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 27th Amendment and Women's Rights - A Connection

The Constitution of the United States of America is a wonderful document. The principles upon which it is founded are the cornerstone of our very souls. The document is emblematic of that uniqueness of the American Spirit which gave it birth. It has but one flaw. Almost immediately after the opening phrase “We the People”, we the people get left behind. The document is so hard for the average American to understand that it sometimes appears to be saying the opposite of what it means.

We all know that it is not without flaw; no document ever is; even my own. But you have to marvel at some of the stuff the founding fathers; and their successors; have come up with over the centuries. My favorite is, of course, the 27th Amendment. This Amendment was passed within our lifetimes. I’m assuming that you were born before 1992. I was born in 1954. And, as with all previous Amendments passed since I was born, I paid close attention to it.

The 23rd Amendment was the first in my lifetime. It dealt with giving the citizens in the District of Columbia the right to vote. This was a big deal. Imagine, before this law was passed, white folks were actually equal with African-Americans south of the Mason-Dixon Line. They couldn't vote either. I was 7 years old and I understood this Amendment.

The 24th Amendment was passed in 1964 and abolished the poll tax, ensuring that all citizens had a right to vote. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Voting Rights Act. I was 10 years old and understood it.

The 25th Amendment was less interesting, as it dealt with succession of the office of the Presidency. But since we had lost a President when Kennedy was assassinated only 4 years earlier, I did pay attention. I was 13 and I understood it.

The 26th Amendment was an easy one. It was passed in 1971 when I was almost 17 years old. With a Presidential Election coming in November of 1972, it meant that I could vote, along with anyone else who was 18 years old. I was 17 years old at the time, so I really understood this one.

Now, here’s my favorite; the 27th Amendment. Before I even take umbrage with it, I will print it here for you. You can go and check it elsewhere if you wish. I assure you it is to the letter.

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Now, the Amendment was added as an addition to Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which states;

“The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.”

The original intent of the article was that the elected members of Congress not decide for themselves how much they were worth. The Amendment to it not only muddles this point but ends up in calling for an election of the representatives; which was never an issue in the first place. After all, Congress does make the laws.

But; moreover; in practice this was tied to a Court Case in 1989 which gave the Congressmen and Congresswomen a Cost of Living increase annually. The rest of the country has never had a cost of living increase. The court declared that a cost of living increase for the Senate and Congress was not a raise. This of course also applies to Federal Employees.

So, basically the Congress waited until the cost of living was already in place before ratifying the amendment giving themselves the power to grant themselves a raise. And they get a cost of living increase along with it. And every other year they get to vote against accepting this cost of living increase, giving themselves a great opportunity to pretend to be turning down a raise. At about $180,000 per year plus perks and expenses I guess they can afford to wait a year or so.

And let’s not forget that if they vote against it for 3 years in a row; or any number of years for that matter; they later on get the cumulative increase for the years in which they voted to not get a cost of living increase. It’s a shell game. It took them 202 years to ratify this 24 word amendment. Ask someone what it means. I’m 59 and still don’t understand it.

Now you have to ask yourself why this was allowed to stand after so long a time had passed. After all, the passage of time is exactly what they say keeps the Equal Rights Amendment for Women from being ratified. And that's only 41 years old. It only lacks 3 states. By contrast the 27th Amendment was only ratified after Michigan certified it on May 7, 1992. This made 38 states, enough for the Amendment to be certified by the Chief Archivist of the United States Don W. Wilson. On May 19, 1992, he had it printed in the Federal Register, together with the certificate of ratification.

The only 2 legislators to speak out against the unusual length of time for ratification were Tom Foley and Robert Byrd. They called for a challenge to the Ratification. But,technically speaking, certifying an amendment falls under Title 1, section 106 b of the United States Code, which states:

“Whenever official notice is received at the National Archives and Records Administration that any amendment proposed to the Constitution of the United States has been adopted, according to the provisions of the Constitution, the Archivist of the United States shall forthwith cause the amendment to be published, with his certificate, specifying the States by which the same may have been adopted, and that the same has become valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the Constitution of the United States.”

Notice the statute does not contain a time clause. Now you have to ask yourself why the Equal Rights Amendment for Women was not afforded the same privilege. The reason often given is that too long a time period has passed. That flies in the face of the 27th Amendment and how it had no trouble being ratified.

Basically this is about duplicity concerning the Ratification of the ERA. The real reason for the law has been lying dormant is in the wording.  It is written to grant Equal Rights to all genders. That would now include the LGBT community and Same Sex Marriage, which are both Civil Rights Issues to begin with. That legislation reads as follows;

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Our Constitution is a wonderful piece of legislation. It is; as I said earlier; the backbone of our society, and I wouldn't change it for the world. But there are parts of it that need to be made clearer for the average citizen. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Dark Invasion" by Howard Blum (2014)

If you believe; as I do; that the only thing new is the history you don’t know, then this book will astound you. It’s like reading today’s newspaper; underscoring the fact that precious little has really changed in the last 100 years since these events occurred.  

