Little Bits of History

April 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2017

1899: Queen Victoria grants a Royal Charter to St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association. Today, known as St Andrew’s First Aid, it was Scotland’s first ambulance service and founded in 1882. Their national headquarters are located in Glasgow. They teach first aid, supply the equipment needed to offer quality first aid in emergencies, and train and staff their ambulance service with volunteers. They are overseen by a Board of trustees who are elected each year and delegate power to a variety of other entities concerned with providing first aid to the sick and injured.

They offer a variety of first aid classes lasting from just a couple hours to an all inclusive basic first aid class which is offered over 24 hours and cover many aspects of first aid required in a number of situations. They offer classes to junior (children under the age of 15) and have a course designed to help those injured while playing sports. Courses and classes are available individually or via the workplace. Within St Andrew’s itself are many further educational aspects covered for their volunteer staff. They constantly update their teaching and bring in the newest technologies available to medical personnel. They are also trained in the administrative side of patient care such as leadership and radio control issues.

St Andrew’s was first formed by a group of local doctors and businessmen in Glasgow. There had been an increase in accidents due to traffic and modern machinery. Getting the injured from the scene and to the hospital became an issue. Within four years, the group had six ambulances stationed in towns throughout Scotland. To keep all volunteers up to speed, they published a Dr. George T Beatson’s Ambulance Hand-Book which helped those in the field with direct patient care as first responders. The book was used for over 40 years, updated and republished. Two major changes to the original concern were the Royal Charter granted on this day and the bringing together of several smaller entities under one umbrella, the St Andrew’s Ambulance Corps in 1904.

Within 48 hours of World War I being declared, the Corps was able to staff all of Scotland’s military hospitals which allowed regular staff to perform at a higher level. They also were able to send people overseas to help. Between the Wars, they were able to upgrade services and expand operations when the British Red Cross Society was able to give them motorized ambulances no longer needed by the military. They were again brought into major service during World War II and helped with many aspects of health care and preparation for disasters. Their name changed in 2006 to St Andrew’s First Aid and in 2010 their national headquarters were given a massive refurbishment.

The only times I’m consistent about praying are when I’m on an airplane or when an ambulance goes by. – China Chow

I’m a praying atheist. When I hear an ambulance siren, I ask for a blessing for those people in trouble, knowing that no one’s listening. I think it’s just a habit of mindfulness. – Geraldine Brooks

I don’t think my wife likes me very much, when I had a heart attack she wrote for an ambulance. – Frank Carson

We must be part of the general staff at the inception, rather than the ambulance drivers at the bitter end. – Lane Kirkland


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2015
Ezra Pound in 1913

Ezra Pound in 1913

April 18, 1958: Ezra Pound is found to be incurable and released from St. Elizabeths insane asylum. Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was born on October 30, 1885 in Idaho Territory. He was an only child. He was a descendant of William Wadsworth. When Ezra was 18 months old, his mother took him and moved them back to New York. Her husband followed two years later and the family settled in Pennsylvania. Ezra was educated in a series of dame schools, some run by Quakers. He was eleven the first time he had any of his work published – a limerick about William Jennings Bryan, the unsuccessful presidential candidate. His studies continued with his interest mainly in poetry. He learned several languages in his pursuits.

Pound traveled extensively, usually getting into some sort of trouble in the process. He self published a book of his poetry in 1908 which was well received. He ended up in London that same year and lived there almost continuously for twelve years. Although he arrived broke with only £3 to his name, he managed to survive, and even thrive after getting a bookseller to display his book in the window. He was able to meet influential writers of the time and his 1909 collection of poems, Personae, was his first commercial success. World War I left him delusioned with mankind. After the war, he settled in Paris for a few years. He then moved to Italy after suffering what Ernest Hemingway called a small nervous breakdown.

Pound felt the underlying cause of World War I was finance capitalism, something he called usury. He felt fascism was the answer to the problem and eventually was able to meet Benito Mussolini to whom he offered economic advice. He was smitten with the fascist cause and embraced Hitler’s Nazism. His involvement in politics overshadowed his poetic work. He began broadcasting his political ideas over Rome Radio and criticized the US and Roosevelt as well as offering anti-Semitic views. Pound was in Rome when Italy surrendered. He was arrested and continued to vilify the US and embrace Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese war machine.

Pound was transferred to the us on November 15, 1945 and brought up on charges of treason. He was admitted to St. Elizabeths Hospital and held in their prison ward. His lawyer asked that he be found to be insane. He was moved to a different part of the hospital. While still a patient, many of the intelligentsia and writing community worked to assure the release of Pound. In 1957, several publications began a campaign to secure his release. Thurman Arnold served as his pro bono lawyer and with the help of the hospital superintendent, it was decided that Pound was insane and incurable and would not benefit from any further treatment. He was released from prison. He died in Venice in 1972 at the age of 87.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.

A general loathing of a gang or sect usually has some sound basis in instinct.

Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep-herding.

Literature does not exist in a vacuum. Writers as such have a definite social function exactly proportional to their ability as writers. This is their main use. – all from Ezra Pound

Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea – In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.
Suicide Bomber – In 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed.
Puzzling – In 1924, Simon & Schuster published a crossword puzzle book.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2014
Simon & Schuster with the first crossword puzzle book.

Simon & Schuster with the first crossword puzzle book.

April 18, 1924: Simon & Schuster publish the first crossword puzzle book. Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular word game in the world. They first appeared in England in the 1800s in an elementary form and a type called Double Diamond Puzzles appeared in a magazine called St. Nicholas. An Italian magazine first published a crossword puzzle in 1890 and was called (in Italian) “To pass the time”. This simple puzzle was a four by four grid without shaded squares, but it included both horizontal and vertical clues. On December 21, 1913 a puzzle that looks fairly similar to today’s puzzles was first published in New York World, a newspaper published in New York City. They were a hit and soon the Boston Globe also began putting a puzzle in the papers as a weekly feature.

When Simon & Schuster began published books full of the puzzles, they attached a pencil to the book to make sure all equipment was available. The same year as the first puzzle books appeared, the New York Times complained of the “sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport… [solvers] get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development.” The prestigious paper did not start published crossword puzzles until 1942.

There are several different types of grids available for standard crossword puzzle construction. Many of them have a 180-degree or rotational symmetry meaning the grid looks the same even if the page is turned upside down. American and Japanese style look quite similar but there are two extra rules for the Japanese grid – the shaded spaces may not share a side and all four corners must be white. The lattice structure is used in England and many of her colonies. The Swedish style does not have lists of clues or any numbers as the clues are inside the cell that would be shaded in other countries. Arrows indicate which way the answer should run. There are many other types of grids, as well.

There can be themed puzzles and clues can be direct or indirect. Sometimes the clues are purposely ambiguous and at other times clues are linked to each other and solving one word helps to solve the other. The New York Times, when they did finally join in, added another layer of fun. Earlier in the week, the puzzles are easier. But as the week progresses, they get more and more difficult until by Sunday, one can spend the entire day working on the larger puzzled included for the day of rest. As leisure time increased, so did the different types of puzzles available and today there are many ways to play with words and numbers while filling in a grid. There are also many varieties of puzzles available online.

It’s the boredom that kills you. You read until you’re tired of that. You do crossword puzzles until you’re tired of that. This is torture. This is mental torture. – Jack Kevorkian

The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is, you know there is a solution. – Stephen Sondheim

I am interested in a lot of things – not just show business and my passion for animals. I try to keep current in what’s going on in the world. I do mental exercises. I don’t have any trouble memorizing lines because of the crossword puzzles I do every day to keep my mind a little limber. I don’t sit and vegetate. – Betty White

I get up, go and get a coffee, and go do the crossword – I’m loyal to one particular paper, the ‘Guardian’ – and that’s my idea of a perfect morning. – Laura Marling

Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906, a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea – In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.
Suicide Bomber – In 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed.

The House that Ruth Built

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2013
Yankee Stadium opening day

Yankee Stadium opening day

April 18, 1923: Yankee Stadium opens. Also called “The House that Ruth Built,” the arena is home to Major League Baseball team The New York Yankees. The team itself was established in 1901 and belonged to the American League. It was one of the eight charter franchises. The Bronx team originally played in Baltimore, Maryland as the Baltimore Orioles because the New York Giants held enough power to keep the upstarts out of “their” city.

The Yankees came to the Bronx in 1903 and played at Hilltop Park as the New York Highlanders. The team changed their name to the Yankees in 1913. They were purchased by Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston in 1915. They put up the new $2.5 million stadium, taking huge risks. At the time stadiums held, at most, 30,000 seats. Their ambitious plans doubled the size. The Yankees were also the third team in New York City with both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants playing for the National League.

But they also had The Babe, The Sultan of Swat, or The Bambino. George Herbert Ruth, Jr. – aka Babe Ruth – played for The Yankees. He was purchased from the Boston Red Sox in 1919 for $100,000 (the contract itself sold at auction in 2005 for $996,000). He was a phenomenon. He was the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season (1927) – a record that stood for 34 years and was finally broken by Roger Maris (1961). His lifetime record of 714 home runs held from his retirement in 1935 until 1974 when Hank Aaron finally topped it.

The first game played at the new stadium was a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox, a team that Ruth played for from 1914 until the end of 1919. A crowd of 74,200 fans saw Ruth hit his first home run in his new home. The stadium closed September 1973 and reopened after a $48 million face lift on April 15, 1976. A new stadium opened on April 2, 2009 when the team hosted a work out day for fans. The first game played in the new stadium was a pre-season game against the Chicago Cubs the next day. The first regular season game was played on April 16 against the Cleveland Indians. The $1.5 billion stadium has 50,086 seats and with standing room, holds 52,325.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

“I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.”

“If I’d just tried for them dinky singles I could’ve batted around .600.” – all from Babe Ruth

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Babe Ruth was born in 1895 in a rough neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. Of his seven siblings, only one survived infancy. His childhood is cloaked in mystery including how he ended up at St. Mary’s School for Boys at the age of seven. The school was a reformatory and orphanage and although they provided some education, the students/inmates were also required to work. This was especially true after the boys reached the age of 12 and that is how Babe Ruth became a shirtmaker. He also learned carpentry while there. The boys did most of the work required to run the school, including renovations to the school in 1912. Ruth began playing baseball while at the school.

Also on this day: The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea – In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.
Suicide Bomber – In 1983, the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was destroyed.

Suicide Bomber

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2012

The US Embassy in Beirut after the bombing

April 18, 1983: The US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon is destroyed by a suicide bomber. The Lebanese Civil War lasted from 1975 to 1990 before ending with the Taif Agreement. The war was waged in four phases with Phase III lasting from 1982-1983, ending with the May 17 Agreement. The Lebanese Front, Israel, and South Lebanon Army were fighting against the LNM, PLO, and Syria. A Multinational Force, including Americans and other Western countries, had been sent to the region to help restore order and back the central government authority.

Hezbollah (Party of God) is a Shi’a Islamist group officially founded some time between 1982 and 1985, details are fuzzy. Lebanon invited Israel to help them repel PLO encroachment. This upset some of the Muslims in the region. The influx of other western troops increased their anger. The group carried out an attack on the embassy.

At about 1 PM, local time, a delivery van exploded while parked under the portico. The van was believed to have been stolen from the embassy the previous year. It was loaded with about 2,000 pounds of explosives. There is a second theory stating the van crashed through the lobby door and exploded inside the building. The blast collapsed the central façade of the U shaped building. Balconies cascaded down, bricks, mortar, and glass were blasted outward like shrapnel. Windows in buildings a mile away were shattered by the explosion.

Rescue efforts began immediately and workers toiled around the clock. A total of 63 were killed: 32 Lebanese employees, 17 Americans, and 14 visitors or passersby. Eight of the American victims worked for the CIA and one of those was the top Middle East analyst, the Near East Director, Robert C. Ames. There were also another 120 people injured. Ambassador Dillon escaped injury. Hezbollah took responsibility for the attack immediately. The world condemned the suicide bombing but many more of these types of attacks have occurred in the intervening years.

This is part of the Iranian revolution’s campaign against imperialist targets throughout the world. We shall keep striking at any imperialist presence in Lebanon, including the international force. – anonymous caller for Hezbollah, taking credit for the attack

This criminal act on a diplomatic establishment will not deter us from our goals of peace in the region. – Ronald Reagan

The Lebanese people and myself express our deepest condolences to the families of the U.S. victims. The cross of peace is the burden of the courageous. – Amine Gemaye, President of Lebanon

I write in the name of Israel when I express to you my deep shock at the terrible outrage which took the lives of so many of the American embassy in Beirut yesterday. – Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel

Also on this day:

The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.
One if by Land; Two if by Sea – In 1775, Paul Revere took a ride through the countryside.

One if by Land; Two if by Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2011

The Ride of Paul Revere

April 18, 1775: William Dawes, Paul Revere, and Samuel Prescott take a ride through the countryside during the night to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of their impending arrest by the British. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about this Midnight Ride on April 19, 1860 bringing legendary status to a mostly forgotten silversmith from Massachusetts. It was a cautionary verse written to a country facing divisiveness and incivility between the states.

According to Paul Revere, here is what happened. On April 15 and 16, Paul and Robert Newman, friend and sexton of the Old North Church arranged a secret signal that could be used to warn of British troop movement. The Sons of Liberty would then ride into action. There were several dozen riders available to yell warnings to those living in the countryside. On Tuesday, April 18, the lanterns were lit in the Church Tower. Dawes rode off at 9:30 PM and got to Dr. Joseph Warren’s house at around 10. Warren sent for Revere.

At 11 PM, two friends rowed Revere across the Charles River where he could see the lanterns shining in the night. He borrowed a horse and began his ride. By 11:30 he reached Medford where he alerted a Captain of the Minute Men. He continued on his way, alerting all on his path. At 12:05 AM he reached Adams and Hancock and warned the men at Lexington that the British were coming to arrest them. At 12:30 Dawes showed up and the two riders continued on to Concorde waking all in their path. Concorde was important because there were supplies stored there.

At 12:45 the two riders ran into Prescott on the road and continued to ride with Revere taking point. At 1 AM, 4 British soldiers surrounded Revere and took him off, however, the other two riders escaped. Paul was questioned in Lexington at 2 AM and then let go without his horse. At 4:30 AM he helped Adams and Hancock escape the area, however Hancock had a trunk of papers at the Buchman Tavern that were important to the cause. At 5 AM, Revere got the papers from the tavern and walked outside to the sound of gunshots on the town Green that were returned by “a Continual roar of Musquetry” a roar that was heard round the world.

“…if the British went out by Water, we should shew two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; and if bye Land one, as a Signal…”

“When I got into town, I met Col. Connant, and several others; they said that they had seen our signals. I told them what was Acting, and went to git me a Horse; I got a Horse of Deacon Larkin.”

“I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s; I told them my errand, and… they said Mr. Dawes had not been there…”

“When we got about 100 Yards from the meeting-House the British Troops appeared on both Sides… I saw and heard a Gun fired… Then I could distinguish two Guns, and then a Continual roar of Musquetry; Then we made off with the Trunk.” – all from Paul Revere’s Deposition

Also on this day:
The Great Quake – In 1906 a large earthquake devastates San Francisco.
The House that Ruth Built – In 1923, Yankee Stadium opened.

The Great Quake

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 18, 2010

Toppled houses

April 18, 1906: At 5:12 AM an estimated 8.25 Richter scale earthquake hits San Francisco and lasts between 45 and 60 seconds. The quake ruptured the northernmost 296 miles of the San Andreas fault line causing 75% of the city to be destroyed either by the initial quake or the resulting fires.

It took three days for the fires to completely burn out. By that time 490 city blocks with 25,000 buildings were destroyed. About 250,000 people were left homeless. Without water to fight the blazes due to the damaged infrastructure, Army General Frederick Funston and civil authorities made one last ditch and disastrous effort. They elected to use dynamite to create firebreaks. However, when the request for explosives was received, gunpowder was sent instead of the dynamite. Rather than create firebreaks, the untrained but well-meaning firefighters spread the fire with the explosions.

View of the fires during the aftermath

Those able to escape the disaster, took what they could and fled the city. After days of chaos, the mayor, afraid of looters and the added destruction they were causing, ordered no arrests. Instead, he ordered that looters and others committing crimes were to be shot. The word went out and people believed that martial law was being called for. Some order returned. By April 21, the last of the fires was under control.

Then the assessment of the damage and the rebuilding started. Four days after the quake struck, 300 plumbers were at work fixing pipes and sewers. Within weeks, streetcars were running. Within six weeks, banks were open again. The cleanup was staggering; it was said that 6 ½ billion bricks had fallen into the streets. A new San Francisco arose from the ashes. Damage estimates were greater than $350 million or ≈ $9.4 billion in 2009 USD.

“The earthquake cleared out one San Francisco — which was the dominant place in California — and replaced it with another. It accelerated the modernization of California.” – Kevin Starr

“There were really two stages to the disaster. The earthquake was in itself enormous and San Francisco was badly damaged, but the greatest horror and chaos would soon follow in the form of the worst urban fire in American history.” – James Dalessandro

“Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank God, I’m still alive.’ But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.” – Barbara Boxer

“I was married once — in San Francisco. I haven’t seen her for many years. The great earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed the marriage certificate. There’s no legal proof. Which proves that earthquakes aren’t all bad.” – W. C. Fields

Also on this day, in 1923 Yankee Stadium opened.