Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 22, 2014
Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie

July 22, 1793: Alexander Mackenzie becomes the first recorded person to make a transcontinental crossing of Canada. He was born in Scotland in 1764 and came to America in 1774 when his mother died. His father and an uncle were already there and had joined the King’s Royal Regiment of New York as lieutenants (since they had prior experience). By 1778, Alexander was sent to Montreal to escape the hardships of war and he was given an apprenticeship with Finlay, Gregory & Co. – one the most influential fur trading companies in the city. The company merged with the North West Company in 1787.

On their behalf, Mackenzie traveled to Lake Athabasca in 1788. He learned that the First Nations people knew much about the local rivers and based on information gleaned from this source, he set out on July 10, 1789 to find the source of the Dehcho River (now Mackenzie River) hoping to find the mysterious Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. Instead of finding the Pacific, he wound up on what he called Disappointment River at the Arctic Ocean instead. The river did not lead to Cook Inlet in Alaska as expected and hoped for. He left Canada in 1791 to return to Great Britain to learn about advances in measurement of longitude and returned the next year determined to find a way to reach the Pacific.

On this trip, he was accompanied by two native guides, his cousin Alexander, six Canadian voyageurs, and a dog. They left from Fort Chipewyan on October 10, 1792 and sailed up the Pine River to the Peace River. On November 1, they stopped, built a shelter which became known as Fort Fork, and wintered there. On May 9, 1793, they set out once again and followed the Peace River. They crossed the Great Divide and found the headwaters of the Fraser River. They were warned that the upriver canyon was unnavigable and filled with belligerent natives. He was directed to take a route following the West Road River, cross the Coast Mountains, and then descend via the Bella Coola River. He did so and arrived at Bella Coola, British Columbia. This is situated on North Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific.

He missed meeting George Vancouver at Bella Coola by just 48 days. Mackenzie was hoping to continue westward but was stopped by the Heiltsuck people in war canoes who hemmed the entourage in.  While holed up, he inscribed his feat on a rock at the water’s edge of Dean Channel. The words were later inscribed permanently by surveyors and is now a National Historic Site. In 1801 he published journals of his exploratory journeys and he was knighted for his efforts. He severed in the Legislature and eventually (1812) returned to Scotland. He married 14-year-old Geddes, an heiress. He died in London in 1820 at the age of 56.

I always wanted to be an explorer, but – it seemed I was doomed to be nothing more than a very silly person. – Michael Palin

It’s important for the explorer to be willing to be led astray. – Roger von Oech

You will not accept credit that is due to another, or harbor jealousy of an explorer who is more fortunate. – Abbott L. Lowell

The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart. – Julien Green

Also on this day: Public Enemy #1 – In 1934, John Dillinger met his end – maybe.
Cleaveland – In 1796, Cleveland, Ohio was named for the leader of the surveying party.
Falkirk - In 1298, the Battle of Falkirk took place.
And They’re Off - In 1894, the first motorized vehicle race was  held.

James Gang

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 21, 2014
Jesse and Frank James

Jesse and Frank James

July 21, 1873: The Rock Island train is derailed in Adair, Iowa. Jesse James and his cohorts commit what is considered to be the first successful train robbery in the American Wild West. Their robbery netted them about $3,000 (~ $59,000 in today’s dollars). The robbers were dressed in Ku Klux Klan masks years after the Force Acts suppressed their presence in the Old South. The idea was that former rebels were attacking the train as a symbol of threatening the establishment. Their later train robberies were less violent as they usually just took the money from the express safe in the baggage car and left the passengers keep their belongings.

The James Gang was made up of Jesse and his brother Frank along with the Younger brothers, Cole, Jim, John, and Bob. At various times all these and a few more (Clell Miller, Arthur McCoy, Charlie Pitts, John Jarrette, Bill Chadwell, and Matthew Nelson) were also included. Their origins stem from a group of Confederate bushwhackers who fought in the state of Missouri, a bitter battlefield during the US Civil War. Their postwar crimes began in 1866 but they did not truly become the James-Younger Gang until two years later. The gang dissolved after the capture of the Younger brothers during a failed bank robbery in Minnesota in 1876. Three years later, James organized a new group and was back in the business.

Jesse James was born in Missouri in 1847. His father was a commercial hemp farmer and a Baptist minister in Kentucky and moved to Missouri after he married. He was a successful and prosperous man and owned six slaves and more than 100 acres of farmland. He went to California to minister to those searching for gold and died there when Jesse was three. His mother married two more times. The area the James family lived in was dubbed “Little Dixie” during the War and had been a hotbed of discontent on the slave issue since 1854. Jesse and his older brother, Frank, were guerrilla fighters for the South during the War and gained much of their experience during this time.

After the war, Missouri was in shambles and the bushwackers were held together by their wartime leader. The men began to harass Republican authorities and they were probably the group that committed the first daylight armed bank robbery in the US during peacetime. As their robberies continued legends grew up around them and stories may have been embellished to include criminal acts in which the James brothers did not participate. Their crime spree continued with the crimes becoming more violent. Many of the gang had been killed or jailed and Jesse was relying solely on Charley and Robert Ford. This was a mistake. As they were getting ready to leave on another robbery attempt, Bob Ford shot Jesse point blank in the back of the head. He died at the age of 34.

I had hope, however; I had been wounded seven times during the war, and once before in this same lung; and I did not believe I was going to die.

I knew, however, that the next morning after the fight I would have to get away, and I did just in time, for a full company came early to look for me and were furious because I had escaped them.

No, I think it taught me to be independent and never expect a handout and never wait for anybody to hand you anything in any aspect of my life.

Surrender had played out for good with me. – all from Jesse James

Also on this day: Brrrrrrr – In 1983, the coldest recorded temperature is captured at Vostok Station.
Destruction – In 356 BC, the Temple of Artemis was destroyed.
Wild Bill Hickok – In 1865, the first shoot out in the wild west took place.
Constitutional - In 1997, the USS Constitution goes back out to sea.

Alexander the Great

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 20, 2014
Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

July 20, 356 BC: Alexander III of Macedon is born. He was born on the sixth month of the ancient Greek calendar, Hekatombaion, which corresponds to this date although, in all fairness, this may be a miscalculation. He was the son of Philip II and his fourth wife, Olympias (daughter of the king of Epirus). Philip had seven or eight wives, but Olympias was his favorite one, possibly due to having given birth to Alexander. The infant’s care was given over to a nurse and he eventually came under the tutelage of Leonidas and Lysimachus. He was raised as most nobles of the time with instruction in reading, riding, fighting, hunting, and playing the lyre.

At age 13, he needed a private tutor and Aristotle was chosen for the job. The lessons were held at the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza and other students there were Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander who would become Alexander’s lifelong friends and generals in his conquests. These teens were taught about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art under Aristotle. Alexander developed a passion for Homer and his favorite tale was the Iliad. His annotated copy went with him on his later campaigns. At age 16, his time with Aristotle ended. His father left to go to war against Byzantium and left Alexander as regent and heir apparent in Macedon.

While the father was gone, the Thracian Maedi revolted and Alexander responded quickly and decisively, driving them from their lands and colonizing it with Greeks. Father and son campaigned together after Philip returned and were a force to be reckoned with. When Philip died in 336 BC, Alexander took over the kingdom but desired to spread his rule farther afield. His successful campaigns did give him more lands to rule and he became the Pharaoh of Egypt in 332 BC, the King of Persia in 330 BC, and the King of Asia in 331 BC. Darius III had been ruler of Egypt and Persia prior to Alexander’s take over. There was no prior king of Asia.

While Alexander was out on conquests, the homeland enjoyed peace and prosperity. He sent back much of the plunder enriching the economy back home. However, because of his ever increasing need for troops, much of the male population in Macedon was away and it weakened the region which eventually led to their subjugation by Rome. As his Empire became larger, there was dissention and eventually mismanagement crept in. In June 323 BC, Alexander the Great died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II at the age of 32. There are a few versions of the cause of death and a couple involve drunken debauchery and others include assassination. Also possible are natural causes such as malaria or typhoid fever. After his death, the cohesiveness deteriorated and his Empire was soon divided.

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.

Heaven cannot brook two suns, nor earth two masters.

I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. – all from Alexander the Great

Also on this day: One Small Step – In 1969, Neil Armstrong steps out of the Eagle and walks on the moon.
Dethroned – In 1984, Vanessa Williams was asked to step down as Miss America.
Women’s Army Corps – In 1942, the Women’s Army Corps begins training.
Special - In 1968, the first Special Olympics were held.

Three All Alone

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 19, 2014
Neal Ball

Neal Ball

July 19, 1909: Neal Ball makes an unprecedented play while playing for the Cleveland Naps. Neal was born in Michigan in 1881 and began playing baseball in the minor leagues for the Montgomery Senators of the Southern League. In 1907 he was signed with the New York Highlanders (now the New York Yankees) where he played until 1909 when Cleveland picked him up. The Cleveland team was founded in 1894 and would eventually come to be known as the Indians. Neal moved from Cleveland in 1912 and played for the Boston Red Sox until retiring in 1913. His usual position was shortstop, but he was also played at second and third base as well as the outfield.

Neal was the first of only fifteen Major League Baseball players to make an unassisted triple play. For this to be even possible, there needs to be no outs in the inning and at least two runners on base. Usually, the play is made when an infielder catches a line drive (first out) and then double off one of the base runners and tags out a second runner for the second and third outs. Of the fifteen men who have accomplished this rare feat, eight of them were shortstops, five were second basemen, and two were first basemen. The Indians are the only team in the franchise to have three players do this while playing for them: Neal Ball, Bill Wambsganss, and Asdrubal Cabrera.

In May 1927, Jimmy Cooney got an unassisted triple and the very next day, Johnny Neun did, too. This is the closest together this has ever happened. After Neun’s triple play, it took more than 41 seasons before Ron Hansen also got a triple, that time on July 30, 1968 – which is the longest time between the spectacular play. The last time it was done was on August 23, 2009 when Eric Bruntlett managed to again make a triple. Only Neun and Bruntlett made their astounding triples as the last plays of their game. Neun was playing for the Detroit Tigers and Bruntlett was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies.

After Neal’s playing days ended, he became a coach for the then minor league team, the Baltimore Orioles. He was coaching there when a new kid came out of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys and Neal said the kid was “the dumbest and yet the strongest player” he had coached. The kid? Babe Ruth. The two remained friends even after Ruth broke into the Majors. The two baseball players even had a friendly bowling match in 1923 with Neal winning four of the seven games. In the 1950s, Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Newfield Alleys named a tournament after Neal to honor their famous citizen. In February 1952, Neal became seriously ill with a heart condition and died five years later at the age of 76.

If you rush in and out of the clubhouse, you rush in and out of baseball. – Pee Wee Reese

The big tragedy in baseball is that the amateur spirit has gone out of it to a large extent. – Larry MacPhail

Baseball is a game of averages, but over a short period of time, to have a little luck going is not a bad thing. – Bill Buckner

You never really know baseball until you put on a pair of cleats and get out and play it; and if you play for five years, you still don’t really know what it’s about. – Waite Hoyt

Also on this day: Tennis, Anyone? – In 1877, Wimbledon championships are first held.
SS Great Britain – In 1843, the largest sailing vessel in the world was launched.
First Teacher - In 1985, Christa McAuliffe was selected to be the first teacher in space.
Raining Rocks – In 1912, Holbrook, AZ is pelted with the fall out of an exploded meteorite.

Mary Jo Kopechne

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 18, 2014
Mary Jo Kopechne and the wrecked car driven by Ted Kennedy

Mary Jo Kopechne and the wrecked car driven by Ted Kennedy

July 18, 1969: Mary Jo Kopechne dies. She was an American teacher, secretary, and political campaign specialist. The only child of Joseph and Gwen Kopechne, she was born in Pennsylvania but the family moved to New Jersey soon after. She graduated with a degree in business administration from Caldwell College for Women in 1962 after which she moved to Montgomery, Alabama where she taught at the Mission of St. Jude. She became active in Civil Rights before moving back to Washington, D.C. and working as a secretary for Florida Senator George Smathers. She joined New York Senator Robert F Kennedy’s staff after he was elected in November 1964. She worked as a secretary to speechwriters and as legal secretary to one of his legal advisors.

During the 1968 US presidential election, Kopechne worked on the wording of Kennedy’s speech announcing his candidacy. She became one of the Boiler Room Girls, the name for six young women working for Kennedy’s campaign. These six women worked in a hot, windowless room tirelessly keeping track of vital campaign data and intelligence on how Democratic delegates were intending to vote. The women were politically savvy and chosen for their intelligence and work ethic as well as their ability to keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands. Kopechne was devastated by Kennedy’s assassination on June 5, 1968. She worked briefly for the George McGovern campaign and then left the world of politics.

She returned in December 1968 and worked for Matt Reese Associates, one of the first political consulting companies in Washington, D.C. By mid-1969 she had completed work on a mayoral campaign in Jersey City, New Jersey and was on her way to making this her career. On this day, she attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The Boiler Girls were being celebrated and Edward “Ted” Kennedy was there. He offered to drive Kopechne back to catch the last ferry. She left the party without saying goodbye and left her purse and keys behind. Kennedy’s car ended up in the water, having been driven off a narrow bridge without guardrails.

The car flipped in the water and Kennedy was able to get out alive. Kopechne was trapped in the car and either drowned or suffocated. Kennedy did not call for help or let anyone know of the accident until nine hours later. The next day, the car and Kopechne’s body were recovered. Kennedy denied having been drinking at the party and claimed he and Kopechne did not have anything other than a business relationship. Since he failed to report an accident causing injury, he was charged and eventually received a two-month suspended jail sentence. The scandal may have caused him to not follow his brothers’ footsteps as he did not run for President in the next two elections. He remained in the Senate until his death in 2009.

The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.

For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all.

Integrity is the lifeblood of democracy. Deceit is a poison in its veins.

Dad, I’m in some trouble. There’s been an accident and you’re going to hear all sorts of things about me from now on. Terrible things. – all from Edward Kennedy

Also on this day: Perfect – In 1976, Nadia Comaneci received the first perfect score at the Olympics.
Manifesto – In 1925, Hitler’s Mein Kampf was published.
Nero Fiddles? – In 64 AD, Rome burns.
Dent Blanche – In 1862, the mountain was first scaled.

RMS Carpathia

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 17, 2014
RMS Carpathia remains

RMS Carpathia remains

July 17, 1918: RMS Carpathia sinks. The steamship was owned and operated by the Cunard line and traversed the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and the US. She was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and laid down on September 10, 1901. She was launched on August 6, 1902 and had her maiden voyage on May 5, 1903. The impressive ship was 558 feet in length with a beam width of 34.5 feet. Her top speed was 17.5 knots or 20.1 mph. Her normal cruising speed was 14 knots (16 mph). When first built, she could carry 1,705 passengers and after a refit in 1905, that number increased to 2,550. Of those berths available, 100 were first class, 200 were second class and the remainder was third class.

What Carpathia was best known for was not her own sailing adventures. She was sailing from New York City to Fiume, Austria-Hungary (now Rijeka, Croatia) on the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912. There were some famous passengers aboard on the trip and Charles Marshall was among them. Three of his nieces were also sailing from England to the US. Harold Cottam was the wireless operator and he had been on the bridge for part of the evening. A message from land trying to contact another ship at sea was unable to get through and so Carpathia sent on the message only to hear the distress signal of the other ship, the RMS Titanic. Cottam awakened the captain who made full speed to the site of the disaster. They arrived at 4 AM and worked their way through the dangerous icebergs to collect 705 survivors of the notorious sinking perhaps including Marshall’s nieces.

During World War I, Carpathia was used as a troop transport and brought both Canadian and American troops to the battlefields of Europe. She sometimes traveled in convoys but not always. She brought Frank Buckles to the war – Frank was the last surviving American veteran of the war. On July 15, 1918, RMS Carpathia left Liverpool in a convoy with the destination as Boston.  On this beautiful summer day, she was in the Celtic Sea. Imperial German Navy submarine U-55 was also in the area. At 9:15 AM, the first torpedo struck the ship and impacted on the port side. The next, nearly immediately fired torpedo hit the engine room and killed two firemen and three trimmers.

The ship settled and listed to port. Captain William Prothero gave the order to abandon ship and all 57 passengers and 218 surviving crew were able to get to lifeboats as Carpathia was sinking. The submarine surfaced and fired a third torpedo at the dying ship and then approached the lifeboats. HMS Snowdrop, an Azalea-class sloop, arrived on the scene and drove the sub away with gunfire. She then picked up the survives. Carpathia fell under the waves at 11:00 AM about 120 miles west of Fastnet. The wreckage has been found and is currently owned by Premier Exhibitions Inc which plans to recover objects from the wreck.

I’d much rather be a woman than a man. Women can cry, they can wear cute clothes, and they’re the first to be rescued off sinking ships. – Gilda Radner

It sounds mercenary and it smacks of rats leaving the sinking ship. But get real, when everyone is bailing out, you don’t want to be the last man standing. – Robbie Fowler

His style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship. – Edmund Wilson

Often undecided whether to desert a sinking ship for one that might not float, he would make up his mind to sit on the wharf for a day. – Lord Beaverbrook

Also on this day: Whoops! – In 1939, Douglas Corrigan takes off in the wrong direction.
M-I-C-K-E-Y – In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.
Five and Dime - In 1997, Woolworth closed.
Martyrs of Compiegne – In 1794, sixteen women were killed as the Reign of Terror was winding down.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2014
2014 hijacked plane

2014 hijacked plane in Geneva

July 16, 1948: Miss Macao is hijacked. The Catalina seaplane was owned by Cathay Pacific and operated by a subsidiary. This was the first hijacking of a commercial plane and took place when the cockpit was stormed. The plane crashed and killed 25 of the 26 people on board. The lone survivor was Huang Yu, the hijacker. He survived by jumping from the emergency exit just prior to the crash. He was brought to court by the Macau police but they deferred to Hong Kong where the plane was registered. The British government there claimed the crime took place in China and they did not have jurisdiction. Since no one wished to try him, Huang was released without a trial on June 11, 1951 and was then deported to the People’s Republic of China.

Hijacking is also called aircraft piracy and also sometimes referred to as skyjacking. It is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. The reasons can be varied. In the above incident, the goal was robbery. Also, planes have been hijacked in order to demand a change of route so the hijackers can be taken to where they believe they would find a safe haven. In at least three cases, the planes were hijacked by either the pilot or co-pilot. The biggest use for hijacking is to hold the passengers as hostages to effect a trade for money or some political concessions. This last often produces an armed standoff between those inside the plane and those on the ground where the plane is landed.

The first non-commercial hijacking took place on February 21, 1931 when armed revolutionaries in Peru approached Byron Rickards demanding to be taken to the fighting. He refused. After a ten-day standoff, Rickards was informed that the revolution was successful and he was free to go if he took one of the members of the group to Lima. Howard “Doc” DeCelles was in Mexico and approached in December 1929 to take an unwanted passenger to an unknown destination, he told a Fort Worth newspaper in 1970. He claims to be the first hijacked pilot as he did deliver his passenger as demanded. The world’s first fatal hijacking took place in 1939 when a pilot instructor was aloft when he was shot by his student who wanted to keep the plane for himself.

Between 1948 and 1957 there were 15 hijackings worldwide. Between 1958 and 1967, it rose to 48 or about 5 per year. In 1968, there were 38 and in 1969 there were 82, the largest number in a single year. Between 1968 and 1977, the annual average was 41. The numbers dropped and there were 18 per year during the 1988 to 1997 decade. The September 11, 2001 hijacking of three planes resulted in 2,996 direct deaths making it the most fatal in history.  The case of DB Copper is the only unsolved hijacking in American history. The last plane to be taken over was on February 17, 2014 when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 was diverted to Geneva and the hijacker was the co-pilot who was arrested.

The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have the time to fall. – Orville Wright

To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. But to fly is everything. – Otto Lilienthal

If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing. – Chuck Yeager

Airplanes may kill you, but they ain’t likely to hurt you. – Satchel Paige

Also on this day: Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is published.
Calendars – In 622, the Islamic calendar began.
No Kissing – In 1451, King Henry VI bans kissing.
Lovely Rita – In 1935, the first parking meter was unveiled.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 15, 2014
Alois Alzheimer

Alois Alzheimer

July 15, 1910: The Textbook of Psychiatry is published. Emil Kraepelin’s book was the first to officially name the presenile dementia syndrome after his friend, Alois Alzheimer who first identified the disease. Auguste D, who was 55 when diagnosed, died in 1906 from the condition. During the next few years, eleven similar cases were reported in medical literature and were referring to the disease as Alzheimer’s since he was the first to describe the symptoms and the course of the disease. For most of the 20th century, the diagnosis was reserved for those whose senility began before an expected age. Alzheimer patients were diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65. In 1977, it was noted that the clinical pathology was nearly identical regardless of age of onset with Alzheimer’s and those suffering from “normal” senility. The causation may be different.

Dementia, and specifically Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the most costly diseases for society in the developed world. The cost of care includes both nursing home admission as well as home health care along with the cost of loss of productivity for both the patient and the caregiver, since care is needed around the clock. The cost of dementia around the world has been estimated to be about $160 billion annually with the cost of Alzheimer’s disease in the US costing about $100 billion each year. The greatest cost is incurred with long-term care provided by professionals – nursing home care. This accounts for about ⅔ of the bill for the US.

The main role of caregiver usually falls to a spouse or child of the patient. Home care is usually preferable for all involved, but the cost is still great both in terms of lost productivity and the toll it takes on the caregiver. Since there is no hope for recovery and the patient inevitably and inexorably declines, there is a psychological cost which compounds the other aspects of care giving, making it one of the reasons that dementia caregivers have such high rates of physical and mental disorders. The personality changes in the patient can include depression, behavioral disturbances, hallucinations, sleep disruption, and social isolation. Without supervision, the patient can wander off and not know how to return home.

Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity disease and some famous people have been diagnosed with it. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson were both victims of the disease. Actress Rita Hayworth, actor Charlton Heston, authors Terry Pratchett and Iris Murdoch, and Nobel Prize winner Charles Kao were all patients. Many novels and films have been produced using the disease as part of the storyline. Research into ways to safely and effectively treat the disease continues with more than 400 treatments having made it to some stage of testing. To date, there is no cure.

It seems that when you have cancer you are a brave battler against the disease, but when you have Alzheimer’s you are an old fart. That’s how people see you. It makes you feel quite alone. – Terry Pratchett

No matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished, what your financial situation is – when you’re dealing with a parent with Alzheimer’s, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can’t work, can’t live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don’t know what to expect. – Maria Shriver

My father started growing very quiet as Alzheimer’s started claiming more of him. The early stages of Alzheimer’s are the hardest because that person is aware that they’re losing awareness. And I think that that’s why my father started growing more and more quiet. – Patti Davis

I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They’re gone. They are gone. – Pat Robertson

Also on this day: What Does it Say? – In 1799, the Rosetta Stone is discovered.
Vast Wasteland – In 1976, the term “couch potato” was first used.
Pacific Aero Products – In 1916, the company that would become Boeing was incorporated.
Mozilla - In 2003, the Mozilla Foundation was established.

Big Money

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2014
The $100,000 bill

The $100,000 bill

July 14, 1969: The US Federal Reserve System officially discontinues large denomination bills. The $500 bill featured William McKinley, the $1,000 bill had Grover Cleveland on it, the $5,000 pictured James Madison, the $10,000 showed Salmon P. Chase, and the specially and rarely printed $100,000 had Woodrow Wilson on the front. The last was used for certain internal government transactions. The $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills were left in circulation although the $2 is rarely used and often confused with counterfeit money. The large denomination bills had been issued since the founding of the country, obviously with different people on the front.

On the back of all the large bills was ornate scrollwork and denomination identifiers. They were printed in green except for the 1934 gold certificates which came in $100, $1,000. $10,000, and $100,000 denominations and had orange printing on the back. These were issued after the country went off the gold standard and gold was compulsorily confiscated by order of Franklin D. Roosevelt. These bills were used only internally and not issued to the public. The series was discontinued in 1940. Although all bills printed by the US Mint system are considered legal tender, the no longer in service bills are generally treated as collectors’ items and are worth more than their face value indicates.

The last time any of the large bills were printed in the United States was on December 27, 1945 but it took until this day until they were officially declared defunct. They had been disappearing from use for quite some time. Benny Binion had 100 of the $10,000 bills displayed at his casino in Las Vegas. The display has since been taken down and the bills sold to individual collectors. The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona has an 1800s era $1,000 bill underneath a glass counter. As of May 30, 2009 there were 336 $10,000 bills known to exist. There were also 342 $5,000 and 165,372 $1,000 bills still remaining. Some of these are displayed in museums outside the country.

Most of these large bills were used by banks and by the government for large financial transactions. With the advent of electronic money systems, this became no longer needed. Richard Nixon had them removed from circulation partly because of new systems in place and partly because of the fear of counterfeiting and use in illegal activities such as drug trades and money laundering. Even with the rate of inflation since the large bills were removed – the $500 bill would purchase less today than the $100 bill did back in 1969 – there is little need for the larger bills. Neither the Department of the Treasury nor the Federal Reserve System has any plans to reissue the big bills.

The lack of money is the root of all evil. – Mark Twain

All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy. – Spike Milligan

It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money. – Albert Camus

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. – Woody Allen

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrates the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.

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When the Lights Went Out

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 13, 2014
After the Bushwick rioting during the power outage

Bushwick after the rioting during the power outage

July 13, 1977: New York City loses power. Other blackouts have hit the city when the power grid goes down. In both 1965 and 2003, the city lost power, but so did much of the surrounding region. During these two days in July, the blackout was basically restricted to New York City with just southern Queens and some neighborhoods in the Rockaways still with electricity. On this day, at 8:37 PM, lightning struck at Buchanan South, a substation on the Hudson River. The lightning strike tripped two circuit breakers in Buchanan. The substation converted the 345,000 volts of electricity from Indian Point to lower voltage for commercial use. There had been inadequate upgrades and a loose locking nut prevented the breaker from reclosing and allowing the power to flow again.

A second lightning strike caused a second 345 kV line to be lost and the loss of power from the 900 MW nuclear power plant at Indian Point was also lost. Because of the two lightning strikes, two major lines were loaded over their limits. As procedure stated, Con Edison (the power provider for New York City and some of Westchester County) tried to fast start the system at 8:45 PM. No one was actually at the station and the remote restart failed. At 8:55 PM there were two more lightning strikes which took out two more critical transmission lines. One of the lines was automatically returned to service; the other was not. This caused the servicing line to exceed limits and Con Edison had to reduce the load on another generator because of this overload. This just made a bad situation worse.

At 9:14 PM, New York Power Pool Operators in Guilderland (165 miles away and near the state capital) called and asked Con Edison to “shed load” and so they cut power first by 5% and then by 8% which took time to implement. Unfortunately, what Power Pool meant was to significantly drop the load by a much larger margin. At 9:19 PM, the final major interconnection to Upstate New York tripped and due to overheating, with this final insult links to Long Island and New Jersey began to have problems. At 9:22, Long Island Lighting Company tried to help but the system was spiraling out of control. In a domino effect, more stations were lost and by 9:36, New York City was without power. By 10:26, operators were beginning to restore power but it was not back on until late the next day.

The city was already in upheaval due to financial constraints and the Son of Sam murders. The entire nation was in a recession and the weather was unseasonably hot. All these conspired to make the atmosphere in the dark, hot city a powder keg. Looting and vandalism hit 31 neighborhoods. The hardest hit neighborhoods were Crown Heights were 75 stores were looted and in Bushwick where 25 arson fires were still burning the next morning. There were 35 blocks of Broadway destroyed with 134 stores looted and 45 of them set on fire. During the blackout, 550 police officers were injured and 4,500 looters were arrested. In total, 1,616 stores were damaged by looting and rioting and there were a total of 1,037 fires that were bad enough for fire response with 14 multiple-alarm fires.

Electricity is really just organized lightning. – George Carlin

Ben Franklin may have discovered electricity- but it is the man who invented the meter who made the money. – Earl Warren

We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb. – Bill Bryson

And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected. – Spike Milligan

Also on this day: You’re Out – In 1978, Lee Iacocca is fired from Ford.
Hollywood – In 1923, the HOLLYWOOD sign was dedicated.
Pop Goes the Weasel – In 1812, New York City passes its first pawnbroker ordinance.
Cubed - In 1944, Erno Rubik was born.


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