Little Bits of History

Up, Up and Away

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 4, 2015
Montgolfier Brothers' Balloon

Montgolfier Brothers’ Balloon

June 4, 1784: Élisabeth Thible becomes the first woman to fly in an untethered hot air balloon. Also aboard La Gustave was Mr. Fleurant. Thible was a native of Lyon, France and when Sweden’s King Gustav III came to visit, the two went for a demonstration balloon ride. Fleurant was suppose to go aloft with Count Jean-Baptiste de Laurencin, but the Count gave up his place to Thible. De Laurencin had already had a hot air balloon ride on January 19, 1784 when he rode with Joseph Montgolfier with five other passengers. That flight ended in a crash but no one was seriously hurt. This may have led to his decision to give up his place in this day’s demonstration flight. Not much is known of Thible other than she was described as the abandoned spouse of Lyon merchant and made this flight.

The balloon rose with Thible aboard and dressed as the Roman goddess Minerva. She and Fleurant sang two duets from Monsigny’s La Belle Arsène, a popular opera of the time. The balloon rose to an estimated height of nearly a mile. One assumes the singing took place while the balloon was closer to the ground. The flight lasted 45 minutes and the couple landed about 2.5 miles away. The bumpy landing was the cause of Thible’s sprained ankle. Fleurent credited Thible with the success of the flight because she fed the fire box during the flight and exhibited great courage.

Hot air balloons are the oldest successful human-carrying method of flight. Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier created a hot air balloon which they demonstrated on June 5, 1783. It was the balloon alone without a basket and filled with hot air. It was cut loose and traveled slightly more than a mile before landing. News spread quickly and on November 21, 1783 Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes became the first humans to fly in an untethered balloon which had been created by the Montgolfier brothers. Hot air balloons have a bag called an enveloped which contains the hot air and beneath is a gondola or wicker basket. If there is a steering mechanism attached, the craft is a thermal airship.

The earliest use of hot air balloons was not for flight but as airborne lanterns used for military signaling by the Shu Han kingdom in ancient China (220-280 AD). These were called Kongming lanterns. There had been some speculation that hot air balloons may have been used for designing the Nazca ground figures, but this remains speculative. Today, ballooning is a sporting or recreational event. Vijaypat Singhania set a world record for altitude reached with 68,986 feet or 13 miles up. The longest flight today was from Japan to Northern Canada when Per Landstrand and Richard Branson flew 4,767.1 miles in the Virgin Pacific Flyer.

The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath. – Alberto Santos Dumont

My definition [of a philosopher] is of a man up in a balloon, with his family and friends holding the ropes which confine him to earth and trying to haul him down. – Louisa May Alcott

If there was the opportunity to climb a mountain, or to go ballooning, or some adventurous activity, I would always be keen to do it. I loved the countryside. – Roger Bannister

The jet stream is a very strong force and pushing a balloon into it is like pushing up against a brick wall, but once we got into it, we found that, remarkably, the balloon went whatever speed the wind went. – Richard Branson

Also on this day: Consumerism’s Helper – In 1937, Sylvan Goldman got creative and boosted sales.
Congratulations – In 1917, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.
Bravery – In 1989, Tank Man faces a row of Chinese tanks.
Rogers Family – In 1989, three bodies were found floating in Tampa Bay.
Vaseline – In 1872, Vaseline was patented.

Wedding Bells

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 3, 2015
Wallis Simpson in 1936

Wallis Simpson in 1936

June 3, 1937: Bessie Wallis Warfield and Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David wed. Better known and Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII of England, the two married against the advice and wishes of the Royal family. Wallis was a twice divorced American socialite born in Pennsylvania in 1896. Her father died shortly after her birth and baby and mother were dependant on Wallis’s bachelor uncle, the wealthy S. Davies Warfield. When Wallis’s aunt was widowed, the two women went to live with her in Baltimore. Wallis was an exceptionally bright student. She was never considered to be a beauty, but she was engaging.

