BACK to Blog Posts

Jan. 30, 2023
January 30th, 2023

Quiz: What European country came into being as a result of the Brabant Revolution of 1830-31?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: What is the origin of the term “a podunk town”?
History for 1/30/2023
Birthdays: Barbara Tuchman, Walt “Moose” Dropo, Olaf Palme, Dick Martin, Louis S. Rukeyser, Dorothy Malone, Boris Spassky, John Ireland, Douglas Englebart, Phil Collins, Vanessa Redgrave is 86, Gene Hackman is 93, Christian Bale is 49, Former VP Dick Cheney is 83

1649- KING CHARLES I of ENGLAND BEHEADED-The Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell condemns the King "That man of Blood" and abolished the English monarchy. As Charles laid his head upon the block he said:" I go from a corruptible crown to one which is Incorruptible." -Splat!
Cromwell’s government worried that if the identity of the headsman Richard Brandon was ever found out avengers may harm his family. They kept the secret so well that his name for a time was lost to history. In Alexander Dumas' sequel to “The Three Musketeers”, he makes the executioner to be the son of Madame DeWinter and the Duc de Rochefort.

1661- HAVE YOU SEEN OLIVER CROMWELL'S HEAD? English dictator General Oliver Cromwell died of natural causes in 1658. After the restoration of the British monarchy, The King’s sheriffs exhumed Cromwell’s body and exacted revenge by beheading it, and placing the head on London Bridge, where criminals are usually exhibited. A mob joyfully bounced around the rest of the corpse and threw it in the Thames.
After a year, the head fell off it's spike and rolled around on the ground. A priest took it home and sold it to a travelling circus. Eventually it was donated to Cambridge University, to whom Oliver Cromwell had been a benefactor. The college interred it but will not divulge where.

1790- Sir Malcolm Greathead invented the lifeboat.

1835- THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ASSASINATION ATTEMPT –An unemployed house painter named Richard Lawrence who thought he was King Richard III, emerged from a crowd in the lobby of the House of Representatives and fired two pistols at President Andrew Jackson. They both miss. Jackson, an old army man who already carried around two lead bullets in his body from Indian fights and duels, was so outraged that he grabbed Lawrence and started drubbing him on the head with his silver tipped cane. He beat him so badly that the police had the strange task of saving the assassin from his intended victim.

1862- John Ericsson’s radical design for an all-ironclad ship, the USS Monitor, was launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1889- THE MAYERLING AFFAIR-Archduke Rudolf Von Hapsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, committed suicide with his mistress, Bavarian baroness Maria Vestera. Rudolf was already married, and even if he could divorce, he could never marry so below his rank. Some say that there was more intrigue to it, that German statesman Otto Von Bismarck had Rudolf murdered because Rudolph planned on challenging Berlin’s hold over German unity, but that theory is a longshot. His family felt Rudolf was an emotionally troubled man, who finally found a girl dumb enough to follow him in his suicide pact. The Baroness had taken poison and then Rudolf had blown his brains out. Austrian funerary makeup artists worked overtime to make the Archduke's shattered face fit for an open casket wake. His mother the Empress Elizabeth refused to go: "I won't go see that thing! It's head is made of wax!"

1894-Charles King of Detroit patented the pneumatic jackhammer.

1917- During WWI, The German General Staff gambled that resuming unrestricted U-boat warfare would economically destroy England and win even if it angered the United States enough to declare war. Admiral Keppel told the Kaiser that even if the United States did enter the war, they could never get enough soldiers across the Atlantic to accomplish anything. “The threat from America is less than nothing. Nothing!”

1931- The Premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights at the Los Angeles Theater. Albert Einstein came as his guest. Later at a dance at the Biltmore Hotel, writer Herman Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane, Duck Soup) got into a drunken fistfight with producer David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind, Rebecca). You’ll never eat turtle-soup in this town again!

1933- HI-YO SILVER!! The Lone Ranger debuted on radio. The Masked Man was invented by the WXYZ Detroit station owner George Trendle and writer Fran Striker with absolutely no experience of cowboys or Indians. They just wanted a hero like Zorro with a strict moral code. He was later voiced by actor William Conrad who did the Rocky & Bullwinkle narration and the TV series Cannon.

1934- Artist Salvador Dali married Gala.

