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This Week In History
December 15, 1791 - Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land.
December 16, 1773- In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.
Decemberr 17, 1903- Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft.
December 18, 1865- Following its ratification by the requisite three-quarters of the states earlier in the month, the 13th Amendment is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, ensuring that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
December 19, 1944- At a meeting of senior Allied commanders, Eisenhower decides to appoint Field Marshal Montgomery, commanding British 21st Army Group, to lead all Allied forces to the north of ” the Bulge” in the line created by the German attack.
December 20, 1989- The United States invades Panama in an attempt to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega, who had been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and was accused of suppressing democracy in Panama and endangering U.S. nationals.
December 21, 1968- Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr., and William Anders aboard.
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"Crazy Joe" Crazy For VO
During World War II, Joe Lavinger had the nerve-wracking job of working on mine sweepers in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and says he’s “lucky to be here.”
“It was very terrifying at times. You never knew what was going to happen when you were going over those mines and you hoped they were deep enough so we wouldn’t hit them,” recalled Joe who turns 86 on July 18th. “We came close to several of them, but we lucked out.”
John Ely, Veterans’ Outreach’s president feels pretty lucky to have Joe working for the VO. “He’s one of my favorite people,” said Ely, “I respect Joe more than anyone else on the planet. He is full of life and compassion like no one else.”
Joe is an “Outreach” worker who is noted for coaxing large donations from perfect strangers. “I’ve been doing this for seven years, now,” said Joe. “I’ve had 32 donations of $100 and one check for $500.” And what’s his secret? “I use humor and it works.”
He says he “reads” people as they approach his table to assess what kind of shtick he’ll use. “I’ll say to them, ‘I’ve been waiting for you all day. Would you like to make a $5 donation? That would sure make my day. Deal or no deal.’ I may decide to ask for $100. If I can make them laugh in the process, that usually means they’ll give a donation of some kind.”
Joe works in the Columbus, Ohio area where he lives with his wife, Mary.
“He really puts his heart and soul into it, that’s for sure,” said Mary. “He really enjoys what he’s doing because it’s all for the vets.”
It’s not surprising that Joe is an entertainer who’s had a dance band for 55 years in the Columbus area. “I think it’s the longest running band in Columbus.” He’s also been a talent agent, booking shows for such luminaries as the Glen Miller Band and Tommy Dorsey Band as well as comedians such as Jackie Gleason and others.
His four-piece band – Tune Timers – has performed in all kinds of venues from nursing homes to VFW halls. It was at a VFW hall where he acquired the nickname, “Crazy Joe” because of his antics on stage. “A guy came up and asked what the name of the band was and I told him Tune Timers, and he said, no, it should be ‘Crazy Joe and the Tune Timers,’ and it stuck.”
He described one of his gags while performing, ‘When the Saints go Marching In’. “We would march out of the room and go into the ladies’ room and I’d come back out with a bra. Of course we planted it and a gal was waiting for us. It always got a good laugh.”
Sight gags are still part of his shtick that includes his crazy hats. That all started when he spotted a guy wearing a cap with two beer cans on it. “I thought it was great fun. I saw him again, we had a few beers and he gave it to me. It was a terrific thing to make people laugh and get them to talk to me. And then I began to look for other hats and developed a collection.”
Anything for a laugh, says “Crazy Joe,” who is really ‘crazy like a fox’ when it comes to getting donations to help his fellow veterans.
Written By Linda Fudala-Tucker
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