Little Bits of History

April 3

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2017

1973: Marin Cooper makes a phone call. Cooper, a researcher and executive at Motorola, called Joel Engel of Bell Labs using the first mobile handheld telephone able to use subscriber equipment. The phone he used weighed 2.4 pounds, was nine inches long, five inches deep, and nearly two inches wide. It took ten hours to recharge and offered thirty minutes of talk time per charge. Mobile phones are different from radios in that they connect wirelessly to the public switched telephone network. Voice over radio waves had been possible for far longer. The first claim to have created a wireless phone came in 1908, but the claimants were accused of fraud, charges were later dropped.

By 1918 Germany had wireless phones on military trains between Berlin and Zossen and by 1924 the practice became public and then grew in range. Mobile phones were often depicted in science fiction works and they were smaller and commonplace. By World War II, hand-held radio transceivers were available and phones could be placed into cars, using the power system there. They were bulky and uncommon, with the system unable to handle many calls. Bell Labs began mobile phone service for phones within cars on June 17, 1946 in St. Louis, Missouri. AT&T soon followed. Most mobile phones were incompatible and service was very limited.

European development was also taking place. In the USSR, Leonid Kupriyanovich developed a phone which fit into the palm of one’s hand and weighed only 2.5 ounces. Instead, they went with development of a car phone system. The infrastructure to carry the signals was an integral aspect of developing the phones themselves. Without the ability to carry signals to faraway places, the phones were not worth the cost. But with more users, a larger infrastructure was needed to carry increased load.

The networks built to carry traffic have steadily increased in size and scope as well as dependability and power. Today’s 4G or fourth generation network needed to adapt to changing use of phones which were now “smart” and able to carry more than phone calls. The streaming of media and the bandwidth-intensive applications installed on modern smart phones made a data-optimized, speed-enhanced system necessary. This was done by eliminating circuit switching and using an all-IP network which was the first time voice transmission was treated like streaming audio media and used packet switching over the internet.

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone. – Steven Spielberg

I think most people in the developed world would admit to carrying some sort of handheld device, whether it’s a laptop or a cell phone, at all times. – Alexis Denisof

Now we’re e-mailing and tweeting and texting so much, a phone call comes as a fresh surprise. I get text messages on my cell phone all day long, and it warbles to alert me that someone has sent me a message on Facebook or a reply or direct message on Twitter, but it rarely ever rings. – Susan Orlean

The technology is just so far gone. It’s just like back in the day you needed a suitcase just to have a cell phone. The battery was so heavy, it was like carrying a gallon of soda around with you all day. – Jam Master Jay

James Gang’s Loss

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2015
Jesse James

Jesse James

April 3, 1882: Jesse Woodson James dies. Jesse was born in 1847 in Kearney, Missouri. He had two full siblings, Alexander Franklin (Frank) and Susan Lavenia. Their father was a farmer and Baptist minister in Kentucky and moved the family to Clay County Missouri after he married. He helped found the William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He was a prosperous man and owned six slaves to help with his 100 acre farm. He left for California when the Gold Rush began to minister to those seeking gold. He died there when Jesse was three. His widow remarried twice and had four more children with her third husband. He had moved to the James farmstead and bought seven slaves to run the farm, now growing tobacco.

As tensions rose over slavery, Clay County whose population was 25% slave (Missouri itself was only 10% slave) was in turmoil. Violence between pro- and anti-slavery groups escalated. The American Civil War began in 1861 and guerrilla warfare in the region, between the secessionist bushwackers and the Union forces of local militia groups called jayhawkers, was bitter. Jesse fought with the bushwackers. He was said to have been involved in the Centralia Massacre where 24 unarmed Union soldiers were captured and executed. After the War ended, Missouri was divided between three different groups. There were anti-slavery proponents, segregationist conservatives, and pro-slavery followers still aligned with the Confederacy.

Jesse had been wounded during the war and lived at his uncle’s boardinghouse while recovering from a chest wound. His cousin helped care for him and they began a nine year relationship. They would eventually marry. The bushwackers of the war were kept together by Archie Clement. Their goal was to harass the Republican authorities. They were the first to commit a daytime bank robbery during peace time on February 13, 1866. They became adept at robbing banks and added stagecoaches and other venues to their repertoire. As their fame grew, legends grew up around them. They were the Robin Hood of the day although there has never been any evidence that they gave any of their stolen goods to anyone outside the gang.

With fame came greater scrutiny and more law officers attempting to stop the gang. By 1882, with most of his gang gone, Jesse trusted only Charley and Robert Ford. Charley had been on raids with Jesse; Robert was a newcomer. Robert had secretly negotiated with Thomas Crittenden, the governor of Missouri, to help bring in the famous outlaw. There was a $5,000 reward for Jesse’s capture. On this day, as the Ford brothers and Jesse James prepared to go out on another raid, Robert shot Jesse in the back of the head. Instead of collecting a reward, both brothers were charged with first degree murder and sentenced to death. Governor Crittenden stepped in and granted them a full pardon.

Television is of great educational value. It teaches you while still young how to (a) kill, (b) rob, (c) embezzle, (d) shoot, (e) poison, and, generally speaking, (f) how to grow up into a Wild West outlaw or gangster by the time you leave school. – George Mikes

I felt something shift to murder in me. I felt … that I was an outlaw, a psychic outlaw, and I liked it. – Norman Mailer

Civilization may be said indeed to be the creation of its outlaws. – James Joyce

The lyricism of marginality may find inspiration in the image of the “outlaw”, the great social nomad, who prowls on the confines of a docile, frightened order. – Michel Foucault

Also on this day: A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Cunard Line – In 1929, the shipping company announced a new ship to be built.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.
 Old Smokey – In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed.
Marshall Plan – In 1948, President Truman signed the Plan into law.

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Marshall Plan

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2014
Harry S Truman signing the Marshall Plan

Harry S Truman signing the Marshall Plan

April 3, 1948: President Harry S Truman signs the Marshall Plan. Officially known at the European Recovery Program or ERP, it was a bid to help Europe recover from the devastation caused by World War II. The hope was to help rebuild Europe and stop or hinder the spread of Soviet Communism.  The plan was developed at a meeting of affected European states which took place in June 1947. Aid was also offered to the Soviet Union and her allies, but it would have given control to the US over their economies and so it was declined. The plan was in operation for four years.

Looking at the obstacles encountered as post-war Europe struggled to recover, the ERP focused funding on problematic areas. The US contributed $15 billion (~ $258 billion in today’s money) to help with reconstruction. This was on top of the $15 billion spent between the end of the war and the beginning of the plan’s implementation. The goal was to lead Europe into the future and not just to deal with the destruction caused by the war. Efforts were put into modernizing European business and industrial practices using high-efficiency American models. There was also a removal or reduction of artificial trade barriers and  the hope for instilling a sense of self-reliance.

The myriad bombing runs of World War II had devastated many large cities and their industrial facilities. Trade flow had been severely impacted by both the war effort and the altered political climate of the war years. Food shortages were particularly severe after an extraordinarily harsh winter in 1946-47. The transportation infrastructure was left in a shambles as railways, bridges, and docks had been major air strike targets. Even though many small towns and villages had not been impacted by the fighting itself, they were left isolated by the no longer passable roads. The only nations with very limited infrastructure damage due to the war were Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the US.

Because accepting American aid also meant the US had some control over the monies being spent, the Soviets were not willing to accept the terms. Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov wanted to take a punitive stance against Germany and the US was willing to help rebuild. This ideological difference led to further complications. Stalin was open to the offer and went into talks until he heard the terms included conditions of economic cooperation and would include Germany. At that point he did his best to kill the Plan. His next worry was that it would help solidify a split between East and West Europe and that the Eastern Bloc countries would have to be made to reject the offer of help. He did manage to keep countries under his influence to deny the offer of aid.

The modern system of the division of labor upon which the exchange of products is based is in danger of breaking down. . . .

Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all.

It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health to the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.

Any government that is willing to assist in recovery will find full co-operation on the part of the USA. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. – speech from Secretary of State George Marshall

Also on this day: A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Cunard Line – In 1929, the shipping company announced a new ship to be built.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.
 Old Smokey – In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed.

Cunard Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2013
Sir Thomas Royden

Sir Thomas Royden

April 3, 1929: The annual meeting for Cunard Line takes place. Chairman Sir Thomas Royden announced a new ship was to be built. It wasn’t until a year later on May 28, 1930 that John Brown and Company, LTD was named as the builder. The company formed in 1851 and soon earned a reputation for solid ship building. John Brown took over the shipyard in 1899 and the company entered it Golden Age building both luxury liners and battle cruisers.

Between the World Wars, recession hit the company with devastating results. If not for the Cunard Line’s order, they may have folded. With the order for ship #534, John Brown and Co. could survive. The first keel plate was laid on December 1, 1930. With a worldwide depression, loans were no longer available and work halted on December 11, 1931. The hull plating was 80% completed and the ship stood 9 stories tall. Cunard and White Star Lines merged. On March 27, 1934 the North Atlantic Shipping (Advances) bill passed. The British Treasury advanced £4,500,000 to complete order #534. On April 3, 1934, 28 months after the work stoppage, work resumed on the ship.

