Northern Italy and the End of Hostilities- WWII

Northern Italy and the End of Hostilities

August 1944 to May 2, 1945


Richard J. Garfunkel

July 17, 2004




In regards to Italy, a new fascist government was founded in Northern Italy for a short period of time, but collapsed. After the fall of Rome Marshall Albert (Smiling Albert) Kesselring was reinforced with 8 new divisions of varying quality (one from Denmark, Holland, and Russia, with two from the Balkans and three German ones from the eastern Front) and also the vaunted Herman Goering Panzer Division.


With these forces in the wake of the fall of Rome he established a strong defensive line from Grosetta on the Western coast, not far from the off shore island of Elba (of Napoleonic fame) to the eastern coast of the Adriatic. He fought strong delaying actions, but by August of 1944,as he was forced to re-establish a strong defensive in the Po Valley, Kesselring banked on his new Gothic Line. Attacks on the Gothic Line were concentrated in the east under General Harold Alexander's 15th Army Group and its British 8th Army. With Polish and Canadian forces they were able to move up the coastline from Rimini to Revenna and challenge the Gothic Line's forces commanded by General Vietinghoff's 10th Army. In the east General Mark Clark's army of American and British Corps enveloped Florence (Firenze) on the Arno River and advanced northward to challenge German General Lemelson's 14th Army.


As the winter set in, a weather related stalemate ensued between January and March 1945. Eventually Kesselring was recalled to Germany to support the actions on the Western front, Alexander became commander of the Mediterranean Theater, and Clark succeeded Alexander as commander of the 15th Army Group. So in the Po Valley, rough terrain, and stubborn German resistance handicapped the Allies. The Allies had 4000 planes to the Axis powers total of 200 of all types and this air superiority started to attrite supply lines and whatever was left of German armor. Vietinghoff requested from Hitler permission to orderly withdraw, but was ordered to stand and resist in place. At the end of March the Allies attained the three rs; rest, reorganization and re-equipment. But they were a polyglot command and with the reassignment of 3 British divisions to the Western Front, they were now reinforced with new formations that included the Jewish Brigade, the 42nd Regimental Combat team of Japanese-Americans and a Brazilian Division. The 15th Army Group had already included; American, British, New Zealand, Canadian, Newfoundland, South African, Gurkha, Indian and Polish units. The language and logistical problems were extraordinary and daunting to the supreme command.


By late April 1945, General Lucien Truscott's 5th Army had penetrated deep into the Po Valley, and by the 23rd Bologna fell to Keyes II Corp. The German forces were further compromised by Italian Partisan bands operating throughout their rear areas. These partisans were trained by Allied agents (OSS) and therefore it was estimated that by April I, 1945 there were over 50,000 of these irregular troops (guerrillas) in Northern Italy. Though the German command was never under the illusion of victory or relief they still fought very hard. Eventually when Hitler's death was confirmed Vietinghoff surrendered on May 2, 1945 (my birthday) all of his forces. Eventually through all of this and as the German forces were divided, enveloped and destroyed, the Allied forces reached the Austrian frontier. New Zealand forces also received the surrender of German forces in Trieste. Of course, by this time, Yugoslavian forces under Marshall Tito were also moving towards Trieste as they routed German and Croatian units.


The Germans were caught between the Allies in northern Italy, the Italian Partisans and the Tito's forces. By that late date, many of the American and British forces were worn out. In truth, with the polyglot forces under Allied command, with the rough terrain, the logistical nightmare, and the active partisan forces in the area, the battle for Northern Italy was not easy. The Alexander and Clark commands were never given their proper due. With regards to Yugoslavia, the Allies had no interest. They were never convinced or concerned about a post-war Soviet domination of the Balkans.


Tito had grown in strength and the Allies were decently happy with him and saw no economic imperative in Yugoslavia. If anything the British were only interested in Greece and we wanted Italy to remain in one piece. Also Tito was seen as quite strong, and if there were any worries about the Soviets, Tito was seen as a nationalistic bulwark. Later on, Tito proved that he was independent of Soviet domination. The crisis in the Balkans came decades later in the wake of Tito's death. The nine subgroups that made up that amalgam state started to seek their own self rule, and the ancient rivalry and bad blood between the Croatians (former nazi allied Ustashi) and the Serbs erupted. With all the tough fighting, the Allies weren't in any mood to get into another fracas in the wild topography of Yugoslavia.


With the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviets, the old dynasties that had run Bulgaria, Hungary, Roumania and Yugoslavia had been deposed and the ethnic rivalries were suppressed! In essence it wasn't far from what the planners had desired. Unfortunately they had not envisioned a Soviet bloc becoming a new empire.


In truth it was “reality on the ground” that won out. We were not willing or able to challenge Soviet hegemony in that area of the world. The Soviets had proximity, men, and eventually all the “new” politicians. American presidents from Truman through Reagan saw the futility of overthrowing Soviet rule by force! From Churchill's historic “Iron Curtain” speech, containment became the policy rather than confrontation.   



Politics, Talking Heads and the Media-fall 2003

Politics, Talking-Heads and the Media


Richard J. Garfunkel

Fall 2003



Former Democrats like Tim Russert, Chris Mathews, and George Stepanopolis, to cite a few of the network types, bend over backwards to act tough on the Democrats to show that they are now journalists. The vast majority of news people are smug, over-paid and have become virtual corporate flacks. Most reporters are not liberal, but have a bias towards the left because they themselves are more libertine and take the power and prestige of being part of the fourth estate as a right and a badge of honor and superiority. These posturing neo-libertarians have a primitive view of fairness and morality. They personally have few rules and therefore have a tendency to be thought of, or characterized, as liberals. They are basically agents of the politically correct police that corporate America, which controls the media have appointed. They are terribly frightened by secondary boycotts, so they treat gays, Hollywood, black radicals and religious institutions with “kid gloves”. Just look at the limpid coverage of the sex-abuse scandal of the Catholic Church and its obvious cover-up. These are heavy crimes! If any one outside of the Church had committed these types of abuses they would have been thrown in jail and locked up forever. But hundreds and thousands of cases have been ignored and their resolution has been left to the civil courts where the Church has been excoriated. Look at the billions in settlements, wow! But has the media called on the carpet the Church's institutional hypocrisy or paradoxically moralizing, no!


What do we expect in America, when, on one hand, the Church, the NY Stock Exchange, the plagiarizers in the press, the Enrons and World Coms and other institutions are only gently spanked until the stench becomes overwhelming. What about Mike Barnacle, that hypocritical thug, and why is he back working on TV? What about the late Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin and their questionable research? But, they have made millions and what more is proof of success in America! The average student would be tossed out on his/her ear for such indiscretions. How about Michael Beshloss inaccurate book the “Conquerors” and his half-truths? What about Pat Buchanan and his right-wing nativist rantings? What brought him back on the media? Television and the media is entertainment and the news coverage is not immune from that definition. So what are we to deal with? Bill Clinton, who much of the right hates, engineered for many, a very successful stewarding of the ship of state in spite of his personal shortcomings, and against great opposition and hatred of the GOP controlled Congress. But for better or worse, his personal scandals were wrong, but they should have been kept out of the national microscope for the country's sake.


Please note Newt Gingrich's personal life was a real big-time disgrace, regarding his philandering and his divorce of his dying wife, but he is still pontificating, and what about our hero Mayor Rudy who was sleeping and cavorting with his girlfriend publicly, while his wife was holding on to Gracie Mansion like it was her personal castle. Since Bloomberg never moved in, did she really move out? So, Big Bill didn't steal millions, and his executive branch abuses were nowhere near Nixon's or Reagan's. Just judge who went to jail and who became rich. Please note; VP Dick Cheney and his billion-dollar connection with Halliburton. Unfortunately we are now saddled with some “real” problems, not Judge Starr's investigation of Whitewater; but a climbing national debt of $500 billion, the loss of millions of jobs, the disappearance of our manufacturing sector, a trade and currency crisis with China, nukes aimed at us from N. Korea, a divided Europe that hates us, a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, shrinking oil reserves and greater foreign dependency regarding energy, porous borders, John Ashcroft, vulnerability to terror, a health coverage crisis, and more to come. It wouldn't be so bad, if our leader had a brain. But there is no “Wizard of Oz” around to help this moron. How ironic that Bill Clinton gets impeached over lying about sex, but “W” gets high marks from many for lying about almost everything else. His promises over education, health care, the environment, and his claims about unconventional weaponry, the connection between Al Quiada and Iraq, and Iraq's threat to us, have all been empty. Eventually as President Lincoln said “… you can't fool all of the people, all of the time!”

Public Policy and Long Term Care insurance


    Public Policy and Long Term care Insurance



Long term care could be the nation’s most severe social crisis of the next century. At this present time there are a record number of elderly people in the United States. The amount of octogenarians who are alive and well in the country is a testament of better health care, better diet, and generally a more prosperous society. The great killers of the first half of the century, heart disease, influenza and pneumonia have been on the decline for decades. The public has greater access to medicine through Medicare and Medicaid. Many of the elderly have learned that the active life through exercise and social interaction has been a welcome replacement to the sedentary lifestyle of the classic rocker.


Economically this large group of seniors is a very wealthy generation, and it enjoys one of the most prosperous periods in  recent history. This aging generation of World War Two vets and depression era teenagers has the benefit of a vast population of baby boomers to pay into the coffers of the IRS. At the pace that revenues are coming in, the potential of a real balanced budget by 2002 is more realistic then ever. Ironically with all this wealth, Medicaid is in greater trouble than ever, and new legislation (Kassebaum-Kennedy) has been signed to tighten up eligibility. The government sees continued pressure on Medicaid in the near future, and is making Long Term Care insurance more attractive to both employers, their employees and the general public. In fact long term care insurance has become the most requested benefit now facing employers.


As our huge baby-boom generation ages, our children’s generation, which is a great deal smaller, will inherit both the increased tax and social burden. The big question that will loom over all of us in the 21st Century, may be “are there enough workers and producers to provide the revenues for this gigantic class of dependencies?” The greatest pressure will involve long term care. With genetic engineering, organ transplants, miracle drugs, the decline of smoking as a habit and great breakthroughs in medicine, the aging population will be exploding.  How will the government solve the problem of this aging population that suffers from new exotic diseases? Who will pay for Medicaid? Will the continued breakup of the nuclear family finally destroy the extended family that has provided home health care providers for eons? These are all important and disturbing questions. Much of this burden will fall on the individual, and much of the solution will come from the private sector in the form of long term care insurance. Individuals will be trained and prepared for an active and long life after retirement. At this pace government will not be able to be relied upon as in the tradition of the past!


Solving this major problem of generation imbalance will test our society severely. The building, the location and the condition of senior care facilities will occupy a great deal of our national treasure and the debate over it will be confrontational and divisive.                             



Bush, Rice and Clark- the real story…

Letter to the Editor:


The Journal News


March 28, 2004



George W. Bush, Condi Rice, and Richard Clarke


The real story of 9/11 starts to emerge!

Was George W. Bush really focused on terrorism,

or his obsession with his father’s failure in Iraq?


“Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.”

Abraham Lincoln -1864



For better or worse, I was a willing and enthusiastic supporter of regime change in Iraq. Therefore I supported George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. Did he “cook the books” to convince the world and the American public of the urgency of this effort?

In regards to that question, only history will judge. But for sure, there is much evidence supporting that conclusion.


I have always felt that George H. W. Bush’s decision to leave Sadaam Hussein in power was a disastrous mistake. From my political perspective, it had a great deal to do with Bush’s ultimate defeat. Can you imagine an incumbent president with a 95% popularity rating after the war, loses the election to a virtually unknown border state governor with only 37% of the vote? His vote total may have been the lowest total by a defeated incumbent president in our history.


As an immediate result of Gulf War I, 14 out of 17 Iraqi provinces were in open revolt against Sadaam Hussein. But our limitations on Hussein’s use of airpower was limited to fixed-wing craft and not helicopters. Of course we did nothing to support these insurgents, and Hussein used his helicopters to bring in loyalist troops to suppress and eliminate the revolts.


Today I watched Richard Clarke on Meet the Press hosted by Tim Russert. Clarke answered, with great creditability and poise, all of Russert’s questions, and all of the counter-rationale by the Bush team of “spin-doctors.” There is no doubt, in my mind, he was certainly able to reiterate, with a strong defense, his assertions made in his recent book and his testimony before Congress. The Bush administration has an invidious history of going after “whistle-blowers” and still has to answer for the statements by the former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill, the Medicare expert Richard Foster, and the leaking of the name of the CIA operative.


From my perspective, Ms. Rice, who has spouted her views all over the networks, but has been hiding behind “the separation of powers,” should be made to testify in “open session” and under oath. If she wishes not to testify she should be asked to resign. The President and his staff’s conduct should be answerable to the public. President Bush’s obsession with his father’s failure in Iraq, has unfortunately led this Nation into a morass with no end in sight. It is obvious to any unbiased observer, that our involvement in Iraq has increased greatly the interest and support for Al Quieda in the Islamic World. By not being able to quickly win the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have opened a “Pandora’s Box,” that has entered us into a “dark period” of terrorism for the foreseeable future. By stretching our forces thin, by hemorrhaging our budget, by alienating our Allies, George W. Bush has succeeded, in a far greater manner, with his bungling than Bin Ladin and his brigands could imagine. Yes, we now are the chief urban renewal director and “savings and loan” lender in Iraq, so what?  Richard Clarke has described in detail the false premise that George W. Bush was focused and concentrating on the “terror” threat before 9/11. Again, Bush’s campaign rhetoric about 9/11, and his supposed “superior” skills in confronting terrorism has been brought acutely into focus.


Richard J. Garfunkel

A Trip to Carmel-2000




Not long ago I ventured westward for the first time in my life. Though into middle age and decently secure with my own sophistication, I had never crossed the continent, no less the Appalachians except for one round trip flight thirty years ago to Saint Louis. At that time, I was young, feckless and working as a junior analyst for Bache & Co., a long absorbed brokerage house, now an unknown part of the Prudential empire. Part of my responsibilities, of that long ago forgotten mission, was to visit General Steel Industries, a company devoted to the manufacture of railroad cars. Not long after lunch, and without much of a hurried glance at the famous Arch on the bank of the Mississippi, I was back on a silver bird destined for LaGuardia and Wall Street.


Strangely, I had meticulously planned to visit our left coast sometime this coming summer. It would be a long delayed visit to see my friend, mentor and loyal correspondent of 37 years. Henry M. Littlefield, a towering physical and intellectual specimen, had spent the last 24 years administrating and teaching young minds on the Monterey Peninsular. Somehow my inner vision of Monterey reminded me of the drawings that illustrated an old Modern Library edition of a Steinbeck novel, probably about the sardine industry of Cannery Row. But, the fates being the way they are, strange un-chartered winds blow across the careful plans we mortals conceive. Old, big, and reliable Henry, a towering 6’ 5” 250+ pounder, was in the midst of a three year struggle against the ravages of colon cancer. Even though we had a guarded view of his long term future, we never expected such a quick and negative turn in his prognosis. Within a short period of time, his health went from bad to worse. This precipitated a call from wife Madeline, and before very long the valiant struggle was over. There is never real honor in death, but though inevitable to us all, I later learned Henry did it his way.


So those fates again came into play, and I made arrangements, via the computer, for two tickets to San Francisco. My traveling companion was a colleague and protégé of Henry’s, one Randy Forrest, a legendary black man who is five years my senior and from New Rochelle, a neighboring town to my home of Mount Vernon. In his own way, Randy was as  remarkable a story as Henry, or anyone else mind you. The fact that these two accomplished men, from my youth, still were part of my life in middle age remains a story to itself. After decades apart, except for a few isolated, but happy occasions,  Randy and I found ourselves linked together on a journey we never imagined, to a place where nothing would have attracted us , except our common love and respect for a friend. Randy is a very wide and muscular fellow. He reminds one of a shorter, more chiseled, version of Harry Carson, the NY Giant football Hall of Famer. But Randy, reacting like any other mortal,  beneath that bronze armor that masqueraded as skin, was just as leery of flying as yours truly. I just faked it better. So here we were, the Mutt and Jeff of Eastern mourners. And as we made our journey from one venue to the next, our visage caught stares of quixotic curiosity. Both of us being outgoing personages, we told all who could hear, and patient enough to listen, that we were going on a 3000 mile condolence call. Our fleeting public’s sense of sadness and respect seemed to make us feel better.


Not to bore anyone with the dynamics of a hotel stay and a car rental, we arrived at night, hit the head, watched the boob tube and drifted off to sleep. The next morning, after rising and staring out at the haze, we moved out quickly,  looked at a map, jumped into our car and headed south towards Monterey. We never looked back. Never saw the legendary city by the bay, never saw the cable cars or Fisherman’s Wharf, never saw anything! We just headed south. We just talked and talked. It wasn’t hard to talk, because we had known each other for forty years. But, ironically it was Henry who brought us together, initially  in the dingy dank wrestling room of ancient Edison Tech, where our wrestling team worked out, and now for probably a last time on a journey of farewell to that same man. Its a hundred or so miles to Monterey and frankly we got a bit lost. The Californian topography along that route south was surprisingly dull. There were few trees, rolling un-pretty mowed green hills,  plenty of cars and urban sprawl. It certainly did not impress me. But, we weren’t tourists with time to burn, and the memorial was at 12 noon, and our margin of error was narrow.. Thankfully, with all equanimity and the familiarity of an old married couple we sort of engineered a course correction and found our way onto the peninsula. I remember seeing the welcome sight of the Pacific and a fleet of fishing boats tied up along the piers of a small town as we coasted down a long sloping grade. I knew we couldn’t be too far away then. Eventually, with out much more skill,  we entered Carmel, looked for directions to Lighthouse Avenue, and remarkably found ourselves in the midst of street fair that shut off most of the town from vehicular traffic. What a mess! After traveling 3000+ miles across the continent, after a 3 hour confused and meandering trip southward from San Francisco, we found ourselves lost in Carmel, and wondering whether we would ever find Henry’s home. Wandering through and around all the food bourses and souvenir booths, one with a small imagination could easily think they were lost in a Hitchcock film, maybe the carnival scene in Strangers on a Train.  Enough furtive questions led us in the right direction, and with a turn here and there, up ahead was 765 Lighthouse. We had arrived finally in the important and aimed for part of Carmel, and this part of our journey had ended. We had more things of course to do; more people to see, more words to say, more tears to shed, but we both realized without speaking or looking at each other, that a crucial chapter in our lives was about to be closed forever.


Richard J. Garfunkel-


A Trip to Carmel for the memorial service given for Dr. Henry M. Littlefield, coach, teacher, Dean, Headmaster, writer, historian, poet, actor, mentor and friend for 40 years.






The Coming 2003 World Series what ifs!


The Coming 2003 World Series


Richard J. Garfunkel



Yes, I am rooting for the Cubs in the NL, and no matter who wins in the AL; the WS would be a classic. A NY-Chicago fandango would evoke memories of Ruth's called shot at Wrigley in 1932 and their two 4-0 sweeps (1932 and 1938). A Cubbie win would mean their first pennant since 1945 also. Ruth played his last World Series with the Yanks in 1932 and was part of a team that had finished 2nd three years in a row to the Connie Mack led A's powerhouse that was finally running down. The Yanks won 107 games, a great many for the then 154 game schedule. The Mackmen only won 94 and were 13 games out. Over the next few years Mack was forced to sell off many of his stars because of the Depression. The 1932 Yanks featured Gehrig (.349), Lazzari (.300), Ruth (.341), Combs (.321), Dickey (.310) and the great pitching staff of Gomez (24-7), Ruffing, Pipgras, Allen, and Pennock against the Cubs (90-64) managed by Charlie Grimm, after he replaced Rogers Hornsby, that featured Kiki Cuyler, Jo Jo Moore, Gabby Hartnet and pitchers Lon Warneke and Guy Bush.


The 1938 Yanks, in the midst of their 4 World Series in a row streak (unprecedented until 1949-53) won 99 games under the peerless leadership of Joe McCarthy and were led by Gehrig, Joe Gordon, Red Rolfe, Tommy Henrich, Bill Dickey and Joe DiMaggio! Their stalwart pitching led the league by under a half run in era and featured Gomez, Ruffing, Monte Pearson and Spud Chandler. They faced a Cub teamed managed by the famous Gabby Hartnett, who had replaced Charlie Grimm. They only won 89 games, while winning the pennant by 3 games and were led by Billy Herman, Billy Jurges and Stan Hack. The Cubs hit 65 homeruns to the Yanks 174! Both the 1932 and 1938 World Series were sweeps by the McCarthy led Bronx Bombers and the Cubs were crushed in 1932 and out pitched in 1938.


A Red Sox-Cub showdown would also insure that one of the two oldest and most forlorn bridesmaids would finally catch the bouquet. The Cubbies haven't won a WS since 1908 and the Bosox haven't since 1918.


The Cubs beat the Toothless Tigers in 1908 4 games to one. Ty Cobb did hit .368, but his Bengals were out-hit .293 to .203. There was one homerun hit by Joe Tinker of “Tinkers to Evers to Chance” fame. Tinker also led the Cubbies with a .421 batting average.  After losing the first two games, the Tigers rallied to win game three with a five run outburst in the sixth inning, led by Cobb's four hits. But Cobb only had three hits in the other games and the powerful 3-time pennant winning Cubs won their second straight Series over the clawless Tigers (The Cubs won 4-0 in 1907, but had lost to the Miracle Hitless Wonder White Sox in 1906 in Chicago's only subway or trolley World Series.) Such stalwarts as pitchers Babe Ruth, Carl Mays, Bullet Joe Bush and Sam Jones led the Red-Sox powerhouse of 1918. The “Babe” led a lackluster Bosox hitting attack with 11 homeruns out of the club's 15! The league leader only hit 22, the A's came in last! Roth hit .300 with only 317 at bats and the other regular who did any hitting was Harry Hooper an excellent outfielder who hit .289. The Red Sox had won 2 out of the three past World Series, besting the Phillies 4-1 in 1915, and the Dodgers 4-1 in 1916.


In 1918, Ruth's famous 29 2/3 innings of World Series shutout pitching was ended in game 4. But the Sox prevailed beating the aforementioned Cubs, four games to two, led by the infamous Fred Merkle, who batted .389 in the Classic. Ruth won 2 games in his World Series final with the Sox. The Cubs were not a memorable team, but were led, in a war-shortened season, by very strong pitching, featuring; Hippo Vaughn, who led the league with 22 victories and an era of 1.74!


A match-up of the Cubs and Sox would actually be played in the same ballparks from 1918! Wow! Of course the entire aside, history would favor the Yanks who have much better pitching than the Bosox. The Cubs with Prior and Wood and a sense of destiny will probably prevail over the upstart Marlins. But stranger things have happened before.



How can education be saved? 10-17-2002 Letter to the Times

October 17, 2002


To: Letters to the Editor: The NY Times


Can Education Be saved In America?


The problem of how to preserve the future of education in America can be solved by any community. It must first start with the firm belief and iron clad will to make definitive changes. Currently in Westchester County almost all of our communities are paying between $12,000 and $16,000 per student per year. How does one determine that number? Just divide the number of students into the yearly school budget. In other words to educate a school population of 5000 over 12 years, at $16,000 per student, will cost a community approximately $1 billion. Are we getting our money’s worth? Most would say no. Is the fault of the teachers, the administrators, the students, the parents or the curriculum? In most cases each element of the educational equation is at fault. My suggestion is that at this pace our system will go bankrupt long before any solution is found. So basically we are saddled with a very inefficient and expensive day care system.


Therefore what is the solution? I will try to elaborate in a very general way of how our communities can save the schools, improve education and bring forth a better citizen through the process.


a)      Our first step: sell off the local schools from grades K-8 to a private entity called the town/city Academy. The sale of the buildings and property could be to a private company and those proceeds could be a well-needed windfall to the town/city. Or, the buildings and property could be sold to a semi-private entity not unlike urban renewal for a nominal fee. Under that scenario, if the Academy failed completely, the buildings and property could revert to the town/city. The new entity would have total authority over management and personnel. Assuming the local schools have a student population of 6000 students, costing $16,000 per student, the 4000 students in the Academy primary school would represent a cost of $64,000,000 in expenses. The town/city would use the money from the sale, to guarantee the Academy the tuition for 4000 students, whether they attend or not .By paying the Academy $10,000 per student or $40,000,000 in tuition the city would immediately save $24,000,000. The Academy would also have to pay real estate taxes to the town/city. The town/city could use that money in ways it deems appropriate


b)      For example; lower property taxes or modernize the high school. If students leave for other competing private schools, the town/city would give the parents a voucher for their use in that other private or competing school. In fact, the city could give $5,000 vouchers for every student who leaves the system. If after five years the school population continues to decline, because the Academy is not competitive, lower the guarantee from 4000 students to a newly negotiated level. If the school population increases because of natural population growth, the siphoning affect of the vouchers, for use at those other private or parochial schools, could work to maintain the school population at a constant figure. Or if the whole lower grades eventually disappear into the private sector because of a voucher system, the town/city would lower its costs from the current $64,000,000 amount to $20,000,000 or the cost of subsidizing 4000 students at $5,000 per student. Any students needing additional funds for tuition would be granted monies from a trust fund created from the proceeds earned from the sale of the buildings and property. Also needy students could have scholarship benefits from the considerable savings from a much smaller educational budget.

c)      If the Academy does succeed, by raising student test scores, improving graduation rates, and other academic standards, the Academy could reward its teachers on a merit basis through funds generated by property tax relief, awarded by the town/city.

d)      On the public high school level, grades 9 through 12, many classes should be consolidated into large lecture halls. (Positions could be eliminated by attrition, buyouts or the elimination of certain subjects.) Teaching assistants from graduate schools would be recruited from the local college programs and paid a per diem fee ($100) and awarded credits towards degree completion. These graduate assistants would take attendance, monitor exams, run labs, monitor study halls and lunch rooms, and mark papers. Higher salaries would be provided for the remaining merit-based teachers. Teachers would be paid to teach, not do non-teaching activities. In fact, teachers could teach more with the elimination of their previous responsibilities.

e)      In the high school many courses could be eliminated and or consolidated. As for example, all students not wishing to take advanced physics or chemistry could take an advanced general science course, not unlike what is offered in college. That course would combine the basic elements of biology, chemistry and physics. Only advanced students would take higher-level courses in physics and chemistry. The same consolidations could apply in the mathematics field. It is obvious that only an elite small percentage of all the students take advanced physics, chemistry, of calculus. One could qualify for those advance courses through a combination of recommendation and aptitude testing.


f)        In regards to language study, I would recommend that ESL in the Academy   should be eliminated or that Spanish should be mandatory course for all students. In other words we must eliminate all the societal pitfalls of a two-language culture or except the inevitability of a large percentage of our population speaking Spanish, and therefore prepare all non-Hispanics to learn that language. Any other language study is of marginal importance for most Americans. Most would agree that a vast and overwhelming percentage of all high school and liberal arts college students have no use or memory of their language studies in their post educational lives. In fact the second language of the whole world is English and that trend is continuing.

