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March 25th, 2008 tues.
March 25th, 2008

Quiz: In Moby Dick we all remember Captain Ahab, Mr. Starbuck and Quequeg. What are the names of the two retired captains who owned their ship the Pequod.?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What is the origin of the custom of “Knock on Wood”?
History for 3/25/2008
B-Days: English King Henry II Plantagenet, Joachim Murat, Gudson Borglum, David Lean, Gloria Steinhem, Arturo Toscanini, Aretha Franklin, Bela Bartok', Howard Cosell, Bonnie Bedelia,Simone Signoret, Elton John is 61, Sarah Jessica Parker is 43.

In the medieval calendar this was Lady Day, when street lights no longer had to be lit after dark.

1441-During the Council of Clermont the Church invited Czech Jan Hus under an amnesty to come and explain his Protestant doctrines. After he plead his case, they explained that the Reformation won't happen for another 76 years and then burned him at the stake.

1521-FIRST MAN CIRCUMNAVIGATES THE GLOBE- No, it was not Magellan. It was Magellan's slave, Enrique. Enrique was taken from his native Philippines by traders to Sumatra, then Madagascar where Fernan de Magellanes while serving with the Portuguese purchased him and brought him by sea around Africa to Lisbon then to Spain. Later Magellan took him with his fleet west to South America and around the Cape into the Pacific and eventually back to the Philippine Islands. On this day Enrique found on the Isle of Cebu he could converse with the natives. Magellan knew he had done it and reached the Indies by sailing West. After Magellan’s death Enrique jumped overboard and swam home.

1524- Explorer Guisseppi Verrazzano, with a French fleet going up the coast of North America, drops anchor off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Verrazzano could not see the Carolina coastline beyond the thin isthmus of Diamond Shoals so he decides the American Continent must become really thin in the middle before widening out to Canada. His men strain their eyes for signs of China beyond what he thinks is the" Pacific". For a century, European maps reflect this silly mistake and Verrazzano is later eaten by cannibals.

1911- THE TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FIRE- 145 seamstresses, mostly teenage, Jewish, immigrant girls, burn to death in a terrible fire. They could not escape the flames because their employer padlocked them into their sweatshop so they wouldn't take so many breaks. The pavement was littered with girls who jumped ten stories to their death rather than burn while a helpless crowd looked on in horror. They would hold hands and leap to their deaths together. The factory owners were never charged with any crime. The owners soon opened another clothes factory that was cited for fire safety violations. The tragedy was a major cause of the formation of the ILGWU now called UNITE and the first job safety laws. One of the eyewitnesses to the horror, Frances Perkins, later became Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor. The last survivor of the fire died in 2001 at age 107.

1931- The Scotsboro Boys. In Alabama, nine young black men were accused of raping two white women in a freight car. Although convicted, the case was appealed and retried four times, and only the spotlight of national attention prevented any from being lynched.

1931- Shortly after the invention of automobiles, there were automobile races. This day, in the dry lake beds of Muroc, California, saw the first race car speed trials sanctioned by the American Automobile Assoc. It was the beginnings of NASCAR. In the 1950's, Muroc became Edwards Air Force Base.

1932- Motion Picture Academy President William deMille, brother of Cecil B., started a 'Squawk Forum", inviting film industry workers to air their grievances with their studio heads. (and this way they won't ask for their own union ). The first boss on the hot seat was MGM's Louis B. Mayer. He was greeted with boos, insults and catcalls, mostly from writers. In a short time, the forum devolved into a shouting free for all. Mayer furiously stormed out and proceeded to fire and cut the pay of all those Metro employees he could remember were there. The Squawk Forum idea was abandoned.

1933- Nazis Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels offers famed director Fritz Lang a job. Fritz said he’d think about it, then immediately packed his bag for Hollywood.

1944- During World War Two, a British pilot bailed out of a burning plane and when his chute failed to open he fell 18,000 feet. In a freak ocurance, he hit a wet beach that broke his fall. He suffered only a broken ankle. English film director Michael Powell made the strange incident the basis of a fantasy film with David Niven called "A Matter of Life and Death", released in the US as "The Big Staircase".

1953- NUMBER 10 RILLINGTON PLACE.-A new tenant to this modest flat in London made an awful discovery- behind the walls were the bodies of 4 women with one more buried under the pea patch. The previous tenant, Jack Christie, confessed to the murders and was executed. Christie became the most infamous British serial killer since Jack the Ripper.

1954- RCA began mass production and marketing of color television sets. At the time the set cost as much as an automobile - $1,000, had only a 12-inch screen and there was very little programming in color.

1955- US Customs seize a shipment of 258 copies of Alan Ginsburg’s poem," Howl " , printed in the UK on the grounds it was obscene." I saw some of the finest minds of my generation destroyed by madness." Next year when Lawrence Ferlinghetti of San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore printed the poem he was arrested.

1957-The Rome Treaty establishing the European Economic Community.

1960- Thirty-five years after it was written and published in Europe, an American judge rules that D.H. Lawrence's novel, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover" was not pornography and could finally be sold in the U.S. Whatya think of that, John-Thomas?

1960- The Moulin Rouge Agreement. After a lot of agitation and arm twisting from Frank Sinatra, the owners of the Las Vegas casinos agree to integrate. It was so named for the Moulin Rouge Casino, which up to then had been the only casino that allowed black and white patrons to mix freely.

1967 -The Who & Cream make their US debut at Murray the K's Easter Show.

1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono began their week-long "love-in" for peace in the bed of Room 902 of the Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam.

1975- King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by a nephew. The nephew was beheaded.

1990- The Happy Land Social Club fire. A Cuban immigrant man broke up with his girlfriend over drinks in a crowded Latino bar in New York City. The bouncers threw him out when he got abusive. He left the club, then returned and splashed gasoline around the one entrance and set it on fire. 87 people died; some so fast that their remains still had their drinks in their hands. It was the worst fire in New York since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, ironically on this same date.

Yesterday’s Question: What is the origin of the custom of “Knock on Wood” .

Answer: In the Middle Ages, the wood of the True Cross was carried around as relics. People touched it for good luck and to swear oaths. The Holy Wood is also the origin of Holy Rood and Hollywood.