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October 13, 2023
October 13th, 2023

Question: In the Middle Ages they called the drink Aqua-Vitae, the Water of Life. What do we call it today?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: “In Flanders Fields the poppies grow….” Where is Flanders?
History for 10/13/2023
Birthdays: Revolutionary War hero Mary Ludwig nicknamed Molly Pitcher, Lily Langtry-the Jersey Lilly, Lenny Bruce, Larraine Day, Nipsy Russell, Cornel Wilde, Margaret Thatcher, Herblock, Yves Montand, Nancy Kerrigan, Sammy Hagar, Marie Osmond, Kelly Preston, Chris Carter, Paul Simon is 82, Sascha Baron-Cohen is 51

HAPPY FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH- A Friday, the day Adam died and Jesus was crucified, combined with the number thirteen- Judas Iscariot is called the Thirteenth Apostle, and the Vikings considered wicked Loki the Thirteenth God. So today is considered an unlucky combination. But you have a Lucky Day!

539BC- The Persian armies of Cyrus the Great captured the city of Babylon, beginning the Persian Empire, which would last for a thousand years. Cyrus also allowed the Israelites to return home, ending their Babylonian Captivity. Cyrus is one of the few foreign kings the Old Testament has anything nice to say about.

54AD- Elderly Roman Emperor Claudius died from eating poisoned mushrooms served to him by his wife Agrippina. Another account has him vomiting out the mushrooms, so Agrippina administered to him an herbal enema which she also poisoned. This way she ensured her boy Nero would be emperor before Claudius could come to his senses about making that fat little monster his heir. Later as emperor Nero, had his mom killed.
Robert Graves wrote that Claudius feigned simple-mindedness but many Romans felt it wasn’t an act. It was the custom when a Roman emperor died to deify him, make him a god. The writer Seneca thought it would be embarrassing for the gods to have a dolt like Claudius among their company. He wrote an epic poem on the subject called the 'Pumpkinification of Claudius”.

1269- Henry III's rebuilding of Westminster Abbey completed, the bones of St. Edward the Confessor were re-interred.

1307- MASSACRE of the TEMPLARS- The Knights Templar were an order of warrior monks named for their Crusader base at the site of the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem. After the Crusades, while the Knights of St John Hospitaler continued to fight Muslims in Greece and Malta, the Templars settled back in Europe and went into banking. They amassed great wealth all tax-free because it was Church property. This annoyed kings like Britain’s Edward I and France’s Phillip the Fair. So, this day Phillip bribed the Pope to declare the entire Templar Order heretics and burned at the stake. As the Templar Grand Master Jacques De Molay was roasting at the stake, he called out to the king through the flames,”Phillip de Valois! I charge YOU to stand with me before the throne of GOD one year from today to answer for your crimes!” Molay died, but the Curse of the Grand Master had its effect. Later in the year King Phillip did indeed decline from a wasting disease and die. (Guizot, Histoire de France)

Myths abound about the Templars having bizarre rituals and secrets like the location of the Holy Grail, but most of it was made up by the Inquisitors to frame them. But one neat idea they brought back from the Middle East was the personal check. This way a Templar Knight could cross international borders without carrying heavy bags of gold, then go to the nearest Templar castle and redeem a note with his signet on it for money.

1590- Chief Powhatan, head of a confederation of Algonquian tribes in the Chesapeake Bay area, wiped out a Spanish Jesuit colony attempting to set up on his beach. He had heard from the Seminoles in Florida what these metal clad palefaces were capable of. Nineteen years later in 1607 another annoying bunch of English palefaces landed on his beach, but this time Powhatan was curious about these ones, especially when one started dating his daughter Pocahontas.

1670- The Virginia Colony passed a law that Negroes brought from Africa who proved to be Christians could not be kept as slaves. That law was repealed a year later.

1685- French King Henry IV had ended a long period of religious wars by granting freedom of worship with the Edict of Nantes. Later King Louis XIV decided Henry was a knucklehead and all Frenchmen should be Catholic, so this day he revoked the Edict of Nantes. This drove many French Protestants (Huguenots) to Canada, England, and America. In Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne 1690, there were as many expatriate French Protestants and Catholics shooting each other as Irish and Brits.

1768- THE BIRTH OF YANKEE DOODLE- The first written evidence of the song being played, this day by a British army band at a harvest festival in the Hudson Valley. The song means Yankee Doodle- American Dummy... “ stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni" A macaroni was English slang then for someone dressed in the latest Italian fashions, hence a dandy. That just because the Yankee sticks a feather in his hat, he thinks he is a gentleman. Later in the Revolution the song meant to lampoon Americans was adopted by the rebels and played with pride at the British while they were laying down their arms at Yorktown and Saratoga.

