BACK to Blog Posts

April 09, 2009 thurs
April 9th, 2009

Quiz: What is a Pentathelete?

Yesterdays quiz answered below: Who was the first president to travel out of the country while still in office?
History for 4/9/2009
Birthdays: Tartar conquerer Timur the Lame called Tamurlane, Vladimir Ulyanov called Lenin, Paul Robeson, Jean Paul Belmondo, Dennis Quaid, Ward Bond, Seve Balesteros, Carl Perkins, Michael Learned, Tom Lehrer, Paula Poundstone, Cynthia Nixon, Hugh Hefner is 83, Elle Fanning is 11

999 AD.- Sylvester II made pope, the first Frenchman. He reformed the way Popes were selected by organizing the College of Cardinals. Before that Popes were selected out of infighting between several leading Roman families. Tradition also says Sylvester was a sorcerer because he experimented with the medicinal properties of herbs and is credited with inventing the pendulum clock.

1241-MONGOLS ! BATTLE OF LEIGNITZ- The son of Genghis Khan, Ogodai, had dispatched four armies –one to China, one to Korea and one to Europe, the fourth was pushing south through Baghdad, Egypt and Palestine. This would complete his father’s master plan for world conquest This day the Mongol horde of Subotai ,Vuldai and Paidar clashed with the cream of East European knighthood on a plain in Poland.

Since they had burned Baghdad and killed the Caliph at first the western kings thought the Mongols were the magical knights of Prester John come from Cathay to save Christendom, but after they had destroyed Moscow, Budapest and Kracow the alarm spread. The Kings of England, France and even Norway prepared for the attack. This was the first meeting of the Mongols and Western Knights. The Kings of Poland and Bohemia were there as well as the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the Holy Orders of the Teutonic Knights and Livonian Sword Brothers.

The Mongols slaughtered them all easily. Paidar sent back to his overlord Batu Khan nine sacks of left ears taken from the slain, and King Henry of Bohemia’s head on a spear.

The only reason the Horde didn’t continue on to Paris and London as planned, was back in Mongolia the Great Khan Ogodai died. Since the Mongol Empire was never more than an enlarged tribal system, all Mongol elders had to stop everything they were doing and return home to Karakorum for a council -the Grand Kurlutai Then the Mongols left Europe as mysteriously as they had arrived.

1747- Famed British actor David Garrick signed a contract to take over the management of London’s Drury Lane Theatre.

1778- In Paris the philosopher Voltaire is initiated into the Masonic Order of the Nine Sisters on the arm of his friend, Benjamin Franklin.

1780- George Washington wrote the American emissary in Paris Richard Lawrence about our chances of winning the American Revolution:” We here are at the end of our tether. If we do not receive help soon all will be lost.”

1812- THE SACK OF BADAJOZ-The Duke of Wellington’s English army storms into a Spanish city held by Napoleons French forces. The battle typified the ferocity of the war in Spain. The French and pro-French Spaniards dropped explosives and rocks on the heads of the attacking English and imbedded the tops of their walls with broken glass and knife blades. The loss of life was so ghastly that when the redcoats finally breached the cities defenses they went berserk- looting, raping, and killing the civilian population. This is when Wellington called his men scum. Wellington always went through a depressed state after a battle, even his victories. At one point grizzled old General Sir Thomas Picton noticed Wellington weeping.”My God Arthur, what the devil are you blubbering on about?” was his reaction.

1859- Mark Twain received his Mississippi riverboat pilot’s license.

1865- APPOMATTOX COURTHOUSE, THE END OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR. Robert E. Lee surrenders the remains of his Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses Grant ( just 11,000 men from an 1863 peak of 70,000). Grant had had a migraine headache all morning until he received the note from Lee requesting terms. Grant’s staff understood that Lee’s note meant the end of the greatest cataclysm in U.S. history. One staff officer called for three cheers, but the men could only manage one weak hurrah, then all broke down in tears. All realized that at last, the killing was truly over.

Robert E. Lee arrived wearing his best dress uniform, Grant rode in from the field wearing an old muddy private’s jacket. Grant recalled when they met during the Mexican War, but Lee didn’t remember him. Grant kept making small talk, until Lee brought them back to the business at hand. Grant’s secretary was a Seneca Indian named Captain Ely Parker. Lee paused to say ”I’m glad there’s at least one real American here.”

The house they met in was owned by a man named Wilbur McClean, who moved his family for Bull Run to Appomattox to get away from the fighting. He managed to keep his belongings safe for four years of war. Now, after Lee and Grant left the historic meeting, the officers looted his place for souvenirs, George Custer riding off with the little surrender table perched on his head.

