Little Bits of History

April 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2017

1870: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is established. The New York State Legislature granted the museum an Act of Incorporation on this day. The Museum, also known simply as The Met, first opened on February 20, 1872 in a building on Fifth Avenue. John Taylor Johnston’s personal art collection seeded the museum and the railroad executive served as the first president with publisher George Palmer Putnam as the founding superintendent. Eastman Johnson, an artist, and many other industrialists served as co-founders. Luigi Palma di Cesnola, a Civil War officer was the first director and he saw The Met’s holdings grow from the initial Roman sarcophagus and 174 paintings to more than the original building could hold.

The Met moved after purchasing Cesnola’s Collection of Cypriot antiquities and took up temporary quarters at the Douglas Mansion on West 14th Street. Today, America’s largest and most visited art museum is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue on the eastern edge of Central Park in Manhattan’s Museum Mile in New York City. Only three art museums in the world are larger: the Louvre, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the National Museum of China in Beijing. The Met also has a second, much smaller location called The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan which features items from Medieval Europe.

The main museum has a permanent collection comprised of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt as well as paintings and sculptures from most of the European masters. There is an extensive collection of American and modern art as well as vast numbers of artifacts from around the world. They also own costumes and accessories, musical instruments, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. There are several notable interiors meant to transport the visitor throughout time and around the globe. Each department also maintains a library which can be accessed for research or private investigation.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is also noted for its special exhibits. These can focus on the work of a single artist when they bring in works on loan from other museums around the world. They also have had works related to specific art movements on display as well as collections of historic artifacts. The special exhibits are usually hosted inside their specific departments and run for a month at a time. These are open to the public and can bring an extra layer of understanding to the visitor. After viewing the art, one can travel to the roof and visit the garden and café located there (at least when the weather permits). It is considered to be one of the loveliest outdoor spaces in the City.

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Picasso

I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. – Jackson Pollock

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. – Michelangelo

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art. – Ralph Waldo Emerson



36th Academy Awards

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2015
Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

Original movie poster for Lilies of the Field*

April 13, 1964: The 36th Academy Awards ceremony is held. Jack Lemmon hosted the event held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. The Best Picture of the year was Tom Jones which tied with Cleopatra for the most awards received (4). The most nominations (10) went to Tom Jones which also gathered three Best Supporting Actress nominations, the most for any one film. Patricia Neal won Best Actress even though her role was limited and a supporting one in the film, Hud. Margaret Rutherford set a record (since broken) as the oldest recipient of Best Supporting Actress at the age of 71. It was the first time a black actor won Best Actor when Sidney Poitier won for his role in Lilies of the Field.

Poitier was born in Miami, Florida to Bahamian farmers who came to the US to sell their produce. He was born two months early and was not expected to survive. He was taken back to the Bahamas, then a British colony, and grew up on Cat Island. They lived there until Sidney was ten and then moved to Nassau. At the age of 15, he was sent to live with his brothers in Miami. Two years later, he moved to New York City and held a series of positions as a dishwasher. A Jewish waiter sat with him every night for several weeks and taught him how to read. Poitier then joined the US Army and after his tour, went back to dishwashing until he landed a successful audition with the American Negro Theatre.

He ran into some trouble with them since he was tone deaf and simply could not sing, as was expected. He finally landed a role in Lysistrata on Broadway. In 1950 he had to choose between the stage and the movies and chose the latter. His breakout role came in Blackboard Jungle (1955). He was the first African-American male to be nominated for an Oscar for The Defiant Ones (1958) and the first to receive Best Actor on this date. It wasn’t all movies for him and he appeared in the first Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun (1951) and starred in the film version ten years later. During his years of stardom, he was concerned with being typecast in an over-idealized version of African-American males. His characters were not permitted to have flaws or sexuality. He wanted more varied roles, but felt it necessary to project a good example to offset previous stereotypes.

Acting has not been his only career. He also directed several different movies, the most successful being Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. He was appointed Ambassador of the Bahamas to Japan in 1997 and remained so for ten years. He was also the Ambassador of the Bahamas to UNESCO from 2002 to 2007. He has been married twice and has six daughters as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He hold dual citizenship for the US and the Bahamas. In 1999, the American Film institute named Poitier as the 22nd on a list of the top 25 Greatest Male Stars of All Time.

