May 21th, 2011 sat
May 21st, 2011
Quiz: Who were Buecephalus, Traveller, Marengo, Rienzi, Beauceant?
Yesterday’s Question: What is a Sybil?
history for 5/21/2011
Birthdays: Plato, Fats Waller, Albrecht Durer, Andre Sakharov, Armand Hammer, Raymond Burr, John Hubley, Dennis Day, Senator Al Franken is 60, Harold Robbins, Judge Reinhold, Larry Terro called Mr. T. is 59
Happy Ascension Day- This is the traditional day in the Republic if Venice when the Doge led a huge floating procession on board his huge golden barge the Bucintoro. At sea he ceremoniously tossed a golden ring into the water, signifying Venice was married to the sea.
1420- After the great victory of Agincourt King Henry V of England and King Charles VI the Mad of France conclude a peace treaty at Troyes. Harry of England would marry the French king's daughter and become heir. But Henry's early death from dysentery at 35 canceled these plans. That would have been an early end to the Hundred Years War, making it the 75 Years War.
1471- King Henry VI of Lancaster had been captured in the battle of Tewkesbury when he was defeated in the War of the Roses. On this day the prisoner-king was slain in the Tower of London while at prayers. Many say he was done in by King Edward IV hunchbacked brother Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III). To this day the spot where the king was murdered is covered with flowers every May 21st.
1506-Christopher Columbus died. Bitter, forgotten, watching other people take credit for his discoveries. He still believed he had discovered the outer islands of Asia.
1540- Hernand DeSoto discovered the Mississippi River, the "Father of the Waters."
1542- Hernand DeSoto's yellow fever ridden body is dumped in the Mississippi to keep it from being violated by outraged Indians.
1661- BLIMEY! TEA COMES TO ENGLAND- King Charles II of England the Merry Monarch, married Catherine of Braganza, the Princess of Portugal. Her dowry included Tangiers and Bombay India. Poor Catherine never gave Charles any children, and she had to endure his constant philandering with a steady stream of mistresses. But she did introduce Britain to a new custom. She preferred drinking tea to the more traditional English Ale. Soon everyone had to have some.
1674- COSSACKS AND BAGELS- Hetman of the Ukraine Jan III Sobieski crowned king of Poland. He replaced King Michael Wisnoiecki, of whom it was said ' He could speak nine languages, but had nothing intelligent to say in any of them!'. Jan Sobieski became a warrior king, some speculate that the Bagel was invented to celebrate his victories over the Turks. It's supposedly shaped like his stirrup. Others say baloney, the hole is in the bagel so you can stack them on a stick and sell them on the street.
1780- On the coast of Connecticut, General George Washington conferred with his allies Admiral DeGrasse and the Comte Du Rochambeau aboard DeGrasse’s flagship. Washington wanted to storm the British defenses at occupied New York but Rocheambeau had a better idea: The decision was made to pretend to assault New York then their troops and ships would rendezvous down in Virginia and trap British General Cornwallis at a little place called Yorktown. Around this time French officers wrote home about the curious American custom of whittling. “Whenever the American generals need to ponder great strategies, invariably they take out a knife and carve fruitlessly upon a small stick!”
1800- Napoleon crossed the Alps into Italy at the Great Saint Bernard Pass. Napoleon waited for his last troops to complete the crossing, then thanked the monks who aided his men and crossed himself. Artist David portrayed Napoleon as crossing on a fierce white charger. In actuality he did the crossing on a donkey and at one point tucked his big gray overcoat between his legs and slid down a snowy mountain slope on his butt.
1863- ARMY CHOW... The traditional rations for soldiers in the Civil War was a baked flour biscuit called HardTack. Soldiers loved complaining about how awful it tasted and how hard it was to eat. ( Examples of hardtack 135 years old are still edible ). When Ulysses Grant marched his men around the back of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg Mississippi he cut himself off from his supply lines and let him men live off the local farms for food. His men feasted three weeks straight on roast turkey and goose, smoked hams, bacon, buttermilk and sweet potatoes. This relentlessly rich diet sparked an unusual protest on this day. As Grant was riding past his troops digging trenches they started yelling out loud: "Hardtack! Give us Hard Tack! A man can't work with this heavy food !" Soon thousands of men were chanting in unison "HARD-TACK! HARD-TACK!!' General Grant was forced to stop and pledge on the spot to restrict their diet back to the bland old biscuit.
1881- Clara Barton convened the first meeting of the American Red Cross as a branch of the International Red Cross.
1885- The pieces of the Statue of Liberty leave for the U.S. I wonder if the crates said "Some Assembly Required"? .The sculptor, Felix Bartholdi was requested to do something so that “Liberty does not leave France”, so he a made a smaller copy of the lady that is placed on the Seine facing westward. She and the Liberty in New York are facing one other.
1878- Mr. D.A. Buck of Waterbury Conn. received a patent for a low cost mass produced watch. Within a few years he was selling half a million Waterbury Watches a year at $3.50 each.
