Little Bits of History

August 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2017

1711: The British Quebec Expedition destroys itself. Also called the Walker Expedition to Quebec, it was part of Queen Anne’s War which was the colonial portion of the War of Spanish Succession. Part of the colonial assault was a plan to take Quebec, something which never came to fruition. Robert Harley, chief minister of the crown, planned this particular assault on the Canadian city. Francis Nicholson was sent to Boston with plans in June 1711. Walker was to co-lead an expedition with Samuel Vetch with British ships landing in Boston on June 24. They needed provisions for the expedition, but the imported troops outnumbered the citizens of Boston and made finding the necessary provisions problematic.

It took weeks for everything to be readied and the fleet of both British and colonial ships left on July 30. There were nine ships of war, two bomb vessels, and 60 transports and tenders. There were 7,500 troops and 6,000 sailors along with camp followers. They reached Nova Scotia on August 3 and Vetch piloted them around Cape Breton and Cape North and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. By August 18, they were about to enter the Saint Lawrence River and a storm blew in. They were forced to shelter in Gaspe Bay. The storm continued for days, switching wind directions, and the fleet slowly moved forward.

On this day, the wind shifted again and the heavy fog lifted slightly. Land was sighted and the ships moved again. Walker’s assessment of their position was off by about 20 miles and so his navigational orders were in error. As darkness fell, he gave orders to steer towards the northwest before retiring below deck. Captain Paddon reported there was a problem around 10.30 but Walker thought it was more of the ships approaching. A few minutes later, Paddon demanded Walker come up to the deck to see breakers ahead. Walker ignored him. An army captain approached Walker and insisted he come see for himself.

The ship Walker was on escaped the near collision with the rocky, shallow, island-strewn portion of the river called Pointe-aux-Anglais today. It took three days to discover the full scope of the disaster. Throughout the night, shrieks had been heard as ships crashed into the rocks and men were thrown into swirling waters. In all, seven transports and one supply ship were lost. After rescuing as many as possible, it was still reported that 884 soldiers perished. That number was later lowered to 740 but that may not have counted the women who were accompanying them. In all, it was one of the worst naval disasters in British history. The mission was cancelled.

The late disaster cannot, in my humble opinion, be anyways imputed to the difficulty of navigation, but to the wrong course we steered, which most unavoidably carried us upon the north shore. – Samuel Vetch (blaming Admiral Hovenden Walker)

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

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

A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail. – Sterling Hayden

 

 

 

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But Not the Last

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2015
Ida Siekmann*

Ida Siekmann*

August 22, 1961: Ida Siekmann dies. She was born in Gorken, now part of Poland but then in West Prussia, in 1902. She moved to Berlin and worked there as a nurse. She lived at Bernauer Straße  48 in the center of Berlin, widowed at some prior time. Her sister also lived in Berlin, just a few blocks away on Lortzingstraße. She and her sister visited often, until August 1961. After World War II, Berlin was divided into four Allied sectors. While the street and sidewalk of Ida’s street was in the French sector, the frontage of the buildings on the southern side lay in the Soviet sector. They were part of East Berlin. Up until August 13, traffic between the two sectors was unregulated. But on that day, the Berlin Wall was built and Ida was no longer free to move.

On the day the Wall was erected, fifty households from the street fled to the West. Ida was not among them. With people fleeing, something needed to be done and on August 18, East German troops were ordered to brick up the entrances and windows on the ground floor on the southern side of the street. Members of the Combat Groups of the Working Class and police controlled everyone in the buildings. They monitored anyone entering the houses, even the residents who were often checked on as they walked the hallways of the tenements. Even so, many still fled. The West Berlin fire department was poised on the streets below and would hold “jumping sheets” to catch those willing to jump from higher windows.

On August 21, the entrances and widows of Bernauer Straße 48 were barred. Early in the morning on this date, Ida decided to leave. She lived on the fourth floor. She threw some blankets and some of her possessions out of the window of her apartment and then jumped. She did not give the firemen time to open the jumping sheet and she fell on the sidewalk, severely injured. She was taken to Lazarus Hospital, but died on the way. She was the first casualty of the Berlin Wall. She was buried on August 29 and in September, a memorial was erected at Bernauer Straße 48. Many have visited the site as homage to all the victims of the Wall. The houses on Bernauer Straße were torn down in 1963 and replaced by a concrete wall.

The Wall remained in place for decades, cutting off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and East Berlin. The barrier eventually included guard towers placed along the wall and there was a wide area, dubbed the “death strip” that contained many defenses. The purpose of the wall, according to the Soviets, was to protect their people from building their own socialist state in East Germany. In practice, it was to prevent emigration and defection. It’s official name was the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart while it was called the Wall of Shame by West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt. The 96.3 mile barrier was finally opened in 1989 and its demolition began in 1990 and was completed in 1992.

A society that does not recognise that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom. – Friedrich Hayek

Freedom, remember, is not the same as liberty. – Katherine Anne Porter

Every tyrant who has lived has believed in freedom – for himself. – Elbert Hubbard

Tyranny is always better organised than freedom. – Charles Peguy

Also on this day: “Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker was born.
The Temperature at which Paper Burns – In 1920, Ray Bradbury was born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race was run.
Monsters – In 565, St. Columba turned away the Loch Ness Monster.
First American in Space – In 1963, Joe Walker piloted an X-15 rocket into space.

* “Idasiekmannbz” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Idasiekmannbz.jpg#/media/File:Idasiekmannbz.jpg

First American in Space

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2014
Joe Walker

Joe Walker

August 22, 1963: Joe Walker pilots an experimental X-15 rocket powered aircraft. Walker was born in Pennsylvania in 1921. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1942 with a degree in physics. He joined the United States Army Air Force during World War II. During the war he piloted both the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter and the F-5A photo aircraft (used for weather reconnaissance flights). He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross once and the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters. After the war, he left the army and went to work for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. While there, he became a test pilot.

He transferred to the High-Speed Flight Research Station in Edwards, California in 1951 and worked there for 15 years. Today, the facility is known as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. Just a few years after arriving, Walker was a Chief Research Pilot and worked on several different projects. He flew three versions of the Bell X-1 and on one of those flights, disaster struck. The rocket aircraft was damaged in an explosion just before being launched from the JTB-29A mothership. Walker was uninjured and made it back safely to the mothership. Undaunted, he continued to fly several other prototype/research aircraft.

In 1958, Walker was one of the men selected for the US Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest (MISS) project. Nothing came of it. Instead, the NACA became NASA and in 1960 Walker became the first NASA pilot to fly an X-15 and the second overall with only the manufacturer’s test pilot having flown one prior to Walker’s flight. Walker did not know how much power the rocket held and the G-forces pushed him back into his seat. He would go on 24 flights in the craft and flew the two times the X-15 broke the 100 km (62 mile) altitude barrier. He was the first American civilian to make a spaceflight, and the second civilian overall. With his second 62+ mile trip, he was the first human to man multiple spaceflights.

On June 8, 1966 Walker was killed while flying in formation for a General Electric publicity photo. He was flying an F-104 Starfighter and was unable to see another plane in the formation, a North American XB-70 Valkyrie. Unable to visualize the nearby planes, it is assumed Walker was holding his position by sighting on the forward XB-70. The F-104 drifted into contact with the XB-70’s right wingtip. Walker’s plane flipped over and struck the second plane’s vertical stabilizers. Carl Cross, the second pilot, was also killed. An investigation into the accident acknowledged Walker’s inability to see the near plane and adjust position. Since the flights had been unauthorized, several Air Force colonels lost their careers.

It is not enough to just ride the earth. You have to aim higher, try to take off, even fly. It is our duty. – Jose Yacopi

I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle. – Igo Ivan Sikorsky

To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home. – Jerry Crawford

Also on this day: “Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.
The Temperature at which Paper Burns – In 1920, Ray Bradbury was born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race is run.
Monsters – In 565, St. Columba turns away the Loch Ness Monster.

The Temperature at Which Paper Burns

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2013
Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920: Ray Douglas Bradbury is born in Waukegan, Illinois. His father worked as a power and telephone lineman, but both his grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers. Ray’s family moved around, but kept returning to Waukegan, a setting he used for some of his own writing. The young child spent many hours amidst the books at Carnegie Library there. The family moved to Los Angeles when Ray was 13. He graduated from high school there but chose to continue his education in libraries rather than college.

He began selling newspapers and started to publish a few science fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. He was invited to attend the Clifton’s Cafeteria Science Fiction Club where he met many famous sci-fi writers of the time. He tried publishing his own fanzine in 1939 but it lasted only four issues before folding. He finally sold a story to a pulp magazine in 1941 – for $15. He made his first book sale in 1947, five years after becoming a full-time writer. He published The Martian Chronicles in 1950 and Fahrenheit 451 in 1953.

Bradbury has insisted few of his works are science fiction, but rather they are works of fantasy or speculative fiction. He also wrote poetry, was a playwright, and a creator of children’s literature. He wrote for television, both adaptations of his short stories and some original works. He wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He produced audio versions of his written work and authored several non-fiction pieces, especially on the art of writing.

The Martian Chronicles was made into a 3-part miniseries in 1980 and starred Rock Hudson. Fahrenheit 451 was made into a full-length film in 1966. Julie Christie was nominated for a BAFTA award for her dual portrayal of Linda Montag and Clarisse. Bradbury himself has received various honors for his work, including having an asteroid named after him. He was upset with Michael Moore’s title, Fahrenheit 9/11 which alluded to his previous work. Although he requested that Moore change the title to his “documentary,” the request was ignored.

“First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”

“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.”

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.” – all from Ray Bradbury

This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update:  Some writers choose to portray a utopian world where all is pleasant and everyone is perfectly happy. The opposing position is writing about a world gone wrong in some important way. The resulting frightening or upsetting world is dystopian. These worlds can come about by totalitarianism or natural disasters. They may be the result of war or pestilence. There is some cataclysm that brings society as whole into ruin. Some of the more famous dystopian worlds are those portrayed in R.U.R. which created the term “robot” and was the first time machines took over the Earth. Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World show us horrific visions of government control gone overboard as does The Hunger Games. Fahrenheit 451 is another of the more noted books for this genre and probably the most horrific when one’s avocation includes the written word.

Also on this day: “Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race is run.
Monsters – In 565, St. Columba turns away the Loch Ness Monster.

Monsters

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2012

St. Columba

August 22, 565: St. Columba reputedly sends a monster away. He was born on December 7, 521 in Ireland. He is also known as Colum Cille in Old Irish which means dove of the Church. He is also called Colm Cille (Irish) and Calum Cille (Scottish Gaelic) and Kolban or Kolbjørn (Old Norse). He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and worked as a missionary in Ireland and Scotland. In 560, while studying under St. Finnian, Columba copied a manuscript with the intention of keeping it for himself. Finnian disputed Columba’s right to keep the psalter and the disagreement led to the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne in 561. Several men were killed and Columba was nearly excommunicated. Instead, he was sent to Scotland.

There, he ministered to the Picts, a group of Late Iron Age and Early Medieval people in eastern and northern Scotland. He arrived in Scotland with twelve followers. He provided educational opportunities as his was the only center of literacy in the region. He also grew in stature as a religious man and a settler of disputes among the tribes. Because of his leadership skills and friendship with King Breidi (a pagan), Columba was able to influence local politics even though he was unsuccessful as converting the King to Christianity.

According to a biography of the saint’s life (in three volumes) written by Adomnán (who died in 704), on this day Columba came across a group of Picts near Ness River burying a man who had been killed by a monster. Another swimmer was in peril and Columba saved him from certain death at the hands of the same monster by using the sign of the Cross (a religious ritual) and saying “Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.” The beast fled and the remaining Picts glorified Columba. This is said to be the first reference to the Loch Ness monster.

The Loch Ness monster reportedly lives in Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The description of the beast varies with each report. The wider world was made aware of Nessie in 1933 when George Spicer and his wife claimed to have seen the monster when it ran in front of their car. The next month, another man, Arthur Grant, claimed to have nearly hit the creature while riding his motorcycle. Many more sightings followed. Even with the advent of ever-present cell phones with photo capability, no one has ever gotten a clear picture of the monster.

The Loch Ness Monster is the world-famous creature said to inhabit Loch Ness in northern Scotland. The search for the monster has probably consumed more money, time, and newspaper space than attempts to prove the existence or otherwise of UFOs. – Peter D. Jeans

The Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist either. Loch Ness is just not big enough to hide a thirty foot amphibian or reptile for hundreds of years. – Brien Jones

All types of high-tech underwater contraptions have gone in after the Loch Ness Monster, but no one can find her … Some people in Inverness aren’t keen on collaring the monster, and you can’t blame them: An old prophecy predicts a violent end for Inverness if the monster is ever captured. – Danforth Prince

Alone with none but Thee, my God, I journey on my way; what need I fear when Thou art near, Oh King of night and day? More safe am I within Thy hand than if a host did round me stand. – St. Columba, attributed

Also on this day:

“Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.
The Temperature at which Paper Burns – In 1920, Ray Bradbury was born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race is run.

America’s Cup

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2011

America's Cup

August 22, 1851: The first America’s Cup is won when the team from New York City Yacht Club beats the British entry from the Royal Yacht Squadron. This started the most famous regatta race. The America’s Cup is the oldest active trophy in international sports predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years and running 9 challenges prior to the start of the new Olympics. The trophy is named for the first winning schooner, America, not the country.

After winning the race, the New York Yacht Club sold the schooner and returned to the US with the trophy they has wrested from the most powerful seafaring country in the world. And the old Mother Country. The winning crew donated the Cup to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.”

This is a challenged based contest where the winner makes the rules and hosts the event. It took 132 years for a challenger to be able to win the race and take the trophy home. When that finally happened, the new country was also the new defender. The race is not only to the swift, but is also a matter of the design of the boat and the skill of the 17-member crew. Sailing the course is important, but doing so while blocking the opposing ship is also essential to securing the win.

