BACK to Blog Posts

Oct. 31, 2022 Halloween
October 31st, 2022

Question: What is the difference between a ghost and a poltergeist?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: At Halloween time, someone invariably will mention Ed Gein. Who was Ed Gein?
History for 10/31/2022 Halloween
Birthdays: Jan Vermeer, John Keats, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Gen. Chiang Kai Shek, John Candy, Dale Evans, Jane Pauley, David Ogden Stiers, Dan Rather, Lee Grant, Ethel Waters, Juliet Low-founder of the American Girl Scouts, Ollie Johnston, Vanilla Ice, Stephen Rea, Rob Schneider, Animator Randy Cartwright, Peter Jackson is 62.

HAPPY ALL HALLOWS EVE- The night before the Feast of All Saints, beginning the Christian season of Advent, was confused in Medieval custom with one of the four Druid fire festivals, All Hallows. In Ireland it was called Samhein. At this time, all hearth fires in the land are extinguished then re-lit from the fire at the Druids sacred grove. Add to this the early Church's attempt to eradicate the pagan custom of giving food to departed spirits -Greek Anthesterion in Feb., Roman Feralia and Lemuria in May- by moving the date to honor the dead to the Feast of All Souls on November 2nd. It was considered a good day for pagans to be baptized. Many cultures had customs of putting food offerings on doorsteps so the spirits would leave you in peace. So today is the last night for the devil and other little ghosties to romp before the Holiday Season begins.

1517- THE REFORMATION BEGAN- Augustine monk and theology professor Martin Luther had had enough of the growing corruption of the Church. Pope Leo X the party-animal Pope who had succeeded Pope Julius II the Warrior Pope, who succeeded Pope Alexander VI Borgia the “totally-out-of-control” pope, ordered a new sale of Indulgences throughout Europe to pay off a loan on St. Peter's construction to the Augsberg banker Jacob Fugger. An indulgence was sort of " after-life insurance" absolving you of sin. When Wilhelm Tetzel, the local Bishop selling indulgences showed up in his area Luther blew his cork. On a wagon Tetzel had a big barrel that had written on it: "For every Coin tinkles in my Well, another Soul is spared from Hell."
Luther nailed 95 theses or arguments against Roman primacy in religion to the door of the Palace Church, in effect challenging Tetzel to debate, the customary university challenge. He picked today to do it because he knew tomorrow being the Feast of All Saints there would be a large crowd to read it. But Martin Luther wasn't made into toast like Jan Hus or Wycliff, because was he was protected by German princes like Frederick the Wise of Saxony. They were tired of sending as much as a third of their GNP to Italy, called the Peter’s Pence. This is the official start date for the Protestant Reformation.

1590- In the Scottish town of North Berwick, several witches gathered in a small kirk to conjure up a terrible storm to destroy the ship carrying King James VI back from a trip to Denmark to get his new wife, Anne of Denmark. James’ ship was banged up but James survived. This event sparked a series of dramatic public witch trials that spread throughout the British Isles and over to Puritan Massachusetts. Local midwife Agnes Sampson was the first of thousands of women to be accused, tortured, and burned at the stake.

1776- For the first time since the Declaration of Independence was signed, King George III mentioned the American Revolution in his speech from the throne. Describing the signers of the Declaration, he said “for daring and desperate is the spirit of those leaders, whose object has always been dominion and power, that they have now openly renounced all allegiance to the crown, and all political connection with this country." The King praised Lord Howe for defeating Washington’s army and capturing New York, but acknowledged another campaign would be necessary next year to crush this rebellion.

1820- PAPA HAYDN’S HEAD. Famous composer Franz Josef Haydn had died in 1809. The powerful Austrian Ezterhazy Family, who were great patrons of classical music, built a beautiful new tomb for him in 1820. There was only one problem. When they exhumed Haydn’s coffin it was found that his head was missing! It seems the Ezterhazy attorney Rosenbaum was a fan of the new science of Phrenology, studying the human behavior by measuring bumps on the skull. He ordered Haydn’s head secretly removed three days after the burial for study. When Austrian police questioned Rosenbaum he hid Haydn’s skull under his wifes’ hoop skirts. (Honey, would you please do me a favor..?) The head bounced around several Viennese musical societies until it was Re-Capitated, i.e. returned to Papa Haydn’s tomb 120 years after his death in 1939.

1846- THE DONNER PARTY MADE CAMP- A wagon train of families, pinned down by an early autumn blizzard in the High Sierra Donner Pass made camp at Lake Truckee only 150 miles from help. They took this route because it was advertised back east by a charlatan named Lansford Hastings as an easy short cut. All their oxen were dead and their food almost gone, and it was the worst winter for a generation.
The hapless pioneers weren't rescued until the following April! In the meantime they starved, ate tree bark and dogs, and finally resorted to cannibalism of their dead. Interestingly enough, their Indian guides were the only ones who refused to join in the cannibalistic feast, they ran off. The Donner men caught up with the Indians, killed them and ate them too. So much for calling them savages. Of 86 pioneers, 41 died.....Oh, and the guy who sold them the map was eventually shot dead by one of the pioneers angry relatives.