On September 26, 1934 job #534 was launched and christened RMS Queen Mary. Two days later she was moved to a fitting out basin and boilers, engines, and all heavy machinery was installed. On November 6, 1935 the funnels and masts were completed. On March 5, 1936 King Edward VIII made an inspection tour and on March 24 the Queen Mary departed the shipyard – only to be grounded twice while going down the Clyde River. Finally, on May 12, 1936 at noon, the ship was officially handed over to the Cunard White Star Line.

The Queen Mary made her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. In August 1939, she was an early victim of war when she was forced to remain in port. The beautiful luxury liner was refitted as a troop ship. Between 1940 and 1946 she carried 765,429 military personnel and traveled 569,429 miles. She carried up to 15,000 troops at a time. Winston Churchill was delivered to three conferences via the ship. She once again became a luxury liner on July 31, 1947 after one more refitting. She was retired from service on September 19, 1967 after making 1,001 crossings of the Atlantic.

“If you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.” – Sondra Hilton

“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” – the Bible

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Never a ship sails out of bay but carries my heart as a stowaway.” – Roselle Mercier Montgomery

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Eventually, a new Queen Mary was built and RMS Queen Mary 2 is run by the Carnival Corporation & PLC. She is the flagship of the Cunard Line and is the only transatlantic liner running between Southampton and New York. The ship was ordered on November 6, 2000 and STX Europe Chantier de l’Atlantique of Saint-Nazaire, France was the builder. She was laid down on July 4, 2002 and christened on January 8, 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II after her completion on December 23, 2003. Her maiden voyage came on January 12, 2004. Queen Mary 2 cost £460 million ($900 million) to build. She is 1,132 feet long and 135 feet wide at the waterline and 147.5 feet wide at the widest part. She has 13 passenger decks and her carrying capacity is 2,620 passengers with 1,253 officers and crew.

Also on this day: A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.
 Old Smokey – In 1936, Bruno Hauptmann was executed.

Old Smokey

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2012

Bruno Richard Hauptmann

April 3, 1936: Bruno Richard Hauptmann is executed by electric chair. Hauptmann was born in Kamenz, Germany in 1899 and served in the German Army during World War I. He was wounded in action as well as exposed to poison gas. He was discharged and found work as a carpenter. He was also a burglar (he used a ladder to reach a second story window for one of his robberies) and committed armed robberies as well. He served four years in prison and after his release was soon again arrested. He escaped. It took three tries before he finally illegally entered the US in 1923 after committing identity theft.

On Tuesday, March 1, 1932 Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. was kidnapped from his second story nursery using a ladder. A ransom note was left asking for $50,000 (≈ $831,000 in 2012 USD). The ransom was paid on April 2 using mostly gold certificates. They were being withdrawn from circulation and it was hoped they would draw attention to the kidnapper. Baby Lindbergh was not returned to his parents. His body was discovered on May 12 about four-and-a-half miles from his home. The body was badly decomposed and had been mauled by animals. The child’s skull was fractured, as well.

On September 18, 1934 one of the ransom gold certificates was brought to law enforcement officials who had been working on the case for thirty months. They had tracked several of the certificates but this one had a license plate number penciled on it. The car belonged to Bruno Hauptmann. The police found more than $15,000 of the ransom money in Hauptmann’s garage and he was arrested. His trial ran from January 2 to February 13, 1935 at which time he was found guilty even though all evidence presented was circumstantial in nature. He maintained his innocence even after a visit from the New Jersey Governor, Harold Hofmann, who attempted to get the trial re-examined. Hauptmann also turned down an offer from a Hearst newspaper willing to pay $90,000 (≈ $1.5 million today) for a confession.

Hauptmann’s widow spent the rest of her life trying to clear her husband’s name. Allegations of improper questioning techniques, planting of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, and falsifying testimony were brought out in the following decades. In 1985 there were 23,000 pages of police files and another 30,000 pages of FBI documents found in Governor Hofmann’s garage. They had not been used at trial. Anna Hauptmann died in 1994 without succeeding in her quest. Both she and her husband claimed the money was left in the garage by Isidor Fisch.

I am glad that my life in a world which has not understood me has ended.  Soon I will be at home with my Lord, so I am dying an innocent man.

Should, however, my death serve for the purpose of abolishing capital punishment—such a punishment being arrived at only by circumstantial evidence—I feel that my death has not been in vain.

I am at peace with God.  I repeat, I protest my innocence of the crime for which I was convicted.

However, I die with no malice or hatred in my heart.  The love of Christ has filled my soul and I am happy in Him. – Bruno Richard Hauptmann’s last words, translated from German

Also on this day:

A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Cunard Line – In 1929, the shipping company announced a new ship to be built.
Speedy Snail Mail – In 1860, The Pony Express began service.

