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June 17, 2014
June 17th, 2014

Question: Years ago cities had cars called Checkers. What were they mostly used for?

Yesterday’s question answered below: Did the events dramatized in the film The Dirty Dozen really happen?
History for 6/17/2014
Birthdays: King Edward Ist "Longshanks", John Wesley the founder of the Methodists, , Wally Wood, Ralph Bellamy, Dean Martin, Barry Manilow, Joe Piscopo is 64, Newt Gingrich, Martin Bormann, Jason Patric, Ken Loach, Greg Kinnear is 51, Venus Williams, Thomas Haden Church is 54, Will Forte is 44

431BC- Battle of Mt. Algidus. Roman general Aulus Postumus Tubertus defeated two Etruscan tribes, the Aeguians and the Volscians.

1745- During one of the periodic wars between England and France, a force of New England colonists captured the fortress of Louisburg, the largest French bastion on the Atlantic coast. It cost 100 colonists’ lives and 900 more during the occupation but, amazingly, England gave the fortress back to France in exchange for a fortress in Madras, India. This was another reason Americans were pissed off about being a colony.

1775-THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL. British troops surrounded in Boston, crossed the harbor to attack an entrenched rebel position on Breeds Hill (the names got confused.). It took the Redcoats three grand assaults until they took the hill, but the rebel farmers, instead of fleeing like rabbits, shot them to pieces. Captain Israel Putnam advised his men,” Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes, then aim low.” The minutemen only retreated when their ammunition ran low.

The battle exacted such a huge cost in soldiers’ lives that the British public was shocked (1,000 casualties out of 2,040 men). Based on America's lukewarm participation in the French and Indian War a decade past, had not the great General Wolf of Quebec labeled the American the "Worst Soldier in the Universe"? and General Gage once told his friend, George Washington," New Englanders are big boasters and worst soldiers. I never saw any as infamously bad." The English generals consoled themselves with the thought that it couldn't have been the Yankees that fought so well, but all the Irish and Scottish immigrants that had arrived recently.

Lexington and Concord could be dismissed as an extended civilian disturbance, but Bunker Hill convinced London that it now had a full-scale war to fight 3,000 ocean miles away.

1789- French King Louis XVI had convened an Estates General to solve the bankrupt economy. The body consisted of three branches- the First Estate-Nobility, 2nd – Clergy and Third Estate the common people- about 99% of the country. This day after much debate the Third Estate voted to declare itself the real representative will of the French people and as such they should legislate for them, King or no.

They renamed themselves the National Assembly. Two days later most of the poor clergy and some nobles like Lafayette voted to join them and when the King ordered them to disband on June 20th they moved to the tennis court. This was the political beginning of the French Revolution.

1815- Heavy Spring rains cancel any actions as the British and French armies converge on a little village outside Brussels called Waterloo. Thunder and lightning drowned out the sound of cannon. The English were optimistic because by coincidence every major victory of the Duke of Wellington was preceded by a strong thunderstorm.

The Prussian (German) army, beaten and driven off yesterday, regroups and turns around to join the English. Its commander was eccentric, 72-year-old Marshal Blucher. In the previous day's battle Blucher had a horse collapse on top of him and was trampled by French cavalry. But after bathing his limbs in brandy and swallowing a large schnapps he was back at the head of his troops bellowing: “Vowarts Mein Kinder! Vowarts Mein Leiber!”

1823- Charles MacKintosh patents the waterproof rubberized raincoat. In England, a raincoat is still called a MacKintosh.

1863 - Travelers Insurance Co of Hartford chartered (1st accident insurer)

1876- Battle of the Little Rosebud- The Ogalala Sioux under Crazy Horse repulsed U.S. cavalry and allied Crow warriors under George Crook. Crazy Horse amazed the white generals who claimed he maneuvered his warriors around the field like elite European light cavalry. They started calling him the Napoleon of the Plains. Crazy Horse then moved the Ogalala to the Little Big Horn to meet Sitting Bull, and fight Custer. Even though he was not badly beaten, Gen. Crook suspended his campaign and went fishing, and was no help to Custer.

