December 21, 1844: The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers opens their store. The group of 28 were from Rochdale, Lancashire, England and formed their consumer co-operative earlier in the year. They were one of the first to pay a patronage dividend one of the basic tenets of the modern co-operative movement. More than half of the original members were weavers. As the Industrial Revolution moved forward, many skilled workers were put out of work and sent into poverty. The tradesmen opted to band together and open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. They had studied earlier failed co-operatives and learned from their mistakes. Over four months, they worked to pool together £1 from each member. With the £28 of capital, they opened their store on this day.
On opening day, all that was available was some butter, sugar, flour, oatmeal, and a few candles. Within three months, they were able to include new items such as tea and tobacco. They became known for the quality of their goods. They were also known for creating the Rochdale Principles, the set of rules on which their co-op was based. They insisted on open membership and democratic control. The distribution of surplus was in proportion to trade and limited interest on capital as payment. There was cash trading only without any credit extended. They maintained both political and religious neutrality and promoted education. The principles remain in effect, although they have been updated.
Within ten years, the British co-operative movement had almost 1,000 co-ops. Today, there are over 3 million members included. The Rochdale Pioneers traded independently until 1991 although there had been some mergers in the nearly 150 years. They merged in 1991 and today are part of the Manchester based national hybrid society called The Co-operative Group. The Pioneers opened their first store at 31 Toad Lane. They moved to a new location in 1867 but later purchased the original store and today it is run as a museum.
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is a non-governmental co-operative federation and still uses the Rochdale Principles as a basis for its own rules. ICA was founded in 1895 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and serves the global community. Pauline Green is President and there are 272 national federations as members. There are four major regions: Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The motivation for joining a co-op is financial but there are other reasons as well. The quality of life is improved for members, it is a chance to give back to the community, there is a sense of both altruism and duty included, and there is career experience to be gained. The concept has stood the test of time.
Companies should not have a singular view of profitability. There needs to be a balance between commerce and social responsibility. – Howard Schultz
Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations. – Thomas Jefferson
Each co-operative institution will become a school of business in which each member will acquire a knowledge of the laws of trade and commerce. – Leland Stanford
Commerce, trade and exchange make other people more valuable alive than dead, and mean that people try to anticipate what the other guy needs and wants. It engages the mechanisms of reciprocal altruism, as the evolutionary biologists call it, as opposed to raw dominance. – Steven Pinker
Also on this day: Can You Use Ink? – In 1913, Arthur Wynn invented the crossword puzzle.
Norway – In 1962, Norway established its first national park.
Four in One Year – In 69 AD, Vespasian became Emperor of Rome.
Honor - In 1861, the Medal of Honor was instituted.
December 19, 1967: Harold Holt is presumed dead. He was born in Stanmore, New South Wales, Australia in 1908, the older of two children. Their parents divorced when Harold was ten and their father, a teacher, moved the family several times between 1913 and 1919 so the Holt brothers attended three different schools. They were enrolled at Wesley College in Melbourne in 1921. When Harold’s mother died in 1924, he did not attend her funeral. His parents’ divorce and his mother’s early death left the youngster with deep feelings of loneliness. He was driven to seek approval through personal achievement. He received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1930 and was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1932.
Holt became interested in politics and joined the Prahran branch of the United Australia Party (UAP) in 1933. He ran in three in elections – 1934, March 1935, and August 1935. He lost the first two, but was finally elected to the seat of Fawkner and became one of Australia’s youngest ever MPs at the age of 27. He spent the rest of his life involved in politics, working up to 16 hours a day. He maintained his interest in sports and the sea, and women if rumors are to be believed. His former girlfriend left Australia, married in England, had three children, left her husband and came back to Australia and married Holt. He is said to be the father of her younger two children, a set of twins. The two remained married until his death, but he continued to have many extramarital affairs.
Holt became Prime Minister and was sworn in on Australia Day, January 26, 1966. His term was barely two years in duration but they were extremely tumultuous years. This time was the height of the Cold War era and there were touchy foreign policy issues. The power struggle between the Soviets and the US demanded reconfiguration of global political and commercial and military agreements. Australia’s relationship with Britain altered during the time as the mother country closed foreign bases and retreated from the Middle East. Indonesia was also undergoing changes which were felt in Australia.
Holt is most noted for his death. On Sunday, December 17, 1967 he and some friends along with two bodyguards drove from Melbourne to see the British yachtsman Alec Rose sail through Port Philip Heads during his attempt at a solo circumnavigation of the globe. Around noon, the group was at the beach and Holt wanted to go for swim. The area was known for its treacherous rip tides and Holt’s friends attempted to dissuade him. He was a noted strong swimmer in his younger days but his health was no longer what it once had been. He went into the water and soon disappeared from view. An alarm went up and the area was searched. On this date, he was declared presumed dead. He was 59 years old.
Australians were unique due to our corals, our apples, our gum trees and our kangaroos. – Harold Edward Holt
The marshalling of those resources in order to obtain the maximum war effort for Australia, and a maximum degree of help and cooperation for Great Britain and the sister Dominions, is the primary objective of the new Department. – Harold Edward Holt
Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. – Charles M. Schulz
Australians have a free spirit and an ability to think outside the box, and that is why I like Australia so much. – Brian Schmidt
Also on this day: Monumental – In 1960, the San Jacinto Monument was declared a National History Landmark.
Believe – In 1918, Ripley began his carton series.
Tiny Tim - In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol.
What’s Up, Doc? – In 1956, Dr. John Bodkin Adams was arrested.
December 18, 1892: The Nutcracker debuts at the Imperial Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The two-act ballet was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was adapted from ETA Hoffmann’s story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was presented as a double feature along with Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta. It was not an immediate success, however a twenty-minute suite was extracted from the ballet and did see some measure of approval at the time. The entire ballet has become not only a success, but a part of the Christmas season since the 1960s. Major American ballet companies get nearly 40% of their annual ticket revenue from performances of this delightful ballet.
The ballet takes place on Christmas Eve and opened at the Stahlbaume home which was beautifully decorated for the holiday. The children were brought in to see the decorations and were awed and the party began with the children receiving gifts. As the clock struck eight, Drosselmeyer entered. The magician was also a toymaker and he presented the children with toys which included four life-sized dolls who danced. Then Drosselmeyer brought in a nutcracker carved into the shape of a man. Clara loved it; Fritz intentionally broke it. After everyone went to bed, Clara returned at the stroke of midnight, to check on the broken nutcracker. Clara found herself amidst a battle between gingerbread soldiers and mice, led by the Mouse King. In the next scene, the nutcracker was transformed into a prince.
In the second act, Clara and the Prince traveled to the Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince’s absence. Since it had been Clara who saved the Prince, she was treated with a celebration of sweets from around the world who all danced for the young heroine. The finale was a waltz performed by all the sweets as Clara and the Prince were crowned rulers of the Land of Sweets. Like Swan Lake, there have been various alternative endings to the ballet over time. The original libretto had the ballet’s highpoint represented by “a large beehive with flying bees, closely guarding their riches”.
Petipa was a French ballet dancer, teacher, and choreographer and has been considered to be the most influential ballet master and choreographer. He was the premier maître de ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, a position he held from 1871 until 1903. He retired at the age the age of 85 and died seven years later in 1910. Ivanov was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer and later, Second Balletmaster of the Imperial Ballet. He was credited with the entirety of the original choreography to this ballet since Petipa was in ill health, but that has been disputed in more recent times. He worked with Tchaikovsky previously when he choreographed the Dance of the little swans in Swan Lake. When The Nutcracker premiered, all three men were nearing the end of their careers. Tchaikovsky died in 1893 and Ivanov died in 1903.
The discipline that ballet requires is obsessive. And only the ones who dedicate their whole lives are able to make it. Your toenails fall off and you peel them away and then you’re asked to dance again and keep smiling. I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer. – Penelope Cruz
Ballet is an incredibly difficult, beautiful art form that takes a lot of training, a lot of time, and a lot of hard work. – Sutton Foster
The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener. – George Balanchine
The ballet needs to tell its own story in such a way it can be received without having to be translated into language. – Twyla Tharp
Also on this day: The Grinch – The Dr. Seuss tales came to television for the first time.
Ancient Pueblo Housing – In 1888, Cliff Palace was discovered.
Nuke Power – In 1957, the first nuclear power plant in the US began producing power.
NFL Playoff - In 1932, the Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans.
December 17, 1892: Arthur Turnure issues the first Vogue. At first, it was a weekly publication in the US and sponsored by Kristoffer Wright. It was to celebrate the “ceremonial side of life” and it was hoped it would attract “the sage as well as debutante, men of affairs as well as the belle.” It targeted the New York aristocracy and attempted to establish social norms in a country less rigid in ideas of class and ceremony than either England or France. The magazine was mostly concerned with fashion but did cover sports and social affairs for the male readership.
Condé Montrose Nast bought Vogue in 1905, just one year before Turnure died. Nast changed the magazine to bi-weekly and began taking it overseas beginning with Britain in 1916. He next brought the magazine to Spain, then Italy and France. The magazine flourished under Nast. Both the number printed and the profit margin increased. The magazine’s reputation also soared as they continued to target an elite audience. They began covering weddings in 1911.
The number of subscriptions rose during the Great Depression and again during World War II. They began to use photography rather than illustrations on their covers, bringing down the fashion illustration industry. By the 1960s, with Diana Vreeland as editor-in-chief, the magazine began to target the young men and women of the sexual revolution and focused on contemporary fashion and openly discussed sexuality in editorial features. In 1973, Vogue became a monthly magazine. Even so, they were able to make models household names via their wonderful photo spreads.
Anna Wintour took over the editor-in-chief job in July 1988. Her goal was to revitalize the product and make Vogue more in tune with the younger woman’s tastes as well as reach a broader audience. She remains at the helm today. As of March 1014, only five men have been on the cover of Vogue and all shared the space with a woman. The magazine has a total circulation of nearly 1.3 million and remains under the Condé Nast name. It is published in 23 different national and regional editions. Men’s Vogue came out in 2005 (and ceased publication in 2008) while Vogue Living was launched in 2006. There is also a Teen Vogue on the shelves.
Vogue is the best of everything that fashion can offer, and I think we point the way. We are, you know, a glamorous girlfriend.
I think possibly what people working for one hate the most is indecision. Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision. The most important thing I can do is try and make myself very clearly understood.
It’s very important to take risks. I think that research is very important, but in the end you have to work from your instinct and feeling and take those risks and be fearless. When I hear a company is being run by a team, my heart sinks, because you need to have that leader with a vision and heart that can move things forward.
I want Vogue to be pacy, sharp, and sexy – I’m not interested in the super-rich or infinitely leisured. I want our readers to be energetic executive women, with money of their own and a wide range of interests. There is a new kind of woman out there. She’s interested in business and money. – all from Anna Wintour
Also on this day: Wilbur and Orville – In 1903, the brothers take the Wright Flyer up to the skies.
D’oh – In 1989, The Simpsons premiered.
Decree - In 1807, Napoleon I issued the Milan Decree.
Hot Time in the Old Town – In 1837, the Tsar’s home in St. Petersburg, the Winter Palace, caught fire.
December 16, 1930: Herman Lamm dies. He was born in Kassel, German Empire in 1890. He was also known as Baron Lamm. He was a member of the Prussian Army, but was forced to leave after he was caught cheating at cards. He next emigrated to the US shortly before World War I broke out in 1914. He became a holdup man and included many of the things he had learned in his military training and study of tactics. It was his opinion that planning a robbery took the same skills as planning a military operation including contingency plans should something go wrong. At the time, bank robbers in the United States were mostly a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of enterprise and the success they had was reflective of the amount of planning used.
Lamm wanted to take the guesswork out of bank robbing. He was arrested in 1917 after a failed holdup and served a short sentence in a Utah prison. While there, he had time to develop what came to be called “The Lamm Technique” where he pioneered the idea of “casing” a locality before attempting a robbery. After his release, he had several run-ins with different police and he used several different aliases. In February 1927, he and an accomplice were arrested in Finley County, North Carolina. A list of arrests was found, some using his real name and some using an alias. There were also several cases found where he was a suspect, but not actually arrested.
Lamm’s system called for careful study of a target bank. Many hours were spent developing a detailed floor plan, marking out locations of safes, and taking notes. Also important was creating a viable escape route with a backup plan if needed. Each gang member would be given a specific job and a specific zone of the bank to study as well as a strict timetable for completing the work. Oen jobe was assigned for a lookout, another man was given the task of getaway driver, and he had a lobby man and vault man assigned for each robbery. There were rehearsals; some used full-scale mockups of the bank to be robbed. Lamm stressed the timing of the event and used stopwatches during the rehearsals. He was the first to develop a highly detailed getaway map and got a non-descript high powered car for each new heist.
He and his gang botched a robbery in Clinton, Indiana on this date. They were able to grab $15,567 from Citizens State Bank. The getaway driver noticed a local barber approaching the car, carrying a shotgun. The barber was one of the thousands of local citizens who were part of a posse. The driver miscalculated and blew a tire while executing a U-turn. The robbers grabbed another car, only to find it had a governor on it which did not allow speeds in excess of 35 mph. They next grabbed a truck, but it was not working and they tried another car which was low on gas. Lamm and his gang were cornered near Sidell, Illinois with about 200 police and armed citizens engaging in a massive gun battle. Lamm and another gang member shot themselves in the head, rather than be arrested. Two survivors were arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
I rob banks because that’s where the money is. – Willie Sutton
Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place. – Johnny Carson
You can easily die racing to cover a bank robbery as you can in a war zone. – Jessica Savitch
It has been rumoured that I was the brains of the robbery, but that was totally incorrect. I’ve been described as the tea boy, which is also incorrect. – Ronald Biggs
Also on this day: Mississippi River Flowed North – In 1811, after a series of earthquakes, the Mississippi river flowed in the opposite direction for a time.
Mr. Music – In 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven was born.
Tea for Two – In 1773, the Boston Tea Party too place.
Protector - In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became the first Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
December 15, 1791: The US Bill of Rights is ratified. These are the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. To date, there are 27 amendments which have been ratified and added to the original document. Before the Constitution was ratified, the original thirteen states followed the Articles of Confederation which the Second Continental Congress ratified in 1781. The government was too weak under the Articles and conflicts rose between the states. Rather than fix the “old government”, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton set out to create a new one when penning the Constitution. It took 55 delegates working together to iron out the problems. Not all were resolved and only 39 of them signed the final version of the Constitution.
Those who opposed the wording of the document were called Anti-Federalists and were led by Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and Richard Henry Lee. Those in favor of the document as written were Federalists and it was this faction which led opposition to the Bill of Rights, written to assuage the concerns of the Anti-Federalists. In December 1787 and January 1788 five states quickly ratified the Constitution. The Massachusetts convention was not so easily concluded. Francis Dana and Elbridge Gerry even got into a fistfight. It was there that a compromise was reached and Massachusetts would ratify the Constitution on the condition that a convention also be formed to create some amendments.
The first ten amendments guarantee many personal freedoms, limit the government’s power (especially in judicial proceedings), and reserves some powers for individual states. Originally, the amendments only applied to federal government but most were added to each state’s governance by the Fourteenth Amendment through incorporation. On June 8, 1789 James Madison introduced 39 amendments to the constitution in the House of Representatives. Included in those amendments were specific rights limiting the power of Congress. Seven of the limitations would eventually become part of the ratified Bill of Rights. On September 25, 1789, Congress approved twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution and sent them to the states to be ratified.
Madison had hoped the articles would be directly added to the body of the Constitution but instead they were added as amendments. On this date, Articles Three – Twelve were ratified and became Amendments One through Ten of the US Constitution. On May 7, after 202 years and 225 days, Article Two was passed and became the Twenty-seventh Amendment which is concerned with when pay raises or decreases for Congressional members take effect. Only Article One remains to see ratification. The Article for establishing a formula for determining the appropriate size of the House of Representatives and the appropriate way to apportion the representatives among the states.
With equal truth it may be said, that all the powers which the bills of rights guard against the abuse of, are contained or implied in the general ones granted by this Constitution. – Brutus, an anonymous Anti-Federalist
Bills of rights are in their origin, stipulations between kings and their subjects, abridgments of prerogative in favor of privilege, reservations of rights not surrendered to the prince. – Alexander Hamilton
Whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience; a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a regard for public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question, how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted. – George Washington
A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference. – Thomas Jefferson
Also on this day: James Naismith – In 1891, the game of basketball was invented.
Back Up Is Essential – In 1836, the US Patent Office’s records were lost in a fire.
JFK Assassination – In 1960, an attempt was made on President-elect Kennedy’s life.
Push Comes to Shove – In 1905, the Pushkin House was established to hold Alexander Pushkin’s works.
December 14, 1911: Roald Amundsen reaches the South Pole. The Norwegian explorer was born in Borge, Norway in 1872 into a family of ship-owners and captains. He was the fourth son and his mother encouraged him to leave the family business and become a doctor. The son promised his mother and kept that promise until she died. He was then 21 and immediately quit school and took to the sea. Inspired by Fridtjof Nansen’s crossing of Greenland in 1888, the now free young man followed a life course of intense exploration of the wildest places on Earth.
He joined the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897-99 as first mate. The RV Belgica became the first expedition to winter in Antarctica when it became locked in the sea ice of Alexander Island. It is unknown whether this was planned or a mistake. Even though ill-prepared, the crew survived mostly due to Dr. Frederick Cook’s hunting for game and feeding the crew fresh meat, according to Amundsen. Fresh meat can prevent scurvy even when citrus fruits are lacking. Learning from this, Amundsen went on his next trip in 1903-06 which was the first expedition to successfully cross Canada’s Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific. He hoped to next reach the North Pole but heard that Cook and Robert Peary had reached that destination before him and so traveled South.
Robert Scott was also hoping to reach the South Pole and Amundsen sent a message to Scott from the ship Fram which the Norwegian was using to sail southward. Fram had been Nansens’s ship earlier and the historic vessel changed course at Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic. A telegram reached Scott saying, “BEG TO INFORM YOU FRAM PROCEEDING ANTARCTIC–AMUNDSEN.” About six months later, the ship reached the eastern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. It was now January 14, 1911. Amundsen set up a base camp and called it Framheim.
Rather than the heavy wool clothing favored by European explorers, Amundsen used Inuit-style methods including their type of clothing, dog sled, and skis. His group created a series of supply depots. A small group of men set out on September 8 but had to turn back. A second try was made and five men left base camp on October 19. They took four sledges and 52 dogs. They arrived at the edge of the Polar Plateau on November 21 after a four day climb. Finally, on this day, the five men and 16 dogs arrived at the South Pole. They arrived 33-34 days before Scott’s group. Amundsen’s group left a small tent and a letter stating their accomplishment. They managed to get back to Framheim on January 25, 1912 with 11 dogs. They left Antarctica and made their public announcement on March 7, 1912. Amundsen went on to more explorations and was lost in 1928, aged 55, on a rescue mission in the Arctic.
We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our knowledge of the lands of ice in the South.
Adventure is just bad planning.
I may say that this is the greatest factor: the way in which the expedition is equipped, the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it.
Victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time, this is called bad luck. – all from Roald Amundsen
Also on this day: Queen of Gems – In 1656, the first fake pearl was made.
Strong Men; Great Leaders – In 1751, the first military academy was begun in Austria.
Bushidō – In 1702, the 47 Ronin avenge their daimyo.
Up, Up and Away – In 1782, the Montgolfier brothers took to the air in their flying balloon.
December 13, 1937: Nanking falls. The Second Sino-Japanese War began with minor skirmishes in 1931 and became a full scale war on July 7, 1937. It became part of the Pacific War of World War II in 1941 and ended in 1945 with a Chinese victory. The Battle of Nanking was fought between the National Revolutionary Army of China and the Imperial Japanese Army from December 1, 1937 until the city fell on this day. The Japanese had been victorious during the Battle of Shanghai, having won it by mid-November at which point they set Nanking as their next goal. Nanking is about 300 miles farther inland than is Shanghai. By November 20, Chinese laborers were helping to build defensive systems around the city.
The Battle for the city was going poorly and by December 11, Chiang Kai-Shek had sent orders for troops to abandon the falling city. Japan made an intensified attack on the city and local General Tang made a last-minute bid to create a temporary ceasefire. When it became obvious it was all for naught, Tang called for a breakout maneuver to escape the city. He and his troops were able to escape under cover of darkness and made their way to Pukou on the opposite side of the Yangtze River less than 24 hours before the Japanese troops entered the city. As they entered the city, the Nanking Massacre, also called the Rape of Nanking, began.
There is no way to know exactly how many people were killed in the next six weeks. Some figures are as low as 40,000 and some are as high as 300,000. The civilians and disarmed combatants were systematically killed by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. Widespread rape and looting were also reported. Some of the key participants were eventually charged with war crimes. However, most Japanese military records were deliberately kept secret or destroyed shortly after the Japanese surrender in 1945. The International Military Tribunal of the Far East estimated in 1948 that over 200,000 Chinese were killed while China’s official estimate is more than 300,000 dead.
A “highlight” of the time prior to the fall of the city, reported in two different Japanese papers was a killing contest between two Japanese officers. Armed with only a sword, the contest was to see which of the two officers could kill 100 Chinese first. There are estimates that 20,000 women and girls were raped in a systematized process. Soldiers would go door to door looking for young girls to gang rape and then the women/girls would be explicitly mutilated with some sharp object inserted in her vagina. Pregnant women were also targeted and they were bayoneted in the stomach after being raped. The city was also looted and much of it burned due to arson.
To begin with, it is our policy not to take prisoners, so we decided to get them out of the way. – Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago
You want to know how to kill people! Like this! – Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu as he slashed at his own troops
We dragged them out, striped them naked, inspected their possessions, and bundled them with an electric wire we picked up in the street. – Sergeant Masuda Rokusuke
Supervising the privates wouldn’t be of much help since, to my surprise, even high-ranking officers are candidly being thieves. – Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago
Also on this day: Maximum Insecurity – In 2000, seven violent offenders escape from the John Connally Unit, a maximum security prison in Texas.
Cheaters – In 2007, the Mitchell Report was released.
Get Rael – In 1973, the Elohim reveal themselves to a human.
Tasman - In 1642, New Zealand was discovered by Europeans.
December 12, 1917: Father Flanagan’s Home is founded. Edward Joseph Flanagan was born in Ireland in 1886. His father was a herdsman there. Young Edward came to the US in 1904 and became a US citizen in 1919. He graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1906 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and two years later obtained his Masters of Arts from the same institution. He went to Seminary in New York and continued his studies in both Italy and Austria where he was ordained a priest in 1912. He moved to Omaha, Nebraska to serve as an assistant pastor at St. Patrick’s Church and later at St. Philomena’s Church.
He was discouraged with his ministry to homeless men in Omaha. He borrowed $90 to pay the rent on a boarding house which became Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys. He welcomed all boys regardless of race or religion and by spring there were 100 boys living there. Both the Bishop and the Diocese were not in full support of the experiment. Downtown facilities were inadequate and so in 1921 Flanagan established Boys Town ten miles west of Omaha. It grew to a large community with its own boy-mayor, schools, chapel, post office, cottages, gym, and other facilities where boys aged ten through sixteen could get an education and training in a trade.
The town was designed by Leo Daly in the Tudor Revival style as well as other types. The town became a blueprint for changes in juvenile care methods. Also called the “City of Little Men” it emphasized social preparation as part of the basic model for boys’ homes worldwide. In 1943, they adopted their logo – a picture of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back with captioning stating, “He ain’t heavy, mister – he’s my brother.” The logo was said to reflect the ideal of residents caring for each other and having someone to care about them. Today, Boys Town has grown into a nationwide effort with 12 regions serving children and their families.
Father Flanagan received acclaim especially after a movie starring Spencer Tracy introduced Boys Town’s founder to the world. Tracy won an Oscar for his portrayal of Flanagan and Mickey Rooney also starred as one of the residents. Even before the movie’s release, Flanagan was raised to the rank of Right Revered Monsignor and served on several committees and boards which dealt with the welfare of children. He became internationally known and traveled extensively. In a trip to Ireland, he was appalled by the country’s lack of services to children and was forced to leave the country after becoming vocal in his concerns. He made similar trips to Japan and Korea and met with more success. On a trip to Austria and Germany in 1948, he suffered a heart attack and died in Berlin at the age of 61.
If you have seen him through me, then I thank you. – Spencer Tracy in his Oscar acceptance speech
To Father Flanagan, whose great humanity, kindly simplicity, and inspiring courage were strong enough to shine through my humble effort. Spencer Tracy. – etched on a duplicate Oscar sent to Boys Town
When parents fail to do their job, when they allow their children to run the streets and keep bad company, when they fail to provide them with good examples in the home, then the parents and not the children are delinquent. – Edward Flanagan
I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character. – Edward Flanagan
Also on this day: Katzenjammer Kids – In 1897, the Katzenjammer Kids first saw print.
Dragon Master – In 1408, the Order of the Dragon was established.
Boom! – In 1862, the USS Cairo sunk.
Ice, Ice, Baby – In 1985, Arrow Air flight 1285 crashed shortly after takeoff.