May 15, 1817: The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason opens its doors for business. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, believed insanity was a temporary impediment and felt it was their mission to help the mentally ill. On April 4, 1813 they adopted a constitution to build the first psychiatric hospital in America after a committee’s two-year feasibility study showed a profound need. The new hospital was based on The York Retreat, a mental hospital in England.
In 1813, the association purchased a 52-acre farm in Oxford Township (the area was incorporated into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1854). It seemed an ideal retreat and would eventually double in size as the surrounding area became more urban. The 50-bed facility opened under the name Friends Hospital. Over one-third of the 66 patients admitted during the first three years were cured or discharged as “much improved.” The treatment philosophy was one of kindness, dignity, and respect provided in comfortable and pleasant surroundings. Physical exercise in the form of work therapy, predominantly gardening, and eventually recreational therapy, was employed.
Friends Hospital continues to provide mental health treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Since 1813, the concept of “moral treatments” has been a key component of therapy. They combine this personal approach with modern medical advances to treat mental and emotional illnesses. They treat adolescents and older patients with no top age limit. They devised the first program in the region specifically for the elderly with mental illnesses. Their program for Eating Disorders is all-inclusive. Their 192-bed facility is staffed round-the-clock.
A key component in mental health treatment is the re-assimilation into society. Friends Hospital provides thorough discharge planning including appropriate social services. Each year, in America, up to 50 million people (more than 22%), suffer from clearly diagnosable mental disorders. Between 8 and 14 million suffer from depression. Around 12 million children are diagnosed with autism, depression, or hyperactivity. There are 15.4 million adults and 4.6 million teens with drinking problems and another 12.5 million with drug issues. More than 5,000 inpatients are treated at Friends Hospital yearly with another 7,000 seen on an outpatient basis.
“To provide for the suitable accommodation of persons who are or may be deprived of the use of their reason, and the maintenance of an asylum for their reception, which is intended to furnish, besides requisite medical aid, such tender, sympathetic attention as may soothe their agitated minds, and under the Divine Blessing, facilitate their recovery.” – Friends Hospital’s mission statement, 1813
“Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” – Oscar Levant
“Where does the violet tint end and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blending enter into the other. So with sanity and insanity.” – Herman Melville
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The Society of Friends was established in the mid-1600s and separated from the Church of England. One of the basic tenets of the religion is the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. This means all members have a responsibility and/or right to preach within the faith. Quakers are Christians regardless of their understanding of what that exactly means – evangelical, holiness, liberal, or conservative traditional Quaker. Most of them worship in churches with programmed worship including singing to the Lord and a prepared message from the Bible. These services are often coordinated by the pastor. A small percentage of Friends (Quakers) use unprogrammed worship. They have been known as pacifists who do not drink or swear and are committed to freedom for all. They advocate for the ending of slavery, prison reform, and social justice.
Also on this day A Cattle Trail Grows Up – In 1905 Las Vegas is established.
Puckle Gun – In 1718, the first machine gun was patented.
Plane Crazy – In 1928, Mickey Mouse starred in a silent, black-and-white cartoon.
May 14, 1939: Lina Medina’s son, Gerardo, is born in Lima, Peru. Lina’s own birthday is September 27, 1933. She is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history. She was just 5 years, 7 months, and 21 days old when Gerardo was born. The 6.0 pound baby was taken via Cesarean section as Lina’s pelvis was too small for a normal delivery. Gerardo was told he was Lina’s brother, but found out the truth when he was ten. He died in 1979 from a disease of the bone marrow. Lina is still living.
Lina’s father was arrested and charged with rape and incest but was later released due to lack of evidence. Lina has never told who fathered her child. She later married Raúl Juarado and together they had a son in 1972. There are conflicting reports on when Lina reached menarche with both 8 months and 2 ½ years given as her age for that milestone. It is agreed that she was having regular periods by the age of three. She was reported to have had significant breast development by the age of four.
Precocious puberty is the medical term for the unusual early onset of the sexual maturation process. Puberty is triggered by the brain, but this term is sometimes used when any of the sexual characteristics manifest and not only with brain-directed maturation. The condition needs medical evaluation for three reasons. First, the early bone maturation that is part of the process reduces adult height. Second, social problems – including sexual abuse and pedophilia – may take place. Lastly, it could be a sign of a tumor or other serious medical problem.