Terrorism, espionage, germ warfare, piracy; in short; anything which you can find in today’s paper can be found in this book which recounts the events of the 2 years preceding America’s entry into World War One. Germany’s undeclared war on the United States mirrors everything which the Islamic terrorist of the 21st Century would like to accomplish.

If you lose track of some of the aliases and names while reading this book, don’t worry, author Howard Blum pulls everything together in an ending which rivals the best that Hollywood has to offer in the way of fiction. The big difference, of course, is that this story is true.

With the same wide ranging and highly charged style which marked his earlier book “American Lightning”, Mr. Blum introduces the reader to an astounding cast of characters; comprised of diplomats, Professors, stevedores, watchmakers and even J.P. Morgan; the American financer who once bailed out the country with cash during a recession. There are policemen, detectives and politicians; some good, some bad; but all part of the plot to keep American munitions out of the war against Germany by whatever means necessary.

The bombings were simple enough; compared to the planned anthrax and horse plaque attacks which were planned by German diplomats, along with scores of German seaman who found themselves stuck in a foreign neutral port for the duration of the war.

The story also involves a Harvard college professor named Muenter, who killed his wife and left his children, taking on a new identity in New Mexico.  He remarried under the assumed name of Frank Holt and began a new academic career in foreign languages. He was soon at the top of his profession. He also became an important component to the larger story.

At the same time, Detective Tom Tunney; in New York City; is on the trail of the mysterious bomber who has been successfully sabotaging the American war effort.  At the direction of the Police Commissioner he is able to tap phone lines, use force, and whatever else may be necessary to stop the sinking of ships by explosion after the ships have been at sea for several days.

During the summer of 1915 there were scores of ships sunk as a result. The devices ranged from a small “cigar” bomb; which was a small lead container divided in half by a small sheet of copper. Chemicals were added to each side that ate the copper sheet away. When the chemicals combined they produced a white hot flame. Planted among cargo they were devastating.

The German ships which were interred in the harbor on both sides of the river made for ideal recruitment for the network needed to plant the explosive devices on the American ships. And with the help of German diplomats and shipping executives, the operation was well funded and there was serious money to be made for the bored German seamen. One ship, interred at Hoboken, was actually converted into a bomb factory, with every member of the crew taking part in some way. Irish stevedores; with no love for England; were also a reliable source of operatives.

There were also plans to blow up various landmarks around the country. One of the first successes Detective Tunney enjoyed was the arrest of the men who planned to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral. That effort was foiled by two detectives dressed as scrub-women, who watched the bomber plant the bomb before tackling him.

Detective Tunney successfully infiltrates the Brescia Circle; a group of radical immigrants; and before too long finds himself involved with the German Abteilung IIIB spy network headed by Heinrich Albert, who was also the Commercial Attaché to the German Embassy here in the United States. From this lofty position he was able to recruit and co-ordinate not only the ship bombings, but also the germ warfare program. There is even a plan to restore Mexico’s exiled President Huerta to power in exchange for his help in de-stabilizing the Mexican border. His reward was to be the restoration of Texas and New Mexico to his country.

The germ warfare was designed to sicken the horses which the United States was supplying to all of the nations at war; with the exception of Germany. This is the same thing that caused Japan to form the Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, which led to the Second World War. Sanctions don’t work well without force to back it up. This is a lesson which should be heeded by our own politicians today. There is no teacher as adept as knowing history.

Paul Koenig was the German shipping magnate who ruled the waterfront in New York and New Jersey. He was loaded with cash but when his nephew didn’t show up for work one day due to an illness, he was docked $2.52 for the day. Infuriated at his Uncle he would become part of the events which unraveled the madness.

It was the same with Heinrich Albert. He was too cheap to spring for a $1.75 taxi ride; opting for the elevated train instead. He fell asleep on the train and left his briefcase; which held documents summarizing all of the sabotage that had been done up to that point; and also gave insights into what was still being planned.

But of all the characters in this story, none is more fascinating than Frank Holt, the former Professor Muenter. After killing his wife with arsenic and leaving the children with his in-laws, he sets out to reinvent himself. With his love for the fatherland and his talent for languages, he is looking for a way to serve the cause. In a 48 hour period during the July 4th weekend in 1915 he not only successfully plants an explosive in the Capitol; he then heads to Long Island and the home of J.P. Morgan.

Once there he intends to speak with him; he wants Mr. Morgan to stop financing the Allied war effort; but he brings along 6 sticks of dynamite and a revolver just in case JP needs persuading.  He is beaten and captured by the servants after shooting Mr. Morgan. Morgan survives, but Frank Holt only lives for a few more days in the town jail, where he is either killed by 2 gunshots to the head, or he jumped from the top bar of the cell door, dashing his skull.

There is so much more to recount about this book, but it really needs to be read to be enjoyed thoroughly. I think it is to safe to say; from the Black Tom Explosion to the Zimmerman Telegram; that Mr. Blum has covered it all.  He has a style which makes you wish he had been your history teacher in high school. He writes with a sense of urgency which is easily felt by the reader. As Detective Tunney races against the clock to avoid one disaster after another, you can almost hear the clock ticking. Or, is that a bomb? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Easter Parade" with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland (1948)

Here’s another fine movie I first saw on television as a kid. The plot is extremely simple; a nightclub performer hires a chorus girl to become his new dance partner. He does this to prove to his ex-partner that he can make anybody a success. But that’s just the plot.

And, what makes this film such a timeless classic is the score by Irving Berlin and the performances by Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. After all; the real joy of this film; or any musical for that matter; is in the songs. And this one has a whole bunch of showstoppers in it.

Of course, Judy Garland; as Hannah; and Fred Astaire; as Don Hewes; are the stars of the show. Bringing up the rear you have Anne Miller; as Nadine; and Peter Lawford; as Jonathan Harrow III; who are both friends and rivals of Hannah and Don. And Miss Miller can really dance! And, while Peter Lawford gives it his best shot at singing, his strongest suit (no pun intended) is that he looks great in a tuxedo, and you get the feeling that’s how he got the part.

This is a wonderful movie, filled with one great number after another. I hadn’t seen this film in about 30 years and decided to give it a shot for the holiday. Most people would probably post the “Easter Parade” number in the review of this film. I’m partial to the song below. I actually used to sing this in the shower when I was in the Navy. The old timers thought I had good taste; though a lousy voice. The younger guys just thought I was gay!

Happy Easter and enjoy the film!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Week in Jerusalem - Divisions

It’s Holy Week in Jerusalem again. It’s also the tail end of Passover for the Jewish people. It's also Easter for the Christians.  And the place which is at the center of both holidays is Jerusalem, which is also home to the Islamic religion. Have you ever stopped to consider the conundrum created by this close proximity of the world’s 3 largest faiths? 

The photo above is of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus was buried. It's only a stones throw away from the Western Wall, which is just a stairway away from the Dome of the Rock. It's a volatile situation. 

The Hebrews’ have fought there against the Romans, who wanted to take away the concept of a religion based on One God; this was before they became Christians and added the New Testament to the Old. The Christians, in turn, have fought there against the Islamics; who wanted to amend the New Testament with the Quran. And that’s just the religious element.

The settlement the Jewish people in what would shortly become Israel after the Second World War brought a new conflict to the area. And this conflict, between the Jewish people against the Islamic; while over land rather than religion; shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

Just take a look at the events of last Wednesday as an example of the obstacles to be overcome before there can ever be peace in the Mid-East. The story takes place at the Western Wall; Israel’s most Holy site; which is located at the bottom of the Dome of the Rock; which is Islam’s most Holy site.

The Wall is the physical location of the first two Hebrew temples, the spot where in 70 A.D. the Romans destroyed the second temple. The top of the wall; and the Dome of the Rock; is the spot where tradition holds that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Jewish people believe that a third temple will rise there someday. The Christians expect the Apocalypse to begin there, as foretold in Revelations.

So, while the Jews expect that their religion will be the dominant force in the area, the Islamic believers expect that their God will prevail; which leaves the Christians, who are waiting for it all to be destroyed because we all fall short of God’s Glory. Have you got all that?

The events of last Wednesday are the result of the Islamic fear that Israel is chomping at the bit to take over the Dome of the Rock. This belief is bolstered by the fact that Jews are permitted to worship at the Dome; though not inside; while the Arabs are banned from the Wailing Wall below. The part which probably irks the Islamic side so much is that traditionally Jews have considered the top of the rock; where the Dome sits; to be so holy that no Israelis have ever really been encouraged to pray there. Until recently, that is.

The Orthodox Jews in Israel; who don’t believe they have the obligation to serve in the Israeli Army; apparently have no qualms about escalating the tensions in the world’s most volatile spot. Increasingly they have demanded to be allowed to pray at the Dome, which has many Arabs angered and concerned. And I can understand that.

Last Wednesday, as tempers flared again over this contentious issue, the Arabs worshiping at the Dome of the Rock staged a demonstration, barricading themselves in a part of the holy site. At the same time they began to hurl stones down on the Jewish people below who were worshiping at the Western Wall.

This, in turn, sent the Israeli Police and Military to the Dome of the Rock; which they control as a result of the 1967 “Six Day War”, in which Israel was the victor and so won control of Jerusalem. At the time Jews were not permitted to worship there, as it was under the control of the Islamic side. The Police had to actually enter the Dome to quell the disturbance, which only fueled the anger of the Islamic worshipers.

Jerusalem is the holiest city to the world’s three major religions. No one should own it, or control it. It should be under some sort of international stewardship. Millions come from all parts of the world each year to see and touch their heritage. Surely this is one spot on the earth where differences of faith should be set aside for the further glory of all people, of all faiths.

The stakes are high; after all, if something so small cannot be accomplished by the people who are most affected by it, what hope is there really for Peace in the Mid-East in general? Maybe the Christians have it right; perhaps it all needs to be destroyed before we can ever really get along with one another.

Somehow I just can’t bring myself to give up hope that human beings will someday be able to respect one another and share the world. I’m just not holding my breath any longer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Paul Revere and the Raiders - (1967)

Today is the 239th anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride. It is one of the first American history lessons I ever recall hearing. I must have been in Kindergarten at the time. Mrs. Gerber; with seamed stockings; was my teacher and she read the poem to the class. We were enthralled. And I’ve never forgotten her seamed stockings – or the poem.

Of course, that’s not Paul Revere, or even Longfellow above; that’s Mark Lindsay with Paul Revere and the Raiders doing a medley of their hits “Mr. Sun”, “Out on Road”, and “Kicks.” I have included them for the sake of diversity. 

Following is a short paragraph about Mr. Longfellow and his famous poem; followed by the poem itself. At the end I have included an eye witness account of that day at Lexington and Concord by Sylvanus Wood, who was 23 years old at the time.

In April of 1860 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow climbed the tower of the Old North Church and was inspired to write his simplified version of the nights' events. It was first published in The Atlantic Monthly in January of 1861. It has since acquired legendary stature and has served as the inspiration for millions of Americans to learn more about the events of that night. I reprint it here with great pleasure and as a tribute to those men who gathered at Lexington that morning to begin the labor pains that ultimately gave birth to our Nation.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

The following is an eyewitness account of that day by Sylvanus Wood, who wrote the following in 1828. He was born in 1752 and was 23 at the time of the actual events. This statement was sworn before a Notary.

 "I, Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, in the county of Middlesex, and commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged seventy-four years, do testify and say that on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, I was an inhabitant of Woburn, living with Deacon Obadiah Kendall; that about an hour before the break of day on said morning, I heard the Lexington bell ring, and fearing there was difficulty there, I immediately arose, took my gun and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to Lexington, which was about three miles distant.

When I arrived there, I inquired of Captain Parker, the commander of the Lexington company, what was the news. Parker told me he did not know what to believe, for a man had come up about half an hour before and informed him that the British troops were not on the road. But while we were talking, a messenger came up and told the captain that the British troops were within half a mile. Parker immediately turned to his drummer, William Diman, and ordered him to beat to arms, which was done. Captain Parker then asked me if I would parade with his company. I told him I would. Parker then asked me if the young man with me would parade. I spoke to Douglass, and he said he would follow the captain and me.

By this time many of the company had gathered around the captain at the hearing of the drum, where we stood, which was about half way between the meetinghouse and Buckman's tavern. Parker says to his men, 'Every man of you, who is equipped, follow me; and those of you who are not equipped, go into the meeting-house and furnish yourselves from the magazine, and immediately join the company.' Parker led those of us who were equipped to the north end of Lexington Common, near the Bedford Road, and formed us in single file. I was stationed about in the centre of the company. While we were standing, I left my place and went from one end of the company to the other and counted every man who was paraded, and the whole number was thirty-eight, and no more.

Confrontation at Lexington Green

Just as I had finished and got back to my place, I perceived the British troops had arrived on the spot between the meeting-house and Bucknian's, near where Captain Parker stood when he first led off his men. The British troops immediately wheeled so as to cut off those who had gone into the meeting-house. The British troops approached us rapidly in platoons, with a general officer on horseback at their head. The officer came up to within about two rods of the centre of the company, where I stood, the first platoon being about three rods distant. They there halted. The officer then swung his sword, and said, 'Lay down your arms, you damned rebels, or you are all dead men. Fire!' Some guns were fired by the British at us from the first platoon, but no person was killed or hurt, being probably charged only with powder.

Just at this time, Captain Parker ordered every man to take care of himself. The company immediately dispersed; and while the company was dispersing and leaping over the wall, the second platoon of the British fired and killed some of our men. There was not a gun fired by anv of Captain Parker's company, within my knowledge. I was so situated that I must have known it, had any thing of the kind taken place before a total dispersion of our company. I have been intimately acquainted with the inhabitants of Lexington, and particularly with those of Captain Parker's company, and, with one exception, I have never heard any of them say or pretend that there was any firing at the British from Parker's company, or any individual in it until within a year or two. One member of the company told me, many years since, that, after Parker's company had dispersed, and he was at some distance, he gave them 'the guts of his gun.'"