John Christopher Fine
is a marine biologist with two doctoral degrees, has authored 24 books, including award-winning books dealing with ocean pollution. He is a liaison officer of the United Nations Environment Program and the Confederation Mondiale for ocean matters. He is a member of the Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences in honor of his books in the field of education. He has received international recognition for his pioneering work investigating toxic waste contamination of our land and water.
Latest by John Christopher Fine
By John Christopher Fine | November 21, 2014
The television series ‘Deadwood’ portrayed Al Swearengen as a cold blooded killer. When he arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876, the camp was a violent, illegal settlement. Miners invaded lands protected by treaty with Native Americans in quest of gold. Placer gold was found by prospectors that accompanied George Armstrong Custer’s expedition in 1874. Immediate news reports opened the floodgates. When gold was found in streams along Deadwood Gulch in the northern Black Hills a year later there was no stopping the influx of fortune seekers. With the miners came people ready to exploit their need for supplies and services.
Deadwood was still a shanty town thrown up along the creek. Its main street was a muddy track. Men …
By John Christopher Fine | November 10, 2014
American robber barons raped the land and destroyed forests, polluted water resources and turned once pristine rivers into contaminated sewers. They are still doing it. They were vicious criminals then; there are vicious criminals destroying natural resources now. They got away with it through the complicity of corrupt government officials they bribed or put in office. The law meant nothing to them, driven by greed and ambition. Confronting cruel slaughter of wild horses by these same opportunists, a petite polio victim saw blood running out of the back of a truck. She followed it. When it stopped Velma Johnston was shocked at what she saw. One horse had its eyes shot out, babies were trampled on the floor, the frightened …
By John Christopher Fine | November 2, 2014
“This restaurant is about Deadwood legends,” Tom Rensch remarked. That said it all. Deadwood, South Dakota is about legends. A stroll down Main Street is like stepping back in time to an era when the 1875 gold rush brought thousands of miners to the area hoping to strike it rich. On a hill above town is Mt. Moriah Cemetery. The overlook dominates the valley below where once the raucous and rowdy gave vent to their anger in a place where there was no law other than the six-shooter. Legends of the frontier and American West are buried in Mt. Moriah. The town’s sheriff Seth Bulloch’s grave is at a promontory above the graves below. Wild Bill Hickok, shot in the …
By John Christopher Fine | October 30, 2014
Texas Rancher Sam Maverick didn’t brand his cattle. Cowpunchers took to calling them Mavericks. If you want good grub put your branding iron on Mavericks Restaurant above Deadwood, South Dakota’s Gold Dust Casino. The town has been tamed, mostly. Gold made Deadwood famous. The Wild West of 1875, in the Black Hills, when thousands of miners crowded mountain streams looking for a pan full of nuggets, passed slowly away. Gambling remained.
“There was always gambling in Deadwood. We just made it legal,” Bill Walsh once said. Bill and other visionaries kept Deadwood’s charm and character, its Saloon #10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and bawdy mannequins in period costumes in second story windows reminiscent of the days when the …
By John Christopher Fine | October 28, 2014
Rapid City, South Dakota has grown from a convenient gateway to the Black Hills and the wonders of state and national parks, including Mt. Rushmore Memorial and Crazy Horse, to a cosmopolitan city with fine museums, art galleries, local attractions and bronze sculptures of every U.S. president on street corners. There is shopping galore. Rapid City boasts everything from malls outside the city to fine boutiques downtown.
Modern hotels cater to the needs of visitors. One recent innovation is the Adoba Hotel. Formerly part of a branded chain, the owner decided to take a different path. His commitment to protecting the environment and offering guests a toxin free atmosphere has seen a complete resurrection from a grand hotel situated in …
By John Christopher Fine | October 22, 2014
It occupies an entire city block. From Park to Lexington Avenues, from 48th to 49th Streets. The Waldorf Astoria is a legend, a flagship hotel that preserves the past with dignity and proclaims the future with modern amenities. A hotel of this stature has to offer fine dining in opulent surroundings. On any given day royalty, heads of state, motion picture stars and celebrities patronize the restaurants in the hotel as do men and women that pause for a cocktail, then enjoy the best food in town.