1892- Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci" debuts at La Scala.
1906 - Louis H Perlman patents a de-mountable tire carrying rim for cars.
1908 - 1st horror movie “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” premiered in Chicago.
1914 - Greyhound Bus Co begins in Minnesota.
1916 - Britain begins "Summer Time" Daylight Savings Time. The US adopted the system in the 1930s.
1921- LEOPOLD & LOEB- Two preppie millionaire's sons who were pumped up on Nietzches theory of the superman decided to commit the perfect murder. They lured Loeb's 15 year old cousin into their car, bludgeoned him to death with a chisel then had lunch. Despite their confidence in their superior intellects they were quickly indentified and tried for murder. The rich families hired famed social-progressive lawyer Clarence Darrow for the defense. He made no attempt to prove their innocence but got them off on a life sentence. In 1936 Loeb was cut up with a razor while trying to rape another prisoner, Leopold was paroled in 1958 and died in 1971. The pointless cold bloodedness of the murder today would seem like just another Jerry Springer show, but it horrified 1920's America. F.Scott Fitzgerald said the Jazz Age lost some of it's innocent fun after Leopold & Loeb.
1921- The Soviet Army re-conquered Chechnya. They had been conquered in Czarist times but after the Revolution tried to break free. The Red Army came back, executed their Imam Godzhink and reasserted the rule of Moscow. The Chechens rose again in 1991 and were put down after a bloody war.
1922- On the Road to Moscow , the first political cartoon to win a Pulitzer prize. The cartoonist Rollin Kirby, was passionate about Prohibition. He had a regular character to extol temperance named Mr. Dry. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 Kirby killed off Mr. Dry in print.
1927-LINDBERGH- Charles Lindbergh-Lucky Lindy, The Lone Eagle, etc. reaches a field outside Paris called Le Bourget after flying nonstop across the Atlantic. There was no such thing as an auto-pilot yet, so he had to stay awake and alert for 55 hours straight. His fatigue would have let him crash, if the gremlin ghoulies he was hallucinating hadn’t kept him company. As soon as he was sighted over Paris, huge searchlights were beamed on his plane. The light temporarily blinded him so that he almost crashed. As he landed people swarmed around the whirring propeller, narrowly missing another tragedy. But Lindy was safe and history made. He said he had never been to Europe and had wanted to see the sights, but almost immediately he was whisked by battleship back to the U.S. for tumultuous ovations and parades.
1945- BOGEY LOVES BABY-Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall on a friend’s farm in Ohio. He was 48 and she was 21. Her real name was Betty Persky, but she passed for WASP. So when the publicity photographers came, they were under strict instructions from Jack Warner to frame out of the shots Bacall’s more Jewish-looking relatives.
1945- The remaining barracks of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp were destroyed with U.S. Army flamethrowers.
1952- Actor John Garfield died. Some say he died in the midst of wild fornication; in truth he died alone of alcohol abuse at 40. The matinee idol of “The Postman Rings Twice” and “Kid Galahad” was too politically left for the conservative postwar age. When a young stage actor he had run guns to the IRA, later he supported progressive union movements, anti-fascism and desegregation. His outspoken politics got him blacklisted in Hollywood, his friends deserted him and he was ruined.
1952- Famed writer Lillian Hellman testified before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee HUAC but refused to name names. “I cannot cut my conscience to fit the fashions of the day.” She escaped a contempt of Congress wrap but she was blacklisted and at one point was reduced to working in a department store.
1968- Future President George W. Bush graduated Yale with a C average.
1972- A Hungarian lunatic shouting I am Jesus Christ attacked Michelangelo’s statue La Pieta with a hammer. He is the reason why today we can only enjoy this beautiful sculpture from behind 3 inch thick bulletproof glass.
1979 - Elton John becomes 1st western rocker to perform live in USSR.
1980 – Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back" premiered.
1983 - David Bowie's "Let's "Dance," single goes #1. The tracks featured a then little know guitarist named Stevie-Ray Vaughn.
1991- Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi was blown up by a suicide bomber girl carrying a bomb in a bunch of flowers. She was believed to be one of the Tamil Tiger separatists.
1992- Tonight Show host Johnny Carson did his last show “I bid you a very heartfelt goodnight.” Johnny spent his remaining years in privacy, even ignoring an invitation to appear at the NBC 75th anniversary spectacular.
2011- An 89 year old California preacher named Harold Camping caused a sensation in the U.S. when he declared today would be the Rapture, the Christian version of the End of the World. If you’re reading this, it means it didn’t happen.
Yesterday’s Question: What is a Sybil?
Answer: The Sybil of Cumae was a prophetess to the Romans like the Greek Oracle of Apollo. The Sybil gave Romulus the Books of Sybilline Verse, called by Romans the History of the Future. She was mortal but a thousand years old. That’s because when she agreed to sleep with Apollo, she asked to live as many years as grains of sand in her hand. But she neglected to ask for eternal youth. So Apollo let her wither away.