One of the things I love about acting is that it reveals a certain something about yourself, but it doesn’t reveal your own personal story. – Jessica Lange

Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at age four. – Katharine Hepburn

A lot of what acting is is paying attention. – Robert Redford

Well, I think one of the main things that you have to think about when acting in the movies is to try not to make the acting show. – Jimmy Stewart

Also on this day: Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970, there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched by Allen Dulles.
Hospital for Special Surgery – In 1863, the orthopedic hospital opened.

* “Original movie poster for the film Lilies of the Field” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

Hospital for Special Surgery

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2014
Hospital for Special Surgery today

Hospital for Special Surgery today

April 13, 1863: The Society for the Relief of the Ruptured and Crippled is incorporated in the State of New York. Today, it is known as the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Located in New York City, it specializes in the orthopedic surgery and the treatment of rheumatologic conditions. It is the oldest orthopedic hospital in  the US and is considered to be one of the world’s best institutions for joint replacement surgery. They are also famous for spinal surgery both from congenital and acute causes and sports medicine. They also offer limb lengthening procedures. Included are programs for medical education. They are associated with Weill Cornell Medical College and have 277 active medical staff led by Thomas Sculco, MD and Louis Shapiro. They run a 205 bed facility.

James A. Knight, MD and Robert M. Hartley began the institution to help those in need. At the time, New York City had a population of around 800,000 and there was little access to medical care, especially for the poor in the city. Hartley funded the idea while Dr. Knight, a general practitioner, opened his private house on Second Avenue and 6th Street to patients. He had 28 inpatient beds in his house and the first patients were brought in on May 1, 1863. Since it was the middle of the US Civil War, there were many patients in need of services provided. In the first year 824 patients were treated. A larger space would be needed to meet the growing demand. John C. Green, a successful New York businessman, began to raise $200,000 for a new building which opened in May 1870 on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.

The hospital did well under Dr. Knight. He developed a system called Expectant Treatment which included fresh air, good diet, exercise, electrical stimulation, and gentle rehabilitation. There were few surgeries actually performed while he was Surgeon-in-Chief as he thought surgical intervention was often detrimental. This was a time before sterile technique and antibiotics and infection rates were very high. It wasn’t until 1887 when Dr. Virgil P Gibney became Surgeon-in-Chief that an Operating Room, Hernia Department, and Resident Training program were instituted. Dr. Gibney became the first Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia Medical College. He introduced the use of plaster of Paris, traction, and surgery when absolutely necessary. The hospital again changed locations and by the end of Dr. Gibney’s tenure in 1924, 3,000 surgical procedures had taken place.

The hospital moved to its present location on East River between 70th and 71st Streets in 1955. A fellowship in rheumatology had been introduced in 1944 and in 1955 with Dr. T. Campbell Thompson in charge, expanded orthopedic surgical treatments were brought in. As time passed, more new departments were added to increase the number of conditions which could be treated at the small but highly acclaimed institution. Today, there are seventeen specialized centers focusing on specific problems and patient needs.

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone. – Reba McEntire

What a dog I got, his favorite bone is in my arm. – Rodney Dangerfield

A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever. – Jessamyn West

When a gust of wind hits a broken bone, you feel it. – Shia LaBeouf

Also on this day: Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970, there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched by Allen Dulles.

Freedom of Religion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2013
Religious symbols from around the world

Religious symbols from around the world

April 13, 1829: The British government grants freedom of religion to Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics had been part of the British Isles since 597. While Christians arrived earlier, they were not associated with the Church as overseen by the Pope. The religious doctrine was established in Britain by Augustine of Hippo when the Pope sent him there. Henry VIII and Pope Clement VII disagreed over the validity of the King’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1534. Henry opted to become head of the Church of England which remained doctrinally Catholic. The difference was only the annulment which Henry granted himself.

