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November 11th, 2009 weds.
November 11th, 2009

Question: Who was the crazy king who stood in the surf, and tried to command the tide to turn back?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who is Holden Caulfield?
History for 11/11/2009
Birthdays: Abigail Adams, Alexander Borodin, Fyodor Doestoyevsky, Gen. George “Blood & Guts” Patton, Pat O’Brien, Kurt Vonnengut, Rene Clair, Carlos Fuentes, Jonathan Winters, Stubby Kay, Fuzzy Zoeller, Demi Moore is 47, Leonard DiCaprio is 35

Today in the Middles Ages this was "Martinmass" the feast of St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of France.

Happy Veterans Day in the U.S., Memorial Day in many European countries.

1647- King Charles I had been defeated in the English Civil War and was held a prisoner at Hampton Court. On this day he gave his jailers the slip and escaped to the Isle of Wight to raise troops for what some historians call the Second English Civil War. His actions, not only of lying to escape but also of persuading a Scottish army to invade England on the promise to the Scots that he would forcibly convert England to Presbyterianism, offended his few remaining English friends. Parliamentary Leaders like Oliver Cromwell concluded there was no use negotiating with a king who saw peace talks only as a delaying tactic. They must have the head of this 'Man of Blood"

1668- Madamoiselle Du Parc was an beautiful actress who dumped Moliere and his comic company to become the mistress of the tragic playwright Racine, causing Moliere and Racine’s friendship to break. Plus Racine didn’t like the way Moliere’s actors did his plays. Three years later this day Mlle. Du Parc died under mysterious circumstances. Racine gave up his wild ways, got married and had a big family. In 1679 a notorious poisoner Madame Monvoisin claimed that Racine hired her to off his girlfriend! Was the French Shakespeare a Bluebeard or was La Voisin paid to slander him? The authorities considered arresting him, but King Louis XIV quashed the investigation because it would implicate the King’s favorite, Madame de Montespan.

1673- Battle of Cochim - Polish Hetman Sobieski and his "Winged Hussars" defeat a Turkish invasion in the Ukraine. The heavily armored Hussar cavalry wore wooden wings decorated with feathers like something out of a Christmas pageant, but the effect on enemies was terrifying. The flutter and hiss they made during their attack made them seem like warrior angels.

1914- Sultan Mehmed V of Turkey who was also the last Caliph, honoring his alliance with Germany in World War One, declared a Grand Jihad on the allies. He said it was the duty of all good Moslems to fight the Christians, unless of course they were Germans, Hungarians or Austrians. Historians say the effect of his declaration of Holy War was met in the Moslem world with resounding indifference. About the only one who listened was the Khedive of Egypt, who was promptly replaced by the British.

1918- ARMISTICE DAY- World War One ended. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns of the Great War fall silent. It sounds poetic but it was just a coincidence, the opposing sides had been negotiating since the 8th. In many countries this is the traditional Memorial Day, the American one in May is in honor of our Civil War. In a strange kind of salute when the word went down the battlelines that the ceasefire would take effect at 11:00AM, one minute before, thousands of cannons on both sides fired one last round simultaneously.
World War One's final tally was 22 million dead, almost 20% of the young male population in the opposing countries. In only 7 months of actual fighting 200,000 American died – as opposed to 5,000 in 8 years in Iraq. This also marks the turning point of the old world into the Twentieth Century: ethnic republics and socialist states arose out of dying monarchies. The British and French colonial empires were fatally wounded. Independence desires stirred in 3rd world colonies and the United States became a major global power and world financier.

1918- TOMMY GUNS- Sitting on a New York wharf forgotten and ignored was the first shipment of Thompson submachine guns, built for a war just ended. John Thompson was an inventor who tried to solve the problem of close hand-to-hand trench warfare by inventing a light mobile machine gun that could be a “trench-broom” –spewing 800 bullets a minute. Because it fired small pistol bullets it was called a “sub-machine gun”.

But the Great War was over and the U.S. Army wasn’t interested anymore, neither were most police departments. So in 1921 the Thompson Submachine Gun went on sale to the public as a “great home defense system”. The people who did buy them were the Mafia and the IRA. They nicknamed them Choppers, Chicago Typewriters and Tommy Guns. Al Capone invented the novelty of hiding one in a violin case. Old John Thompson was shocked that his creation was used by violent hoodlums to make incidents like the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre possible. He died in 1940 just weeks before the US Army would order thousands of his Tommy Gun to fight World War Two.