1864- Nevada statehood. Abe Lincoln had rushed the application of Nevada territory into the union because he needed the new states extra votes to guarantee passage of his anti-slavery and civil rights amendments into the Constitution.

1887- Charles Goodyear takes out the first patent for a rubber tire.

1892- Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle gathered all his Holmes mystery stories into its first collection to be published in book form- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was said to be the only book King Edward VII ever read all the way through.

1914- In World War I during the First Battle of Ypres, a British counterattack mauled the Second Bavarian Reserve division, holding out in a small French chateau. Less than a third of the Bavarians made it out alive, but one of the survivors was private Adolf Hitler.

1916- Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, died of a heart attack on a train in Texas. He had predicted the Second Coming of Christ would happen in 1874 but no one would be aware of it, and the world would end October 2, 1914. He had asked to be buried in a Roman toga so his followers wrapped him in his Pullman car sheets.

1922- Communist leader Lenin was getting sicker from his many strokes and would not last long. Russians wondered who would rule Russia next. Then people began to notice something curious. Everyone party undersecretary Josef Stalin didn’t like seemed to drop dead. Felix Frunze, a top Bolshevik leader close to Lenin, went in for surgery of an ulcer. He had a strong constitution and felt healthy, but Comrade Stalin insisted he take precautions and have surgery. And wouldn’t ya know! While in surgery a doctor overdid Frunze’s chloroform and he died.

1925- Albert the Duke of York, gave a broadcast speech to close the British Empire Exposition at London’s Wembly Stadium. It is when the world became aware of Bertie’s secret, that he had a bad stutter. The speech was a disaster. Shortly after, Albert engaged the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who would help him when he became King George VI.

1926 –The great magician Harry Houdini died. His real name was Eric Weiss but he had seen a French magician named Houdin who had inspired him. Some college boys in Detroit asked the great magician if it was true he could withstand any punch. When he said yes while reading his mail, a large student unexpectedly punched him hard in the abdomen, rupturing his already aggrieved appendix. Peritonitis set in and he died on this day. No antibiotics yet. Houdini was 52. He was buried in a coffin he had used for his escape acts. He promised his wife if there really was an afterlife, he would contact her somehow. She held a seance on every Halloween hoping for a message, but none ever came. She gave up after ten years.

1936- The Disney short The Country Cousin released. Directed by Dave Hand, Art Babbitt’s animation of the country mouse drunk was a standout performance. The Country Cousin won an Oscar at the 9th Academy Awards.

1936- NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena call today Nativity Day, because it commemorates the first firing of a liquid fuel rocket under the Galcit program (Guggenheim Aeronautics Laboratory California Institute of Technology) later renamed in 1944 the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).

1938- In a speech this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned of big corporate tycoons who try to use their money to influence American politics. “ Organized Money is as great a threat to American democracy as organized crime!”

1941-the sculpture group of U.S. Presidents on Mount Rushmore completed. Instead of just their heads artist–designer Judson Borglum wanted the sculpture to go down to the figures waists but he died in early 1941, and with war on the horizon, his son and chief engineer rushed to complete the heads as is.

1945- The "War of Hollywood" Ends. The CSU union strike, the film business's longest and ugliest, falls apart and many of the former members drift into IATSE locals.

1945- The first ever Conference on Computer Technique was held at MIT.

1964- Barbara Streisand single “People, People who need People..” goes to number one.

1964- Today in a taped phone conversation, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover gave President Lyndon Johnson tips on how to spot a homosexual: “It’s a thing you just can’t tell sometimes…There are some people who walk kinda funny. That you might think are a little bit off, or kinda queer..” FBI director Hoover was gay himself.

1984- India's Prime Minister Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards Beant Singh and Satwant Singh in revenge for her ordering the military storming of the Golden Temple of Amritsar earlier that year. While she lay dying her staff argued over who had the right to donate blood first.

1993- Young movie star River Phoenix (the brother of Joaquin Phoenix) overdosed and died on the street in front of the Viper Room night club in LA after partying with Johnny Depp, his girlfriend Samantha Mathis, and Christina Applegate. The club was owned by Depp. It was once the Melody Room owned by mobster Bugsy Siegel. River Phoenix was 23. Ironically, as Phoenix was thrashing spasmodically, people walked by unconcerned, because it’s a common enough occurrence on The Sunset Strip.

2000- The first working crew blasted off from Kazakhstan to occupy the International Space Station. A NASA spokesman said ‘If all goes well today will mark the first day of Mans permanent colonization of Space. Yesterday was the last day that the cosmos would be completely devoid of human beings.”

2001- The acting Governor of Massachusetts officially overturned the convictions of the last six people executed in the Salem Witch Trials 300 years ago in 1692.
Yesterday’s Question: At Halloween time, someone invariably will mention Ed Gein. Who was Ed Gein?

Answer: Ed Gein was a Wisconsin farmer who in 1957 was found to be a serial killer and cannibal. Police found human remains around his kitchen and storage areas. Also his mother’s dried corpse in a chair. His case was the inspiration for Hitchcock’s Psycho, Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs.