BACK to Blog Posts

August 05, 2009 weds
August 5th, 2009

Quiz: What is a spelunker?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Enemies of President Obama hope the health care issue would be his Waterloo. What does that mean?
History for 8/5/2009
Birthdays: Guy de Maupassant, Amboise Thomas, William- first black child born in British America, Neil Armstrong is 79, John Huston, Robert Taylor, Conrad Aiken, Roman Gabriel, Selma Diamond, Patrick Ewing, John Merrick the Elephant Man, Loni Anderson, Bill Scott -the voice of Bullwinkle Moose, John Saxon, Jonathan Silverman

1667- Moliere’s famous comedy “Tartuffe” first played for the public. The next day the Parliament of Paris ordered the theater closed and it’s posters ripped down. The Archbishop of Paris threatened excommunication of anyone who saw it or performed it. It seemed the local religious community didn’t like all the jokes about a charlatan who steals everything from a family by pretending to be a man of the cloth. But the Sun King Louis XIV thought it was funny. He overruled the prelates and ordered the play resumed.

1769- Marching up the California coast Gaspar de Portola discovered the San Fernando Valley.( Oh ma Gaawd!) He came down out of the Sepulveda pass, made a left at Ventura Blvd. and went over to the Chumash village by a spring in Encino (now Encino park near Balboa Blvd.). There was an inversion (smog) layer even at this time. The original Indian word for this valley was “Valley of Smoke”.

1775- 1st Spanish ship, the San Carlos, entered San Francisco Bay.

1847 -Author Herman Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne. They went for a hike together in the Berkshires.

1864-“ DAMN THE TORPEDOES!” Admiral David Farragut at Mobile Bay. The Union Navy captured one of last Southern deep water ports. As the US warships in a line ran the heavy cannon of the rebel forts, a lead ship exploded from a floating mine called a torpedo. This stacked up the ship traffic under the enemy guns like a shooting gallery . Admiral Farragut shouted “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead ! “ he pushed his flagship the USS Hartford to the lead and gambled the remaining booby traps would be duds. They were.

They also defeated the Confederate ironclad Tennessee, who’s captain Franklin Buchanan had commanded the Merrimac two years earlier. Even though Farragut had closed the port to Confederate ships the North wouldn’t spare troops to capture the city. So Mobile Alabama didn’t surrender until four days after Lee surrendered to Grant in 1865.

1882- On little Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor, on top of a old War of 1812 fort, the cornerstone of the Statue of Liberty set. The statue had arrived in pieces from France-some assembly required. Donations for the statue’s construction were collected by a national fundraiser organized by newspaper tycoon Josef Pulitzer.

1891- the American Express Company introduces Travelers Checks.

1910- The first Traffic Light set up on Euclid and 105th st. in Cleveland.

1921-KDKA Pittsburgh does the 1st radio baseball broadcast Pirates-8, Phillies-0.

1924 Arf, Arf ! the first Little Orphan Annie comic strip drawn by Harold Gray.

1926 Magician Harry Houdini stays in a coffin under water for one hour.

1927 Victrola Record producer Ralph Peer realized there might be a market for “Hillbilly Music”. So he set up a makeshift recording studio above a furniture store in Bristol Tennessee and put an ad in the local papers for talent. In one day he recorded future stars Jimmy Rogers the Singing Brakeman, The Carter Family, The Tennessee Mountaineers and Ernest Pop Stoneman. This session has been called the “ Big Bang of Country Music.”

1945- At Tinian airbase The atomic uranium bomb “Little Boy” is loaded onto the B-29 bomber Enola Gay after traveling by ship from Hawaii. The crew will take off at 5:00 am next morning.

1945-THE INDIANAPOLIS The ship that carried the Atomic bombs, the cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-168 on the way back from Tinian. Because the Indianapolis was under top secrecy it took five days for the Navy to realize that she was even missing. By the time rescue planes reached the site most of her sailors had drowned or had been eaten by sharks. Out of 900 sailors in the water only 300 were rescued. Survivors recalled how they could feel the sharks noses bumping into the soles of their feet then another comrade would disappear under water. This day the plane that discovered them did so by accident. He had spotted the oil slick and assumed it was a submerged Japanese submarine and was closing in to drop a bomb when he saw the men’s heads bobbing in the water.

1953- The film “From Here to Eternity” opened , starring Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift. But the big story was Frank Sinatra’s Oscar winning performance as Maggio that signaled the turnaround in his slumping career.

1955- The Screen Actor’s Guild strikes Hollywood for television residuals. Their president was Walter Pidgeon who had played Dr. Morbius in Forbidden Planet.

1957- American Bandstand featuring the eternally teenage Dick Clark debuts on television.

1962- GOODBYE, NORMA JEAN. Marilyn Monroe found nude in bed, dead of barbiturate overdose. She was 36. Whether you think the starlet overdosed by accident, suicide, or was done in by the Mafia, the Kennedys, a Svengali like personal physician, lesbian physical therapist or space aliens is still a mystery. She made a call to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy’s office in Washington several hours earlier but was rebuffed. Her last call was to her hairdresser Mr. Guilaroff. She left the bulk of her belongings to her drama teacher Lee Strassberg and her funeral was organized by ex-husband Joe Dimaggio. Her Westwood cottage suite had a tile over the doorway which read :"All my troubles end Here."

1963- The US, Britain and USSR sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

1964 - Actress Anne Bancroft & Comedian Mel Brooks wed.

1966- Caesar’s Palace Hotel & Casino first opened to the public. This was the first of the super-resort casinos, with a total theme park design and three times the space and accommodations of anything yet seen on the Vegas Strip. It’s success ushered in an accelerated era of building for Las Vegas casinos.

1966 –It a moment of youthful indiscretion Beatle John Lennon says his band the Beatles are now more popular than Jesus. This flippant comment provoked a firestorm of nationwide protest among conservative elements in the US and Beatles albums were publicaly burned in the streets. Lennon apologized, then suggested that he was being crucified over the comment. Paul McCartney rush up to the mike to insist that wasn't the choice of words they preferred.

1967- Bobby Gentry released “Ode to Billy Jo”.

1980- The Osmond Brothers break up.

1984- Welsh actor Richard Burton died of cerebral hemorrhage at 64. With a tumultuous career and sometime marriages to Elizabeth Taylor the hard drinking Burton was the most famous English-speaking thespian of his day. But unlike Olivier and Gielgud, he was never knighted. As I recall, the royals objected to their portrayal, when Burton starred in a miniseries on Winston Churchill. Burton was buried with a copy of Dylan Thomas’ poems in his coffin.

1984- Joan Benoit won the first Women’s Olympic Marathon.

1986 - It's revealed painter Andrew Wyeth had secretly created 240 drawings &
paintings of his neighbor Helga Testorf, in Chadds Ford, Pa

1994- JUDGE KENNETH STARR appointed by Congress to be special prosecutor to investigate wrongdoing by President Clinton in his Whitewater financial dealings. When the Whitewater affair proved a cold lead he came upon the Travelgate, Paula Jones and the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. Yet Starr never garnered much public support because his probe was perceived as a political vendetta. Rather than seem to be impartial Judge Starr was an declared enemy of Bill Clinton’s politics. And his blunt tactics brought up disturbing memories of McCarthyism- like his ordering the arrest of a D.C. bookshop owner who refused to hand over his receipts and berating jurors who deadlocked over two counts against Clinton’s law partners. After $54 million spent, Congress voted impeachment of the President for his sexual peccadilloes and lying under oath. But that effort was defeated and Clinton served out his term. Judge Starr became president of Pepperdine College in liberal Malibu, Ca.

2001- In a throwback to the long dead Communist era, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il visited Moscow to meet with Russian leaders. Flanked by goose stepping soldiers he laid a wreath at the tomb of Lenin. Russian President Putin let him sleep in a Kremlin suite his father Kim Il Sung slept in 50 years earlier, as a guest of Stalin. Terrified of flying, Kim made the 6000 mile trip from Pyongyang by train, pausing to visit a tank factory. The only reaction was annoyance from Moscow workers. Kim’s private train had jammed up their morning commute.
Yesterdays’ Quiz: Enemies of President Obama hope the health care issue would be his Waterloo. What does that mean?

Answer: Waterloo was the battle where Napoleon was defeated decisively by Wellington. After 25 years of success, Nappy could blame the Retreat of Moscow on the weather, and Spain on the guerrillas, but Waterloo was his being beaten at what he does best, a single big battle. After Waterloo Napoleon was not only defeated, but he considered himself beaten. He lost his famous self confidence.