1933- ADOLF HITLER TAKES POWER. After a general election President Von Hindenberg was forced to appoint the Nazi Party leader Chancellor. Hindenberg had earlier growled” Chancellor? I’ll make him a postmaster so he could lick stamps with my face on it!” But he was forced to give in. Germans were fed up with skyrocketing inflation and political anarchy, so they voted for the little man with the Charlie Chaplin mustache.
The Nazis didn’t win by a landslide vote, it was a 37-42% majority, with the rest divided among splinter parties. The German Army at first didn’t cooperate with the Nazis. Their real power came when Hitler made a bargain with the major German corporations like Krupp, Seimans, Bayer and Daimler to take the ‘socialist” out of National Socialists and arrest all communists, unions and other bad-for-business types. All this was applauded by big business in the US like JP Morgan, Chase and Hearst who floated loans to Germany. With their new corporate clout, the Nazis quickly called a new election to gain an overwhelming parliamentary majority in the Reichstag.
After ancient President Hindenberg died in 1934 the Reichstag voted dictatorial powers to Hitler, making him Der Fuehrer.

1943- At Stalingrad, as the freezing remains of the German 6th Army were wiped out by superior Soviet forces, this day Berlin received the last radio message from Field Marshal Von Paulus’ headquarters in the basement of a bombed out department store:” Russians at the door. We are preparing to destroy the radios. We are preparing……”

1945- As the Red Army pushed the borders of the Third Reich back into Germany the German populations of isolated Baltic cities like Memel, Riga and Konigsberg tried to escape by sea. It was a Nazi Dunkirk, evacuations with ships full of people being bombed and strafed from the air. This day a large ship named the Wilhelm Gustoff was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. 1,500 people died on the Titanic, 7,700 people drowned in the frigid waters from the Wilhelm Gustoff- the most deaths ever in one sea disaster.

1946- The first US dimes with Franklin Roosevelt on the head were issued.

1948- At Birla House, 78 year old Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was shot three times in the chest by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse while walking to morning prayers.

1956- Elvis Presley recorded Blue Suede Shoes.

1958- Britain’s House of Lords admitted women for the first time.

1960- For years after the making of Fantasia, critics had pondered Igor Stravinsky's cryptic reaction to Disney's portrayal of his "Rite of Spring". Disney publicity said he was "speechless with admiration!" Today in a Saturday Review article, Stravinsky said Stokowski's editing of his music was 'execrable' and the visuals "an unresisting imbecility". His opinion still didn't stop him from selling the studio film the rights to several other of his pieces including "The Firebird' in 1942. Igor needed the cash.

1961-Hanna-Barbera’s The Yogi Bear Show premiered. The other sections were Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle.

1963- MIT grad student Ivan Sutherland published his thesis Sketchpad, the first animation software. For the first time, a computer could draw lines instead of just numbers. When students at the University of Utah like Ed Catmull, Nolan Bushnell and Jim Blinn were learning about CGI. The first thing they were asked to read was Sutherland’s Sketchpad. Everything from Woody & Buzz, Avatar, Groot and Mortal Combat results.

1969- The rock band the Beatles last public appearance as a group. They tried to do a free concert in the London streets but were banned by police for fear of congestion and noise complaints. So they withdrew to a rooftop above their recording studio at 3. Savile RD. and played anyway. John Lennon ended the concert by saying: ‘Thank you very much on behalf of the band and myself, and I hope we passed the audition.”

1972- BLOODY SUNDAY- British troops attempting to quell Irish sectarian riots in the poor neighborhoods of Londonderry fired into a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing 14 and wounding dozens more. British authorities attempted a spin by saying the troops were responding to perceived snipers, but no evidence of any snipers was ever proven. None of the soldiers were ever disciplined for their actions. The incident outraged world opinion and angered the Irish Republic.

1973- White House operatives G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted of burglary in the Watergate break in. President Nixon hoped sacrificing these two small fish would end the investigation. It didn’t. Liddy did some jail time, and today is a highly paid conservative radio talk show host.

1976- George H. W. Bush Sr. became head of the CIA. Poppy Bush revived the organization which had been wracked by scandal after the Frank Church Congressional Committee revealed details of the Allende coup in Chile, overseas assassination, illegal surveillance of Americans and schemes to put chemicals in Fidel Castro’s food to make his beard fall out.

2001- Shortly after becoming president, George W. Bush held the first meeting of his National Security Council. Secty of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secty Paul O’Neill were shocked when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condy Rice immediately start talking about how to invade Iraq and replace Saddam Hussein. Nine months before 9-11.

2002- President George W. Bush Jr. saluted his Vice President Dick Cheney on his birthday by saying “You are the best Vice President this country has ever had!” He may have forgotten that his own father was also once vice president. I’m sure his mom reminded him about that later.
Yesterday’s question: What is the origin of the term “a podunk town”?

Answer: In the 1920s, famed Broadway composer Irving Berlin (White Christmas) liked to visit friends in Kentucky and take in the Kentucky Derby. When there, he would sometimes stay near a small rural town called Podunk Junction. The locals used the name as a joke for a backward rube. Back in New York City, Irving Berlin’s use of the phrase spread through NY high society. It became popular slang in the 20’s to call someone or something backward and ignorant as “Podunk”.