Little Bits of History

Ford Tough

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2014
President Ford immediately after shots were fired

President Ford immediately after shots were fired

September 22, 1975: An attempt to assassinate US President Gerald Ford takes place. Squeaky Fromme had just attempted to kill the President 17 days before. Rather than hide in safety, the President continued his normal routine. Sara Jane Kahn Moore was born in West Virginia in 1930. She entered nursing school and served in the Women’s Army Corps. She went on to become an accountant. She was divorced five times and had four children before she turned to revolutionary politics earlier in the year. She was obsessed with Patty Heart and her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Randolph Hearst created People in Need to feed the poor as an attempt to appease the group holding his daughter. Moore was a bookkeeper for People in Need and an FBI informant when she became the second woman to attempt a presidential assassination.

Moore had been evaluated by the Secret Service earlier in the year and she was said to be no threat to the President. On September 21, 1975 she was picked up and released but not before police confiscated her .44 caliber revolver and 113 rounds of ammunition. On this day, she purchased a .38 caliber revolver but did not have time to test the gun. She was standing in the street outside the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She saw her target and took a shot. The sights on the gun were off and she narrowly missed the President. She again raised the gun to shoot, but before she could get a shot off, former Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed her arm and saved the President’s life. He also pulled Moore to the ground.

Moore was brought to trial and pled guilty to attempted assassination. She was sentenced to life in prison. In 1979, while at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia, Moore escaped only to be recaptured hours later. She was returned to prison, but transferred to a more secure one. She served the remainder of her prison term at a women’s prison in Dubin, California where she worked as an accountant earning $1.25 per hour. On December 31, 2007, Moore was released from prison. She was 77 years old at the time. President Ford had died of natural causes on December 26, 2006. She remained under supervised parole for five years after her release.

Fromme was also sentenced to life in prison and eventually she, too, was at the women’s prison in Dublin, California. Fromme was transferred from there to the Alserson prison where she, too, escaped. She was attempted to get in contact with Charles Manson. She was captured two days later and then sent to Fort Worth, Texas. She was first eligible for parole in 1985 but did not pursue it. She was finally granted parole in July 2008 but was not released because of her prison. She was finally released from prison on August 14, 2009 and moved to New York.

I do regret I didn’t succeed, and allow the winds of change to start. I wish I had killed him. I did it to create chaos.

I didn’t want to kill anybody, but there comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun.

The government had declared war on the left. Nixon’s appointment of Ford as Vice President and his resignation making Ford President seemed to be a continuing assault on America.

I know now that I was wrong to try. Thank God I didn’t succeed. People kept saying he would have to die before I could be released, and I did not want my release from prison to be dependent on somebody, on something happening to somebody else, so I wanted him to live to be 100. (2007) – all from Sara Jane Moore

Also on this day: Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Regrets – In 1776, Nathan Hale was executed as a spy.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
Movies - In 1910, the Duke of York’s Picture House opened.

Dead Poet’s Society

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2014


September 21, 19 BC: Virgil dies. The poet’s official name was Publius Vergilius Maro. We know of his life via a lot biography by Varius which got incorporated into works written later by Suetonius, Servius, and Donatus. Because of the imprecise nature of the writings, Virgil’s true biographical information is somewhat problematic. According to tradition, he was born in the village of Andes, in Cisalpine Gaul on October 15, 70 BC. There is a suggestion of Etruscan, Umbrian, or possibly Celtic roots. It is said he was from humble beginnings, but modern scholars feel he was instead from an equestrian landowning family who could afford to educate their son. He attended several schools and briefly considered careers in rhetoric or the law before turning to poetry.

The poet is known for three major Latin works – the Eclogues or Bucolics, the Georgics, and his most famous work, the Aeneid. The first of these is a group of ten poems modeled on the Greek poet’s Theocritus’s method of hexameter poetry. Some believed it was autobiographical and written after the loss of his lands after the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. Today, this seems to be unsupported inference. The Georgics was published later. The superficial meaning of the work is how to run a farm and each of the four books tackles one area of land management or animal husbandry. The entire book is influenced by the political times and the power struggles between Augustus and Antony.

The Aeneid is considered to be Virgil’s finest work and one of the most important poems in western literature. The epic poem, based on the Iliad and the Odyssey, has 12 books written in dactylic hexameter verse which is a rhyming scheme used by classic poets based on six feet with stress given to specific syllables. In the Aeneid, a warrior fled from the sacking of Troy and came to Italy. Eventually, after six books rather akin to the adventures in the Odyssey, we come to the founding of Rome. The final six books are more connected to the Iliad. Virgil worked on the epic poem for the last eleven years of his life. He traveled to Greece in 19 BC in order to work on revisions for his poem. He met Augustus in Athens and returned home.

On the return trip, he got ill and died on this day. He had left instructions that this final work be burned. Augustus insisted that it be published with as little alteration as possible. Lucius Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca were his literary executors and they followed the orders of the Emperor rather than of their client. There are few obvious errors other than a few lines which do not carry the hexameter rhythm. While Virgil was impressed by and followed in the footsteps of Homer, his own work was also later appreciated. Dante honored the influence by having Virgil guide us through hell and purgatory in his own Divine Comedy.

They succeed, because they think they can.

Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.

It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep may be.

Myself acquainted with misfortune, I learn to help the unfortunate. – all from Virgil

Also on this day: Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia finds out there is a Santa Clause.
Got Milk? – In 1995, the Miracle of the Milk began in India.
Monday Night Changes – In 1970, Monday Night Football premiered.
Ablaze - In 1776, New York City was on fire.

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Walk This Way

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 20, 2014
Walking Purchase historical marker

Walking Purchase historical marker

September 20, 1737: The Walking Purchase walk ends. Also known as the Walking Treaty, or if you prefer, the land swindle. It was an agreement between the Penn family and the Lenape tribe (also know at the Delaware). William Penn’s heirs, John and Thomas Penn, claimed they were in possession of a deed from the 1680s in which the Lenape agreed to sell a tract of land beginning at the junction of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River where modern Easton, Pennsylvania is and which would go as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half. This document may have been unsigned, unratified, or even forged. Land was being sold in the Lehigh Valley despite the fact the Lenape still lived there.

According to popular accounts, the Lenape assumed the greatest distance a man could cover in just 1.5 days was about 40 miles. According to these same accounts, Provisional Secretary James Logan hired three of the fastest runners of the day to cover the distance on prepared trails. Of the three men chosen, only one finished – Edward Marshall. The distance the runners covered was supervised by the Sheriff of Bucks County, Timothy Smith. The walk began on September 19 and finished on this day with Marshall having reached a spot 70 miles distant near present day Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Smith then drew a perpendicular line on a map back toward the northeast and claimed all the land between these lines to be sold.

There were 1,200,000 acres included within the lines which is about the size of Rhode Island. There are seven present-day Pennsylvania counties located there. The Lenape appealed to the Iroquois confederacy to help with the situation but the Iroquois opted to stand aside, protecting their own interests in the political landscape of the times. The Lenape were forced to vacate even as their leaders protested the arrangement. The natives were forced to move as far afield as the Ohio Country regions. Their trust in the Pennsylvania government was forever lost.

In 2004, the Delaware Nation filed a suit against Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking 314 acres included in the Walking Purchase to be returned. This was known as Tatamy’s Place. The court granted Pennsylvania’s motion to dismiss. Although the court found it might have been fraudulent, the Treaty was completed prior to the first Indian Nonintercourse Act in 1790 and so it did not have relevance to this case. The case was pushed higher through the system in the ensuing years without any progress. The case has been dismissed up to the level the US Supreme Court.

The Delaware Nation claims in its appeal that the King of England-not Thomas Penn-was the sovereign over the territory that included Tatamy’s Place. Therefore, Thomas Penn could not extinguish aboriginal title via the Walking Purchase and, consequently, the Delaware Nation maintains a right of occupancy and use. – from the Third Circuit case

Penn’s government and practices apparently differed sharply from the Puritan-led governments of the other American colonies. The most striking difference was Penn’s ability to cultivate a positive relationship based on mutual respect with the Native Americans inhabiting the province. – from the 2004 District Court

Penn’s sons were less interested than their father in cultivating a friendship with the Lenni Lenape. – from the 2004 District Court

The Lenni Lenape Chiefs trusted that the “white men” would take a leisurely walk through the tangled Pennsylvanian forests along the Delaware. – from the 2004 District Court

Also on this day: Cannes Film Festival – In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival is held.
Girl’s Night – In 1973, Billy Jean King won the “War of the Sexes” against Bobby Riggs.
QE2 – In 1967, the British cruise ship was launched.
Across the Deep Blue Sea – In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan began his journey around the world.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 19, 2014
George Washington’s Farewell Address

George Washington’s Farewell Address

September 19, 1796: George Washington’s Farewell Address is printed as an open letter to the public. Washington published the letter late in his second term before he retired to his home, Mount Vernon. The letter was published in the American Daily Advertiser on this day under the title “The Address of George Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States.” Newspapers across the country reprinted the letter for others to share and it was also put out in pamphlet form. Since the title was a bit over the top, it was later changed to “Farewell Address”. This was Washington’s farewell after twenty years of service to the new nation.

The first draft was written in 1792 with the help of James Madison. Washington had hoped to serve only one term and then finally get to retire. As he ran for a second term, the letter was put aside. He opted to run for a second term when it was pointed out that party politics would tear the country apart without his adept leadership counteracting the divisive nature of the two parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. This disunity, along with troubling foreign affairs, led Washington away from retirement and into the ring for a second term as President.

Four years later, Alexander Hamilton helped Washington prepare a revision to the original draft. Washington looked at the emerging political landscape and how far the young country had come in a short time. His support of the Constitution was also mentioned. He defended his actions of the prior eight years and advised the nation and the population on how to proceed. Washington was exhausted. He was an old man of 64 at the time of the letter’s publication and it was two months before the Electoral College would announce the new leader of the country, John Adams.

Washington was able to retire in March 1797 and returned to his home in Virginia. He spent the last three years of his life immersed in his plantation and other business interests which included a distillery which produced its first run in February 1797. His estate was worth nearly a $1 million in 1799 dollars or about $19.3 million in today’s dollars. However, Washington was land poor. His holdings didn’t earn much money and squatters on his property refused to pay rent, feeling he was rich enough and didn’t need their money. By July 4, 1798 with war with Britain looking like a distinct possibility, Washington came out of retirement to become Commander-in-chief of the US armies, a position he held for seventeen months until his death. He was 67 years old and had been inspecting his plantation on horseback. He was cold and wet and became ill. Physicians were called and bloodletting was the choice of treatment. Three doctors helped bleed the Father of Our Country to death.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. – all from George Washington

Also on this day: Lord Haw-Haw – In 1945, William Joyce is sentenced to death for high treason against the British Government.
Buy a Vowel? – In 1983, Wheel of Fortune began evening broadcasts.
Sportsman of the Year - In 1988, Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board at the Olympic games.
Equal Rights – In 1893, women got the right to vote in New Zealand.

Hull House

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 18, 2014
Hull House

Hull House 

September 18, 1889: Hull House opens. It was a settlement house, part of the settlement movement of social reforms which took place from the 1880s to the 1920s. Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened their house on the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois and named it after the home’s first owner. They modeled the enterprise on Toynbee Hall which opened in 1885 in the East End of London. The women’s movement of the late 19th century promoted education, autonomy, and women’s ability to take on jobs which were thought to be “men’s work”. Organizations of women formed a sisterhood and college educated women took their cause to the working class and poor neighborhoods to help their sisters rise from the oppressed social norms.

From the beginning, Hull House was a place for educated women, often single, to pass on their knowledge and give other women opportunities to earn their way in the outside world. Many of the people around Hull House were recent European immigrants. The college women gave classes on literature, history, art, and domestic activities such as sewing along with a host of other topics. Hull House offered free concerts as well as free lectures on current issues. These were open to everyone. They operated clubs for both adults and children.

Throughout the first twenty years of the House’s existence, thousands of immigrants from the area were served. Many of the female residents of the house went on to become prominent and influential reformers in their own right. They offered medical assistance to battered women and children, nursed the sick, and did their best by residents even if a doctor was unavailable. Helping the unfortunate led the leaders to advocate for legislative reforms. They lobbied for betterment in the area of child labor, women’s suffrage, healthcare reform, and immigration policy. There are those who claim the Hull House is the seed from which today’s Social Welfare programs stemmed.

By 1911, Hull House had grown to 13 buildings and the next year the complex added a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. The idea spread and by 1920, there were 500 settlement houses across the nation. In Chicago, the original house underwent near continual modifications, renovations, and improvements. The original building and one other still exist today. On June 23, 1965, it was made a National Historic Landmark and on June 12, 1974, Hull House was designated a Chicago Landmark. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places as well. Today, it is overseen by the University of Illinois at Chicago. They no longer minister to the poor, but the building remains open as a museum.

Passive righteousness tells us that God does not need our good works. Active righteousness tells us that our neighbor does. The aim and direction of good works are horizontal, not vertical. – Tullian Tchividjian

It is a common assumption that a person’s good works will get them into Heaven. – Monica Johnson

In dreams the truth is learned that all good works are done in the absence of a caress. – Leonard Cohen

Most of us want to have enough… good works to get into heaven, but enough bad works to be fun. – Rick Warren

Also on this day: Capitol Building – In 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone for the Capitol Building.
High Class – In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and partner opened a new store.
All the News That’s Fit to Print – In 1851, The New York Times first went on sale.
Old Faithful – In 1870, the geyser was named by an expeditionary force.

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Freedom Becomes Her

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 17, 2014
Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

September 17, 1849: Harriet is free. Araminta Ross was born around March 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her parents were slaves with her mother owned by Mary Pattison Brodess and her father owned by Anthony Thompson who would later become Mary’s second husband. Slaves births were not a matter of record and the exact date of “Minty’s” birth is unknown. Minty’s grandmother, Modesty, got to the US via a slave ship and during her childhood, Minty was told she was of Ashanti lineage coming from the area of Ghana today. Minty’s mother was the cook for the Brodess family while her father managed timber work on the Thompson plantation. The slaves married and according to court records had nine children together between 1811 and 1832.

As was common among slave families, children could be sold away from the parents. A tale told within the family may have influenced Minty and her daring. Her mother threatened Brodess’s son as he and a Georgia slave buyer approached the house to take a son away. Mama threatened them with death and they left without taking the boy. Minty was left in charge of many of her younger siblings while her mother worked in the big house. Brodess hired her out when she was five or six as a nursemaid to a baby. When the baby woke and cried, Minty was whipped. She carried the scars of these repeated beatings for the rest of her life. While still a child, she was beaten by masters and suffered a severe head wound which induced epileptic seizures, headaches, and visionary disturbances.

Because of her injuries, her value as a slave decreased. Around 1844, Minty married a free black man named John Tubman. Around that time, she also changed her name to Harriet – her mother’s name. The union was complicated because any children born to the couple would be slave, since status was conferred by the mother’s condition. In 1849, Harriet was ill once again and Brodess wanted to sell her but could not find a buyer for such shoddy wares. Harriet was incensed at the conditions she and her family were living under. She and two brothers escaped on this day, just days after Edward Brodess’s death (which made the family’s situation even more precarious).

The three slaves had been hired out to another family and so their runaway status was not immediately recognized by their owner, Eliza Brodess. She offered a $100 reward for each of their captures. The brothers returned and brought their sister with them but Harriet escaped again soon after. She became an advocate for freedom and began sneaking in and out of Maryland, using the Underground Railroad to spirit her family members to freedom. Finally free to choose her own way, she chose freedom for herself and others and worked as an abolitionist and humanitarian. During the Civil War, she worked as a Union spy and a nurse. She died in Auburn, New York in 1913 at the age of 91.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. – all from Harriet Tubman

Also on this day: His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I – In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton proclaims himself Emperor of the US.
One Dam Thing – in 1930, construction began on Boulder Dam.
No Fear of Flying – In 1908, Orville Wright crashed his plane.
Animalcules - In 1683, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society.

GM Starts Here

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 16, 2014
General Motors Corporation

General Motors Corporation

September 16, 1908: The General Motors Corporation (GM) is founded. The company was founded by William C. Durant as a holding company. Initially, GM held only Buick Motor company, but it quickly added more than twenty more companies including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Oakland (known today as Pontiac). The company was founded in Flint, Michigan when Durant signed a 15 year contract in Canada with exchange of 500,000 shares of Buick stock for 500,000 shares of McLaughlin stock. Durant’s business had been located in Flint where he opened in 1886, building carriages. By 1900 he was producing 100,000 carriages per year with plants in Michigan and Canada. He was also producing springs, axles, and other components being provided to the early automotive industry. Before 1900, there less than 8,000 cars in America.

The first company brought into the GM family was Oldsmobile which happened before the end of the year. In 1909, seven more brands were added including some truck manufacturers. Rapid Motor Vehicle, the predecessor to GMC Trucks produced the first truck able to conquer Pikes Peak and did so in 1909. More companies were added in 1910 and the company attempted to buy Ford but the deal fell through. Durant lost control of the company to a bankers trust and left the firm to begin again. He joined with Louis Chevrolet and co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Company. With more stock trading, Durant moved back to head GM in 1916 and eventually Chevrolet joined the parent company, too.

In the next few years, GM went global with the acquisition of international brands. They also acquired Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System, the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company and its subsidiaries, as well as the Yellow Coach bus company. In the mid-1920s the headquarters moved from Flint to Detroit, Michigan. By the time the new building was dedicated as the General Motors Building in 1929, Alfred P. Sloan was president of the company. The building eventually became the Cadillac Place. In 1996, the Renaissance Center became headquarters. Buick Division headquarters remained in Flint until 1998 when it, too, moved to the Renaissance Center.

Today, GM produces vehicles in 37 countries under ten brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall, Wuling, Baojum, Jie Fang, and UzDaewoo. In 2009, they changed their name to General Motors Company. Tim Solso is chairman of the board while Mary Barra is CEO. Dan Ammann is president. They have four divisions with 23 subsidiaries in both transportation and financial services. They operate 397 facilities on six continents. They had a production output of 9,714,652 in 2013. Their revenue last year was $155.42 billion with an operating income of $4.919 billion and a net income of $5.346 billion. They have 219,000 people working for them.

The cars we drive say a lot about us. – Alexandra Paul

I know a lot about cars, man. I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you exactly which way it’s coming. – Mitch Hedberg

If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 MPG. – Bill Gates

A car for every purse and purpose. – Alfred P. Sloan

Also on this day: It’s Not Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings – In 1966, The Metropolitan Opera House opens.
Hero – In 1976, Shavarsh Karapetyan saves twenty from a submerged bus.
Sublime Tenor – In 1930, Enrico Caruso last entered a recording studio.
Nancy - In 1961, a typhoon hit Osaka, Japan.

Doom Bar

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 15, 2014
HMS Whiting type of ship

HMS Whiting type of ship

September 15, 1816: HMS Whiting runs aground. The ship was built in 1811 by Thomas Kemp as a Baltimore pilot schooner and launched on December 11. At the time, she was named Arrow. On May 8, 1812, she was captured by the British navy under Orders in Council for trading with the French. The Americans felt the British had no reason to interfere with their trading agreements. Arrow was returning from Bordeaux fully loaded with brandy, champagne, silk, and other goods when overtaken by the 38-gun frigate, HMS Andromache who seized the ship and her cargo. One month later, the Orders in Council were repealed and on June 18, 1812, the US declared war on England. The British kept the ship and refitted her for their purposes.

Whiting was used to capture several ships during the War and one of them was another laden ship from Bordeaux, carrying the same types of goods. The Whiting was also one of ten ships involved in the Battle of Fort Peter which took place after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent but before the Senate had ratified it. On this day, the ship was closer to home with Lieutenant John Jackson in command. Now sailing from Plymouth around Land’s End to the Irish Sea, she was to find smugglers. She encountered a gale and so Jackson took the ship into the harbor at Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall. The wind dropped as she came around a point and the ship ran aground on the Doom Bar.

During the next high tide, Jackson attempted to float the ship off the sandbar, but it was taking on water and the project was abandoned. Over the next few days, the crew was taken ashore. A court martial board reprimanded Jackson for having attempted to enter the harbor without a pilot as well as failing to lighten the load before trying to float the ship off the bar. Jackson lost a year’s seniority. Five crew members had taken the opportunity to desert. Three were caught and punished with 50 lashes. The ship was sold but nothing happened. Today, there has been some interest in finding the wreckage, even with shifting sands a promising locality has been found but nothing has yet come of it.

Doom Bar is a moving sandbar at the mouth of the estuary of the River Camel where it meets the Celtic Sea on the north coast of Cornwall. It is a permanent sandbank and is composed mainly of marine sand continually being carried up from the seabed. It has been a known danger to shipping. When ships were powered by sail, they lost power and the ability to steer as they rounded the point and often were grounded. There have been over 600 beachings, capsizes, and wrecks documented on this sandbank since the beginning of the 1800s. Pilots would wait at Stepper Point and offer assistance to ships in need. According to local legend, the Doom Bar was created by the Mermaid of Padstow as a dying curse after being shot.

To reach a port we must set sail – / Sail, not tie at anchor / Sail, not drift. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

You can’t believe how bleeding scary the sea is! There’s, like, whales and storms and shit! They don’t bloody tell you that! – Libba Bray

I can’t control the wind but I can adjust the sail. – Ricky Skaggs

Keep your hand on the helm. – Matthew Goldman

Also on this day: I Feel the Need for Speed – In 1881, Ettore Bugatti is born.
What is That? – In 1916, tanks were first used in battle.
Railroads - In 1830, inter-city passenger rail travel began.
Life in a Vacuum – In 1947, RCA released a new vacuum tube.

Olympics Were Less Strict

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 14, 2014
Tug of War

Tug of War

September 14, 1865: Edgar Lindenau Aabye is born. He was a Danish member of the Dano-Swedish tug of war team for the 1900 Summer Olympics. Their team won the gold medal. There were no opening or closing ceremonies and games were played between May 14 and October 28 as part of the 1900 World’s Fair. There were 24 nations participating with 997 athletes taking part in 85 events held in 19 different sports. Women were able to participate for the first time and there were 22 brave women there. The first Games had been held four years earlier placed in Athens. Paris was chosen as the next host.

The Sweden/Denmark team was comprised of three men from each country. They defeated the French team to win the gold. These were the only two participating teams. A team from the US had entered but was forced to withdraw because three members were involved in the final of the hammer competition. Edgar Aabye was a journalist covering the games. He worked for the Danish paper Politiken. One of the Dane members of the team became ill and Aabye was asked to take his place. The silver medal went to France, the only other team. Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was a member of that team. He was from Haiti and was the first black medalist in Olympic history when his team took second place.

Tug of war is team game of strength with ancient roots. Egypt, Greece, and China all have ancient references to the game. Formal rules today have teams of eight pitted against each other. Their combined mass cannot exceed a maximum weight as determined by class. They align themselves on each side a rope with the center marked. There are then two markers placed four meters on either side of the center line. At the call of “pull” the contest begins. The game is won when a team pulls their opposition’s mark over the center line. The game can also end when a foul is committed which can happen if a team members sits or falls down. It is also a foul if a player’s elbows drop below knee level. The rope, which is approximately 11 centimeters in circumference, must pass under the arms.

There are a number of strategies which can be employed. Raw muscle power is important but there are a few other ways to help one’s team pull off a win. The sport was part of the Olympics from 1900 until 1920. There is also a risk of injury associated with the game. Some of these are from falling or back strain. But some are more serious with fingers, hands, and even arms being amputated. These serious injuries are often caused by people wrapping the rope around the arms but also can happen when the rope breaks. The elastic recoil from a snapped rope can cause grave injuries. In Taiwan in 1997, two men were injured by a snapping rope during a community event. They each lost an arm from the rope and both men were taken to the hospital where their arms were reattached successfully.

I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins. –  Shel Silverstein

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. – Albert Einstein

It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave. – Tupac Shakur

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. – Michael Jordan

Also on this day: Fort McHenry – In 1814, a poem written by a young lawyer is published.
The Earls Leave – In 1607, the Irish aristocracy is forced to flee.
Luna 2 - In 1959, the USSR sent the first man-made object to the moon.
Alleluia - In 1741, Handel completed the oratorio for Messiah.

Theft Goes Horribly Wrong

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 13, 2014
Caesium-137 container

Caesium-137 container

September 13, 1987: The Goiânia accident takes place. The Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia (IGR) was a private radiotherapy hospital in Goiânia, Brazil. They moved to a new location in 1985 and left the old hospital abandoned. In 1977, the hospital had purchased a caesium-137-based teletherapy unit and this remained at the abandoned facility. The unit held 93 grams of highly radioactive caesium chloride inside a container with a turning wheel inside which would allow the radioactive materials to be used therapeutically. When closed, the radiation was contained. When the wheel was opened, radiation could escape.

After the hospital was left empty, the courts (knowing hazardous materials were still inside) had a guard posted. On this day, the guard did not come to work, opting to go to the movies (Herbie Goes Bananas) with his family instead. Roberto dos Santos Alves and Wagner Mota Pereira illegally entered the building. They found something they thought might have scrap value and loaded it into a wheelbarrow and took it to Alves’ home. They began to take the equipment apart at the house. That evening, both men became ill. This did not stop them from working. Eventually Pereira developed a burn on his hand which would cause him to have a partial amputation of his fingers. Alves took the “thing” outside and continued to take it apart. His burns would eventually lead to the amputation of his arm.

On September 18, the stuff was sold to a nearby scrap yard and the buyer came to the house with another wheelbarrow and wheeled the radioactive item through the streets. The thing was glowing from what we now know was caused by moisture absorbed by the caesium. This material enticed several people to scoop some out of a small hole by using a screwdriver and then passing it around to amaze their families and friends. Many of the people associated with this were becoming severely ill. Gabriela Maria Ferreira noticed this and figured out the cause. On September 28 (15 days after the theft), she went to another scrap yard, now in possession of the materials, and gathered everything up in a plastic bag and took it by bus to a hospital.

The next day, it was found to be radioactive. Walter Mendes Ferreira (no relation to the woman above) spent the day trying to convince authorities this plastic bag of stuff was dangerous. Eventually, 130,000 people came forward to be tested for high levels of radioactivity. High residue was found on the skin of 250 of these people. Twenty people showed signs of radiation sickness which required medical intervention. Four them died, included Gabriela and six-year-old Leide das Neves Ferreira who both died on October 23. Admilson Alves de Souza had died on October 18 and Israel Baptista dos Santos died on October 27.

To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence. – Mark Twain

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. – George Bernard Shaw

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. – Confucius

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance. – Plato

Also on this day: It’s Hot, Hot, Hot – In 1922, the highest temperature in the shade is recorded.
Jumpman – In 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released by Nintendo.
Traffic Fatality – In 1899, the first traffic fatality in the US took place.
Supply and Demand – In 1812, supplies heading for Fort Harrison were captured.


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