g)      I would stress courses in history, citizenship, law, English, and practical living. Practical living could encompass anything from understanding how to operate a checking account to insurance, to operating a car safely, to investing, or running a home or a small business, or understanding health care. I would also emphasize physical fitness. Every student should have to pass rigorous physical fitness requirements to graduate. A more physically fit population is a healthier one and less costly to society.

h)      One of the benefits of large lecture classrooms would be for the use of satellite based audio-visual and closed circuit television broadcasts. As businesses constantly use live television feeds for conference calls. Schools systems could by package lectures series from the top teachers in America. It would certainly be worthwhile to pay thousands for the best teaching program in America as opposed to paying scores of thousands for average or below average teaching.

i)        What happens to students who cannot compete or function in the conventional academic public school environment? The answer is to provide a vocational alternative in the same way that BOCES provides.


The money saved by privatizing the lower grades could be applied to a stronger high school educational environment. The average student coming back to the public high school would be better ethically prepared from either a private or parochial school’s emphasis on values. Also the town/city could provide its public high school with the most advanced audio/visual satellite based equipment. Every student could have a fully loaded up-to-date computer system.


There is an erroneous assumption that this types of school system will not provide for the dysfunctional, the uninterested, the physically challenged or any other special needs child. I believe that with the vast savings, the small percentage of special needs children would easily be absorbed into the newer cost structure. Also the state government would be saving large amounts of money that used to go to individual districts. This money could go directly to special needs individuals. In regards to the dysfunctional and or disruptive child, the state would also have extra funds to provide for their care. Frankly disruptive students should not be tolerated, should be trained in areas that do not bore them and should not bring the system down to its lowest common denominator. Also by becoming much more efficient schools systems there will be other ancillary savings.



For example:

a)      Less administrators

b)      Less classrooms to maintain and service

c)      A simpler curriculum to maintain



These are some of the ways that dramatic change can alter and reverse the direction of our bloated moribund system. No one can say that every change has to be made. But for sure all that I have proposed could be instituted gradually.


In other words the system needs to change or our students will continue to be victims of an inadequate, expensive and antiquated institution. We need better value for our tax dollars. We need a better-prepared citizenry. We need a more relevant curriculum and we need change.



p.s. This is by no means a panacea, but it is a new perspective. At this present time the alliance of real estate, politicians and unions have stultified education, hamstrung funding and created an uneven playing field for most of the under-funded districts in are area of the country.  rjg

Yankees vs. the Red Sox- A One-Sided Rivalry 10-2003

The Yankees vs the Red Sox

A One-Sided Hundred-Year Rivalry


Richard J. Garfunkel

October 2003


I have been doing some research regarding the Yankees and the Bosox. Here are my preliminary findings:


a) The Yankees and the Bosox have been in the same league or division for 101 years-

b) The league was 8 teams from 1903 to 1960, 10 teams until 1968, and then 6 teams and now less.

c) From 1903 to 1919 the pre NY Ruthian Era, the Red Sox finished ahead of the Highlander-Yankees 12 out of 16 times. The Sox won 6 pennants, two seconds and finished last only once in those 16 years.

d) In that same period the Yanks never won a pennant, finished 2nd 3 times and finished last twice.

e) After the acquisition of Babe Ruth, conditions rapidly changed. In the period from 1920 thru 1934 (15 years) the Yanks finished ahead of the Sox all 15 times, winning 7 flags to zero for the Sox. The Yanks also had 4 seconds, and no lasts. The Sox never finished second and had nine last place finishes. In fact from 1922 to 1930, a period of nine years they finished last 8 times and next to last once. They finished last 6 years in a row and after that ignominious stretch, they finished in 6th place in 1931 and then fell to last again in 1932. So out of those 15 years they 11 times in last or 7th! This ended the Ruthian Era!

f) From 1935 to 1945 (the Bronx Bomber era) and the end of the war- a period of 11 years, the Yanks again were ahead of the Sox all 11 years, with 7 pennants and one second. The Sox improved a bit with the spending of their new owner Tom Yawkey and the emergence of Ted Williams in 1939. They finished 2nd four times, 11 games back in 1938, 17 games back in 1939, 17 games back in 1941, and 10 games back in 1942.

g) In the last stretch of the remarkable Yankee dynasty from 1946 to 1964 they finished ahead of the Sox 17 out of 19 years. Only in 1946 and 1948 when the Sox won pennants were the Yanks behind the Sox in 3rd place. Over those 19 years, the Yanks won 15 pennants and one 2nd, never finishing below 3rd. The Sox on the other hand won twice and finished one time second (1949) by 1 game, the closest AL race between them since 1904 when the Yanks were second by 3 games. (Jack Chesbro won 41 games for the Highlanders that year, still the record).

h) Over that that Dynastic stretch from 1920 to 1964, the Yanks out paced the Sox in their division 44 out of 46 years!

1) The Dynasty took a tumble from 1965 thru 1975, a period of 11 years. The Yanks were only able to beat out the Sox in 2 out of those 11 years. They had no pennants and finished 2nd twice and last once. The Sox had 2 pennants and also two-second place finishes. In 1967 the Red Sox pennant year the Yanks finished 20 games behind. In 1975 the Sox next pennant winning year the Yanks were 12 games behind!

j) In the next era, that was revived under the numerous reigns of Billy Martin, Bob Lemon and others, 1976 to 1993, a period of 18 years, the Yanks finished ahead of the Sox 11 years and had 4 pennants or division flags. The Sox were ahead of the Yanks in 7 of those years with 1 flag! In 1977 and 1978 the Sox finished close, being only 3 and one game behind. In 1986 the Yanks finished 5 games behind the Sox.

k) In the latest era 1994- to 2003, a period of ten years the Yanks have outpaced the Sox in 9 of those years, winning 8 flags to one for the Sox.

l) Overall the Yankees have finished ahead of the Sox 71 times out of the 101 years played. In fact over those 100 years there have been few real pennant races!

m) Over those 101 years the Yanks have won 100+ games 15 times, the Sox three times. In that same period the Yanks have won over 90 games another 35 times. Therefore over 100 years they have won over 90+ games 50 times! The Sox have won over 90+ games another 18 times. The have won over 90+ games 21 times in 101 years.

n) From 1919 (1918 was a short season because of WWI) to 1942, the Sox did not win at least 90 games, a period of 23 straight years. From 1907 to 1917 the Yanks never won over 90 games, a period of 11 years. From 1951 thru 1966, a period of 16 years, the Sox again did not win 90 games.

o) From 1980 thru this year, a period of 24 years, the Sox have won over 90 games 4 times. The Yanks in that same period have won over 90+ games 14 times.

p) Greatest yearly differentials:

                                  1912 Boston 105 wins Yanks 50

                                  1915 Boston  101 wins Yanks 69

                                  1923 Yanks     98 wins Sox   61

                                  1926 Yanks     91 wins Sox   46

                                  1927 Yanks   110 wins Sox   51

                                  1930 Yanks     86 wins Sox   52

                                  1932 Yanks   107 wins Sox   43

                                  1943 Yanks    98 wins Sox   68

                                  1954 Yanks  103 wins Sox   69

                                  1960 Yanks    97 wins Sox   65

                                  1961 Yanks   109 wins Sox   76


Most Wins in a season: 1998 Yanks  114 1912 Sox  105

                                    1927 Yanks  110 1946 Sox  104 

                                    1961 Yanks  109 1915 Sox  101

                                    1932 Yanks  107

                                    1963 Yanks  104

                                    1942 Yanks  103

                                    1954 Yanks  103

                                    1980 Yanks  103

                                    2002 Yanks  103

Most years over 100 losses- Yanks twice 1908-103, and 1912-102

                           Sox   Seven: 1932-111, 1926-107, 1906-105, 1925-105, 1927-103, 1930-102, 1965-100                  

Thoughts on the Italian Campaign 6-4-2004

Thoughts on the Italian Campaign and General Mark Clark

June 4, 2004


Mark Clark was the 5th Army Commander in Italy. He was heroic, smart, well liked and a favorite of Ike's and Jewish. The Italy campaign had very little strategic importance except to tie up more German Divisions. But the 5th Army faced smiling Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, who was a good general. They did miss “breakout” opportunities, but in reality they were effectively held up at Mount Casino. There, numerous armies attempted to circumvent the ancient abbey to no avail. Even when medium bombers destroyed it it became more of a problem.


The allies were lucky that they were able to hold on to Normandy so easily and get a great deal of material ashore. Normandy could have been a logistic nightmare. The storms that wrecked the Mulberries could have happened a few days earlier. So, on one hand they benefited from the lousy rough Channel weather, but on the other hand they lost their artificial harbors. The Germans never committed all of their heavy resources for months. They still thought that Patton's phony army group in East Anglia would come across to Pas d'Calais. But of course Monty was overrated and a pompous ass, and the securing of St. Lo, Cherbourg and the surrounding areas took hard fighting. The allies were especially unprepared for the hedgerows. But American innovation at the company level was excellent. Eventually the engineers retrofitted the tanks with huge metal beach obstacles attached to their fronts. These scoop-like claws enabled the tanks to cut huge gaps in the hedgerows allowing the infantry to flood through. Finally with a coordinated armor, infantry and air offensive the allies were able to break the back of the German defenses. During one of the massive bombing runs, many of our troops were killed by friendly fire including General Leslie Groves.


All in all Patton was the most effective of all of our generals. He used his men and equipment effectively, and pushed his subordinates. Patton was an anti-Semite and hated Clark. He blamed the “New York Jews” for getting Clark his Italian command. But the fate of most of the Jews was in the hands of the east. The Russians finally broke through and sealed Germany's fate. Could we have made greater progress in the initial days after June 6th? Probably the biggest mistake was Bradley's slowness in closing the Falaise Gap. He could have probably captured the whole German Army with a little luck. So if there was a big mistake it was with that lost opportunity.


You may be right about “risk taking”, but I rather doubt that we could have moved up our timetable any faster. Certainly we took risks in the Market-Garden “A Bridge to Far” episode and we got badly burned.


In the case of the Pacific, the Pelelieu Operation was a classic disaster. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Nimitz, who in the joint conference with FDR and MacArthur, insisted on moving into the Palaus to protect the Philipino flank. It was unnecessary, bloody and a complete waste!  rjg


The Yankees Win!, Thae Yankees Win!

“The Yankees Win! The Yankees Win!’

John Sterling, Yankee announcer at 11:30 pm –

        July 1,  2004


Last Thursday night, July 1st, was quite memorable for Yankee fans of all ages. Not only did the Bombers dispose of their century old archrivals from New England, the Boston Red Sox, but also they swept the series. The Red Sox, once known as the Beaneaters, had been drifting further and further back in the Eastern Division race, making this series critical to their pennant hopes. Of course the Red Sox started fast, and earlier in the season they had taken six out of seven from the slow starting powerless Bronx Bombers while establishing a 4½ game lead. But as this month ended, the Red Sox found themselves suffering from a “June Swoon” malaise. But in baseball, like life, hope springs eternal, and after losing the first two games in the Bronx, they trotted out their flaky, but fearsome, ace Pedro Martinez to the mound. With the quixotic Martinez facing the Yankee rookie Brad (Admiral) Halsey, who was making his 3rd start of his nascent career, things looked good for the Bosox.


Of course baseball doesn’t follow a predetermined script and the Yanks opened up a 3-0 lead on the back of two massive homeruns by fill-in first baseman Tony Clarke and all-star catcher Jorge Posada. They were cruising along with the “Admiral” into the fifth inning, when like life itself, things started to change. Eventually with a hit here and a large homerun by former Manhattan resident Many Ramirez the scored became tied.3-3. The game went into extra innings, with both sides sparring back and forth with frustrating parries. They both experienced the frustration of loading the bases only to be thwarted by great defense. Finally with two on and two out in the top of twelfth and the runners on the move, the great Derek Jeter ran for a slicing hump back floating liner that was heading for the 3rd base foul line. Jeter, who has made a career of tracking down these tricky and dangerous floaters ran at full steam, caught the ball, and headed right for the stands. Facing the consequence of running into the concrete wall or flying over it, Jeter chose the latter. It seemed like something out of Superman with the “Captain” taking off with the momentum of a runaway locomotive and landing on top of a flock of people, their food and souvenirs, and the unforgiving metal seats. Of course even though two runs were saved, the hushed standing room crowd of 55,000 plus held its collective breath as we all waited for Jeter to be lifted back into sight. When, after what it seemed like an eternity, the wounded Jeter emerged bloodied but unbowed, the crowd roared its love and approval that the “Captain” had survived his short flight into immortality. He walked off the field under his own steam but with some assistance, obviously bruised but not broken.


After a few moments, the game resumed with the Yanks again loading the bases in the bottom of the twelfth. But to no avail, they could not score. When they took the field in the 13th inning they had a makeshift lineup in the field. With Jeter gone, and different pinch-hitters used, the Yanks had to improvise at a few positions in the field. Down to two pitchers, the Yanks were forced to use journeyman Tanyon Sturtze on the mound to open the inning. Facing Yankee nemesis Manny Ramirez, the fearsome slugger late of George Washington High School, (where my mother graduated in 1925), Sturtze served up a “gopher ball” that flew over the center field wall.  Suddenly it was 4-3 and the Red Sox had hope once again. It seemed like Jeter’s catch and resulting injury would be all for naught. The rest of the inning went quietly and the Yanks, with their backs against the wall, faced the bottom of the inning and their last “licks.”


The bottom of the 13th did not start well for the shaken Yanks. The first two batters went up and down with nary a whisper. But, as it often happens in baseball, lightning struck in the late evening hours in Bronx County. Ruben Sierra singled, and then the platooned second sacker Miguel Cairo, who killed the Yanks in the last World.Series strode to the plate. After fouling off pitch after pitch, Cairo went with the pitch and drilled a line drive to right center that scored Sierra with tying run. With the huge crowd rocking and the game 4 hours and 19 minutes old, pinch hitter John Flaherty, the seldom-used back up catcher hit a ball over the shallow fielding Manny Ramirez’s head. The fans went crazy, the run came in, the Yanks won again, and the bench ran to the mound with an eruption of uncontrolled joy! Wow, what it means to be young, rich and a Yankee!


Of course there have many great and memorable games in the long and illustrious history of the Yankees. From the early days of Ruthian greatness in the 1920’s through the Bronx Bombers days of Gehrig and DiMaggio of the 1930s and 40s, to the Stengel-Houk eras of the 1950s and 60s, to the tempestuous days of Billy Martin and the Bronx Zoo, and to the current Torre Dynasty, the Yanks have always delivered excitement and success. I myself have seen thousands of Yankee games from the early 1950’s to today. Back in 1961 I had the pleasure of being at the Stadium, with 67,000 others on September 1st, a Friday night, when the Yanks and Tigers came into the Bronx tied for first. The game was scoreless until Moose Skowron singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth giving the Yanks and Whitey Ford the victory. The Yanks went on to win 109 games, Maris hit number 61 and the Yanks won the Series over the Reds. Maybe game seven of the 1960 World Series with its ups and downs, and its final score of 10-9, resulting in the improbable Pirate victory, could be seen as one of baseball’s most exciting games. Of course great performances like Don Larsen’s Perfect pitching in the 5th game of the 1956 World Series, or Reggie’s 3 homeruns do not make all-time great games. I was lucky to be at the stadium for Reggie’s home runs, and also for Bobby Murcer’s and Tom Tresh’s three homeruns performances. I watched on television the great pitching performances of Dave Righetti, Jim Abbott, David Welles and David Cone. Of course, talking about excitement in my time, Mickey Mantle hit 177 homeruns from the 7th to the 11th inning.  Great performances are the exclamation points that make baseball the great game that it is and will always be.


Again the setting was great. Each Yankee-Red Sox contest is another contribution to one of sport’s great rivalries, and again there was another sell-out in the Bronx. So the scene was set, the players came out for this latest chapter in this century-old saga, and the fans were enraptured by the ebb and flow of a great game. Hurrah for baseball!