Henry was excommunicated. There was persecution of Roman Catholics as well as other sects of Protestants. Edward I, Henry’s son, introduced more Protestant forms of worship to the new religion. He died and Mary I tried to return England to Catholicism. When Mary died, Elizabeth I came to power and tried to reform the Anglican Church. For the next 100 years, the two religions each tried to place their preferred royal on the throne, often resulting in bloody confrontations if not outright war.

Laws were passed in England as well as throughout the Empire restricting the rights of Catholics and other religions. The Act of Uniformity was a series of laws establishing the Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican Church as the State Religion. The Test Act was a series of laws making it legal to discriminate against Catholics and Nonconformists in regards to government employment and the severity of punishment through the courts. The Penal Laws addressed these issues in Ireland.

In Canada, the Quebec Act of 1774 removed some restrictions from Catholics. In Britain, the Catholic Relief Act was passed in 1778 and Catholics could own land again. Scotland and Ireland also granted rights to Catholics. With greater pressure from Ireland and Daniel O’Connell, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel introduced legislation to remove most of the remaining restrictions against Catholics. It was a compromise law, however, and much work remained before all religions could be equal under the law. Since 1701, it remains impossible for a Catholic to be monarch of England.

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.” – Thomas Jefferson

“No religion can long continue to maintain its purity when the church becomes the subservient vassal of the state.” – Felix Adler

“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?” – James Madison

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.” – Ulysses S. Grant

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Today, Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in England with the Anglican Church of England still holding a special position within Christianity. Christians comprise nearly 60% of the population. The next largest segment are the non-religious with about 25% claiming to not hold to any religious affiliation. There were 7% who declined to answer the question at all. Islam is the second most practiced religion but even so it only has 5% of the population as practicing Muslims. Other religions are 2% and Hinduism has about another 2%. The US is 73% Christian (48% Protestant and 22% Catholic), 6% other faiths, about 20% unaffiliated, and around 2% who refused to answer the question.

Also on this day : Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970 there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.
What Were They Thinking? – In 1953, MK-ULTRA was launched y Allen Dulles.

What Were They Thinking?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2012

Allen Dulles

April 13, 1953: Allen Dulles launches MK-ULTRA. Dulles was the fifth director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), taking over in February 1953 and relinquishing control to John McCone in November 1961. He was just shy of his 60th birthday as he took over the leadership role. He entered the Diplomatic Service after graduating from Princeton University and eventually worked in intelligence (during World War II). He was the first civilian CIA Director.

MK-ULTRA was a program designed to study mind control and to research chemical interrogation techniques. It was based on a similar program begun in 1945 by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency’s Operation Paperclip. This project was launched to recruit former Nazi scientists, some who were specialists in torture and brainwashing. Two other intermediate programs were undertaken to study the topic before MK-ULTRA began.

The Red Menace scare based on the Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean treatment of POWs in Korea led to some study in the US. The hope was not only to learn how to extract information, but to actually be able to use mind control to manipulate foreign, antagonistic world leaders. The studies were done in secret, without informed consent of the subjects. LSD and other drugs were used to elicit the hoped for responses, but were unsuccessful. Hypnosis was used as well. Overall, the study was a failure and hushed up.

The program ended in the late 1960s. In 1973 CIA Director Richard Helms order all MK-ULTRA documents to be destroyed. By December 1974 the New York Times printed a story accusing the CIA of performing illegal experiments on US citizens and Congress ordered a full investigation. The Church Committee investigated for Congress and the Rockefeller Commission was formed by the President. New protocols were immediately instituted and have since been given even greater breadth. Protecting the subjects used in any experimental studies became standard operating procedure.

At least we’re getting the kind of experience we need for the next war. – Allen Dulles

The excrement bubbles, the century slime decays, and the brainwashing government lackeys would have us say it’s under control. – Jethro Tull

Brainwashing [is] the systematic, scientific and coercive elimination of the individuality of the mind of another. – Alan W. Scheflin and Edward M. Opton, Jr.

The aim of brainwashing is to retrieve enemies and transform rather than eliminate them. – Jacques Ellul

Also on this day:

Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970 there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.
Hallelujah! – In 1742, Handel’s Messiah debuted.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2011

George Frideric Handel and the Messiah

April 13, 1742: George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah debuts in Dublin, Ireland. An oratorio is a musical composition for orchestra, vocal soloists, and chorus. It is different from an opera as there is no scenery, costumes, or acting. Messiah is the most famous of Handel’s 23 oratorios and one of the most famous of any composers. The Hallelujah chorus is recognizable around the world.