She first married in November 1916. Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr. was a US Navy aviator. He was an alcoholic and due to his work, the couple spent much time apart. They divorced in December 1927. By the time the marriage was finally dissolved, Wallis was already involved with Ernest Aldrich Simpson, a British-American shipping executive as well as former officer in the Coldstream Guards. He divorced his wife to marry Wallis in July 1928 in London. Wallis lost her personal wealth in the Wall Street Crash in 1929 but her husband’s business flourished and she was not left penniless. She met Thelma, Lady Furness, mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales and was introduced to the Prince on January 10, 1931.

Over the next few years, the two ran into each other at various soirees. Wallis was even presented at court. Her husband began to face financial difficulties since they were living beyond his means. By January 1934, while Lady Furness was away, Wallis became Edward’s mistress. By the end of the year, Edward was in love with the enchanting American. The then-Prince showered his love with gifts and travel. King George V died on January 20, 1936 and Edward rose to the throne, becoming King Edward VIII. Wallis was still married to her second husband and the country, or at least the aristocracy, was scandalized by the affair.

The monarch is the head of the Church of England and that such a post could be held by a man carrying on with a married woman was bad enough, but when Edward wished to marry Wallis, it was simply against the rules. Remarriage with divorced people with still living ex-spouses was forbidden (rule changed in 2002). While machinations for the wedding were moving forward, Wallis finally divorced her husband in May 1937 after filing in October 1936. The King abdicated in December 1936 and the country was spared the trauma of infighting amongst the aristocracy and royal family. The Duke of York took the throne as George VI. Finally free to marry, on this day, they were wed with Edward now the Duke of Windsor and Wallis becoming Duchess. They remained together until Edward’s death in 1972. Wallis lived to the age of 89, dying in 1986.

I have always had the courage for the new things that life sometimes offers.

A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.

I never make a trip to the United States without visiting a supermarket. To me they are more fascinating than any fashion salon.

A woman’s life can really be a succession of lives, each revolving around some emotionally compelling situation or challenge, and each marked off by some intense experience. – all from Wallis Simpson

Also on this day: No Joy in Mudville – In 1888, Thayer’s poem was first published.
Whoops – In 1969, two ships collide during a sea exercise.
Ode to Billie Joe – In 1953, Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
ROTC – In 1916, the National Defense Act of 1916 was passed.
Midnight Ride of Not Paul Revere – In 1781, Jack Jouett, Jr. took to the saddle.

Portland Rum Riot

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 2, 2015
Neal Dow

Neal Dow

June 2, 1855: The Portland Rum Riot took place. Neal Dow was a native of Portland, Maine born in 1804. He served as both the 9th and 11th Mayor of the city, first from 1851-1852 and again in 1855-1856 taking office on April 24. He earned the nickname of the “Napoleon of Temperance” and the “Father of Prohibition”. He first tried to legislate against alcohol in 1837 where his bill made it to committee but was tabled. Then in 1849 the Maine Legislature passed the bill but the Governor did not sign it. When Dow was elected in 1851 as a Whig and Prohibitionist, he pushed through the bill making the production and sale of alcohol illegal except for medicinal and mechanical use. A newly elected Governor signed the bill into law on June 2, 1851. Dow lost re-election but was back in office in 1855.

Rumors began to spread that Mayor Dow had authorized a shipment of “medicinal and mechanical alcohol” and the $1,600 worth of spirits were stored in the city vaults. The Maine Law was as unpopular as the man who sponsored it, especially with the city’s large Irish immigrant population. The new Irish-Americans saw the law as a racist attack on their culture. When rumors of the stash began to spread, the mayor’s position was elevated from simply overbearing prohibitionist to hypocrite. The law, as Dow had sponsored it, stated that any three voters could apply for a search warrant if it was suspected that illegal alcohol was stored or sold. Three voters appeared before a judge, requesting such a warrant and the judge was compelled to issue one.

