BACK to Blog Posts

November 11, 2007 sunday
November 11th, 2007

QUIZ: To continue the U.S presidential theme, which President was originally born William J. Blythe IV?

Answer to yesterday’s question below-
Which U.S. President was originally named Leslie Lynch King?
History for 11/11/2007
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 45, Leonard DiCaprio is 33

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.

1534- The Parliament voted the Act of Supremacy, that the King of England would be the Supreme Head of the Church in England, breaking with the Catholic Church in Rome. They Christened the new national faith The Church of England or C.of E.

1887- THE HAYMARKET EXECUTIONS- Four leaders of an early American labor movement The Knights of Labor are hanged after being charged with responsibility for a bomb tossed at police during a demonstration in Chicago. Samuel Fielden, Adolphe Fischer, August Spies and Albert Parsons. It was never proven they actually had thrown the bomb, but hey, they were a bunch of reds anyway...A later Chicago mayor ruined his political career when he proved publicly that the Haymarket defendants were innocent. Albert Parsons shouted as he dropped through the trapdoor:" Oh men of America, Let the Voice of the People be Heard!" They were demanding unheard of concessions like a six day work week and an 8 hour workday down from twelve. A monument was erected in Haymarket not to Parsons, but to the police. Hippies blew it up in 1968.

1889- Washington State admitted into the union.

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. One German machine gunner fired his last belt of ammunition at the allied trenches, stood up in front of everyone, bowed like an actor, turned and walked away. World War One's final tally was 22 million dead, almost 13-20% of the young male population in France, Germany and England. In only 7 months of actual fighting 200,000 American died – as opposed to 58,000 in 8 years in Vietnam and four thousand in Iraq. Soldiers came home speaking of Screaming Mimies, shellshock, wearing wristwatches instead of pocket watches and wearing trenchcoats, as Thomas Burberry’s rainproof overcoat became known. From now on meteorologists would refer to large weather patterns as Fronts, from the days when weather predictions effected military planning.

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’s men invented the novelty of hiding one in a violin case. Old John Thompson was shocked that his creation was used by hoodlums and made 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.

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”.

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. 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. After the World Trade Center attack of Sept 11th 2001 the song again echoed from a thousand throats, being sung in Berlin, Paris, Teheran and Moscow in sympathy.

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 and MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer called her a “fat monster”. So he 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 megaflop 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."

Answer to Yesterday’s Quiz:

Quiz: Which U.S. President was originally named Leslie Lynch King?

President Gerald Ford. 1913-2007. Ford was born Leslie Lynch King in a basement apartment in Omaha Nebraska. His parents divorced soon after. In 1915 His mother remarried to a paint salesman named Gerald Rudolph Ford. He adopted his stepson and renamed him Gerald R. Ford Jr. They kept this secret from him until at age 17, he found out when a stranger drove up to him at a sandwich shop and said:
" Hi. I’m Leslie, your father.”