George Blanda Dead at 83

The death of George Blanda Monday brings back another one of those sports memories that I’ve always cherished.

Perhaps the old AFL’s greatest rivalry (a rivalry which remained heated long after the upstart league merged with the older NFL in 1970) was that between the Kansas City Chiefs and Blanda’s Oakland Raiders.  

And likely their most hard-fought meeting ever was a contest which occurred during that first season after the merger in the fall of 1970.

Late in the game, Kansas City had a 17-14 lead and the ball somewhere near the middle of the field.  It was third down, and all they needed was one more first down to run out the clock and seal the victory.

Chief Quarterback Len Dawson dropped back to pass and finding everyone covered scrambled for an apparent first down.  After he was brought down, Raider defensive lineman Ben Davidson (probably best remembered for his handlebar mustache) piled on Dawson with a late hit. 

That meant a fifteen yard penalty against Oakland, but the Chiefs took umbrage at Davidson’s cheap shot, a big brawl ensued, and Kansas City was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.  That was also fifteen yards, the penalties therefore off-set, and the down had to be played over again. 

This time the Raiders stopped them, and they got the ball back with just enough time for a couple of plays to get close enough to try a long distance field goal to tie it.

With 3 seconds left, on the field comes Oakland’s 43 year-old George Blanda (the oldest man in the NFL, the Raider’s field goal kicker and also back-up quarterback for starter Daryle Lamonica).  

Back then the goal posts were at the front of the end zone, i.e., right at the goal line.  The Raiders had made it to the Chief’s forty-one yard line.  Add seven yards to that for the distance between center and placement and that gives you a 48-yard attempt.

Knowing this was a pretty long attempt for old Blanda, and probably at the extremity of his range, Chief Coach Hank Stram had a big, lanky 6-foot-9-inch receiver standing right at the goal line should an opportunity present itself to swat the ball away.

Blanda’s kick wasn’t particularly pretty but was nonetheless true and just barely cleared that tall Chief’s outstretched hand as he leapt high in the air to try and knock the ball down.  The game ended in a 17-17 tie — no overtimes back then. 

And that was the second game of what NBC Sports called Monday

an insane five-week run where he [Blanda] either replaced Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica to lead the Raiders to a comeback victory or kicked a winning or tying field goal.  Every single week.

The book America’s Game describes how Blanda’s story in 1970 broke normal boundaries.  He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Time, and Newsweek.  He was joked about by Johnny Carson.  He symbolized a new kind of life after 40.

I was only eleven then, but as you can see it’s all still very vivid in my memory.  George Blanda’s streak in 1970 was truly one for the ages.

Here’s another article from the Associated Press on Blanda’s passing.

And if you’d like to revisit some of your football memories or just read more about this great American sport, try a subject keyword search in our catalog for “football.”   You’ll find literally hundreds of titles on football at Greensboro Public Library.

Guilford Unemployment Down in August

Guilford County’s unemployment rate for August fell 4/10s of a percent from July to 10.5%, the News and Record reported Friday.

Most counties in North Carolina saw a drop last month.  Overall, the State’s jobless rate stands at 9.8%.

Please remember that if you’re looking for work, Greensboro Public Library would like to help.  You can check out our Job & Career Information page here, and our full-time career counselor, Ms. Kim Hailey, who works out of Central Library, is of course here to help.

L.A. Judge to Decide Dispute Over Giant Bahia Emerald

As we recently posted on a valuable emerald found at the little hamlet of Hiddenite right here in North Carolina, I thought this story about an ownership controversy over a huge Brazilian emerald was apropos

Known as the Bahia Emerald, after the Brazilian state where it was found, the specimen weighs in at an extraordinary 840 pounds.  It’s really a cluster of emeralds embedded in a matrix, and its value is believed to be as much as $400 million. 

Why the controversy?  Well, a man named Anthony Thomas claims he paid $60,000 for the emerald soon after it was mined in 2001 and is therefore the rightful owner.  But there are a number of other claimants in addition to Mr. Thomas, and a judge in Los Angeles began hearing from them Friday.  For now, this remarkable gem is in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

If you’re interested in reading more about rare gems and jewels, as well as the legends and lore often associated with them, try some of these titles from Greensboro Public Library:  Gems of the World by Cally Oldershaw; Jewels:  A Secret History by Victoria Finlay; Jewelry & Gems, the Buying Guide:  How to Buy Diamonds, Pearls, Colored Gemstones, Gold & Jewelry with Confidence and Knowledge by Antoinette L. Matlins & Antonio C. Bonanno; Gemstones:  Symbols of Beauty and Power by Eduard Gubelin, Franz-Xaver Erni; Field Collecting Gemstones and Minerals, Gemstones of North America, and Prospecting for Gemstones and Minerals by John Sinkankas; Hitler’s Holy Relics:  A True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick; The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303: The Extraordinary Story of the First Big Bank Raid in History by Paul Doherty; and Treasures in the Smithsonian:  The Gem Collection by Paul E. Desautels.