1873- Women’s Rights leader Susan B. Anthony went on trial for attempting to vote.
She was found guilty by an all-male jury and fined $100, which she refused to pay.

1885- The pieces of the Statue of Liberty arrive from France. Some assembly required...

1893- Cracker Jacks invented by RW Reuckheim. Their name came from Teddy Roosevelt sampling the caramel corn, and exclaimed “These are Crackerjack!”- popular slang back then for something very good.

1893- The last Queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani, is overthrown by a junta of American plantation owners led by Sanford Dole. The US apologized in 1992.

1917- The Republic of Finland is declared.

1919 - "Barney Google" cartoon strip, by Billy De Beck, premiered.

1930- Using 6 solid gold pens President Herbert Hoover signed the Harley-Smoot Act slapping huge trade tariffs on imports from overseas. Britain and France and their overseas colonies retaliated with tariffs on American exports. The American stock market had collapsed 6 months before; now this shortsighted act sparked a trade war with the ruined economies of postwar Europe. It all but ensured that the Great Depression would spiral out of control, hitting rock bottom in 1932.

1940- The Nazis had taken Paris and the French were asking for surrender terms. An invasion of Great Britain seemed imminent. Today on the BBC radio, Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspired Britons with his famous speech:”We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them in the hills and in the towns… we shall defend our island home. We shall Never Surrender!”

1946- The first mobile telephone was installed in an automobile in St. Louis, Missouri.

1950-Future attorney general and Senator Robert Kennedy married heiress Ethel Scheckter.

1952- Jack Parsons died in a massive explosion in his Pasadena kitchen. Parsons was a founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Aerojet Corporation. One of the nations top rocket scientists, his research into fuels powered everything from world war two bazooka shells to the Space Shuttle booster engines.

But Parsons also had a strange second life in the occult. He was a follower of Alastair Crowley, sometimes signed his name as AntiChrist and once tried to raise a demon in a white-magic ceremony. His close friends included writer Robert Heinlein and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. His mother committed suicide soon after the explosion.

No one is sure what caused the explosion that killed him, but he was cavalier in his use of dangerous materials “

1964- The first Universal Studios tram car tour. Carl Laemmle had been inviting tourists in for a nickel to watch movies be filmed as early as 1915.

1968- Ohio Express’ single “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I got love in my Tummy” went gold.

1972- THE WATERGATE BREAK IN- President Richard Nixon's staff, trying to gain an edge on an upcoming election, hire men to break into Democratic National Committee's offices in the Watergate Hotel to steal election strategy documents. They had already broken in once before but the batteries on the wiretap they planted were defective so they wanted to replace them and copy some more documents. Hotel security guards caught three Cubans and a man named Frank Sturgis. One Cuban had, in his pocket, a check made out by a White House employee named E. Howard Hunt.

This "Third-Rate Burglary" and subsequent cover-up ulcerated into a major scandal that eventually forced the first ever resignation of a US president. President Lyndon Johnson had bugged the Republicans in 1967 and President Kennedy used the IRS to audit politicians he didn’t like, but the general public didn’t know that yet. President Nixon said: "nobody's gonna make a big deal that a Republican President broke into Democratic headquarters."

1976- The Soweto Uprising. A march turned into a running battle as thousands of South African black protestors battled police in their poor townships.

1990- The Battle of Century City- Police attacked 500 striking building maintenance workers and janitors, mostly Central American immigrants, for trying to form a union.

1994- THE WHITE BRONCO CHASE- Movie actor and Hall of Fame football player O.J. Simpson was wanted for questioning about the grisly murder of his second wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ron Goldman. This day OJ tried to escape. He and his football friend Al Cowlings led police on a strange slow-speed pursuit for two hours around the freeways of Los Angeles as the world watched amazed on live television. He eventually was convinced to surrender. OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder in a controversial trial, but found guilty in a civil wrongful death suit.
Yesterday’s question: Did the events dramatized in the film The Dirty Dozen really happen?

Answer: No. There were special commando missions, including a British attempt to kill Rommel, and an American squadron that killed Yamamoto. The Russians and Germans had Penal Battalions, made up of convicts. But nothing like the movie ever actually happened.