On this date, a crowd began to gather outside the building where the contraband was stored. By 5 PM there were said to be about 200 people milling around. The crowd grew in size as evening approached and eventually there were between 1,000 and 3,000 people present (Portland’s population at the time was 21,000). As more people arrived, the crowd became restless and rock throwing and shoving ensued. The exact details are lost to history but what is known is that Dow called out the militia. The protesters were ordered to disperse and when they did not immediately vanish, shots were fired into the crowd on Dow’s orders. One man (an immigrant and mate on a Maine sailing vessel) was killed and seven others were wounded. The crowd dispersed.

Dow was heavily criticized for his part in the day’s events. He was also prosecuted for violation of the Maine Law for improperly acquiring alcohol. He was eventually acquitted but the Rum Riot was a major factor in the law being repealed in 1856. Dow’s reputation was ruined and he lost his bid for Governor. He served in the army during the Civil War and his house was part of the Underground Railroad (part of his prohibitionist stance was based on the use of slaves in the rum trade). After the war, with slaves at least theoretically now free, he went back to prohibition as his cause célèbre. By the end of his life, he was seen more as a caricature but eventually, the entire country would try Prohibition, which didn’t work any better nationally than it had in Maine.

Freedom is what prohibition ain’t. – Merle Haggard

A prohibitionist is the sort of man one wouldn’t care to drink with — even if he drank. – Henry Louis Mencken

Prohibition is better than no liquor at all. – Will Rogers

I was one of those who was very happy when the original prohibition amendment passed. I thought innocently that a law in this country would automatically be complied with, and my own observation led me to feel rather ardently that the less strong liquor anyone consumed the better it was. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Also on this day: Erotica or Pornography? – In 1740, an author was born.
Wedding Bells – In 1886, President Cleveland married.
All Work; All Play – In 1925, Lou Gehrig was put in as first baseman.
Ground Ball – In 1763, Fort Michilimackinac was built by the French.
Multiple Bombs – In 1919, the Galleanists set off eight bombs.

Lost at River

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 1, 2015
PS Washington Irving

PS Washington Irving

June 1, 1926: PS Washington Irving sinks. The paddle steamer was a 3,600 ton sidewheel day boat and the flagship of the Hudson River Day Line – a luxury passenger line which operated on the Hudson River from 1913 to 1926. The route the ship followed was between New York City and Albany, New York. At a cost of about $1 million, the New York Shipbuilding Company laid down the 416.5 foot long, four storied ship on May 23, 1912. She was completed later that year and had her maiden voyage on May 17, 1913. On that day, she left from the Desbrosses Street Pier in New York City and headed for Albany with fifty oil paintings by artists which illustrated her namesakes period in history. Tickets were $1.00 each. The Washington Irving replaced the Robert Fulton on the run and remained in service until this date.

Again, she was leaving from the Desbrosses Street Pier but on this June morning, there was very heavy fog. Shortly after 9 AM, Washington Irving was struck by one of two oil barges being pushed by the tugboat Thomas E. Moran. The paddle steamer was struck on the starboard (right) side below the water line. The gash made by the collision was 21 feet long and 3 feet wide. Water poured into the engine rooms. Captain David H Deming ordered all passengers to don life vests. He signaled via ships whistle “Ships afire” – two long and three short blasts. Pandemonium ensued as frantic parents struggled to find their children in the foggy conditions. Adding to the fear was the inability to see any land, again due to the fog.

In order to help keep the panic to a minimum, the captain ordered the jazz band to resume playing and maintain their posts until rescue was effected. Without power, Washington Irving needed help from tugboats to reach Pier 12, Jersey City. After reaching the pier, it took only five minutes for the ship to sink. Amazingly a woman, her three year old daughter, and a steward who was trapped in a cabin far below deck were the only fatalities. The rest of the 200 passengers and 105 crew members were safe. A hearing determined the disaster to be an unavoidable accident citing not only the fog, but an unusual tidal current running below the surface of the water.

