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February 14, 2013 Valentines Day
February 14th, 2013

Quiz: Which modern country was never part of the old Roman Empire? Ireland, Armenia, Jordan, Portugal, Morocco?

Answer to yesterdays question below: In Renaissance history, what was a Landsknecht?
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History for 2/14/2013
Birthdays: Joshua Norton aka Joshua Ist Emperor of the United States 1819, Jack Benny- real name Benjamin Koubeilsky, Frederick Douglas, Christopher Latham Scholes- inventor of the typewriter, George Washington Ferris inventor of the Ferris Wheel, Pier Francesco Cavalli, Jimmy Hoffa, Vic Morrow, Skeezix Wallet (character in Gasoline Alley comic strip), Gregory Hines, Ignaz Friedman, Thelma Ritter, Carl Andersen, Hugh Downs, Jim Kelly, Florence Henderson, Meg Tilly, Alan Parker,
Margaret Knight the inventor of the flat bottom paper bag still in use in supermarkets today. The character Lara Croft, 1967.

Happy Valentines Day!

This holiday was originally the Roman fertility festival LUPERCALIA, when the young men of Rome wearing olive oil and not much else, would run through the streets waving oak branches over the heads of young girls to inspire fertility. Then they would all go to the orgy.

Keeping with the custom of the early Church to sanctify pagan holidays with saints days-. Pope Gelasius Ist decided to rename the holiday for St.Valentine, who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus in 295 A.D.. The olive oil and the orgy was out, but tradition has it that Valentine in prison kept communicating with his flock by writing little notes and tossing them through the bars.. These notes or "Valentines" fused with the romance notion of the old Roman party and became a custom for lovers as early as the 14th century.

44BC- After years of Civil War Gaius Julius Caesar was now master of Rome. He kept most of the institutions of the Roman Republic but declared himself Dictator and Consul for life. He had been heard to say “the Republic is just a word, without real substance”. People wondered if he was out to make himself king. The concept of a King was hateful to most Romans, regardless of their political apathy.

This day at a Lupercalia celebration one of his biggest brown-nosing lieutenants, Marc Antony, publicly tried to put a crown on Caesar’s head. Caesar refused it twice. Instead of popular enthusiasm, this gesture alarmed many. A conspiracy formed to kill Caesar led by Marcus Brutus, a descendant of Junius Brutus the founder of the republic, and Gaius Cassius Longinus, who had fought for Pompey against Caesar.

Today in the Orthodox calendar is the Feast of Saint’s Cyril and Methodius, the “Apostles to the Slavs”, who created the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet out of Greek and Hebrew characters.

1779- Captain James Cook was killed and eaten by angry Hawaiian natives after an argument over hostages. Despite heavy attack the shore party rallied and fought their way back to the longboats thanks to their second in command, ensign William Bligh, the future Captain Bligh of the Bounty.

1797- Battle of Cape St. Vincent. The British Navy under Admiral Jervis defeated a Spanish fleet off the coast of Portugal. Admiral Nelson was there in support.

1814 Battle of Vauchamps. Napoleon beats Marshal Blucher and his invading Prussian army. Blucher was called Old Fowvarts (Forward) because that was his favorite order.

1824- KING CAUCUS- Just in case you wished for a more innocent time in American politics, consider this election. A group of powerful Congressmen of the dominant Whig party tried to predetermine that the next president would be easy to control by nominating William Crawford, who was blind and paralyzed from a stoke. Remember in those days of poor communications most citizens would never even see a President except for an artist's picture in a newspaper.

The scheme was foiled and John Quincy Adams was elected president, even though more people voted for Andrew Jackson. This was done via another scheme hatched with Henry Clay that had manipulated entire states into his camp when not one soul had voted for him, then traded them to Adams for the Secretary of State job.
The later angry public outrage over "King Caucus" led to liberalization of the election process. Jackson easily defeated Adams re-election bid in 1828.

1848- President James Knox Polk is the first president to sit for a photograph. The daguerreotype was taken by a young Matthew Brady.

1859- Oregon became a state.

1870- The first elevated commuter railway was inaugurated in New York City at Greenwich and 9th Ave.

1876- THE TELEPHONE- One of the strangest coincidences in technology history was that two men invented the same device at almost the same moment.

Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell in Boston and Elijah Gray in Chicago were both working on a device to transmit human voices instantaneously over wires. Each knew of the others work and labored furiously to be the first. When Bell was able to get a weak sound of his voice over the wire his sponsor and future father in law Robert Hubbard wanted to file the patent. But Bell procrastinated until he felt it was perfect. Exasperated, Hubbard took the schematics and went to the office to file the patent himself. What he found out later, was he filed the patent barely two hours ahead of Gray in Chicago!

Gray tried to challenge the patent. US courts decided that since Grays attorney had filed a “caveat” to a patent- which meant I’m working on an idea” while Hubbard & Bell filed a patent “I’ve invented the idea”, they awarded the patent to Bell. Elijah Gray still went on to invent more things, founded the Western Electric Company and grew very rich. But Alexander Graham Bell got the credit as inventor of the telephone.

1884- 25 year old Teddy Roosevelt was an up and coming member of the New York State legislature. On this day he received a double shock - both his mother and young wife died on the same day. Shattered, he abandoned his political career and fled to the Badlands of North Dakota to be a rancher and deputy sheriff. He said the landscape was so bleak it "looked like the personification of a poem by Edgar Alan Poe."

1886- Los Angeles began to export its first trainload of oranges back east.

1887- Several leading French intellectuals including Guy DeMauppasant, Balzac and Charles Gounod publish a letter to the President of the Republic begging him not to build the Eiffel Tower.-" A Useless Monstrosity, which even America with it's crazed passion for commerce has the sense to reject! And what if it lasts twenty years ?" There were plans to pull down the tower 1907 but by then it had new use as a wireless radio antenna.

1907- Golden Books incorporated. One of their artists was Gustav Tennegren, who would become the stylist of Walt Disney's Pinnochio.

1917- I.A. Lilly became the first female N.Y. subway train conductor.

1919-THE SPARTACISTS- The government offices in Berlin are seized by Communists. Inspired by the Revolution in Russia they try to declare the Soviet Republic of Germany. They called themselves Spartacists after Spartacus the leader of the slave rebellion against ancient Rome. Right-wing paramilitary private militias called frei-korps led by former Imperial officers entered the city and battle the Bolsheviks for control of the streets. One of the reasons why businessmen in the west were later so cozy with Hitler was their relief that Germany didn’t turn into another Soviet Union.

1920- The League of Women Voters formed.

1927-Alfred Hitchcock’s first suspense film “The Lodger” opened in London.

1929- Dr. Fleming discovered penicillin,

1929- the ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE- Scarface Al Capone's gang dressed as Chicago police round up a bunch of Bugs Moran's hoods at the S.M.C. Cartage Company garage at 2122 North Clark Street and blow them away with tommy guns. Dr Reinhardt Schwimmer, one of the men killed, wasn’t even a mobster but an optometrist who liked to hang out with gangsters to experience life on the edge. The seven men had 200 bullets in them. They even shot their dog. When Moran was asked who he thought had done it, he replied: ”Only Capone kills like that.” Big Al himself was in Key Biscayne Florida having lunch with the Dade County District Attorney.

One of the triggermen was Machine-gun Jack McGurn, but when questioned by police his girlfriend testified he had been in bed with her all that day. Newspapers called her his 'Blonde-Alibi". Machine Gun McGurn was bumped off shortly after.
At the massacre site amazingly one gangster- Joe Duesenberg- lived long enough for police to question. But to the end he wouldn't spill the beans. When asked who shot him full of bullets, he replied:" Nobody!" and died.

1931- Tod Browning's film of the play Dracula, starring Hungarian actor's union organizer and recreational morphine addict Bela Lugosi, premiered.

1939- The German battleship Bismarck christened in Kiel harbor.

1942- Japanese forces attacked Sumatra.

1943- Battle of the Kasserine Pass began- Rommel the Desert Fox gave the U.S. Army in Africa it's baptism by ambushing it in the narrow Kasserine Pass. The only time in WWII American troops broke and ran in panic.

1946-Enniac, the first all electronic circuited computer, started up at the university of Pennsylvania.

1949- The United States charged that the Soviet Union had as many as 14 million people in prison camps in Siberia, called Gulags.

1962- First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a tour to network television cameras of the private living quarters of the White House. It’s the first time most Americans had ever seen the inside of the Executive Mansion. She worked mostly without a script, adding her own details as she went along. The day after the broadcast, Pres. Kennedy called the FCC just to see how here Nielsen ratings were. They were much higher than his speeches ever were.

1965- The Detroit home of black activist Malcolm X was firebombed.

1967- Former kinky pinup model Betty Page married Harry Lear.

1968- Part of the Vietnamese Tet Offensive was the Communists overrunning the old Imperial Capitol of Hue. This day US Marines finally recaptured the cities Imperial citadel after weeks of bitter house to house fighting. The Communist command center was set up in a throne room called the Place of Perpetual Peace.

1979- Digital music composer Walter Carlos, who scored the film A Clockwork Orange, announced he had undergone a sex change and was now Wendy Carlos.

1989- Iranian Imam Ayatollah Khomeni issued a 'fatwah' -death sentence against Pakistani born novelist Salman Rushdi because he considered parts of his book "The Satanic Verses" to an insult to the prophet Mohammed. The fatwah was finally revoked in 2000 by the Supreme Islamic Council ( Iran's equivalent of the Supreme Court ).

1991-Meg Ryan married Dennis Quaid.
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Yesterdays Question: In Renaissance history, what was a Landsknecht?

Answer: Landknechts were German mercenary soldiers who formed the toughest divisions of the Hapsburg Imperial Armies.


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