The second youngest mother of record is also from Peru. She, too, gave birth at a hospital in Lima in December of 2006. She was eight years old at the time of delivery. Her two cousins had raped her. She turned nine within a week of giving birth. There are five 9-year-old girls who have had children. One child was raped by her 22 year old cousin, one by her father, and one by a servant. One child got pregnant by a fellow student (age not given), and the last case remains under investigation. At least eight 10-year-old girls and seven 11-year-old girls have had babies. Most are the product of older men raping these children. Teens to a 75-year-old have been indicted on rape charges and most are serving time in jail.
“Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother.” – Beverly Jones
“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” – Victor Hugo
“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.” – Toni Morrison
“A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all.” – Washington Irving
“With what price we pay for the glory of motherhood.” – Isadora Duncan
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Lina remains the youngest mother on record. There have been other unfortunate children who have since been added to this list. Two six year olds have had children. One was from the USSR and gave birth in 1934. Her 69 year old grandfather was the father. Another girl from India was 6 years, 7 months old when her child was born in 1932. The father remains unknown. There are ten girls listed as giving birth while they were eight. There are 27 nine year old mothers. Most of these young mothers have sad stories surrounding their deliveries. The latest 9-year-old mother gave birth in January 2013 and there is some question as to her true age (she may be 15) and who the father is (it may be her 44-year-old stepfather).
Also on this day Lewis and Clark – In 1804 the Expedition begins their 28 month journey.
Summer Olympics – In 1900, the Paris Summer Olympics began.
Smallpox Vaccine – In 1796, the first smallpox vaccine was administered.
May 13, 1861: A great comet is discovered by a then-amateur astronomer in New South Wales, Australia. John Tebbutt was the grandson of one of the early free settlers of Australia. He received an extensive education, all in religious schools. One of John’s early teachers, Mr. Edward Quaife, introduced the boy to the wonders found in the night sky. When John turned 19, he began a more earnest study of the heavens using only a marine telescope and a sextant. Nine years later, he first found the Great Comet of 1861, one of the most brilliant comets known.
Comets are small bodies orbiting the sun in an elliptical pattern. As they near the sun, a coma or atmosphere called a tail, becomes visible. The tail is the result of solar radiation on the comet’s nucleus. The nucleus is made of ice, dust, and small rocks. They are quite small, measuring from 30 feet to 25+ miles in diameter. Aristotle called them komētēs meaning “stars with hair.” There were 3,535 reported comets as of June 2008 with more being discovered all the time. The number of naked-eye comets averages one per year.
To be considered as Great, a comet must be visible to many people when simply looking up into the sky. This is the result of several factors. The size and material of the nucleus are important. The more retained volatile material left, the more spectacular the tail as the comet nears the sun. Another factor is how near the sun the comet approaches. As a comet’s distance from the sun is halved, it becomes 8 times as bright. A final factor is how near the comet is to Earth during its perihelion (nearest to sun) phase.
The Great Comet of 1861 has the official designation of C/1861 J1 or 1861 II. It was visible to the naked eye for three months and was one of 8 Great Comets in the 19th century. The comet passed so close to Earth, the planet was inside the tail for two days. Tebbutt not only saw it first, but also correctly calculated its orbit. The comet orbits the sun every 408 years. It should reach its aphelion, the farthest point from the sun, in 2063. The next time it comes back this way will be in the 23rd century.
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato
“If you wish to study what the solar system is made of you study comets.” – Donald Yeomans
“The most significant finding is the nature of the surface of the comet. We now know that it isn’t covered in a hard crust. It’s a fine-grained, loosely glued layer of organic powder and ice. You couldn’t make a snowball on Tempel 1.” – Peter Schultz
“We have successfully collected samples from the comet and we’re bringing them home for analysis in laboratories all over the world.” – Don Brownlee
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: John Tebbutt was born in 1834. His father was a store keeper who retired from that profession around 1843. He purchased land at the end of town (Windsor) and built a house there. This is where John began observing the sky when he was 19. After discovering the Great Comet of 1861, he was able to purchase a 3.25 inch refracting telescope and continued his watchfulness. He was offered a government position but turned it down. By 1864, he built his own observatory near his father’s house and with his new telescope as well as two smaller ones, watched for meteors. He published his results for the years 1863-66 in 1868. He continued to publish his observations for the next thirty years. He upgraded his telescopes when he could. Before he died in 1916, he published Astronomical Memoirs which covered his 54 years of work.