The ship sank in a most unfortunate position right on top of the New York-New Jersey vehicular tube (the Holland Tunnel) being constructed. The wrecked ship became a menace and was struck on June 16 at 3 AM by a railroad car float. The ship was finally raised on February 13, 1927 and towed to dry dock. At that point she was declared a total loss. While insured, it was not for the value of the ship and so a bond was issued to refinance the company’s debt and provide financing for building her replacement, the Peter Stuyvesant. The new ship was supposed to be built for $700,000 but cost overruns brought the price closer to $1 million, too.

We poison our lives with fear of burglary and shipwreck, and, ask anyone, the house is never burgled, and the ship never goes down. – Jean Anouilh

He who is shipwrecked the second time cannot lay the blame on Neptune. – English proverb

The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea. – Ovid

The best way to meet a woman is in an emergency situation – if you’re in a shipwreck, or you find yourself behind enemy lines, or in a flood. – Mark Helprin

Also on this day: And Now – The News – In 1980, Ted Turner began broadcasting with CNN.
Breathing – In 1974, the Heimlich Maneuver was published.
Not Hops Scotch – In 1495, Friar John Cor was listed as possessing ingredients to make Scotch.
Unlucky Ship – In 1813, James Lawrence took command of the USS Chesapeake.
Boston Martyr – In 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged.

Madison Square Garden

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 31, 2015
Madison Square Garden - PT Barnum's Hippodrome

Madison Square Garden – PT Barnum’s Hippodrome

May 31, 1879: William Kissam Vanderbilt takes control. William was the second son of William Henry Vanderbilt and the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Gilmore’s Garden was originally the New York and Harlem Railroad depot but the depot moved uptown and the land was leased to PT Barnum in 1871. Barnum converted it into an oval arena measuring 270 feet along its longest axis. He added seats and benches and banked formation and called his arena the Great Roman Hippodrome. He presented circuses as well as other entertainment. His roofless building was also pejoratively called Barnum’s Monster Classical and Geological Hippodrome.

The building was next leased to Patrick Gilmore, an Irish-born American composer and bandmaster. He used the space to present flower shows, beauty contests, walking marathons, music concerts, temperance and revival meetings, and most prestigiously, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show which in 1877 was called the First Annual N.Y. Bench Show. Because boxing was illegal at the time, exhibitions and illustrated lectures were offered which coincidentally looked exactly like boxing matches. William Tileston was the next to lease the space. He was an official of the dog show and he wished to bring in a more genteel crowd and offered tennis, a riding school, and an ice carnival. The arena had one of the first indoor ice rinks in the US.

When Cornelius Vanderbilt died, his grandson took back control of the land owned by his grandfather. On this date he announced it would be renamed Madison Square Garden since it was located at East 26th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. William used the space for sporting events. He held indoor track and field meets and the National Horse Show. He held a convention for the Elks. He also used the space for boxing matches and featured John L Sullivan who began a four-year series of exhibitions in 1882. When Jumbo crossed the Brooklyn Bridge (see yesterday) he was coming to Madison Square Garden. Another use of the open air building was as a velodrome, an oval, banked track for bike racing – one of the biggest sports in the country at the time.

The roofless Garden was hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. It wasn’t well maintained and was starting to deteriorate. In was demolished in July 1889 and the second building to bear the name opened on June 6, 1890. The new building wasn’t any more profitable than the old and the mortgage holder opted to demolish it in 1925 and the New York Life Building opened in 1928. Today’s version of Madison Square Garden is located at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in Manhattan. They opened at their new home on February 11, 1968 and continue to offer boxing events as well as basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, and pro wrestling. It is also the venue for many concerts.

All sports are time control demonstrations. – Buckminster Fuller

Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence. – George Will

Unlike any other business in the United States, sports must preserve an illusion of perfect innocence. – Lewis H. Lapham

I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures. – Earl Warren

Also on this day: Ready to Eat – In 1884, Kellogg patented corn flakes.
Johnstown Flood – In 1889, the South Fork Dam burst.
Pepys’s Diary – In 1669, Samuel made his last diary entry.
BEN – In 1859, Big Ben went on line.
Widest Recorded Tornado – In 2013, the El Reno tornado was filmed.

Brooklyn Bridge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 30, 2015
Brooklyn Bridge *

Brooklyn Bridge *

May 30, 1883: A rumor causes a stampede which kills at least twelve. The New York and Brooklyn Bridge, aka the East River Bridge, opened on May 24, 1883. The event was witnessed by thousands on land and in ships in the water below. President Chester Arthur and Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge as celebratory cannons were fired. They were met on the other side by Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low. On the first day of the bridge’s life 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge whose main span over the East River measures 1,595.5 feet. The bridge cost $15.5 million ($380 million today) to build and at least 27 people died building it.

Less than one week later, a rumor began stating the bridge was unstable and would collapse. People scrambled to get off the bridge and in doing so, at least 12 people were crushed to death. The rumor proved to be false and yet doubts lingered. On May 17, 1884, the greatest showman on Earth, PT Barnum proved the bridge’s stability with one of his famous publicity stunts. He brought his circus across the bridge and included in that parade was Jumbo leading a trail of 21 elephants across it. Jumbo was the largest elephant in captivity and weight a whopping 13,000 pounds and stood just over 13 feet high. Even with this much traffic, the bridge remained intact.

At the time of its opening and for several more years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, which helped to perpetuate the rumor. It was half again as long as any suspension bridge ever built. At the time of construction, aerodynamics was not part of the engineering process and bridges were not tested in wind tunnels until the 1950s after the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed. It is by luck then and not be design that the open truss structure supporting the deck is less susceptible to these types of problems. It was so designed because John Augustus Roebling made it to be six times as strong as he thought it would need to be by using this method. Roebling suffered an injury while surveying the site for the Brooklyn side tower and died before completing the bridge. His son (Washington) and daughter-in-law (Emily – the first to cross the bridge) continued the project.

Because of the sturdy construction (rumors aside) it is one of the few bridges built during this era which remains standing today. Elevated trains used the bridge until 1944 and streetcars until 1950. Today it is six lanes of roadway maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation. It spans the river 276.5 feet above mean high water mark and has a 135 foot clearance. The suspension/cable-stay hybrid bridge is 132 years old. There is no toll to cross and 123,781 vehicles (as of 2008) take advantage of the shortcut. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and National Historic Civil Engineering landmark in 1972.

I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it. – Will Rogers

You can find your way across this country using burger joint the way a navigatior uses stars…. We have munched Bridge burgers in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and Cable burgers hard by the Golden Gate, Dixie burgers in the sunny South and Yankee Doodle burgers in the North…. We had a Capitol Burger – guess where. And so help us, in the inner courtyard of the Pentagon, a Penta burger. – Charles Kuralt

Everyone should walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I did it three days in a row because it was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had. The view is breathtaking. – Seann William Scott

I remember perfectly my first trip to New York, when I was on the bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan, when I saw the skyscrapers. It was like an incredible dream. – Diego Della Valle

Also on this day: Start Your Engines – In 1911, the first Indianapolis 500 was held.
Chinese Democracy – In 1989, the Goddess of Democracy was unveiled
Fan Club – In 1933, Sally Rand danced in Chicago.
Duel – In 1806, Charles Dickenson was killed in a duel.
Pearl’s Perils – In 1899, Pearl Hart robbed a stagecoach.

* “Brooklyn Bridge Postdlf” by Postdlf at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Fourth Unsuccessful Try

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 29, 2015
Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

May 29, 1931: Michele Schirru is executed. He was born in 1899 in Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily) which remains an autonomous region of Italy. He was raised in Pozzomaggiore, in the northwest part of the island. He was able to attend school through the sixth grade at which time he was hired by a blacksmith as an apprentice. His father left for the US and settled in New York City. Michele was admitted to the Maritime School of La Spezia. He was forced to quit school after an illness. He served in World War I with fourteen months of active service. After the war, he returned to Pozzomaggiaore.

During 1919-1920, the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) participated in a series of occupations of factories. The workers took over the control of the factories making them “recovered” and self-managed them. This allowed them to continue to earn a living rather than staging a strike or incurring a lock out. Schirru was disappointed at the abandonment of this practice and felt betrayed by the PSI. He wrote a manifesto regarding his disillusionment of both the Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labour leaders. He decided to leave Italy and first moved to France. In November 1920, he came to the US and became a naturalized citizen in 1926. He worked in New York City as a vendor on Arthur Avenue.

Benito Mussolini was leader of the National Fascist Party and ruled as Prime Minister from 1922 until 1943. He ruled legally until 1925 and then abandoned the fiction of a democracy. He set up a legal dictatorship with himself as leader and known as Il Duce. He was one of the key people in the creation of fascism. His rule and ideology were directly opposed to the socialist and anarchist views of Schirru. Many people did not agree with Mussolini. Violet Gibson was the first to try to assassinate the leader. In 1926, the Irish daughter of Lord Ashbourne attempted to get rid of Mussolini and after her failure, she was deported.

About six months after the first attempt, in October of 1926, a 15-year-old in Bologna tried to shoot Mussolini. Anteo Zamboni was captured immediately and lynched on the spot. Anarchist Gino Lucetti tried to assassinate the leader while in Rome. He, too, failed. Schirru was the next person to try. He was captured and executed on this date. After Zamboni’s failed attempt, other political parties were outlawed, making the state officially one-party – something it had been in practice since 1925. Mussolini and his mistress were captured on April 27, 1945 as they tried to escape to Spain via Switzerland. They, along with most of the members of their 15-man train which were made up of mostly ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic, were summarily shot on April 28. The next day, their corpses were loaded into a van and taken to Milan.

When the workers, submitting to the cowardly betrayal of the Socialist Party and General Confederation of Labour leadership, returned the factories to their legal owners, I was one of those who felt disgusted and humiliated at the missed opportunity and for the precious energies that had been squandered in vain. So I decided to expatriate, feeling that there was nothing more to be done in Italy. – Michele Schirru

War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon peoples who have courage to face it. – Benito Mussolini

If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal. – Fidel Castro

In times of anarchy, one may seem a despot in order to be a savior. – Honore Mirabeau

Also on this day: The Top of the World – In 1953, Mount Everest was conquered.
Running the World – In 1954, the Bilderberg Group held their first conference.
Empress of Ireland – In 1914, nearly a thousand people died when the ship sank.
I’m Dreaming – In 1942, Bing Crosby recorded a song.
Jenny Lind – In 1852, the singer left the US.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 28, 2015
Mathias Rust coming in for a landing

Mathias Rust coming in for a landing

May 28, 1987: Mathias Rust lands in Moscow. Rust was a fairly inexperienced pilot with about 50 hours of flying time and from Wedel, Germany. He was 18 years old and rented a Reims Cessna F 172P D-ECJB on May 13. He flew out of Uetersen in northern Germany and near his hometown and headed northwest. His first stop was the Faroe Islands and then he spent a week in Iceland. While in Iceland, he visited Hofdi House where the year before the US and USSR had met for unsuccessful peace talks. After he left Iceland and headed east again, he landed in Bergen, Norway and Helsinki, Finland. The two week trip was a way for him to test his piloting skills.

He refueled at the Helsinki-Malmi Airport and told air traffic control he was planning on Stockholm, Sweden as his next stop which was west of his current location. He took off at 12.21 PM and as soon as he made his final communication with air traffic control, he turned his plane and headed east. Air traffic control tried to contact him as he was entering busy space near the Helsinki-Moscow route, but Rust had turned off his radio and was incommunicado. After disappearing from Finnish radar near Sipoo, it was presumed the young pilot had encountered an emergency and search and rescue was instituted. A Finnish Border Guard patrol boat located an oil slick in the approximate area where the plane went missing. An underwater search was performed without finding the plane.

