Bits of Stone for Sunday, April 21
By Dean Stone | (email@example.com)
Bob Gilbert’s ‘Maryville-Alcoa Twins, 1953’ book to be published in May
Maryville native and career journalist, Bob Gilbert, is author of a book on the Maryville-Alcoa Twins, a Class D Mountain States League baseball team which played here in 1953.
A baseball memory, the book is about a team which included a lot of local talent as well as stars like Willie Kirkland who later played for the Giants. It is scheduled to be published in May.
Gilbert, 71, who began his career writing sports at The Daily Times, is also author of the books, “Neyland: The Gridiron General,” a book on news ethics and is currently writing a book on journalists and newsmakers who have influenced his life. Fellow journalists were always amazed at the number of personal contacts Bob has maintained with coaches and athletes on the national level.
A Maryville city councilman for 24 years (1977-2001), he was the founder of the Blount County Sports Hall of Fame and served as executive director.
In 2008, his syndicated column was voted third best in the nation by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, finishing behind the Wall Street Journal and the Newark Star-Ledger. In 2009, it was voted the best column in the state by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. For 30 years (1969-98) he was a Daily Times columnist.
From 1969 to 1996, Bob was director of news operations for the University of Tennessee.
In the 1960s, Gilbert was a political and sports writer for the Associated Press. He covered the civil rights movement, including the 1966 Mississippi March Against Fear and the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also covered the Tennessee General Assembly, two presidential campaigns and numerous gubernatorial and senatorial races as well as NASA’s manning space flight program.
He was a radio news reporter for WGAP of Maryville, news director of WKPT Kingsport, a play-by-play announcer for the Ashland-Aetna radio network and a news consultant to WGAP in the 1970s when it won more than 50 AP state awards.
For the past 34 years he has been producer and host of the Sports Page radio show on WBCR from which he plans to retire in the near future.
In 1973-74 he was a consultant to Gov. Winfield Dunn’s Tax Modernization and Reform Commission. For six years, he was a member of the Blount County Urban Growth Committee.
Many older residents will remember Noah Gilbert’s Ark Restaurant operated by his father on West Broadway, just east of New Providence Presbyterian Church.
A graduate of Maryville High and UT, he also attended Murray (Ky.) State and New York University.
He is a member of Broadway United Methodist Church. Bob and his wife, Judy Halterman, a retired Sprint vice president, have resided in Royal Oaks since 1993. Their son, Trey, is an FBI field agent in Manassas, Va.
Interesting bits of World War II era will continue to come forward
Simo Häyhä is considered the most efficient sniper in history. Military History magazine recently recorded his achievements of the 1939-40 winter war days when Russia invaded Finland over a border dispute, prior to WWII.
Retired from Finland’s Army, at age 34 he was recalled to active duty. The fighting was in the depth of the Finnish winter — December, January and February — with temperatures ranging as low as -40 F and daylight time short. In the area where he was fighting the Finns were outnumbered 100-1.
He used a bolt-action Finnish variant of the Russian-made Mosin-Nagant rifle, preferring its iron sights to a telescopic sight which might reflect sunlight or fog up in the cold.
The Finns allowed the Russians to invade unopposed and then attacked them from behind. Operating alone and wearing white camouflage, he secreted himself up trees and behind knee or waist deep snow banks. He killed a verified 505 Russian soldiers with unverified estimates of the total number he killed ranging to 700. The Russians referred to him as “white death.”
Before he was seriously wounded, he was honored with the Cross of Kollaa Battle Medal, the Medal of Liberty (first and second class), and the Order of the Cross of Liberty (third and fourth class), the highest of his nation’s three orders. The field marshal personally promoted him from corporal to second lieutenant, the fastest anyone in his nation has gained rank.
On March 6, 1940, a Red Army sniper hit Häyhä with a dumdum bullet that tore off the left side of his lower face. He claimed to have shot and killed his attacker before he lapsed into unconsciousness. He came to a week later on March 13, the day the war ended. It took him years to recover from the disfiguring wound.
In later years he spent this time breeding dogs and hunting Moose. He died April 1, 2002, at age 96.
The treaty that ended the war gave Russia about 11 percent of pre-war Finland, including Häyhä’s home village of Rautjarvi.
Stars and Stripes still going strong; last M-1 Abrams tanks leave Germany
Though many of us who served in World War II thought that was the start of Stars and Stripes, it began as a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War. It has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and since 1945 in the Pacific and is with our people in service of their country today.
It has one of the widest distribution ranges of any newspaper in the world. Between the two editions it serves more than 50 countries where the United States has bases, posts, service members, ships or embassies.
It recently reported the end of the U.S. Army’s 69-year history of basing main battle tanks on German soil. The last of the M-1 Abrams tanks left Germany for South Carolina.
From WWII through the Cold War, tanker units were a heavy presence in Germany. At its peak, Germany was home to 20 NATO armored divisions with about 6,000 tanks.
Sugar Daddies for coeds increasing
Perhaps an even more bizarre ranking is that of the growth of the number of Sugar Daddies female college students are adopting as a result of increasing tuition costs.
Leroy Valesquez of the InfoStream Group reports UT made the list at No. 33 with a 150 percent growth in 2012, Memphis at No. 28 had a 117 percent growth while UT Knoxville ranked No. 50 with an 87 percent growth.
The report states the average college Sugar Baby receives approximately $3,000 a month to cover the cost of tuition, books and living expenses.
Dean Stone is editor of The Daily Times.