One City, One Book Events

In case you don’t know, Steve Lopez’s The Soloist, the story of a homeless, African American man of prodigious musical talent but beset by schizophrenia, is Greensboro Public Library’s One City, One Book choice this year.

The library kicked off its One City, One Book events on Wednesday, and there are plenty more to come: 

You’ve Read the Book, Now See the Movie

We will be showing “The Soloist,” starring Robert Downey, Jr and Jamie Foxx, Thursday, Sept 23 at 2:30 at the Kathleen Clay Edwards Branch (1420 Price Park Rd). 

“Homeless in America”

See this award-winning documentary on Friday night at 7 PM at the Central Library. Made in 2004 in Los Angeles, “Homeless in America” is a short (30 minutes) documentary about the homeless and those who help them, including the LAPD, Los Angeles Mission, and others. Presents a variety of points of view from those who are directly involved. All the interviews are spontaneous and unrehearsed on location. (219 N. Church St)

Pre-Teen Book Club Reads “Darnell Rock Reporting”

On Thursday (Sept 23) at 4 PM, pre-teen youth (ages 8-12) will discuss “Darnell Rock Reporting,” a novel by Walter Dean Myers about a teen who joins the staff of the school newspaper. After he has a chance encounter with a homeless man, he tries to help him out by writing a story about him (sound familiar?). The discussion will take place at the new McGirt-Horton Branch Library (2509 Phillips Ave.) 

Eternal High

On Saturday at 3 pm, see “Eternal High,” a movie about a 16-year-old boy who documents, over the course of a year,  his experience with depression and suicidal urges. Hemphill Branch Library (2301 W. Vandalia Road).

Touring Theater Presents an Adaptation of “The Soloist” at Triad Stage

The play doesn’t open until October 12, but it is not too early to order your tickets. It runs October 12-17. All performances are at 8 pm except for a Sunday matinée at 2 pm. Tuesday, Oct. 12 is Pay-what-you-can.”  All other performances are $7.50. Call (336) 272-0160 to reserve your seat today.

“Outsider Artist” Presley Ward Featured in Sunday’s News & Record

N&R writer Jeri Rowe features local artist Presley Ward, aka “The Stick Man.”  Mr. Ward shares his experiences as an artist who has frequently experienced homelessness.

Facilitators Trained and Ready

Over the past two weeks, we have trained about 40 people in book discussion facilitation techniques. They are now ready to lead discussions of The Soloist. The training, designed and led by Whitney Vanderwerff, was well-received by all who participated. If your group needs a facilitator, contact Beth Sheffield at 

Thanks to Our Sponsors

About a dozen nonprofit organizations helped plan and implement the 2010 One City, One Book and dozens of other volunteers have already gotten involved in the project. Without all of them, the project would not be possible. Also, we would like to thank the sponsors that have provided financial support: Cemala Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, GTCC, WUNC radio, News & Record, Friends of the Greensboro Public Library and the Greensboro Public Library Foundation.

For more information, please contact:   

Steve Summerford, Asst. Director, Greensboro Public Library, City of Greensboro, Phone:  336-373-3636, PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136

Important Franklin Expedition Discovery?

We have previously posted a couple of times on the famous lost expedition of Sir John Franklin, including this summer when Parks Canada made yet another attempt to find Franklin’s vessels, the Erebus and Terror.

Though August’s Parks Canada effort failed to locate them, there is now word from the Montreal Gazette that a television personality named Bear Grylls may have found some human remains of Franklin crewmen on a small unnamed island in Wellington Strait east of King William Island.  Grylls had stopped at the island a few weeks ago during a charity-raising effort to make the Northwest Passage in a rigid inflatable boat.  As many as four graves may have been found. 

The expedition was documented in a blog which you can read here.  The find is discussed in the posts for September 2nd and 4th.

At this point, no one can be certain exactly what Grylls may have found.  However, Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada’s chief of underwater archaeology, says “that [if] it is related to Franklin, then it could be important.” 