Rust was still in the air and crossed the Baltic coastline over Estonia and turned towards Moscow. At 2.29 PM local time he appeared on Soviet Air Defense (PVO) radar. He did not respond to an IFF signal and was assigned combat number 8255. He was tracked by three different SAM divisions but there was no authorization to launch anything to stop him. All air defense was brought to readiness and two interceptors were sent to investigate. At 2.48 PM a white sport plane was found and yet there were orders to not engage the plane. The fighters soon lost contact with Rust. Two more times, he was investigated but not halted.

Around 7 PM, Rust arrived in the air space over Moscow. He had intended to land at the Kremlin but changed his mind, thinking of security issues. Instead, he chose the Red Square but heavy pedestrian traffic made that impossible. He set down on a bridge by St. Basil’s Cathedral. Rust was arrested two hours later. He was charged with many small crimes and was finally released in August 1988 as a goodwill gesture to the West. He was fined €7,500 by the Finnish government for the dive and the oil slick was never explained. Mikhail Gorbachev used the stunt as a way to clean house and fired several military leaders who let the teen through their “impregnable” defenses. It helped to bring an end to the Cold War. Rust has led a checkered life since, imprisoned for attempted manslaughter as well as other misadventures with the legal system.

An unbelievable dream had come true.

Something must be done to improve the situation (Cold War).

I shouldn’t have done it; otherwise I would have had an easier life.

Without that experience, I would have turned out like have today. – all from Mathias Rust

Also on this day: It Can’t Be Done – In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic.
Beautiful Dining – In 1999, The Last Supper’s restoration was completed.
Sierra Club – In 1892, John Muir became the club’s first president.
Five – In 1934, the Dionne quintuplets were born.
Exact Date – Maybe – In 585 BC, a solar eclipse took place.

Who’s Afraid

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 27, 2015
The Three Little Pigs poster *

The Three Little Pigs poster *

May 27, 1933: Walt Disney releases a cartoon. Disney produced the short animated film directed by Burt Gillett. It was based on the fairy tale of the same name: The Three Little Pigs. The United Artists film cost $22,000 to create and the Technicolor cartoon ran for eight minutes. Animation was provided by Fred Moore, Art Babbitt, Dick Lundy, and Norm Ferguson. Voices were provided by Pinto Colvig, Billy Bletcher, Mary Moder, and Dorothy Compton. Music was by Carl W. Stalling and Frank Churchill. The film grossed $250,000 and in 1994 was listed as #11 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The Three Little Pigs was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Both the cartoon and the fairy tale tell the story of three little pigs. Practical Pig is practical and in the cartoon plays a piano and builds his sturdy house of bricks. Fiddler Pig plays a fiddle and dances after quickly building his stick house. Fifer Pig plays a flute after his shoddy construction on his straw house is complete. The pigs play and then the antagonist shows up – the Big Bad Wolf. He destroys the sloppily built houses in turn with each pig making it safely to the next house to hide until he comes to the brick house. When his prior method of blowing down the house fails, he tries to climb down the chimney. The pigs play a catchy tune between being pursued and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” was a musical hit from the film.

The cartoon was a big hit with the audiences of the day. Instead of a short run, it played for months and continued to bring in revenue. It remains one of the most successful animated shorts ever made. It was one of the first attempts to bring cartoon characters to life. Each of the pigs looked the same but each had a particular personality and behaved in a particular way. Even at this early stage in his career, Disney had already learned that successful cartooning depended on telling emotionally gripping stories. Because of this, while this short was in production, a “story department” separate from the animators was created. The storyboard artists worked on story development rather than cartooning.

Frank Churchill’s song became a single and “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” gave those living through the Great Depression a rallying cry. When Hitler’s Germany began expanding pre-World War II, the song was used to bring focus to the complacency about the invasions in Europe. Disney went on to create more cartoons with another of his stars – Mickey Mouse. His first appearance pre-dated this cartoon. This film made it possible for Disney to parley his success into making Mickey a top merchandise item by the end of 1934. Mickey appeared in over 130 films and became known worldwide.

