Friday, September 30, 2011

Grover Cleveland's "secret operation" yacht found?

I received an interesting e-mail recently from Robert DeSimone, who read an article about the secret operation on Grover Cleveland that I wrote for BoatUS (a great magazine, incidentally). In the article (and in my book about the operation), I mentioned that the ultimate fate of the Oneida, the yacht on which the operation took place is unknown:

Around 1914, Elias Benedict [the owner] sold the yacht, which was rechristened the Adelante and converted into a towboat. During World War I the Adelante was commandeered by the U.S. Navy and put into service setting up a network of maritime radio stations along the Maine coast. After the war, it went back into service as a towboat, operating out of New York under the names John Gulley and Salvager. By 1941, the boat, once one of the grandest yachts in the world and the site of a unique episode in American history, had been abandoned. Presumably it was sold for scrap. 

Well, Robert e-mailed me a photo of a yacht that looks a lot like the Oneida. Here’s what he wrote:

I was flipping through the magazine and saw the first page of your article. As I looked at the picture I immediately remembered a picture I took while vacationing in Nantucket. When I took the picture of that glorious old ship my imagination started to whirl. I really did think there was something “presidential” about this boat, some great history behind it. I snapped the picture and moved on. I'm no expert on yachts either, but the details are strikingly similar with the exception of the center mast and rear deck structure. Over its lifespan the Oneida would have had many retrofits and upgrades. Who knows, maybe she sat dormant for years and was eventually restored to her original beauty. The setting for your article seems to match the region where I saw the boat. I would guess it's a privately owned yacht. This picture was taken on August 19, 2011 in the Nantucket Harbor. I wish I had snapped a picture of the name on her stern. Maybe it's a bit of history lost and now found? 

OK, below is the picture that Robert sent me. Below that are two pictures of the Oneida, one taken around the time of the operation in 1893, another taken in 1914, when the yacht was the towboat known as the Adelante (click on an image to enlarge it):


UPDATE: A friend just emailed this old picture of the Oneida that he found online. It's facing the same direction as the yacht in the photo that Robert sent me, which make comparing the boats a bit easier:

I agree: The boats sure do look similar. Could it be that Grover’s “secret operation” yacht is still out there plying the waters off the East Coast? What do you think? Any suggestions on how I can identify the boat in the photo that Robert sent me? Please let me know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Harry Truman's Utmärkt Resan

For some reason, my Truman book has been reviewed in Swedish. Here's the original, and here's the "English" version courtesy of the Google translator. From the latter, here's my favorite bit:
In a postscript to the paperback edition from 2011 of his book (the original was introduced in 2009) says Algeo that he managed to trace the car to a farm near Kansas City, unfortunately in rather poor condition and impossible expensive to restore (in the overgrown garden of a jew lawyer family outside Philadelphia I invited over a Thanksgiving weekend at the mid-sixties there was an equally imaginative and derelict car, a big station wagon with exterior wooden slats that belonged to the radical artist Ben Shahn ( with the posthumous portrait of Day Hammarsköld with the menacing ash ).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Set your phasers to stun(ned)...

OK, this is cool: In this interview, Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek) says the last book he's read is ... The President Is a Sick Man!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Did we get lost on the way to Tsetseguun.......

Today we have a guest blogger -- my first! It's Chuck Howell of USAID here in UB. Chuck organized last weekend's hike and wrote about it for the Nomad News, the embassy community's newsletter. With Chuck's kind permission, I'm republishing his article here. And, before you ask, yes there were two Al(l)lysons on the hike: Mine (Allyson) and the "new" Alyson (aka One L).

Did we get lost on the way to Tsetseguun.......

Or was it a clever ruse? Should we have taken the turn to the left instead of the right? You may ask how Tumi, Chuck, and Michelle -- all of whom have hiked Tsetseguun several times could have taken a wrong turn on the busiest and best marked trail in Boghdan National Park? Or was it a planned wrong turn in order to give a real experience of hiking in the forest? Either way, our group, that in included not only the above three but also first time Mongolia hikers, Allyson A, Matthew, Alyson M, and Carrie (friend of Michelle's), experienced a truly great hike and first exposure to the great natural beauty of Mongolia.

Regardless, we found a new way to walk within 20 -25 minutes of the summit without running into other hikers or noise other than our own. Granted, there were more rock outcrops to negotiate and more bogs with hidden holes to avoid, but in general it was a good test for us.

The hike to Tsetseguun on the regular trail takes almost two hours. At the two hour mark on our hike, we were unsure whether we should hike to the left or right to find the trail. So we took a lunch break while Tumi climbed a couple of levels of a nearby rock hill to determine our location. We knew we were close to the summit, but which way to go was the question. Tumi was able to get to the top of the rock hill for a remarkable vista looking north and east. He also saw Tsetseguun and upon his return, we headed in the direction of gradual left. After about 10 minutes we came to the main path. At that point we were about 5 minutes from the plateau and 20 from the summit. Alyson and I hiked another 12 minutes north to a vista point on the plateau while the rest of our intrepid group headed down, or south, on the marked path.

On the way down we were passed by groups and groups of people headed to Tsetseguun -- more people than we had ever seen on the mountain. They were having a great hike up and looking forward to celebrating at the summit.

Tsetseguun is always a great hike whether you make the left turn that is marked or go the path less taken -- just be sure, if you take the path less traveled, you also go with Tumi. The other tip is to depart Ulaanbaatar so you can be at the trail head by 9am at the latest because of the buses and groups that start around 10am.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Is that Cleveland or Taft?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Hiking Trip, September 3, 2011

Allyson and I joined a few friends for a hike today. It was a perfect day for a hike, but the sun was very intense (hence the headgear). We lost the trail for a while, but had a great day nonetheless. And on the way home we stopped at a ger and picked up some fermented mare's milk. Delicious!