Also on this day Knork? Spork? – In 1637 Cardinal Richelieu changes table settings.
Red Fort - In 1648, construction on the Red Fort was completed.
RFC – In 1912, the Royal Flying Corps was established in Britain.
May 12, 1950: The American Bowling Congress (ABC) drops their “white males-only” membership requirement. The ABC was founded in 1895 in New York City. By 1916, 40 women formed their own Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC). The Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) was started in 1982. All three bowling groups joined together to form the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) in 2005. Now headquartered in Greendale, Wisconsin, there are over 2.6 million members.
The USBC maintains specifications for all aspects of ten-pin bowling. They establish and publish the rules of the game as well as sanction leagues and tournaments at all levels – local, regional, and national. They provide merchandise for specific awards, maintain bowlers’ averages from sanctioned leagues and tournament play and certify bowling coaches. They have a USBC Hall of Fame that combined the ABC and WIBC Halls. There are 371 Hall of Famers – 243 Superior Performance, 109 Meritorious Service, and 19 Pioneer Famers.
Ten-pin bowling consists of ten frames where the bowler rolls a ball down a 60 foot lane toward ten pins set up in a triangle pattern with four pins in the back row, three pins sitting forward in the spaces between the pins, then two pins, and finally one point pin. The lane is 41.5 inches wide with gutters along the side to catch erroneously thrown balls. Each frame gives the bowler two chances to knock down all the pins. Scoring of strikes accumulates points so that a perfect game score is 300 points. The pins are 4.75 inches at their widest point and 15 inches tall. They weigh in at 3 pounds, 6 ounces or 3 pounds, ten ounces. The balls are of standard size and cannot weigh more than 16 pounds.
In 1930, Sir Flinders Petrie and his team of archeologists found primitive bowling balls and pins in an Egyptian tomb dating from 3200 BC. German historian, William Pahle, claims a game similar to bowling was being played in what is now Germany by 200 BC. Bowling first appeared in England around 1100 and was banned by King Edward III in 1366. Bowling traveled across the ocean with the settlers who played the game – the ban having been lifted. Today, more than 100 million people play in over 90 countries.
“The bowling alley is the poor man’s country club.” – Sanford Hansell
“Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at the bowling alley.” – Steven Wright
“Having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your head.” – Martin Mull
“One advantage of bowling over golf is that you never lose a bowling ball.” – unknown
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The 1940s through the 1960s were considered the golden age of bowling. By 1945, it was a billion dollar industry in the US. it had been promoted by the US Armed Forces and was considered to be the sport of “every man” and it is this premise that may have led to the integration of the sport. Post World War II labor organizations as well as individuals advocated to remove this discriminatory policy. Japanese-American Hiroto Hirashima also added his voice to those asking for equity. Eventually he organized nine Nisei teams to bowl in the ABC Tournament in Seattle. In 1963, he was elected to the ABC board of directors, the first minority to serve on the board. He is one of the inductees in the USBC Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame as well.
Also on this day ¿Yo quiero Taco Bell? – In 1989 Joe Valdez Caballero dies.
Dvorak v. QWERTY – In 1936, the Dvorak keyboard was patented.
Higher Education – In 1551, The Major National University of San Marcos was established.
May 11, 1820: HMS Beagle is launched. The 10-gun brig-sloop was a Cherokee class ship of the British Royal Navy. She was named for the dog. She was launched from Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames and cost £7,803 to build. In July, she was the first ship to sail under the new London Bridge as part of the fleet review held to celebrate King George IV’s coronation. And then she was kept in reserve for five years, moored afloat but without masts and rigging. She was refitted as a survey barque and made three voyages.
It cost £5,913 to refit the ship, removing 4 cannons and adding a mizzen mast for greater maneuverability. Captain Pringle Stokes piloted the Beagle from Plymouth on May 26, 1826. They embarked with HMS Adventure on a hydrographic survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Two years and two months into the voyage, Captain Stokes committed suicide after locking himself in his cabin for weeks. The ship came under command of Flag Lieutenant Robert FitzRoy who did a remarkable job. They returned to England on October 14, 1830.
Another survey trip to South America was to be given to HMS Chanticleer, but she was not seaworthy and the Beagle, under now-Captain FitzRoy, set sail after extensive refitting. FitzRoy, concerned about Captain Stoke’s suicide, wanted to bring a friend on the long trip – someone to alleviate the boredom and loneliness of command. Charles Darwin was the friend FitzRoy chose. Scheduled to leave in October, the overhaul caused a delay and so they did not sail until December 27, 1831. Instead of simply surveying South America, the ship returned to England via New Zealand, Sydney, Cape Town, and many other stops, arriving home safely on October 2, 1836.
The plan envisioned by FitzRoy saw the navy personnel engaged in hydrogeography while his friend could provide expertise with mineralogy and geology. The log for such a journey required painstaking descriptions and accurate and detailed note taking. Darwin’s notes led him to the theory of natural selection. The scientist discussed his theory with other naturalists but did not publish his seminal work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection until 1859. The work did not meet with immediate success. It did, however, thrust HMS Beagle into the limelight, making her one of the most famous ships in history.
“Reading these two genomes side by side, it’s amazing to see the evolutionary changes that are occurring. I couldn’t imagine (naturalist Charles) Darwin looking for stronger confirmation of his theories.” – Robert Waterston
“How do you know that God didn’t speak to Charles Darwin?” – Jack Lemmon
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
“The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.” – Henry Brooks Adams
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Robert FitzRoy was born July 5, 1805 in Suffolk, England. He was aristocratic by birth, a descendant of King Charles II as well other illustrious titles in his family tree. He is best known for his sailing adventures and eventually reached the rank of Vice-Admiral. However, he was also the 2nd Governor of New Zealand, taking over that position from Captain William Hobson on December 26, 1843. During his two years of rule, he was to maintain order and protect the Maori while still allowing settlers to settle on the Maori’s land. His resources were meager (mostly from duties paid) and he had little military backing. The settlers were overzealous and were found at fault in the Wairau Massacre. FitzRoy was probably quite willing to relinquish the role in 1845 to Sir George Grey.
Also on this day Man Against Machine – In 1997 IBM’s Deep Blue became a chess champion.
Pullman - In 1894, a wildcat strike against Pullman Palace Car Co. began.
The Pill – In 1960, the first contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA.
May 10, 1872: Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman to be nominated for President of the US. Nominated by the Equal Rights Party, her Vice Presidential running mate was Frederick Douglas. He was nominated without his consent and did not acknowledge the nomination or campaign. Woodhull’s candidacy was ratified on June 6, 1872. There are some historians who question the legality of her run for office. She was not yet 35 years old – maybe. In Ohio, there were no requirements for registering births before 1867. The Licking County, Ohio probate court burned in 1875 and all records were destroyed so there is no extant evidence.
Victoria Claftin married Canning Woodhull when she was 15 and he was 28. He was a practicing doctor but not formally educated. He was also an alcoholic. The couple had two children. Their son was intellectually impaired either at birth or due to a fall. Victoria divorced her husband in spite of society’s disapproval. She moved to New York City with her sister, Tennessee. Victoria became friendly with Cornelius Vanderbilt. With his backing, the two sisters set up the first female Wall Street brokerage firm – another scandalous endeavor that led to harassment by the local tabloids.
With proceeds from the brokerage firm, the sisters began publishing a paper, Woodhull & Claftin’s Weekly. The paper ran for 6 years and the sisters advocated for various causes including: women’s suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, free love, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution. The paper printed the first English version of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto on December 30, 1871. The paper also broke a story revealing Henry Ward Beecher’s alleged infidelity and eventually he was brought to trial for adultery. It was a legal sensation on par with the OJ Simpson murder trial.
Woodhull received no electoral votes in her bid for the Presidency. There are no recorded popular votes (women could not vote in the US until 1920). She had been arrested and held in jail just days prior to the November election stopping her from attempting to vote for herself. Anthony Comstock, a self-appointed moral defender of the country, had brought charges of sending obscene materials through the mail. Victoria was freed six months later. She moved to England in 1876 where she lectured and published The Humanitarian from 1892-1901. She died in 1927.
“King George III, and his Parliament denied our forefathers the right to make their own laws; they rebelled, and being successful, inaugurated this government. But men do not seem to comprehend that they are now pursuing toward women the same despotic course that King George pursued toward the American colonies.”
“I would recall the attention of all objecting egotists, Pharisees and would-be regulators of society to the true functions of government-to protect the complete exercise of individual rights, and what they are no living soul except the individual has any business to determine or to meddle with, in any way whatever, unless his own rights are first infringed.”
“Over the sexual relations, marriages have endeavored to preserve sway and to hold the people in subjection to what has been considered a standard of moral purity.”
“The courts hold if the law solemnly pronounce two married, that they are married, whether love is present or not. But this really such a marriage as this enlightened age should demand? No!” – all from Victoria Woodhull
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Women have served in the US House of Representatives since 1917 when Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana) was elected. There have been over 200 women in the House and there are currently 78 (17.9%) serving. In 1922, Rebecca Felton was allowed to serve in the Senate for one day but the first woman elected to the Upper House was in 1992 when four women Senators were ushered in. There have been 44 women to serve, 20 of them are current. Fourteen were appointed to the post (seven to succeed their deceased husbands). To date, there have been 36 women to serve (or are currently serving) as governors in the US. We have not succeeded in electing a woman to the highest office in the land.
Also on this day I Think I Can – In 1869 the First US Transcontinental Railroad is completed.
Longest Bridge in the World - In 1969, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened.
J. Edgar Hoover – In 1924, he became the sixth director of the FBI.
May 9, 1726: Five men arrested during a February raid of a molly house are publicly hanged at Tyburn. Margaret Clap – yes, that’s her real name – ran a brothel of sorts in London. “The clap” meaning venereal disease is said to have come about because so many sexually transmitted diseases are acquired at brothels and Mother Clap’s House was a very famous one in London. Mother Clap’s brothel was just a little different from many whorehouses. She ran a “molly house” or a brothel for homosexual men.
In 1726 in England, sodomy was a criminal act punishable by death. The main form of execution at the time was public hanging and Tyburn was one of the preeminent venues. There is some evidence that a fight between two mollies at Mother Clap’s House led one of them to go to the authorities to report crimes taking place. Police put the house under surveillance in December of 1725 and made their raid in February. Margaret had run her establishment from at least as early as 1724.
Margaret offered rooms to men and sold liquor. She made a profit on the drinks and accepted gifts from visitors. She did not take a percentage of monies as might be expected from a madam. She was interested in and sympathetic to the gay subculture. Her punishment after the raid was to stand in the pillory or stocks in Smithfield Market, pay a fine, and serve two years in prison. The public held sodomy to be a horrific crime and Margaret was physically accosted by many upright citizens. She fainted several times and fell off the pillory once. It is surmised that she died shortly after her release from the stocks. She was never heard from again.
Homosexuality is the sexual attraction to others of the same gender. Some cultures approved and encouraged this, such as ancient Greece, while others abhorred and outlawed the practice. Today, still, some cultures are more open to gay and lesbian encounters than others. There are social and political groups advocating for the rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Even so, there are people and whole cultures who refuse to accept this lifestyle. There are still countries who punish homosexuality by life imprisonment and even more sadly, with the death penalty.
“When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” – Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich
“The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals. It’s just that they need more supervision.” – Lynn Lavner
“There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. People should be very free with sex, they should draw the line at goats.” – Elton John
“If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work: ‘Hello. Can’t work today, still queer.’” – Robin Tyler
“My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.” – W. Somerset Maugham
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Tyburn was a village close to the current location of the Marble Arch in what is today the City of London. The village took its name from the boundary stream or Teo Bourne, a tributary of the River Thames. That stream no longer exists as the area has been filled in. The site became almost synonymous with capital punishment during the Middle Ages. It was used for executions with such frequency that a “Tyburn Tree” is another name for a scaffold for hanging. The first recorded hanging took place next to the then still existing stream in 1196. It remained the most popular hanging venue until the late 1700s.
Also on this day Xenu Was Here? – In 1950 L. Ron Hubbard published his book on Dianetics.
Crown Jewels Stolen – In 1671, Thomas Blood tried to steal the British Crown Jewels.
Lincoln Cathedral – In 1092, the church was consecrated.
May 8, 1877: A dog show opens at Gilmore’s Gardens in New York City. For more than a year, a group of sporting enthusiasts met regularly at a hotel bar. They told each other stories about their skillful marksmanship and excellent hunting dogs. They formed a club – named after the hotel. They pooled resources and opened a kennel to breed and train Pointers for hunting and field trials. The Westminster Breeding Association held a dog show in Philadelphia in 1876, the nation’s centennial. They enjoyed a successful event. They changed their name to the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC).
The Club sponsored the First Annual New York Bench Show of Dogs and rented the Hippodrome at Gilmore’s Gardens for 3 days at $500/day (≈ $9,625 today). The event drew 1,201 dogs and so much public interest, the venue was rented for a fourth day. Proceeds from the extra day were donated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The catalog from the first year lists many dogs as “not for sale.” However, many others were for sale with prices from $50 (≈ $950 today) to $10,000 (≈ $192,500 today).
In 1878, the entry fee of $2/dog covered the care and feeding of the animal. By 1879, the WKC with the Philadelphia Kennel Club’s help, began to list rules and regulations for the event. It was not until 1884 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded, that the rules became more standardized across the country. The AKC maintains a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the US. They also promote and sanction the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show along with other international events.
The Westminster Show is held yearly for three days at Madison Square Garden. It is second only to Crufts – an international show held in the UK – for size and prestige. The Westminster Show is so popular, the AKC has required dogs to have already earned Championship status before entering. Even so, there were 2,581 dogs from around the world entered in the 2005 Show. Few dogs have won Best in Show more than once (1 triple winner; 6 double) and males have taken the title 67 times while females have won 35 times.
“For the fifth year in succession I have poured over the catalogue of dogs in the show at Madison Square Garden without finding a dog named Rover, Towser, Sport, Spot or Fido.” – Westbrook Pegler
“When a dog show is over, whether you’ve won or lost doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve gone home with the best dog, everything’s fine.” – Pat Tetrault
“Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” – Corey Ford
“If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.” – Will Rogers
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Crufts has headquarters in Birmingham, United Kingdom. It was formed in 1891. It is more than just a dog show and also includes an associated trade show with wares of interest to dog lovers. Competitions are centered around dog agility, obedience, flyball (a dog race where dogs compete against each other as they run a course over a line of hurdles until they reach a box where the trained dog presses a pad which shoots up a tennis ball which the dog must catch and then return the ball to its human), and “heelwork to music” which is doggy dancing. This popular contest is also not open to all comers, but the dogs must pre-qualify before being registered for the events. It is estimated that about 28,000 dogs take part each year with about 160,000 humans attending the show.
Also on this day Saint-Pierre, Martinique – In 1902 a volcano erupts and destroys Saint-Pierre, Martinique.
Shoot Out - In 1984, a shooting at the Quebec National Assembly took place.
One Down – In 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered.
May 7, 1915: The RMS Lusitania is sunk by a German submarine, U-20. The Lusitania was a luxury liner operated through the British Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company. Built by John Brown and Company in Scotland, she was launched on June 7, 1906. Luxury liners were the space race of the early 20th century with several shipping lines competing for the best, fastest, and most luxurious ships ever. One of Cunard’s biggest competitors was the White Star Line, builder of the Titanic. The Lusitania is second only to the Titanic for civilian casualties at sea.
The Lusitania was 787 feet long and 87.5 feet at the beam. She had four funnels and two masts. The steel ship weighed 31,550 GRT. Twenty-five Scotch boilers turned four triple-bladed propellers producing an average speed of 25 knots (28.8 mph). She could accommodate 552 first class passengers, 460 second class, and 1,186 third class while it took a crew of 850 to operate the ship. Her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York City took six days. She made 202 crossings during her eight years in service.
The Lusitania left Pier 54 in New York City on May 1, 1915 despite warnings from the German Embassy in Washington, issued on April 22. The warning, printed right next to an ad for the Lusitania’s return trip, said there was a state of war between Germany and Great Britain and her allies. Germany considered the waters off the British Isles to be a war zone and had every intention of sinking any ships they encountered. Regardless of this warning, nearly 2,000 people were aboard the ship – many of them influential people from both Britain and the US.
On May 5 and 6, U-20 sank three vessels around Fastnet Rock. All British ships, including the Lusitania, were warned. Captain Turner took precautions aboard the Lusitania including preparing the lifeboats. At 11:00 AM on May 7, another warning was sent to Cap. Turner who then adjusted the course of the ship, trying to avoid the German U-boat. Turner had to slow the ship because of fog. Only 43 miles out from port at 2:10 PM, the Lusitania was hit under the bridge by a torpedo and a larger secondary explosion worsened the damaged ship’s chances. She sunk in 18 minutes taking the lives of 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard.
“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” – George William Curtis
“As far as sinking a ship with a bomb is concerned, you just can’t do it.” – Clark Howell Woodward
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” – John Paul Jones
“Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The term U-boat is an Anglicized version of the German U-Boot which itself was a shortening of Unterseeboot. The German word refers to any submarine, but the English translation refers to military submarines only, particularly those used during the two World Wars. These boats were especially useful to the German cause in the realm of economic warfare. They were used in both commerce raiding and blockade building. They were also, of course, used as naval warships. The first German sub was built in 1850 and could hold two men. It sunk on its maiden voyage. It was found at the bottom of the Kiel harbor during dredging in 1887 and was raised in 1903. It was then placed in a museum and remains there to this day.
Also on this day US Patent # 203,517 – In 1878 a US patent is granted for a fire escape ladder.
Out of the Ashes – In 1946, Japan’s new electronics company formed.
American Medical Association – In 1847, the AMA was founded.
May 6, 1994: The Channel Tunnel linking England and France opens. The 31.4 mile undersea rail tunnel connects Folkestone, England with Coquelles, France. The tunnel was built through a chalk marl stratum for the majority of its length. The White Cliffs of Dover, which are near Folkestone, are made of a similar substance. Chalk is calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, and comes in a range of colors. Geological studies showed strata with subdivisions of Glauconitic Marl, Plenus Marl, Chalk Marl, and Grey Chalk. The Chalk Marl strata contained a high proportion of clay, making it more waterproof.
The strata on the French side showed a slightly different composition. Because of variations in the geological features, construction went more quickly on the British side. They were able to progress an average of 500 feet per week with their best week pushing forward 1,400 feet. The French side averaged 360 feet per week with their best week showing 1,060 feet of progress. It took seven years of construction efforts after decades of studies and planning showed feasibility for the tunnel (first proposed in the 18th century) and funding issues were resolved.
The Channel Tunnel or Chunnel is operated by Eurotunnel. There were 18 design development studies to assure safety. The lifespan is 120 years meaning the Chunnel should show no deterioration for at least that span of time. About 13,000 engineers, technicians, and workers built the two Running Tunnels and the Service Tunnel. The two main tunnels are 100 feet apart. Each Running Tunnel carries a single track railway. They are connected to the Service Tunnel by Cross Passages every 1,230 feet. Two caverns were also excavated allowing trains to change tunnels if needed. They are called the English and French Crossovers.
There have been three fires in the Chunnel. The first, in 1996, caused extensive damage and took six months to repair. A small fire in 2006 caused the tunnel to close for several hours. A third fire on September 11, 2008 caused both tunnels to close with the undamaged South Tunnel reopening in two days. The North Tunnel remained closed until it could be repaired. The remarkable construction has been deemed by some as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Millions of tonnes of freight and millions of passengers continue to flow back and forth under the English Channel yearly.
“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.” – H Ross Perot
“To strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering – that is, incessantly and eternally to make new roads, wherever they may lead.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“To define it rudely but not ineptly, engineering is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion.” – Arthur Wellesley
“The engineering is secondary to the vision.” – Cynthia Ozick
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: Eurotunnel was founded in 1986 and manages and operates the Channel Tunnel which includes vehicle shuttle service, as well as freight and passenger trains used in the Chunnel. They are listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the Euronext Paris. The last year for figures was 2010 and in that year they had a revenue of €736.6 million with an operating income of €189.9 million. They garnered a profit of €56.8 million in that year. They have total assets listed as €7.184 billion with a total equity of €2.820 billion. They employ 2,310 people. In June 2012, they acquired the assets of SeaFrance ferries which is not included in the above numbers.
Also on this day “Oh, the humanity!” – In 1937 the Hindenburg burns while docking.
Francis Xavier – In 1542, Francis Xavier reached Old Goa.
Phoenix Park – In 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish was murdered.