The outcome is based on the best of nine races with two boats and their crews competing. Crews wishing to challenge the defender of the trophy must first meet all the requirements as listed in the Deed of Gift. They compete for the Louis Vuitton Cup (since 1983). The winner of that race becomes the challenger for the America’s Cup. The US has won 28 times while New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland are the only other countries that have won. The 2007 race will have Switzerland defending against the New Zealand team who won the Louis Vuitton Cup. It is the same match up from the last race run in 2003.

“In the America’s Cup, you can’t go to your backup quarterback. You can’t juggle your batting order. You can’t fire the manager either, although Iain Murray might not be safe if George Steinbrenner were the principal owner of the Kookaburra III.” – Dave Anderson

“Getting the America’s Cup back is one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand sport and industry.” – Grant Dalton

“A ship is always referred to as ‘she’ because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.” – Chester W. Nimitz

“Seize, keep, and exploit the initiative.” – John R. Elting

Also on this day:
“Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker was born.
The Temperature at which Paper Burns – In 1920, Ray Bradbury was born.

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America’s Cup

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2010

America's Cup

August 22, 1851: The first America’s Cup is won when the team from New York City Yacht Club beats the British entry from the Royal Yacht Squadron. This started the most famous regatta race. The America’s Cup is the oldest active trophy in international sports predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years and running 9 challenges prior to the start of the new Olympics. The trophy is named for the first winning schooner, America, not the country.

After winning the race, the New York Yacht Club sold the schooner and returned to the US with the trophy they has wrested from the most powerful seafaring country in the world. And the old Mother Country. The winning crew donated the Cup to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations.”

This is a challenged based contest where the winner makes the rules and hosts the event. It took 132 years for a challenger to be able to win the race and take the trophy home. When that finally happened, the new country was also the new defender. The race is not only to the swift, but is also a matter of the design of the boat and the skill of the 17-member crew. Sailing the course is important, but doing so while blocking the opposing ship is also essential to securing the win.

The outcome is based on the best of nine races with two boats and their crews competing. Crews wishing to challenge the defender of the trophy must first meet all the requirements as listed in the Deed of Gift. They compete for the Louis Vuitton Cup (since 1983). The winner of that race becomes the challenger for the America’s Cup. The US has won 28 times while New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland are the only other countries that have won. The 2007 race will have Switzerland defending against the New Zealand team who won the Louis Vuitton Cup. It is the same match up from the last race run in 2003.

“In the America’s Cup, you can’t go to your backup quarterback. You can’t juggle your batting order. You can’t fire the manager either, although Iain Murray might not be safe if George Steinbrenner were the principal owner of the Kookaburra III.” – Dave Anderson

“Getting the America’s Cup back is one of the biggest issues facing New Zealand sport and industry.” – Grant Dalton

“A ship is always referred to as ‘she’ because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.” – Chester W. Nimitz

“Seize, keep, and exploit the initiative.” – John R. Elting

Also on this day, in 1920 Ray Bradbury is born.
Bonus Link: In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.

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“Excuse My Dust”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2010

Dorothy Parker

August 22, 1893: Dorothy Rothschild Parker is born in the West End district of Long Branch, New Jersey. Dot or Dottie grew up in Manhattan and became a poet, writer, critic and above all a wisecracking wit.

Her mother died before Dottie turned five. She attend a Catholic grade school despite the fact that her father was Jewish and her stepmother was Protestant. She lost her stepmother when she was nine. Dottie went on to finishing school but her formal education ended when she was thirteen. Her uncle died on the Titanic and her father died a year later in 1913. Dottie jokingly said she married to get away from her Jewish name, divorcing Mr. Parker after a brief marriage.

Dorothy sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 and a few months later was hired as an editorial assistant for Vogue. She became a drama critic and staff writer for Vanity Fair in 1918. She began lunching with other literary wits at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC which has round tables in the corners. She and her caustically witty, cerebrally funny friends became the Algonquin Round Table’s leading members.

In the following years, she published several volumes of short stories and poetry. The morbid names of the works are themselves a succinct autobiography. Her stories were concise and bittersweet. She attempted suicide at least three times during her long life. She was a fierce civil libertarian and left her estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation. She died in 1967 and was cremated. Her ashes remained unclaimed for seventeen years before they were interred.

“That would be a good thing for them to carve on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment”

“Look at him, a rhinestone in the rough.”

“It’s a small apartment, I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends.”

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

“I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do any thing. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.” – all from Dorothy Parker

Also on this day, in 1920 Ray Bradbury is born.
Bonus Link: In 1851, the first America’s Cup
race is run.

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