1920- On the second anniversary of the Armistice, the British entomb an Unknown Soldier to represent all war dead “A Soldier Whose Name is Known Only to God”. The French do it and the Americans think this a neat idea so do their own at Arlington in 1932. Bavarian corporal Adolph Hitler called himself the Unknown soldier of Germany, Now because of DNA identification identities of war dead will no longer be unknown. In 1998 the identity of the Unknown of the Vietnam War was discovered and the remains moved upon request of his family.

1925- Louis “Sachmo” Armstrong did the first recordings of his band the Hot Five. These records lift him from a local talent in Chicago and New Orleans to international stardom.

According to close friends Sachmo was a lifelong marijuana smoker. He called Pot his “antidote to racism”. Gives new meaning to the song “Laughing Louie”.

1925- The Nazis party formed a second para-military force to augment their stormtroopers (the SA) called the Schutz-Staffel or SS. Its leader was a one time chicken farmer named Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was heavily into the occult. He built officer training centers in a castle made up to look like King Arthur's round table and he encouraged Germans to conceive children in graveyards so the children could absorb the spirits of dead German heroes. The SS published a list of suitable graveyards.

1926- Route 66, the first interstate highway built for automobiles in the U.S. is started. (it will get finished in 1932) The World's first road exclusively for automobiles was opened in 1927, the Via Fiore Imperiale in Rome.

1932- The Girls Scouts first offered freshly baked cookies for sale. The proceeds went to purchase camping gear. In 1936, the Girls Scouts signed a contract with Keebler to bake and package the cookies.

1938- GOD BLESS AMERICA- Irving Berlin's song God Bless America sung for the first time by chubby chanteuse Kate Smith. Berlin had written the song in1918 for a show but it didn’t fit in so he threw it in a file cabinet and forgot about it. Twenty years later he revived the song for the effort to combat the Depression and it became a huge hit. Ever since 1942 there’ve been calls to have it replace the Star Spangled Banner as the National Anthem.
Kate Smith

In 1970 a frustrated DJ on hippy radical radio station WBAI promised to play Kate Smith’s God Bless America over and over again until people started calling in pledges to help the station. The phones soon started ringing.

1938- TYPHOID MARY- On this day 68 year old Mary Mallon died in an asylum. She was a carrier of the disease typhoid fever and, in 1910, while being a cook in a hotel resort ,infected 1,000 people. Released from jail a few years later she had promised not to resume her former profession but soon was in the kitchen again and started the epidemic of 1915. She, herself, never contracted the disease.

1938- The first day of shooting on the film 'The Wizard of Oz". Judy Garland met 125 little people hired to be the Munchkins. Judy's energy was fading under the heavy work schedule so L.B. Mayer ordered her put on Benzadrine (speed) every morning and Valium pills to sleep. June Alysson, another young MGM actress at the time said: "The studio nurse would give it to you and tell you it was vitamins." Judy Garland became a heavy drug addict and died of an overdose in 1969 at 47 years old.

1940- The Birth of the Jeep. The army introduces its first General Purpose vehicle-G.P. or Jeep, a name coinciding with a character in E.C. Segar's Popeye cartoons.

1941- On the night before mobster Abe Reles, alias Kid Twist, was due to testify what he knew of the Mafia, he was thrown out of a Coney Island hotel window to his death. He was under Federal protection but, in 1962, Joe Valachi testified mobster Frank Costello had raised $100,000 to bribe the cops to do the deed themselves. A popular toast around Brooklyn those days was: “ Here’s to Abe Reles, a canary who could sing but not fly.”

1978- The renovated Hollywood Sign is unveiled. The second O was paid for by rock star Alice Cooper in memory of his idol, Groucho Marx.

1980- 'Heaven's Gate" Michael Cimino's $44 million dollar flop opened. Cimino originally said he could do the film for $8 million. Critic Pauline Kael said: "It's the kind of movie you want to deface. You want to draw mustaches all over it."
Yesterday’s Question: Who is Holden Caulfield?

Answer: He was the main character in J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye.