Little Bits of History

Women Only

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 30, 2015
Alderson Prison*

Alderson Prison*

April 30, 1927: Alderson Prison opens. Officially called the Federal Prison Camp, Alderson or FPC Alderson, the US federal prison in located in West Virginia and was the first federal prison for women. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons which is a division of the United States Department of Justice. It is located in two different counties near the town of Alderson. A portion lies in unincorporated Monroe County and the other part, which includes the dormitories, is in unincorporated Summers County. The nearest town and the one for which it is named is Alderson but there are four more nearby town – Hinton, Lewisburg, Ronceverte, and White Sulphur Springs.

In the 1920s there was a shortage of federal prison space for female inmates and they were often given alternative punishments or placed in all-male facilities. When the latter happened, the girls or women were often sexually exploited by both the inmates and the staff. Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the Assistant US Attorney General, advocated for a separate space in which to incarcerate female prisoners. Alderson was the first such prison and opened during a period of prison reform in which rehabilitation for female prisoners became a goal. The first warden, Mary B. Harris, was specifically chosen by Willebrandt. There were 174 women sent to the facility between this date and its formal opening on November 14, 1928.

The 159-acre prison was designed like boarding schools and offered education and had no armed guards when first opened. The grounds were also not fenced. The facility was mainly work-related with fourteen cottages built in a horseshoe pattern on two-tiered slopes. The minor offenders, usually drug and alcohol related during Prohibition, were partitioned by race with each cottage having room for about thirty women. Each building also had its own kitchen. Today, there is fencing although it is not topped with barbed wire. Even now, incarcerated women are given a work schedule although there are holidays given with just the powerhouse and the kitchen remaining open on those days. Vocational growth remains a priority.

Today, there are 1,070 inmates there. Most are in for non-violent or white-collar crimes. Today, prisoners sleep in bunk beds in two large dormitories with each holding slightly more than 500. The prison was nicknamed Camp Cupcake while Martha Stewart was there. There have been some noted violent offenders such as Sara Jane Moore and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme both of whom made assassination attempts on President Gerald Ford. There have been a few spies sent there as well a couple corrupt politicians, Meg Scott Phipps and Monica Conyers, each of whom served three years for their crimes. Esther Reed and Diane Hathaway were both sent there after some financial trouble and Billie Holiday, the jazz singer legend, spent time there on a narcotics charge.

It’s a fairly unique position; to have been in charge of prison funding and then to have been an inmate. I wish I’d been more generous. – Jonathan Aitken

Prison itself is a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is above all a test of one’s commitment. – Nelson Mandela

Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison. It is the people brought up in the gay intimacy of the slums who find prison so soul-destroying. – Evelyn Waugh

Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul. – Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Also on this day: Oh, Hail – In 1888, the deadliest hailstorm in history strikes in India.
Louisiana Purchase – in 1803, President Jefferson bought some land from France.
Father of Our Country – In 1789, George Washington took the Oath of Office and became the first President of the United States.
Super – In 1006, a supernova was observed.
Bilious Pills – In 1796, a patent was granted for a pill.

* “Alderson Federal Prison” by Aaron Bauer – Flickr: Alderson Federal Prison. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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People’s Budget

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 29, 2015
Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

Terrible Twins, George and Chruchill

April 29, 1910: The People’s Budget passes in England. The new legislation was the first in British history where the purpose of the budget was expressly to redistribute wealth. It was part of the Liberal government of Prime Minister HH Asquith. Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George and President of the Board of Trade Winston Churchill (called the “Terrible Twins” by right-wing contemporaries) supported the budget with unprecedented high taxes on the wealthy and radical social welfare programs. It was the main point of divergence between the Liberal government and the Conservative dominated House of Lords.

The Budget was introduced in the British Parliament by George on April 29, 1909 with the hope that a new means of moving money between strata would eliminate poverty. The income tax for those earning less than £2000 (£180,000 today) remained at 3.75%. Those earning more than £2000 were to pay 5% and a super tax of an additional 2.5% was proposed on incomes over £5000 (£450,000 today) exceeded £3000 (£270,000 today). The super-wealthy would pay 7.5% on the incomes up to £3000 and an extra 2.5% on income over and above that if they earned over £5000. An inheritance tax was also in the bill. The biggest point of contention was a land tax which entailed a 20% tax on increases in the value of the land when property was sold.

The Budget also included tariffs on imports which was seen as a way to bring in more money for the social reforms included in the bill. This part was unpopular because it would have increased the prices on imported food. The Conservative faction would have benefitted in the protection of their products since they were large landowners and their prices of their goods would have been protected. There was much debate from both sides on how to proceed and soon the entire country was divided on what should take place. It was one year to the date when the House of Lords finally accepted the Budget, but only after the land taxes were dropped.

David Lloyd George was the 1st Earl of Dwyfor and was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1908-1915. He was moved from that position to Minster of Munitions, a new office created during World War I. He left that position and moved to Secretary of War and then to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was also the leader of the Liberal Party from 1926 to 1931. During his time at the Exchequer, he helped to lay the foundations of the modern welfare state found in Great Britain today. He was instrumental at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and has been voted as one of the three most important Prime Ministers. It has been said that he made a greater impact on British public life than any other 20th century leader. He died in 1945 at the age of 82.

The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return. – Gore Vidal

Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. – Learned Hand

Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven’t been taxed before. – Art Buchwald

It is easier to start taxes than to stop them. A tax an inch long can easily become a yard long. That has been the history of the income tax. – B. C. Forbes

Also on this day: What’s the Word? – In 1852, the third most popular book in the world is first published.
Rodney King – In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles.
Free, Free at Last – In 1945, Dachau was liberated.
Slide – In 1903, a landslide down Turtle Mountain took place.
Oldsmobile – In 2004, the company went out of business.

Yellow Fever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 28, 2015
Yellow Fever Virus

Yellow Fever Virus

April 28, 1932: Drs. Wilbur A. Sawyer, Wray D.M. Lloyd, and Stuart F. Kitchen announce a new vaccine. The public announcement was made at a meeting of the American Societies for Experimental Biology held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their research was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Their vaccine was for yellow fever. It is an acute viral disease and presents as fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains (especially in the back), and headaches. Symptoms usually improve after about five days. Unfortunately, with some cases, after initial improvement, the patient presents again with abdominal pain and liver damage can cause the skin to turn yellow (jaundice). If this happens, there is also a risk of bleeding and kidney damage.

The disease is spread by the bite of the female mosquito. Only humans, other primates, and several species of mosquitoes can be infected. Yellow fever causes 200,000 infections yearly with about 30,000 deaths. Cases are found primarily in Africa. Other tropical regions can be affected as well in South America. It is not found in Asia. With an effective vaccine against the disease, it is often required for travelers visiting areas at risk obtain the vaccine. Today, the vaccine uses a live but attenuated strain of the yellow fever virus called 17D. The mechanism of the attenuation and immunogenicity for the strain remains unknown, but the vaccine is safe with few side effects.

The current vaccine was created by Max Theiler who also worked at the Rockefeller Foundation. The vaccine offers immunity to more than 90% of patients after the first dose. Protection begins ten days after vaccination so travel plans need to be made accordingly. At least 95% of those vaccinated remain immune for ten years with about 81% still immune after 30 years. For those living in the affected regions of the globe, the World Health Organization recommends routine vaccinations between the ninth and twelfth months after birth. In rare cases (less than 1 in 200,000 – 300,000), the vaccine can cause yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease which has a 60% fatality rate.

While the vaccine is very helpful, the other course of action possible is vector control – getting rid of the mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti is the mosquito in question and controlling it not only helps with yellow fever, as it can also carry dengue fever and chikungunya disease. The mosquitos breed in stagnant water or domestic waste, both common in urban areas in the developing world. There are two approaches to getting rid of the mosquitoes. One is to kill the larvae by reducing pooled water areas and using larvicides. The other is to reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes using pesticides. If nothing works and a patient gets yellow fever, there is no cure. Viral agents have been ineffective and palliative treatment is all that remains available.

I have never yet met a healthy person who worried very much about his health, or a really good person who worried much about his own soul. – J. B. S. Haldane

Excellence in health means devoting your life to ending poverty. – Patch Adams

The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind. – Gilbert Keith Chesterton

My main mistake was to have made an ancient people advance by forced marches toward independence, health, culture, affluence, comfort. – Mohammed Reza Pahlavi

Also on this day: A Voyage to the South Sea – In 1789, the Mutiny on the Bounty takes place.
Kon-Tiki – In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl set sail.
Exposed! – In 1967, Expo 67 opened in Canada.
Scully’s Predecessor – In 1988, Aloha Airline Flight 243 met with disaster.
Men and Their Flying Machines – In 1910, three aviation firsts took place.

Zambian Soccer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 27, 2015
Lusaka Heroes Acre - memorial

Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial

April 27, 1993: A DHC-5D plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. The plane was heading out of Libreville, the capital city of Gabon – a sub-Saharan county on the west coast of Africa. The flight carried the Zambian national football team on their way to Dakar, Senegal to play a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Senegal. The Zambian Air Force had specially arranged to fly the team and had three refueling stops scheduled. The first was at Brazzaville, Congo and the second was here at Libreville. The de Havilland Canada DHC-5D Buffalo had taken off from Lusaka, Zambia and made the first refueling stop without incident. At the stop, there was an issue with one of the engines but the flight continued on without delay.

A few minutes after takeoff from the second refueling stop in Gabon, the left engine caught fire and failed. The pilot shut down the right engine which caused the plane to lose all power. The plane had still been in its climb and without power, fell into the water about 550 yards offshore. An investigation report issued ten years later attributed the accident to instrument error, pilot error and pilot fatigue. The same pilot had flown the team from a match in Mauritius the previous day. There had been 25 passengers and five crew aboard and all of them were killed in the crash. The team, Chipolopolo, had been doing well and they were hoping to win the 1993 Africa Cup of Nations and make their first World Cup appearance.

The plane had been in service since 1975 but out of service for five months from late 1992 until April 21, 1993. Test flights were done on April 22 and 26. Before takeoff in Zambia, a number of defects in the engines along with carbon particles in the oil filters, disconnected cables, and trace of heating were found. The plane was used for the football team’s transport anyway. There were 18 players, the national team coach, and support staff aboard the plane. The captain of the Chipolopolo team, Kalusha Bwalya, was not aboard as he had been playing in the Netherlands for PSV and had made separate arrangements to get to Senegal. Bennett Mulwanda Simfukwe was supposed to have been on the fatal flight, but was removed from the list of travelers by his employers.

It took a decade for the official report to be released by the Gabonese government. Relatives of the victims continue to lobby the Zambian government to find out how the faulty plane was ever permitted to leave Zambia in the first place. The members of the national team killed in the crash were buried at what is now called Heroes’ Acre near the Independence Stadium in Lusaka. A new team was quickly put together in 1993 and Bwalya was faced with bringing them together to face off in the African Nations Cup, just a few months away. They made it to the finals, but were unable to defeat Nigeria in the last game. The team won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 in Libreville, only a short distance from where the plane had crashed nearly two decades earlier.

Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruyff

For me soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day. I’ve had the good fortune to take part in major competitions like the Olympics, and winning the World Cup was also unforgettable. – Ronaldinho

The first World Cup I remember was in the 1950 when I was 9 or 10 years old. My father was a soccer player, and there was a big party, and when Brazil lost to Uruguay, I saw my father crying. – Pele

I need a life outside of soccer. So I very much welcome, you know, new love interests and dating and friends and family. – Hope Solo

Also on this day: Sultana – In 1865, the steamship Sultana has a boiler explode.
John Milton – In 1667, Paradise Lost was purchased for £5.
Appendectomy – In 1887, the first successful appendectomy was performed.
Expo 67 – In 1967, the Expo held official opening ceremonies.
Operation Moolah – In 1953, an unusual offer was made by the US.

* “Lusaka Heroes Acre – memorial” by Francis Alisheke / – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Shipping Made Easier

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 26, 2015
Type of ship converted to SS Ideal X

Type of ship converted to SS Ideal X

April 26, 1956: The SS Ideal X leaves Port Newark, New Jersey. The ship, prior to refitting, was a T2 oil tanker during World War II. The ships were of some concern because they split in two during cold weather. Although initially blamed on poor welding/construction techniques, it was determined that the issue was the high sulfur content of war time steel. This caused the metal to become brittle at lower temperatures. The Marinship Corporation built Potrero Hills in 1945 as a T2 tanker, the ship was later purchased by Malcom McLean’s Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company. She was rebuilt as a container ship at Bethlehem Steel, Baltimore, Maryland. She was the first successful container ship.

Refitted in 1955, she was rechristened Ideal X and left on her maiden voyage on this date carrying 58 containers to Port of Houston, Texas. There were 58 trucks there awaiting her arrival. The Clifford J. Rodgers operated by the White Pass and Yukon Route was an earlier container ship which sailed the year before, but was not a commercial success. Ideal X was purchased in 1959 by Bulgarians who rechristened her Elemir. During heavy weather on February 8, 1964, she suffered extensive damage and was then sold to Japanese breakers and she was scrapped on October 20, 1964 in Hirao, Japan.

Container ships are cargo ships carrying their goods in truck-size intermodal containers. Today, most seagoing non-bulk cargo is shipped in this manner. They carry a mix of 20-foot (TEU) and 40-foot (2 TEU) ISO-standard containers, with the larger ones being predominant. Bulk cargo, such as coal or grain are still transported unpackaged in the hull of the ship. Break-bulk cargo is transported in packages. Prior to this shipping innovation, these items were loaded, tied down, transported, then released and removed from the ships one piece at a time. With this innovation, cargo can be grouped into containers of 1,000 to 3,000 cubic feet and weigh as much as 64,000 pounds. This can be moved on or off the ship all at once. When loading, each container is secured to the ship once in a standardized way.

This has made transportation far more efficient and reduced shipping time by 84% with a cost reduction of 35%. There are seven major sizes of container ships ranging from small feeder to ultra-large. There are over 160 Very Large Container Ships in use today with each able to move more than 10,000 TEU. There are 51 ports which can handle these large ships. The size of a panamax ship is limited by the Panama canal’s lock chambers which can handle a ship of up to 106 feet at the beam and 965 feet long with a draft of 39.5 feet. The Panama expansion project is causing the naming conventions to be modified. Ultra Large Container Vessels are over 1,200 feet long and wider than 160.7 feet at the beam with a draft greater than 50 feet. They carry 14,501 TEU and higher. For comparison, Ideal X was 524 feet long and 30 feet at the beam. Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller is the largest ship today and is 1,312 feet long and 194 feet at the beam with a 52 foot draft and carrying capacity of 18,340 TEU.

There are few industries as defiantly opaque as shipping. Even offshore bankers have not developed a system as intricately elusive as the flag of convenience, under which ships can fly the flag of a state that has nothing to do with its owner, cargo, crew, or route. – Rose George

I will continue to push for doubling the strength of the U.S. Border Patrol, and to make sure that every cargo container that enters this nation is screened for radiation and potential weapons of mass destruction. – Nick Lampson

Seven million ship cargo containers come into the United States every year. Five to seven percent only are inspected – five to seven percent. – Irwin Redlener

A boatload of government money is indeed a gift. Unless, I suppose, you’re one of the saps paying for the cargo. – David Harsanyi

Also on this day: Chernobyl – In 1986, there is a nuclear disaster in the Chernobyl power plant.
John Wilkes Booth – In 1865, the actor was found and killed.
Tanzania – In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged.
Police – In 1933, the Gestapo was formed.
Fenway’s First – In 1912, the first home run was hit in the new Fenway Park.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2015
Early New York license plate

Early New York license plate

April 25, 1901: New York becomes the first state to require license plates. The first plates were issued in the German state of Baden in 1896. As more cars took to the roads, it became essential to be able to track those who behaved recklessly or caused accidents. To that end, a way of identifying a car’s ownership was established. In 1900, New York City was America’s largest city and they did not issue any kind of license so the state decided to take over. They required car owners to file an application with the state. Once done, the owner received a receipt of certificate and was then required to make his or her own plate with the owner’s initials on it. This helped, but soon people were simply creating a plate with any initials and placing them on the back of their cars.

In 1903, Massachusetts became the first state to manufacture the required plates. These earliest plates were made of leather, wood, and porcelain. By the middle of 1903, New York state figured out the problem with car owners making their own plates and also began the manufacture of the mandated plates. Numbered plates were issued and as proof that the number was legal, registration seals were also issued. Beginning in 1905, NY was added to the black on white plates. As the process of making plates was perfected, the materials changed as well. Today, Delaware is the only state that still permits porcelain license plates.

Mexico was the first country to issue reflective plates and did so in 1936. The embossed coating contained glass-like beads which would reflect light. Connecticut introduced this technology to their plates in 1948. Reflective sheeting was invented by 3M and replaced the beads-on-paint process in the 1960s and by 1970 most US states incorporated this into the manufacturing process. Idaho was the first state to add a graphic to their design when they added a potato in 1928. Pennsylvania was the first to offer custom, vanity, or personalized plates in 1931. Other states soon picked up the money making venture and allowed for personalized plates which generated millions of dollars for community projects.

The metal or plastic tag must be attached to the rear of the vehicle. There are some states which also require the tag to be displayed on the front of the vehicle, but these are in the minority. Some countries have a unique plate for any vehicle registered within the country while others subdivide the plates issued by each state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person varies by issuing agency. The information on the tag, plate, or identifier (jargon depends on area) offers information as well. Letters and numbers can indicate where the vehicle comes from as do color combinations or style. Sizes and materials used have become standardized and are nationally mandated.

IH8 PPL – Maine plate

SLZBAG – Arizona plate

HI DEBT – California plate on a Jaguar

VAMPYR – Australian plate found along side a sticker for the Australian Red Cross blood service

IMBROKE  – Mississippi plate

SHELEFT – plate on a Corvette

IDSRVIT!! – plate on a Lexus

UR NEXT – plate on a hearse

IM A CAR – New York plate

Also on this day: “Off With Their Heads” – The Queen of Hearts – In 1792, the first person is executed by the more humane method of guillotine.
Semiconductor – In 1961, Robert Noyce patented the semiconductor and opened the computer age.
Ouch! –  In 1684, a patent was granted for a thimble.
Rebellion Losses Bill – In 1849, the bill was signed into law.
Suez Canal – In 1859, ground was broken for the construction of the canal.

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Tallest, For a While

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 24, 2015
Woolworth Building in 1913

Woolworth Building in 1913

April 24, 1913: The Woolworth Building opens. At the time of its opening, it was the tallest building in the world overtaking the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower. It remained the tallest building until 1930 when 40 Wall Street took over that designation. The building located at 233 Broadway, Manhattan, New York City cost $13.5 million to build or $328.3 million in today’s dollars. Cass Gilbert was the architect responsible for designing the skyscraper. The site for the building was purchased by FW Woolworth and Edward J Hogan (Woolworth’s real estate agent) from the Trenor Luther Park Estate. They paid $1.65 million for the land in 1910. It took until January 18, 1911 for the men to acquire the final building site at a cost totaling $4.5 million.

The building was neo-Gothic style and initially designed to be 20 stories high and act as the new corporate headquarters for FW Woolworth Company. At its opening, the building was 60 stories tall and had over 5,000 windows. Irving National Exchange Bank and Woolworth set up the Broadway-Park Place Company to finance the building but by May 1914 Woolworth was able to buy all the shares, thus owning the building outright. On this date, the building officially opened as the tallest building in the world when President Woodrow Wilson turned on the lights from a switch located in Washington, D.C. Since the building resembled European Gothic cathedrals, it was called “The Cathedral of Commerce”.

Gunvald Aus and Kort Berle, engineers, designed the steel frame. There were high-speed elevators installed, an innovation at the time. With 34 elevators, the high office-to-elevator ratio made the skyscraper profitable. The ornate lobby was “one of the most spectacular of the early 20th century in New York City”. It is covered in Skyros marble and has vaulted ceilings. A stained glass ceiling light with bronze fittings remains to this day. Over the balconies of the mezzanine were murals of Labor and Commerce. There were several sculptures included of the men involved in the project. Woolworth’s private office, done in marble in the French Empire style, remains preserved.

The building was owned by Woolworth Company for 85 years until it was sold in 1998 to the Witkoff Group for $155 million. Foot Locker (the successor of the Woolworth Company) maintained a presence there even after the sale. The World Trade Center, just a few blocks away, was often photographed in such as way as to include this building between the two towers. After the bombing on September 11, 2001 the building was without electricity, water, and phone service for a few weeks. The windows and top turret were damaged by falling debris. Since the attack, security concerns have restricted access to most of the lobby, previously a tourist attraction. Witkoff sold the top 30 floors to an investment group led by Alchemy Properties in 2012 for $68 million. They plan to convert the space into luxury apartments with the top five floors a penthouse. The lower floors will remain office space.

I am the world’s worst salesman. Therefore I must make it easy for people to buy. – F. W. Woolworth

Dreams never hurt anybody if you keep working right behind the dreams to make as much of them become real as you can. – F. W. Woolworth

We would rather have one man or woman working with us than three merely working for us. – F. W. Woolworth

A skyscraper is a boast in glass and steel. – Mason Cooley

Also on this day: Greeks Bearing Gifts – In 1184 BC, the Greeks bring a gift to Troy.
Soyuz 1 – In 1967, the first space fatality occurred.
Hershey’s Park – In 1907, Hersheypark opened.
Looking Outward – In 1990, mission STS-31 boosted into space with the Hubble Space Telescope aboard.
Reference Work – In 1800, the US Library of Congress was established.

De Adriaan

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 23, 2015
De Adriaan today*

De Adriaan today*

April 23, 1932: De Adriaan burns down. The windmill was built on the foundations of the Goevrouwetoren by Adriaan de Booys, an industrial producer from Amsterdam. It is located in Harlaam, North Holland, Netherlands. Harlaam was granted city status in 1245 but no city walls were built until 1270. Today, 420,000 live in the metropolitan area. The Goevrouwetoren or Goede Vrowtoren (Goodwife Tower) had been the northern support of the city’s wall system over the River Spaarne. By the end of the 18th century, the gate was no longer needed as the city had expanded past it. De Booys purchased the tower and the land around it from Harlaam on April 24, 1778.

De Booys reinforced the foundation and a mill was built to 110 feet above the water level. It also towered over the surrounding city and was used as a landmark. He enlisted the help of miller Henricus Ruijsch to help with the construction of the windmill. De Adriaan was officially opened on May 19, 1779. De Booys had gained permission to a monopoly to produce cement, paint, and tanbark. He was to have this monopoly for a period of 25 years. Business was not as expected since a competitor circumvented his monopoly by bringing cement in from Dordrecht. De Booys sold the windmill to Cornelis Kraan in 1802 for 1,650 guilders. Kraan converted the mill into a tobacco mill in order to produce snuff he could sell in his tobacco shop.

By 1865, the windmill had again been sold and J van Berloo was then the owner. He installed a steam engine to help with production but it was unsuccessful. The windmill was falling into disrepair and in danger of demolition. In 1925, the Dutch windmill society Vereniging De Hollandsche Molen purchased the mill for 12,100 guilders. They managed to save the windmill but it was heavily damaged in a storm in 1930. On the evening of this date, the mill caught fire. Although the fire brigade arrived quickly, they could not extinguish the blaze and the entire windmill was destroyed. The landmark had vanished in an evening. The cause of the fire has never been established.

Immediately after the fire, the citizens of Harlaam took up a collection to have the windmill rebuilt. The owners of the mill, the Vereniging De Hollande Molen, collected 3,000 guilders towards rebuilding. The mill had been insured, but the insurance money was needed to pay off the existing mortgage. The city made a donation of 10,000 guilders in 1938 but the donation was overruled by the provincial council due to the poor economics of the Netherlands and the world in general. World War II intervened. In 1963, Harlaam municipality became the owner of the mill and wished to restore it, but they lacked funds. The plan was revived a couple decades later and finally on April 21, 1999, the first pole was placed for the new mill. De Adriaan was rebuilt on the original foundation and opened on April 23, 2002 as a tourist attraction. The mill is real and works, but mostly as a demonstration for the many tourists who come.

Take care, your worship, those things over there are not giants but windmills. – Miguel de Cervantes

I thought that the description of Don Quixote’s fight with the windmills the funniest thing imaginable. – Stanislaw Ulam

There isn’t a single windmill owner in Holland who doesn’t have a second job, for when there is no wind. – Johnny Ball

In this so-called age of technicians, the only battles we know how to fight are battles against windmills. – Simone Weil

Also on this day: The Bard of Avon – In 1616, William Shakespeare dies.
Boston Latin School – In 1635, the first public school in America (still open) was founded.
Lights, Camera, Action – In 1867, a patent for a zoetrope was granted.
Mississippi Burning – In 1940, the Rhythm Night Club burned.
The Arts – In 1904, the American Academy of Arts & Letters formed.

* “De Adriaan windmill in Haarlem” by Dfarrell07 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2015
Lenin reading Pravda

Lenin reading Pravda

April 22, 1912 (OS): Pravda becomes Lenin’s and the Communist Party’s mouthpiece. The Soviets were still using the old style calendar at the time, changing in 1918. The paper’s name translates into “Truth” and remains the political paper of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Though officially given this day as its birthday to coincide with Karl Marx’s birthday, it traces its origins back to 1903. It was founded by VA Kozhevnikov, a wealthy railway engineer, in Moscow during the buildup to the Russian Revolution of 1905. The original paper had no political agenda and was an outlet for the arts and literature as well as Moscovian social life. Many of the early writers became the editorial board and then part of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). Kozhevnikov fell out with them and replaced them with a new editorial board supporting the Menshevik faction.

Spilka, another splinter group of the RSDLP, took over the paper and in 1908, Leon Trotsky was invited to edit the paper, which moved to Vienna in 1909. Now with a hard-line Bolshevik editorial board, Trotsky put the printing into a tabloid format and distanced the subject matter from inner party politics. A large following of Russian workers supported Pravda. In January 1912, a sixth conference of the RSDLP was held and the Menshevik faction was expelled. Lenin decided to make Pravda his mouthpiece and shifted the publishing site from Vienna to St. Petersburg with the first official paper coming out on this date.

Up to 42 different editors followed before a tsarist edict shut down the paper in July 1914. With the tsar overthrown in the February Revolution of 1917, the paper was once allowed to see print. When Joseph Stalin and others returned from exile in March, they took over the editorial board. Their outlook was far different from their predecessors and they supported the Provisional Government and the war effort. When Lenin returned to Russia on April 3 and condemned the Provisional Government, Pravda supported him. After the October Revolution of 1917, there were almost 100,000 copies of Pravda sold daily.

In 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin shut down the Communist Party and seized all of its property, including Pravda. The paper was sold and resold and in 1996 was once again held by the Communist Party. Today, the paper is politically aligned with Communism or the far-left. The three times a week broadsheet is published under the leadership of Boris Komotsky. It is owned by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and has a circulation of 100,300. They also maintain a web presence with an English version available online as well. Their print version is suffering hard times, like other papers around the world. They are still located at the same headquarters at Pravda Street where it once put out daily Soviet papers.

Did you know that there is no exact rhyme in the Russian language for the word ‘pravda’? Ponder and weigh this insufficiency in your mind. Doesn’t that just echo down the canyons of your soul? – Julian Barnes

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself. – Arthur Miller

That ephemeral sheet,… the newspaper, is the natural enemy of the book, as the whore is of the decent woman. – Edmond de Goncourt

I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. – Aneurin Bevan

Also on this day: One Ringy-Dingy – In 2000, the UK updates the phone system.
Earth Day – In 1970, Earth Day was first celebrated.
Oklahoma Land Run – In 1889, land in Oklahoma was parceled out in a land run.
Remember the Alamo – In 1836, Santa Anna was captured.
Rolling Along – In 1823, a patent for roller skates was granted to Robert Tyres.

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Bangkok’s Beginning

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 21, 2015
Map of Siam/Thailand

Map of Siam/Thailand

April 21, 1782: Krung Thep Maha Nakhon becomes the capital of what is today Thailand. The area was first settled in the 15th century under the rule of Ayutthaya at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River as a small trading post. After the fall of the regime, the new leader, King Taksin moved his capital to the western bank of the river. After Taksin’s rule fell, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) moved his capital to the eastern bank of the river on this date and called it Rattanakosin. The traditional Thai name for the city is not what the rest of the world calls it. For outsiders, the city is called Bangkok.

Originally, Bangkok was a customs outpost with forts on both sides of the river. It was under siege in 1688 and the French were evicted from Siam and Ayutthaya was in control. His rule fell to the Burmese Empire and Taksin made the town his base of operations during the Thonburi Kingdom era. When the city fell again, the Rattanakosin Kingdom moved across the river and erected the City Pillar on this day, marking it as the foundation date. With a more stable government, the economy grew and international trade brought first Chinese and then Western merchants to the city. Bangkok was the center for Siam’s modernization efforts.

Absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932. World War II found the city under attack and occupied by the Japanese; she suffered great damage by bombing runs from US forces. After the war, Bangkok became a destination for military deployed in the region and it helped to boost the economy and the modernization efforts. The Kingdom of Thailand has not only shifted its economy, but as rule of the regions shifted, the very name of the country changed as well. Outsiders called it Siam, but with self rule, the name was once again returned to the locally preferred Thailand.

Thailand covers almost 200,000 square miles and has a population of slightly more than 67 million. The city of Bangkok covers 600 square miles and has a population of 8.3 million people with the metro region covering 3,000 square miles and 14.5 million people or nearly a quarter of the population living there. The city is governed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Unlike the other 76 provinces, Bangkok is a special administrative area where the governor and four appointed deputies form the executive body and serve for four years. Bangkok is subdivided into fifty districts and then again into 169 subdistricts, each with a director appointed by the governor. Bangkok is the center of Thailand’s economy. The city remains one of the world’s top tourist destination cities with nearly 16 million people visiting a year.

Bangkok, like Las Vegas, sounds like a place where you make bad decisions. – Todd Phillips

One of my favorite vacation memories was the Thai foot massage and Internet access salons in Bangkok, followed up by my testing cellphone coverage while wading in Provincetown Harbor on Cape Cod. – Kara Swisher

We all want to buy sneakers at bargain prices at WalMart. Children have to be exploited in factories in Thailand to produce them. If we want to stop that over in Thailand, we’ve got to be able to pay a price here in the United States. – Andrew Greeley

In a recent worldwide algebra test we ranked 14th out of 15 nations tested. If it makes you feel any better, we beat Thailand. – Ross Perot

Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918, The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.
First Veep – In 1789, John Adams became the first US Vice President.