You can read the whole Montreal Gazette story here.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease Still a Mystery

Here’s a very good recent article from the New York Times on the puzzle of Alzheimer’s Disease prevention, a stalemate which goes on despite many years of research and a host of studies.

As the article describes, the National Institutes of Health recently appointed a sort of court of fifteen medical scientists to evaluate the evidence — which consisted of literally hundreds of studies testing the potential of everything from exercise to educational attainment to prevent the risk, onset and development of Alzheimer’s.

Their verdict:  there really isn’t anything we’ve found so far that can prevent or delay this disease.    

Needless to say, this is a sad result for the millions who have this malady or someday will fall victim to it.  But organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association can provide support.

Greensboro Public Library has quite a few books on Alzheimer’s Disease if you’re interested, including:  The Alzheimer’s Project:  Momentum in Science by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke with Susan K. Golant; Plain talk about Alzheimer’s Disease:  Alzheimer’s Related Dementia and Wandering (DVD); Inside Alzheimer’s:  How to Hear and Honor Connections with a Person Who has Dementia by Nancy D. Pearce; A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease:  300 Tips For Making Life Easier by Patricia R. Callone, et al.; At Wit’s End:  Plain Talk on Alzheimer’s for Families and Clinicians by George Kraus; Alzheimer’s Disease:  A Forgotten Life by Elaine Landau (juvenile); Into the Mist:  When Someone You Love has Alzheimer’s Disease by Deborah Uetz with Anne Lindsay; The Forgetting:  A Portrait of Alzheimer’s:  Stories of Love, Courage and Hope (DVD); Alzheimer’s:  A Caregiver’s Guide and Sourcebook by Howard Gruetzner; The Forgetting:  Alzheimer’s, Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk; Alzheimer’s Disease:  A Guide for Families and Caregivers by Lenore S. Powell with Katie Courtice; Measure of the Heart:  A Father’s Alzheimer’s, a Daughter’s Return by Mary Ellen Geist; Creating Moments of Joy:  For the Person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia by Jolene Brackey; Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s:  Caregivers Share the Joyful Times by Brenda Avadian; Close to Me, But Far Away:  Living with Alzheimer’s by Burton M. Wheeler; Death in Slow Motion:  My Mother’s Descent into Alzheimer’s by Eleanor Cooney; Losing My Mind:  An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s by Thomas DeBaggio; At Wit’s End: Plain Talk on Alzheimer’s for Families and Clinicians by George Kraus; and  Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s:  A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease by Joanne Koenig Coste.

You can also learn about Alzheimer’s in Medline or Medline Plus, both of which are included among the numerous databases in the NCLive network.  To access NCLive, all you need is a library card.

Greensboro Public Library Offers Senior Health Fair

Library Offers Senior Health Fair 

Tuesday, September 14 from 10 am to 1 pm 

Central Library, 219 North Church St. 

The Greensboro Public Library will hold its annual Senior Health Fair on Tuesday, September 14th, from 10 am to 1 pm at Central Library, located at 219 North Church St. in downtown Greensboro, NC. 

If you’re a senior who wants needs assistance achieving an independent and healthy lifestyle, please join us for screenings and lots more. 

Organizations participating in the fair will provide: 

* Glucose Screening 

* Vision Check 

* Body Mass Index 

* Hearing Test 

* Blood Pressure Check 

There will also be free chair massages and a wealth of information about healthy living. 

Please email Belinda Lam at or call 373-2169 for more information. To learn more about all Greensboro Public Library’s programs and resources, please visit

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The City works with the community to improve the quality of life for residents through inclusion, diversity, and trust. As the seventh largest employer in Greensboro, the City has a professional staff of 2,800 employees who maintain the values of honesty, integrity, stewardship, and respect. The City is governed by a council-manager form of government with a mayor and eight council members. For more information on the City, please visit or call 336-373-CITY (2489).

Chances Increasing Earl Could Hit U.S.

In a brief update to an earlier post, MSNBC is reporting Hurricane Earl seems “to have turned toward the U.S. coast . . . with concern growing that New England could receive a direct hit later in the week.”  

According to NBC meteorologist Bill Karins: 

At this point, 75 percent of weather computers keep Earl off the East Coast, resulting in just a glancing blow; the other 25 percent would bring a significant hurricane near or through eastern New England.

You can follow Hurricane Earl’s progress at the National Hurricane Center’s website.