1792- Cornerstone of the White House set. First called the President’s Palace, later the Executive Mansion, it was modeled by James Hoban after the Irish estate house of the Duke of Leinster. Instead of a chaplain, President George Washington had Masters of the Masonic Rite sanctify the building with their secret rituals. The mansion took 8 years to build. Constant problems halted construction like when the workers went on strike when the government closed down their on-site brothel. A compromise was made to move it off site.
When President John Adams moved in in 1800 it still wasn't finished, plus Washington took all the furniture with him. Abigail Adams hung her wash in the East Room because of the nice breeze. It wasn't until after the British torched the place in 1814 did it receive it's first coat of whitewash. The Oval Office wasn't built until Truman's time in 1947.

1812- Battle of Queenstown Heights. First major battle of the War of 1812. It cost the life of the brilliant young British General Issac Brock, but he saved Canada from the invading United States.

1815- Joachim Murat shot by firing squad. Marshal Murat was France's bravest cavalry leader. A wild bon-vivant, he would "ride to the sound of the guns" dressed in peacock feathers and gaudy uniforms, but amazingly was never harmed. Trying to regain the throne Napoleon gave him in Naples, his luck finally gave out when the Neapolitans put him up against the wall. His last words were:" AIM FOR THE HEART! DON'T TOUCH MY FACE!!"

1843- Bnai’ Brith, the oldest Jewish benevolent organization, was founded in New York by Henry Jones. It means “Sons of the Covenant”.

1845- Texans vote to accept annexation into the United States.

1857- Wall Street has yet another financial panic and crash.

1903- Victor Herbert’s operetta Babes in Toyland premiered.

1904- Sigmund Freud's book 'The Interpretation of Dreams" first published.

1918- BATTLE OF THE COTES DU CHATILLON- During the American offensive to break the German lines in World War I, the Cotes Du Chatillon was a hilltop studded with fortifications, machine guns and barbed wire fields up to 25 feet wide. General Pershing called his cocky young “Boy Colonel” Douglas MacArthur and said “MacArthur! Take the Cotes Du Chatillon or hand me a list of 5,000 casualties!” MacArthur replied:” I’ll take the hill or my name shall top the list!”
This day, MacArthur personally led his Rainbow Division over the top without a gun or helmet, just a riding crop and his West Point varsity sweater. His doughboys captured the hill, but at such a frightful cost that MacArthur for years could not speak of it without tears. In his campaigns in World War II MacArthur became good at outmaneuvering enemy strong points to avoid high casualties.

1938- RKO Pictures was having a salary dispute with their singing cowboy Gene Autry. So, they cast around for another handsome cowpoke. Today they signed a Cincinnati born dentist from a vocal group called the Sons of the Pioneers named Leonard Slye. He became a star with the film “Under Western Skies” under his new name- Roy Rogers.

1947- Kukla, Fran & Ollie debuted on television. Burt Tillstrom was the creator and puppeteer, and Fran was his wife.

1964- Mary Pinchot Mayer was a Washington DC socialite, artist, and the sister-in-law to Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. On this day she was murdered while strolling a Georgetown footpath at noon. A black homeless person was accused of the murder, but later acquitted. Her sister took her diary to the CIA office of counterintelligence. It was said her diary admitted a long affair with President John F. Kennedy and claimed that on two occasions she and JFK smoked marijuana in the White House.
At this time his brother Robert Kennedy was still Attorney General. The diary was never seen again. Was it an FBI, CIA hit? Many women claimed President Kennedy as a lover. Judith Cambell-Exner claimed to be schtupping the Prez and the head of the Chicago Mafia at the same time, yet she lived to a merry old age. Mary Pinchot Mayer’s killer has never been found.

1970- Black activist Angela Davis was arrested on suspicion she smuggled guns to a Black Panther group so they could stage a shootout with California police. The evidence was thin and it was more about the Berkeley professor’s radical political philosophy that got her arrested. Back you need more than just suspicion to lock somebody up in the Good Old US of A, so Angela Davis was acquitted after a long, very public trial.

1973- During the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Egypt, this day saw the largest mass tank battle since World War II. While Egyptian SAM anti-aircraft missiles kept away the Israeli air force, two thousand tanks, more than was at the Battle of the Bulge, twisted, turned, and blasted each other in the Sinai Desert. They didn’t have to aim, they could look out their gun barrel and see their opponent as close as 100 yards apart. Today, urban warfare and improved shoulder-held rockets have made tanks increasingly irrelevant.

1978- Mickey Mouse gets his star on Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame.

1982- The computer spreadsheet program Lotus 1-2-3 introduced.

1988- Scientists declared the Shroud of Turin a high-quality medieval forgery. Even the Vatican was curious whether the thing was genuine or not. In 2010 another study also concluded it was a forgery. But many persist in the belief that the Shroud is the real burial cloth of Jesus, with an imprint of his body left by the heat of the Resurrection, like some kind of miraculous Xerox copy.

1993- The Nightmare Before Christmas premiered. Directed by Henry Selick. Based on a three page poem Tim Burton wrote in the 80s while a bored Disney staff animator.

2016 – Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Yesterday’s Question: “In Flanders Fields the poppies grow….” Where is Flanders?

Answer: Flanders is a province of Belgium.