1914- THE TAMPICO INCIDENT- In the port of Vera Cruz a shore party from the USN gunboat Tampico was arrested by Mexican authorities while getting supplies. They were soon released and the Mexican Government apologized. But the US Admiral Mayo then demanded the Mexicans give the Stars & Stripes a 21 gun salute. The Mexican army said they would if the USN did the same salute to the Mexican flag. Washington didn’t want to do this, because it would have meant the US recognized the dictatorship of General Huerta, who had overthrown the legally elected President Madero. So instead, the US attacked Vera Cruz on April 21st, 20 Americans and 200 Mexicans killed. A newspaper at the time commented:” I can’t believe we almost went to war over some points of diplomatic etiquette!”

1914- The first all color film” The World, The Flesh and the Devil” premiered in London.

1917- Shortly after declaring war on Germany President Woodrow Wilson was confronted by old former President Teddy Roosevelt, who volunteered to lead a new regiment of volunteer Rough Riders into the World War One trenches. Wilson said thanks but no thanks. At the same time he also declined an offer from Annie Oakley to lead a company of lady sharpshooters into combat “Oakley’s Amazons”.

1942- Black opera star Marian Anderson gives her concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to an audience of 75,000. She was snubbed from giving a recital at the Daughters of the American Revolution Hall which caused a furious Eleanor Roosevelt to resign from the DAR and arrange this concert.

1948- Variety columnist Ben Mortimer had been needling Frank Sinatra for his advocacy of liberal causes. He accused Old Blue Eyes of draft-dodging and hinted maybe he had pro-Communist sympathies. This day Sinatra responded by meeting Mortimer in front of Ciro's restaurant on Sunset Blvd and punched his lights out.

1951- The day before he fired General Douglas MacArthur- President Harry Truman secretly sent to Korea five unassembled atomic bombs. These were to be armed and used if only the situation looked totally hopeless. They were never used .

1953- The first issue of the T.V. Guide.

1959- NASA introduced the first seven astronauts to the public: Donald Slayton, Alan Shepard, Walter Schirra, Virgil Grissom, John Glenn, Leroy " Gordo" Cooper, and Malcolm Carpenter- all military test pilots instead of scientists.

1965- Mickey Mantle hits the first indoor home run as the Astrodome opens with an exhibition game with the Astros hosting the Yankees. President Lyndon Johnson was supposed to throw out the first pitch but arrived late. Phillie catcher Bob Boone commented about the Astrodome "This is a tough yard for a hitter when the air conditioning is blowing in.."

1966-actress Sophia Loren married producer Carlo Ponti, with whom she had been living with for a decade, but not allowed to marry, because Catholics did not allow divorce from their previous spouses.

1974- Ray Kroc the founder of MacDonalds Restaurants was the owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team. After yet another sorry performance, losing 8-0, Kroc stormed over to the broadcast booth, grabbed the mike and out loud apologized to San Diego fans for his teams lousy playing” You Guys Stink!” Despite this morale boost, the Padres eventually did win championship pennants and get to the World Series.

1975- As North Vietnamese armies approached the South Vietnamese capitol of Saigon, President Gerald Ford issued an advisory to all Americans to evacuate the country.

1991- The last Horn & Hardardt Automat was closed on 42nd St in Manhattan. Philadelphia restauranters Joseph Horn and William Hardart saw German experiments in mass market automated restaurants, and imported the equipment to start one in Philadelphia in 1902.

1999- NATO planes bombed the Serbian factory that made the economy car the Yugo. Car enthusiasts rejoiced.

2003- Baghdad fell to invading US and British armies.

2004- Archaeologists in Cyprus discover a 9,000 year old grave of a New Stone Age man. In his arms is the remains of a kitten. This is the oldest evidence of man domesticating cats. So rest in peace- Gronk and Fluffy.

2005- Prince Charles wed Lady Camilla Parker-Bowles, his mistress of thirty years. They were not allowed to marry in Saint George’s Chapel in Windsor, the Queen avoided the ceremony and his father didn’t feel like interrupting his trip to Germany; and because of a delay to respect Pope John Paul II’s funeral, all the commemorative cups and dishes have the wrong date on them. Among the thirty invited guests, were Mrs. Bowles divorced husband.

2008- Stuntman Rupert MacDonald built a full size Viking ship out of popsicle sticks. 15 million to be precise.
Yesterday’s Quiz: Who was the first president to travel out of the country while still in office?

Answer: Teddy Roosevelt traveled down to inspect the Panama Canal dig in 1904. Woodrow Wilson traveled to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919.