William Waldorf Astor constructed the first Waldorf Hotel on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in 1893. Alva Vanderbilt opened it with a charity ball. A legend was born. The family opened a second …
By John Christopher Fine | October 16, 2014
Ever go to a place where you could just kick back, relax, enjoy the natural surroundings and have fun? Well South Dakota is the place for good family fun amidst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Folks in this vast state had ancestors that crossed the prairie in wagon trains. They knew the privations of the frontier: harsh winters, drought, hunger and getting by when being a neighbor meant lending a helping hand when needed. That neighborly feeling has never waned in this mostly agricultural state where tourism is the second most important source of revenue. In South Dakota the people are the state’s greatest resource. It doesn’t take long to find genuinely friendly hosts.
We landed …
By John Christopher Fine | October 13, 2014
We ain’t in New York anymore. The trail to adventure led to South Dakota. A sprawling state with vast wilderness areas, National Parks, the Mt. Rushmore Memorial, Crazy Horse, wild bison, mustangs, prehistoric archaeological sites and gold. For all of those reasons tourists find themselves immersed in the joys and travails of travelers. Sometimes the cravings for something familiar takes over and the ‘Gotta have it’ becomes a passion.
The hotel included a buffet breakfast. Their toasted bagel turned out to be a soggy lump of dough that was unpalatable. What you may ask is breakfast without a toasted bagel, potentially with a royal ‘schmear and lox?’ You may even go so far as to ask where can I get …
By John Christopher Fine | October 9, 2014
Few historians chronicled battles of the Vietnam War. Like the brutal war in Korea, most politicians that made bad decisions would rather forget it ever happened. Returning veterans were scorned and so disheartened many refused to talk about their roles in combat. Time does not heal wounds of war. Combat veterans carry their scars, physical and emotional, to the grave.
November 8, 2014 heralds the anniversary of a significant battle in what was dubbed War zone D near Bien Hoa. The U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade landed there on November 5, 1965. The troops of Companies C and D became locked in a fierce battle with 1,200 regular Viet Cong army troops. When the battle ended 48 Americans lay dead. Many …
By John Christopher Fine | September 9, 2014
Yep ponder the Wild West comes alive again the last weekend of September as a hundred cowpokes try to corral 1500 wild bison in South Dakota’s annual Buffalo Roundup. It’s old and it’s new, the stuff dreams are made of. Cowboys and cowgirls on horseback flailing whips, some popping off blanks from revolvers, park rangers in trucks and a passel of tourists on a hill hoping for excitement.
Custer State Park, just outside the city named for the man whose death brought him more fame than his life, is a magnificent 74,000 acre park. The area is preserved with wonderful lakes, camping facilities, ancient log cabins, a unique lodge used as a summer White House by discerning presidents and some …
By John Christopher Fine | July 19, 2014
“It is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The wall paper was custom made,” Server Camille Horton explained. In the midst of a brutal Civil War President Abraham Lincoln took a long train ride from Washington to this rural farming hamlet to deliver ‘a few appropriate remarks’ on November 19, 1863. It took him about two minutes. The world has never stopped reciting his inspired message that dedicated a military cemetery. The battle five months earlier left 8,000 dead among 51,000 casualties. It was one of the bloodiest battles in a war pitting American against American.
While the war continued for two more years, it was here at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in its peaceful orchards, wheat fields and sloping hills, that the fate of …
By John Christopher Fine | July 14, 2014
Did you ever trust a chef to prepare a gourmet meal for you? Sure, Mom did it all the time. You came home and ate what she prepared. Apart from some radiant dislikes, rarely does the family participate in planning a daily dinner meal in most homes. Even the tradition of all family sitting down together at mealtime is disrupted by demands of modern society. Both parents may work and meal time is not a formal sit down affair. Dinner table gatherings are part of societal ritual. Loss of dining together has meant loss of family bonding, with it disruption in family structure. No matter the maintenance of a half-million dollar mortgage on the house and two financed black BMW …
By John Christopher Fine | July 10, 2014
Getysburg College is rated one of the most beautiful campuses in America. It is set on the edge of town with turn of the century brick and stone buildings, a chapel and magnificent sprawling lawns. A fountain adds to the tranquility of any stroll among sculpture and outdoor art. Not far away, on a knoll overlooking town, is the Lutheran Theological Seminary. There is plenty of parking and visitors are welcome to stroll the beautiful grounds.