Speedy Snail Mail

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2011

Poster for the Pony Express

April 3, 1860: The Pony Express officially opens for business. The company was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. The plan was spurred on by the threat of the impending Civil War. If war should break out, it was imperative that a faster method of communication with the West should be in place. The idea was for relays of riders to span the area covered by the plan. The route covered St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California.

The Pony Express itself was a subsystem of the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company of 1849. They became known as the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company in 1850. This company was founded by Russell, Waddell, and Majors, too. The three men decided to add the plains coverage in the winter of 1860 and took just two months to plan out the new business. They needed 120 riders, 184 stations [157 in 1860], 400 horses, and hundreds of other personnel to cover the approximately 1,900-mile route.

Riders covered 75-100 miles per shift with stations located about 10 miles apart along the route. Horses were only able to carry so much weight. Riders could not weigh more than 125 pounds. They carried a pouch called a mochila which was stored under the rider, making it necessary to kill both the horse and rider before one could get to the pouch of mail. The pouch could hold 20 pounds of mail and 20 pounds of supplies, including a water sack and a gun. Thus a horse could not be carrying more than 165 pounds on its back. Riders moved on day and night regardless of weather. They were paid $25 per week at a time when unskilled laborers were earning about $1 per week.

Riders left Missouri, crossed Kansas, Nebraska, part of Colorado, up into Wyoming, down into Utah, crossed the Rockies near Lake Tahoe, and arrived in California. Or, they followed the opposite route when leaving from California. On this day, riders left both St. Joseph and Sacramento. The westbound trip was completed in 9 days and 23 hours while the eastbound trip took 11 days and 12 hours to finish. The service remained active until October 1861.

“While I am the employ of A. Majors, I agree not use profane language, not to get drunk, not to gamble, not to treat animals cruelly and not to do anything else that is incompatible with the conduct of a gentleman. And I agree, if I violate any of the above conditions, to accept my discharge without any pay for my services.” –  Oath sworn by Pony Express Riders

“There were about eighty pony riders in the saddle all the time, night and day, stretching in a long, scattering procession from Missouri to California, forty flying eastward, and forty toward the west, and among them making four hundred gallant horses earn a stirring livelihood and see a deal of scenery every single day of the year.” – Mark Twain

“One of the hardest rides I ever had made was when I carried President Lincoln’s inaugural address from the telegraph station at Fort Kearney.  Another was when the news came that Fort Sumter had been fired on.  Such things broke the routine, and made every Pony Express rider feel that he was helping to make history.” – William Campbell

“The mail must go.  Hurled by flesh and blood across 2,000 miles of desolate space — Fort Kearney, Laramie, South Pass, Fort Bridger, Salt Lake City.  Neither storms, fatigue, darkness, mountains and Indians, burning sands or snow must stop the precious bags.  The mail must go.” – M. Jeff Thompson

Also on this day:
A new boxing record set – In 1936, a new record for shortest fight.
Cunard Line – In 1929, the shipping company announced a new ship to be built.

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A new boxing record set

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 3, 2010

Boxing gloves

April 3, 1936: Al Carr sets a boxing record. Boxing, also called the “sweet science” or pugilism, is a brutal sport. Boxing has been around for quite some time. There is evidence that it was popular in North Africa as long ago as 4000 BC. The Marquess of Queensberry codified modern boxing rules in 1867. He specified the size of the ring, the length of the rounds, and the size of gloves worn.

Boxing has two participants with a referee in place inside a 24 foot square ring. Rounds last from 1-3 minutes with a specified rest period in between them. Participants attack each other with their fists, wearing regulation sized gloves. In Olympic boxing, helmets are worn as well.

In order to win, the referee must make a decision or the match is won by points based on fight judges’ tallies. A KO or knockout is when an opponent is knocked down for a count of ten. A TKO or technical knockout is declared when the referee deems one participant too injured to continue.

The longest bout with gloves took place on April 6, 1895 and lasted 110 rounds. The seven hour and nineteen minute bout ended in a draw when both contestants were too exhausted to continue. On this date, the shortest match ever with gloves – Al Carr knocked out Lew Massey with one punch. The entire fight lasted 7 (seven) seconds.

“Boxing is the toughest and loneliest sport in the world.” – Frank Bruno

“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.” – Muhammad Ali

“Boxing is show-business with blood.” – David Belasco

“To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other” – Jack Handy

Also on this day, in 1929 the Cunard Line met and announce the building of a new, huge ship which would be christened (eventually) RMS Queen Mary.

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