Little Bits of History

April 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2017

1971: Charles Manson is sentenced to death. Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1934. His mother was just 16 and his father was not named. She would later file a paternity suit against Colonel Walker Scott. She was briefly married to William Manson and her son was given his name. His childhood was troubled and he spent much of his early life being shuffled between relatives. He ran away and was robbing stores to pay for food and lodging. He was first arrested at the age of 13 and sent to the Indiana Boys School where he was abused, physically and sexually. He escaped there after three years and was soon caught and arrested again for robbery and grand theft auto. He was again sent to a Boys School, a juvenile detention center. He was considered to be “dangerous” and transferred to prison. He was paroled in May 1954.

He tried living within the law, unsuccessfully, and was arrested again in March 1956 and sentenced to prison. He was paroled in September 1958. Still in trouble with the law, he was in and out of prison, paroled, violated parole, and constantly living outside the law. He was released from prison in March 1967 and given permission to move to San Francisco. He moved in with Mary Brunner, a library assistant, and soon had himself and 18 women living in her house. He set himself up as a guru/hippie and the group soon came to be known as the Manson Family. They followed a haphazard composite philosophy of various fringe belief systems.

Over the course of five weeks in 1969, the Family committed a series of nine murders at four locations. The most famous of these was the Tate murders committed on the night of August 8-9, 1969. Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski, was eight months pregnant. She was hosting a party at her house when the Manson Family arrived and killed the four people in the house after having already killed a visitor in the driveway as they approached the house. Investigations finally led to the capture of the murderers and the group went on trail beginning in June 1970. Manson along with Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel were charged with seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy. Kasabian was the prosecution’s main witness and by all accounts she had not participated in the killings.

On January 25, 1971 the jury returned guilty verdicts against all four defendants on each of the 27 counts against them. During the penalty phase, Manson’s presentation of “explanation” was put forth. They were copycat murders to lead police astray. The ploy did not work and Manson was not exonerated for a “copycat” scenario. On March 29, 1971 the jury returned verdicts of death against all four defendants and on this day, Judge Older sentenced them to death. In February 1972, all four death sentences were changed to life in prison as California abolished the death penalty. Manson has applied for parole twelve times since 1972 and been denied each time. He remains in prison at the age of 82. He is eligible to apply again in 2027 when he will be 92 years old.

I am the Devil, and the Devil always has a bald head. – Charles Manson, after shaving his head during the penalty phase of his trial for murder

You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody’s crazy.

From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment.

Living is what scares me. Dying is easy. – all from Charles Manson

Good Will

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2015
Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

Current US Embassy in the Netherlands*

April 19, 1782: John Adams is received by the States-General of the Dutch Republic and becomes the first ambassador for the US. Morocco was the first nation to seek diplomatic relations with the US and did so in December 1777. Benjamin Franklin established the first overseas mission for the US in Paris in 1779. On this date, Adams established the first ambassadorship and the house he purchased at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 became the first American embassy anywhere in the world. Today, the embassy in The Hague is located at Lange Voorhout 102, 2514 EJ The Hague and was opened on July 4, 1959.

Diplomatic relations are essential to the smooth operation of many facets of our daily existence. Before the world was connected by instantaneous communication, the global community still needed to operate more effectively and efficiently. To do so meant less misunderstanding. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 formally defined and recognized ambassadors. Prior to this new definition, ambassadors were considered to be the personal envoy of the chief executive of a foreign country and to speak on his behalf. Their position made it possible for them to meet personally with the head of state of the host country. Prior to our technologically advanced era, ambassadors were given far greater power to execute national prerogatives.

The embassy is a permanent diplomatic mission as well as the building or section of a building in which the world of the diplomatic mission is carried out. The office space of the building is technically called the chancery. Members of the mission may live off site or within the embassy. These are located in the capital of the host country. Since 1945, all nations have been recognized as equals and ambassadors or their equivalents are sent to all countries with which one maintains diplomatic relations. There are also satellites where Consuls also represent their country. There can only be one ambassador from a country to the foreign power, but there can be several Consuls residing in other large cities of the hosting country.

The American embassy for Canada is in Ottawa, but there are six consulates general and one consulate also in Canada spanning coast to coast. To the south, America has an embassy in Mexico City and eighteen other presences ranging from a consulate or consular agency to a consulate general. Their largest diplomatic presence in Asia is in China where there is an embassy and six satellites. In Europe, Italy, Germany and France have six satellites in addition to their embassy. The Netherlands hosts the ambassador as well as two satellite consulates general. The Middle East has been a challenge to diplomatic relations and the embassy in Yemen suspended operations on February 11, 2015 due to deteriorating security. The embassy in Libya suspended operations on July 26, 2014. It is also interesting to note that the embassy to the Holy See is located outside Vatican territory and is located in Rome.

Ambassadors are the eye and ear of states. – Francesco Guicciardini

An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country. – Sir Henry Wotton

An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle. – Walter Bagehot

The function of a briefing paper is to prevent the ambassador from saying something dreadfully indiscreet. I sometimes think its true object is to prevent the ambassador from saying anything at all. – Kingman Brewster, Jr.

Also on this day: Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.
Boston Marathon – In 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run.

* “Amerikaanse ambassade in Den Haag” by Pvt pauline – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Boston Marathon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2014
The first Boston Marathon

The first Boston Marathon

April 19, 1897: The first Boston Marathon is run. The run was inspired by the revival the marathon race for the 1896 Summer Olympics held in Athens. It is the oldest continuously running marathon in the US and the second oldest footrace in North America. The Buffalo Turkey Trot is the oldest by only five months. The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had been in existence for ten years by this time and they were the proud sponsors of the first marathon which covered a distance of 24.5 miles. It was scheduled to be run on the newly established Patriots Day and was intended to link the Athenian and American struggles for freedom. It has been held every year since its inception.

In 1924, the starting line was moved from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to Hopkinton Green and the course was lengthened to 26 miles and 385 yards to conform to standards set at the Summer Olympics held in 1908 and codified by the IAAF in 1921. Originally a local event, fame spread and the status of running the Boston Marathon is now a worldwide phenomenon. In the early years, the race was free and the only prize went to the winner who was given a wreath woven of olive branches. In the 1980s, corporations began to sponsor the event so that cash prizes could be awarded since professionals would not race without this incentive. The first cash prize was awarded in 1986.

In 1951, during the Korean War, Walter A. Brown (President of the BAA) would not permit Koreans to run in the race. The first woman to be recognized as running the entire race was Roberta Gibb in 1966. The next year, KV Switzer entered and was given a race number, making Kathrine the first to achieve that. Women were only officially permitted to enter beginning in 1972. However, in 1996 the BAA retroactively recognized as champions the women who won between 1966 and 1971. In 2011, about 43% of the entrants were women. In 1980 Rosie Ruiz came from nowhere to win the race, but officials were suspicious when she wasn’t found in any videotapes of the race. She had not run most of the race but joined only for the last mile and was disqualified.

In 2011, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya finished in 02:03:02, the fastest runner. The fastest woman runner was Margaret Okayo of Kenya who finished in 2002 with a time of 02:20:43. The course used at Boston does not qualify for world record ratification in two different areas. The course drops 459 feet between start and finish and the start is west by a fair margin from the finish allowing for a favorable tailwind. In 1897, John J McDermott of the US won the race with a time of 02:55:10. Ronald J MacDonald of Canada won the next year. In 1932, the first European won when Paul de Bruyn finished in 02:33:36. Winners have now spanned the globe and the 2013 winner was Lelisa Desisa Benti (Ethiopia) for the men and Rita Japtoo (Kenya) for the women.

If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. – Emil Zatopek

When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time. – Haile Gebrselassie

I’ve run the Boston Marathon 6 times before. I think the best aspects of the marathon are the beautiful changes of the scenery along the route and the warmth of the people’s support. I feel happier every time I enter this marathon. – Haruki Murakami

Marathon running, for me, was the most controlled test of mettle that I could ever think of. It’s you against Darwin. – Ryan Reynolds

Also on this day: Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2013
Albert Hofmann

Albert Hofmann

April 19, 1943: Albert Hofmann goes for trip. The Swiss scientist was interested in organic chemistry and received his doctorate in 1930. He went to work in the pharmaceutical department of Sandoz Laboratories. He was studying medicinal plat squill, a pretty spring flower with medicinal qualities used today in cough medicines and cardiac surgery, and fungus ergot, an alkaloid that effects both circulation and neurotransmission. This fungus can lead to extreme physical symptoms from a burning sensation in the hands to hallucinations, convulsions, and even death.

There are a wide range of ergoline alkaloids which can be produced, many with lysergic acid as a precursor. Hofmann synthesized LSD-25 (lysergic acid diethylamide and the 25th derivative synthesized) in 1938. The goal was to find a respiratory and circulatory stimulant. LSD-25 was set aside. Five years later, Hofmann once again began to work with the chemical on April 16, 1943. Some of the substance was absorbed through his fingertips. Hofmann’s ride home that night was bizarre and he decided to take what he hoped would be a non-lethal dose.

Hofmann ingested 250 micrograms of LSD-25. His speech became garbled. A lab assistant helped Hoffman home. During the war years, he rode a bicycle. The trip home was a phantasmagoria of sensation. His sensory input was distorted and he asked for a doctor after reaching his house. The doctor could find nothing physically wrong and sent Hofmann to bed. The chemist thought he was possessed by a demon, his furniture was a threat, and he felt he might be totally insane. Eventually, the terrorizing nature of the hallucinations turned to feelings of euphoria. He awoke the next morning with acute perception of the surrounding world.

Sandoz Laboratories marketed LSD as a wonder drug for a variety of psychiatric conditions. It was said to cure schizophrenia, criminal behavior, sexual perversions, and alcoholism. LSD along with other hallucinogens were studied extensively with more than 1,000 scientific papers written. In one study, 50% of alcoholics treated with LSD were able to refrain from drinking even after a year. The drug became popular on the street, as well. By the mid-1960s, drug enforcement agencies asked for a stop to the drug’s production. Sandoz quit making the drug, but others did not. It had a surge of popularity as a street drug in the 1990s, but the dosages were 30-75 micrograms and there were far fewer ER admissions due to the drug.

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom. I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

“It is true that my discovery of LSD was a chance discovery, but it was the outcome of planned experiments and these experiments took place in the framework of systematic pharmaceutical, chemical research. It could better be described as serendipity.”

“What began as a miracle substance subsequently became a youth cult drug, and thus a political danger for America. The decision of the U.S. to ban LSD was purely political. Every doctor has controlled access to heroin, morphine and even strychnine. But for LSD there’s a total prohibition.”

“It was an April day and I went out into the garden and it had been raining during the night. I had the feeling that I saw the earth and the beauty of nature as it had been when it was created, at the first day of creation. It was a beautiful experience! I was reborn, seeing nature in quite a new light.” – all from Albert Hofmann

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Albert Hofmann was born in Baden, Switzerland in 1906. His family was poor and so his godfather paid for Albert’s education. He finished his chemistry degree in three years at the University of Zurich. He was interested in organic chemistry and received he doctorate for work on the study of Chitin. While he is famous for his work with LSD, he did more work after this discovery. He also discovered 4-Acetyoxy-DET which is a hallucinogenic tryptamine. He studied the hallucinogenic substance found in Mexican mushrooms along with other plants used by aboriginal people. Shortly before his hundredth birthday, Hofmann told an interviewer that LDS was “medicine for the soul”. He died of natural causes in 2008 at the age of 102.

Also on this day : Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.
Jump – In 1919, Leslie Leroy Irvin jumped from a plane.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2012

Leslie Leroy Irvin

April 19, 1919: Leslie Leroy Irvin breaks his ankle when he lands hard. Irvin was born in Los Angeles in 1895 and began working as a stunt man for the new California film industry as a teen. He performed acrobatics on trapezes and even jumped from a balloon, floating to the ground using a parachute. He made his first jump when he was fourteen and jumped from an airplane for the first time in 1914, sailing 1,000 feet to the ground. The stunt was part of the movie, Sky High.

Early parachutes were bunched up cloth held by the jumper, who released the cloth, hoping it would catch the air and lower him gently to the ground. The next step was to place the cloth in a canister, attached to the jumper’s body. Next came a different style of parachute designed by Theodore Moscicki, a Polish inventor, where the chute was stored in a backpack type case and used a rip-cord to release the chute to the air. Irvin was working for the Army Air Service as part of the parachute research team. On this day, he made the first premeditated free-fall jump with a chute perfected by Floyd Smith and Major EC Hoffmann of the US Air Service Engineering Division..

The chute itself performed flawlessly, even though the landing needed a bit of help. Within two months, The Irvin Airchute Company was formed. Irvin’s parachutes were much safer. His catalog listed the first person saved by the company’s product: William O’Connor was saved by the product on August 24, 1920. By 1922, Irvin formed the “Caterpillar Club” for airmen who had been saved by using an Irvin Chute. By 1933, his company was being used by 37 air forces worldwide.

The company expanded to make other safety equipment such as car seat belts and straps for cargo. In 1960, the company made the parachute used on Discoverer 13, an orbiting space capsule. Due to a clerical error, the letter G was added and Irving was part of the company name until 1970. Since 1996, they have been called Irvin Aerospace Inc. and they remain  world famous for making parachutes as well as inflatable life-saving equipment. On July 1, 2012, they will become a division of HDT Global.

Life depends on a silken thread. – Caterpillar Club motto

Out of 10,000 feet of fall, always remember that the last half inch hurts the most. – Captain Charles W. Purcell

Young man at EAA Oshkosh: What color are your parachutes?

Ron Terry, aerobatic pilot: I don’t know and I hope I never find out!

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute. – Gil Stern

Also on this day:

Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.
Sex Is Obscene  – In 1927, Mae West was sentenced to jail for her play, Sex.

Sex Is Obscene

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2011

Mae West

April 19, 1927: Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail on obscenity charges. Her play, Sex, opened in 1926. She both wrote and starred in the work. It was quite a popular play and had been seen by 325,000 people prior to her arrest in February 1927. The New York Police Department raided the playhouse and brought charges. Ironically, the play had been seen by members of the police department and their wives, judges of the criminal courts, and seven members of the district attorney’s staff. Regardless, West was sentenced to ten days in a workhouse on Roosevelt Island and fined $500 [about $6,100 today].

Mary Jane West was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 17, 1893. Her father was a prizefighter who took up private investigation later in life. Her mother was corset and fashion model. She had a brother and sister and the family moved frequently but stayed in New York City. Mae first entertained a crowd at the age of five and began appearing in amateur shows by the age of seven. She won prizes in talent contests and began performing professionally in Vaudeville in 1907 at the age of 14. She first appeared under the stage name of Baby Mae.

Mae first appeared in a legitimate Broadway show in 1911 but the show folded after just eight performances. She finally got her big break in the Shubert Brothers revue, Sometime, playing opposite Ed Wynn. Mae was offered a motion picture contract in 1932 at the age of 38. She appeared in twelve films, ten of them between 1932 and 43. She also had eleven albums as well as at least 21 singles.

Mae first married in 1911 at the age of 17. She and Frank Szatkus [Wallace] kept the marriage a secret for some time. They never lived together. She divorced him in 1943. She also secretly married Guido Deiro in 1914 and they split in 1916 and divorced in 1920. Although she never married again, she had a long time relationship with Paul Novak. She had many other boyfriends throughout her life. She remained close with her family and her remaining family moved out to Hollywood with her when she began her film career. She lived in the penthouse of the Ravenswood apartments until her death in 1980 at the age of 87.

“Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

“When women go wrong, men go right after them.”

“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me? … Come on up, I’ll tell your fortune.” – all from Mae West

Also on this day:
Look It Up – In 1928, the last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
Trippin’ – In 1943, Albert Hofmann tried LSD.

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Look It Up

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 19, 2010

Murray and the OED

April 19, 1928: The last fascicle of the Oxford English Dictionary [OED] is published. The OED was published in smaller pieces called fascicles – 125 of them. Each fascicle was anywhere from 64 to 352 pages long. Each new letter began with a new fascicle.

The latest version of the printed OED was published in 1989 with approximately 301,100 main entries, 157,000 combinations, and 169,000 phrases or 616,500 word-forms. There are over 350 million printed characters in the 21,730 pages. Thomas Browne is the most frequently quoted source for neologisms or new words. William Shakespeare is the author most often quoted and Hamlet is the most-quoted work. George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) is the most frequently cited woman. The Bible is the most quoted collective work while Cursor Mundi (an anonymous Middle English religious poem) is the most-quoted single work.

This all started when the Philological Society of London became so dissatisfied with the current dictionaries they planned to compile their own dictionary. The leaders of this enterprise were Richard Chenevix Trench, Herbert Coleridge, and Frederick Furnivall.

Trent’s career didn’t leave him enough time to actually work on the project. Coleridge published his plan for the work on May 12, 1860. The first sample pages were published in April, 1861. Tragically, Coleridge died later that month at the age of 31. Furnivall took over the editorship, but didn’t have the temperament for the long-term project.

James Murray took over the editorship in the 1879. He moved to Oxford where the university agreed to finance the publishing of the book as well as pay Murray. On February 1, 1884 [24 years later] the first fascicle was published. Ten years later, 11 fascicles [up to and including the letter E] were published. Murray was editor until his death in 1915. Sixty-eight years after the start of the project, the 125th fascicle was published with the full dictionary in bound volumes following.

“If you have a big enough dictionary, just about everything is a word.”  –  Dave Barry

“Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground.” – Noah Webster

“DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.” – Ambrose Bierce from Devil’s Dictionary

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Also on this day, in 1943 Albert Hofmann experimented with LSD.

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