Messiah is taken from Christianity’s concept of a messiah or anointed one – Jesus. The work is a presentation of Jesus’ life as presented in the Bible. It is divided into three portions. The first is the Birth of the Savior, the second is the Passion of the Christ, and the third shows the Aftermath of the Sacrificial Lamb. The Hallelujah chorus falls at the end of Part II.

Handel was born in Halle, Germany in 1685. At age 7, he was already skilled at playing the harpsichord. His father, a respected barber-surgeon, did not approve of his son’s choice of music as a career. At age 17, George entered Halle University to study law. His father died the next year and George stopped his studies and continued with his music. He traveled to Italy and eventually England.

Handel moved to London and lived at 25 Brook Street from 1723 until his death in 1759. Today, it is a museum. In this house he composed many of his famous works: Zodok the Priest, Fireworks Music, and of course Messiah. He was granted British citizenship in 1727. He not only wrote oratorios, but 50 operas, many church hymns, and instrumental pieces, too. He was esteemed by his contemporaries and with a resurgence in the appreciation of Baroque music, he is again popular with music aficionados.

“Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Messiah has fed the hungry and clothed the naked, fostered the orphan, and enriched succeeding managers of Oratories more than any single musical production in this or any other country.” – Dr. Charles Burney

“Raphael paints wisdom; Handel sings it, Phidias carves it, Shakespeare writes it, Wren builds it, Columbus sails it, Luther preaches it, Washington arms it, Watt mechanizes it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows.” – George Frideric Handel

Also on this day:
Houston We Have a Problem – In 1970 there is an explosion on the Apollo 13 lunar mission.
Freedom of Religion – In 1829, Britain granted Roman Catholics to practice their religion.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 13, 2010

The crew of Apollo 13

April 13, 1970: There is an explosion on board Apollo 13 while they are more than 200,000 nautical miles from home. The mission, commanded by Captain James Lovell, had problems even before liftoff. An oxygen tank had been used in a previous craft and was found to be substandard, removed, repaired, and then reinstalled in Apollo 13. It did not test perfectly prior to liftoff, but was not removed.

The Apollo mission was to have been the third manned lunar landing. On April 11, five-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, there was a vibration that should not have been there. Rockets did not fire properly.

The mission was aborted after a rupture of a service module oxygen tank – the same tank that had not worked properly pre-flight. At 55 hours, 55 minutes into the flight, the tank blew and warning lights indicated loss from the three fuel cells, the primary source of electricity on the spacecraft. Thirteen minutes after the explosion, Lovell reported seeing a gas venting from the ship – the rest of the oxygen.

With the loss of power and oxygen so far from home, the best chance of survival for the three astronauts was to leave the main cabin and lock themselves into the Lunar Module [LM]. They tried. The hatch would not seal. With only fifteen minutes of power left, they got into the LM, checked supplies and reserves, and jettisoned from the Command Module. Water, also a precious commodity, was scheduled to run out before any successful landing could be made.

A new course had to be calculated and uploaded to the stranded men. Then they had to accomplish course corrections with a machine not built for the task. With the work of hundreds of people on the ground and the tenacity of Captain Lovell and his crew, John Swigert and Fred Haise, the spacecraft returned safely to Earth on April 17, 1970.

“Given that the movie had to condense four days into two hours, and given that the communications were sometimes rather tedious and technical, it was pretty accurate, … Apollo 13.” – Fred Haise

Jim Lovell: Well, Deke; if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been killed in that thing, I wouldn’t have to work for you. We’ll get it together by launch time. – From Apollo 13, the movie after the crew has been “killed” in a simulator accident.

“Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft, and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.” – Werner von Braun

“The flight controllers, the people who manned the trenches in mission control, these were kids. They were in their 20s and 30s. And they were controlling a moon mission.” – Andrew Chaikin

Also on this day, in 1829 Roman Catholics were granted freedom of religion in England.