• Old Newspapers: Kansas City E-Tax

    It may surprise you but I am not a huge supporter of the Kansas City E-Tax which is just a modern version of highway robbery. But this post is not about my feelings about the tax, which is already well-covered on this blog. I was always interested in how it was originally sold to the prehistoric Kansascitians back in 1963, when it was only .5%. So I made a trip to the library and spend some time looking at women spinning microfilm. I bet not too many of you have seen any of these.

    *note: I am not a fan of PDF files, and this is probably a rare time you’ll see them embedded on my blog, but I think they would actually make some of these newspaper clippings more readable; they are fully scrollable and magnifiable. Others were converted to image format, they are clickable and linked to better readable versions. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

    This open letter to the property owners was printed in the Star/Times the day before the elections – December 16, 1963.

    [pdf-embedder url=”http://kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/open-letter1.pdf”]

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  • Old Photos: A Day In Life of a Ford Dealer

    Berl Berry automobile dealership organization, founded by Berl Berry in 1940 with Ford and Lincoln-Mercury automobiles, moved to two locations in 1950 at 19th and McGee Streets and 1818 Independence Boulevard.
    Leaving for work:

    Ford dealer Berl Berry leaving his house.

    Ford dealer Berl Berry leaving his house. © Time Inc. Ed Clark

    At work:

    Ford dealer Berl Berry and his secretary, in his ornate office.© Time Inc. Ed Clark

    Midday break:

    Ford dealer Berl Berry and his wife (R) eating brunch at Saddle and Sirloin Club.© Time Inc. Ed Clark

    Checking out his ranch:

    Ford dealer Berl Berry, visiting his ranch outside Kansas City.

    Ford dealer Berl Berry, visiting his ranch outside Kansas City.© Time Inc. Ed Clark

    Relaxing at home after the long day on a giant bed:

    Ford dealer Berl Berry and children lounging on giant 10 x 11 bed, in his home.© Time Inc. Ed Clark

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain: Letters To The Editor

    Soviet citizens of various ages often engaged in letter-writing campaigns. Whether they were supporting various political prisoners, protesting against Israel, or just wishing for the world peace, the dwellers of communal apartments and tireless builders of communism spent their time writing group or individual letters to anyone with a mailing address. When I was growing up® the sincerity of these letters was questionable and they became one of the many semi-mandatory activities in schools and pioneer organizations. Lack of sincerity wasn’t an obstacle when such important things where at stake.

    Below you will see a few pages from a kid’s magazine “Murzilka”  which was very popular and widely subscribed by the Soviet children.

    Murzilka-Cover Page June 1982

    June 1st-International Children’s Day. Let There Always Be Peace

    To The President Of The United States Mr.Reagan

    Murzilka has been asked by the children of the Moscow Region to publish this open letter.

    To The President Of The United States Mr.Reagan.


    We, the Soviet girls and boys are sending this message of protest against the war through the magazine “Murzilka“. You are telling the whole world that the Soviet people are preparing for war. That’s a lie! Our mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers – everyone is fighting for peace. We know that the majority of the American citizens also want peace, and we ask – don’t deceive the people!

    Peoples of the world remember that our country defended peace in the Great Patriotic War (WWII), millions of people died for peace. But you are manufacturing rockets, neutron bombs and other dangerous weapons. This is not very nice on your part. You are destroying the peace!

    We don’t want kids to die in El Salvador or any other corner of the Earth. We are asking you to stop your policy because it’s the worst policy in the world. We are calling on all the children in the world to say “No to War!” together with us. We support the Soviet government and everything it does for peace.

    We ask you, Mr.Reagan to accept the proposals made by the leader of the Communist Party and our State Leonid Illyich Brezhnev. We demand the end to the arms race.

    We need peace!

    Signed by the 3rd grade students of the middle school in Moscow Region.

    I am pretty sure Mr.Reagan went to his grave without reading one issue of Murzilka.

    And now the song: “Before it’s too late” with lyrics “to the sunny peace – yes, yes, yes; to the nuclear explosion – no, no, no!”

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  • Upside-Down Vehicle Extends Afternoon Commute

    If you were stuck in traffic on I-35 Southbound last night it was probably because of this:


    The worst thing is that the driver actually made it home the night before, when it actually was slick.

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  • Selective Memory

    It always bugs me when people in their desire to call someone a war criminal, to point out crimes against humanity, to pile on international statutes under which said person should be prosecuted, somehow fail to bring up the fact that said criminal is just another one in the long line of many who preceded him and probably will follow him in the future. I understand that this sad fact is not a justification for someone’s breaking laws and moral codes but at the same time what’s the point of plucking an evildoer from a lineup other than personal feeling of hatred.

    For the record I don’t care what happens to George W. Bush, but my feeling is that there will not be any kind of investigation or charge against him, since there are other ex-presidents still alive who are just as guilty, and many of the “public servants” who signed off on the criminal policies and actions are still happily serving in the government. I am often disputed when I point out that America used torture, deceit, murder, bribes, blackmail and other means to achieve it’s geopolitical goals, and many times I hear “we are better than that”. I would argue that there isn’t a country in the world which inflicted more lasting damage both economical and humanitarian in the past 50 years than the United States. Many modern states are still struggling to overcome what a few CIA officers and a few million dollars did to them  in order to control their ideology or resources. These covert and overt actions happened under beloved presidents like Ike and JFK as well as under the hated ones like Nixon and G.W.Bush.

    I am not a historian but I can copy,paste and link with the best of them, so I will write a post or two about history that somehow touched my life and maybe point out a few facts that your selective memory may have left behind.


    Freedom to ChileI bet everyone who grew up in the USSR during the 1970’s knows about comrade Luis Corvalán – “the heroic leader” of the Chilean communist party (who lived in exile in Moscow) and Victor Jara – a brave patriot and a famous singer who was murdered by the bloody Pinochet’s Junta backed by the no-less-bloody military-industrial complex in the USA. I wrote before about the Soviet propaganda and how most people tuned it out, but in this case many years later I found out the the Soviets weren’t far from the truth – the United States financed and executed an operation to depose a democratically elected president Salvador Allende and created favorable conditions for the military coup. The ironic fact was that Chile was an established democracy since 1932 and the CIA had a lot of trouble influencing Chilean democratic politicians and military. After the coup the US kept members of junta on the payroll and continued to support the junta until the end.
    “There is no doubt”, the agency (CIA) confessed in a statement to Congress after the cold war ended, “that some CIA contacts were actively engaged in committing and covering up serious human rights abuses.” Chief among them was Colonel Manuel Contreras, the head of the Chilean intelligence service under Pinochet. He became a paid CIA agent and met with senior CIA officials in Virginia two years after the coup, at a time when the agency reported that he was personally responsible for thousands of cases of murder and torture in Chile. Contreras distinguished himself with the singular act of terror: the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier , who had been Allende’s ambassador to the United States, and an American aide Ronni Moffitt. They were killed by a car bomb fourteen blocks from the white house. Contreras then blackmailed the United States by threatening to tell the world about his relationship with the CIA, and blocked his extradition and trial for the murder*.
    United States’ actions in Chile were personally ordered and controlled by president Nixon and previously (in 1962) by president Kennedy. They resulted in 3,197  deaths or disappearances between September 1973 and March 1990 at the hands of state agents. Of these, 1,102 were classified as “disappearances” and 2,095 as deaths.   The American position was summarized by Henry Kissinger:

    “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

    Incidentally there was some talk about charging Kissinger with crimes against the people of Chile but it looks like he will probably peacefully die here and will be given a state funeral when his time comes.

    Once in a while my childhood memories about Chile come back: unbelievably, a sister-in-law of my childhood friend is now a top model and actress in Chile (I remember her when she was my daughter’s age); in a movie I recently watched “Blame it on Fidel” the parents of the main character become communists and active supporters of Allende in 1970’s France. My favorite quote from the movie is when the child who hears her parents talk about “group solidarity” and “sheep behavior” asks what’s the difference between the two. I still can’t answer that.

    The movie also reminded me of the song El pueblo unido jamás será vencido which I often heard when I was a kid, I think it was even translated in Russian. It became an anthem of resistance in Chile and around the world.

    *quoted from: “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA”

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