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.

I never called my work an ‘art’ It’s part of show business, the business of building entertainment.

People don’t care what you know. They just want to know that you care.

A man should never neglect his family for business. – all from Walt Disney

Also on this day: No More Burnt Toast – In 1919, a toaster with a timer was patented.
St. Pete – In 1703, St. Petersburg, Russia was founded.
Model T & A – In 1927, Ford Motor Co. began the switch from Model T to Model A.
Centralia – In 1962, a fire that is still burning was started.
Le Paradis Massacre – In 1940, the massacre took place.

* “Three Little Pigs poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2015
24 Hours of Le Mans poster for 1923

24 Hours of Le Mans poster for 1923

May 26, 1923: A new endurance race hits the streets of France. The 24 Hours of Le Mans began on this date and after a 24 hour race was run, it would take another two years of racing to come up with a declared winner based on the greatest number of miles traveled during the entire three year run. The Rudge-Whitworth Cup would go to the team with the most miles, but not until 1925. Very few teams had selected names and drivers worked in pairs. Most of the teams came from France, but a few other countries were represented – Switzerland, Germany, and Great Britain. There were 33 teams at the start of the race, three of them unable to finish. André Lagache and France René Léonard, driving a Chenard Et Walker Sport with a 3.0 L I4 engine made 128 laps.

The first race was run through public roads. The idea of not awarding a winner each years was soon abandoned and a winner was declared each year as racers showed up to test themselves and their cars. It has become one of the most prestigious races and is sometimes called the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency. Teams balance speed and the cars’ ability to last 24 hours of punishing racing. Drivers now race in teams of three and may switch out after two hours while the car is making a pit stop. Consumables must be wisely managed and fuel, tires, and brakes need to be carefully maintained. Drivers eat and rest while teammates take the wheel.

The race was organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and today runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe which is made up of some public roads and a specialized racing circuit. With its current configuration, it covers 8.47 miles and is one of the longest racing circuits in the world. The race stadium has a capacity to seat 100,000. With long straightaways, up to 85% of the race is run at full throttle causing wear and tear on the engine and drive train as well as on the drivers themselves. When coming into a curve or turn, cars much slow from over 200 mph to around 65 mph which also places wear and tear on the brakes. The highest speed on the course was reached in 1988 with roger Dorchy driving a Peugeot 2.8L V6 turbo charged car. He reached a goal of over 400 km/h when he hit 405 km/h or 251.1 mph. Unfortunately, the car lasted only a few more laps before an overheated engine caused it to quit.

Today, the race is held in June, beginning at mid-afternoon and finishing the next day. It is often hot and cars are not built for ride or comfort, but for speed and handling. Weather conditions are immaterial and the race is often run in the rain. In the 2010s, the drivers have made distances over 5,000 km (3,110 mi) and the longest drive was 5,410 km or 3,360 miles (over six times the Indianapolis 500 and 18 times longer that a Formula One Grand Prix). Tom Kristensen has been the driver to win the most times (9) and Joest Racing is the team with the most wins (13). Porsche has had the most wins with 16. Tom is a Danish driver who won with the Joest team while driving a Porsche. The German Audi Sport Team Joest team won in 2014 with 379 laps. The race for 2015 will be held on June 13-14 and will be the 83rd running of Le Mans.

There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games. – Ernest Hemingway

In racing, the fastest person wins. It is very simple. – Paul Newman

Racing takes everything you’ve got — intellectually, emotionally, physically — and then you have to find about ten percent more and use that too. – Janet Guthrie

Auto racing is boring except when a car is going at least 172 miles per hour upside down. – Dave Barry

Also on this day: Who Was That? – In 1828, a strange teenager was found on the streets.
Complex Napoleon – In 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.
Alse Young – In 1647, Alse was hung as a witch.
From Property to Human – In 1857, Dred Scott was freed.


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