Summer is a magic time in this Pennsylvania town that was a crossroads for commerce during the Civil War. The momentous battle fought here in the brutally hot summer during three days in July 1863, forever changed the hamlet’s future. The July 1 to …
By John Christopher Fine | July 7, 2014
It was the battle that turned the tide of the American Civil War. When General Robert E. Lee retreated across the Potomac River, the death knell of the southern cause was sounded. The war would bleed on for two more years. The attempt to invade the north and capture the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg failed. The invasion of the rolling hills and farmlands of rural Pennsylvania culminated outside the town of Gettysburg on July 1 to 3, 1863. It was a crossroads, a hub, where farmers toiled in their orchards and fields. A college and Lutheran theological seminary graced the town. It was of no real military importance until two armies converged there on those three hot summer days.
By John Christopher Fine | July 5, 2014
Dwight David Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander on June 6, 1944, during the ‘D Day’ embarkation that sent thousands of troops ashore in Normandy, was elected 34th President of the United States in 1952. His inauguration was January 20, 1953. Reelected in November 1956, he served two terms in the White House.
He met Mamie Doud in 1915, in San Antonio, Texas. She was 18 years old. They got married on July 1, 1916. This is Mamie’s story as recounted and performed by Ruthmary McIlhenny. Her portrayals began after Ruthmary served as a volunteer at the Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania beginning in 1990. The farm is now a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service. The Park Service …
By John Christopher Fine | July 5, 2014
Cylinders must pass hydrostatic testing every five years. The dive industry promulgated standards to visually inspect the interior of Scuba tanks every year for rust, corrosion or valve cracks. Hydrostatic tests are the same tests required by the Department of Transportation for all gas cylinders as well as fire extinguishers filled to high pressures with compressed air and gasses.
What happens to them when they fail to pass inspection? The tanks are condemned and end up as scrap. Keys to Peace, a 501-c-(3) non-profit organization began a program dubbed Sounds of Peace Bells to make bells out of old Scuba cylinders. Dive shops and individuals contribute cylinders that no longer can be filled under high pressure.
The bottoms are then …
By John Christopher Fine | June 30, 2014
He was checking a family in at Habitat on Bonaire. The reception area was just a small booth. For all intents and purposes, Captain Don, for whom Habitat was named, was cranky. The family arrived in a taxi from the airport after nightfall. Nobody else was around to check them in. Don didn’t volunteer to show them their room, rather pointed them in the direction where it could be found.
Captain Don’s Habitat was primitive in its beginnings. The idea was to have a place where divers could dive all day and all night if they wished, socialize at the veranda bar under a thatch roof and sleep the few hours away until dawn when they could dive again. What …
By John Christopher Fine | June 26, 2014
The History of Diving Museum at Mile Marker 83 in Islamorada, Florida is more than a building to house memorabilia. It is a living legacy dedicated to preserving history and sharing knowledge about human penetration of the underwater world. How it got there is a story about an emergency room doctor and a surgeon. A husband and wife team from Ohio that took up diving to escape the stresses of medicine.
The couple got interested in Scuba diving in the 1960s. In the late 1960′s they purchased their first hard had diving helmet and on that day they contracted an incurable disease – the collection bug bit them. The helmet was made by Siebe Gorman from the UK and is …
By John Christopher Fine | June 22, 2014
Polly Alford was born in Kent, Southeast England. “I left when I was sixteen. I took a secretarial course and became a high-powered secretary for a private hotel in the West End of London,” she related. She was relaxed, having a drink in the garden of the Colonial Inn in Punta Gorda, Belize. The setting is far removed from this 47-year old’s former life selling time-shares in Portugal, motor cars in UK and her night-school education in marketing.
“I got a job with a software company. It was a three-hour drive to get to the office and a three hour drive back.” When the company went belly up, Polly took a trip to the Red Sea. “It wasn’t crazy, crazy …
By John Christopher Fine | June 20, 2014
Spencer Slate was born in Winston Salem, North Carolina in 1947. They lived in town but had a pasture behind the house where Spencer kept a horse he rode. “Dad was a farmer. We went out to the farm every weekend.” He joined the U.S. Army and served from 1972 to 1976 as an NCO in a MASH unit.
“I watched Mike Nelson on television in the 50′s and 60s. Sea Hunt got me interested in diving.” An Eagle scout, young Spencer was drawn to water sports. “I got mail order dive equipment from a sporting goods store.”
Spencer dove all through college with the Wake Forest University dive club. He graduated from East Carolina University in Greenville. On breaks …