Little Bits of History

Kiss Me

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2015
Cole Porter

Cole Porter

December 30, 1948: Kiss Me, Kate opens on Broadway. Back in 1935, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were married and playing the leads in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Arnold Saint-Subber watched the married couple battle during the run of the play and in 1947 he asked Samuel and Bella Spewack to write a play about what he had seen a decade earlier. Bella asked Cole Porter to write the music and lyrics for the production. The play had a pre-Broadway run at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia beginning on December 2 and opened on this night at the New Century Theatre on Broadway. It ran there for 19 months before moving to the Shubert on Broadway and ran for a total of 1,077 performances. The original Broadway production was directed by John Wilson and choreography was by Hanya Holm. The original cast included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk, Harold Lang, Charles Wood, and Harry Clark.

Cole Porter was born in Indiana in 1891 to one of the wealthiest families in the state. His mother was musically inclined and Cole learned violin at age six and piano at age eight. She dominated the boy’s upbringing. His father was a poet and it is thought his influence came through in the wonderful lyrics his son would later create. The overriding force in the family was J.O. Cole – Cole’s grandfather and purportedly the richest man in Indiana. His dream for his grandson was that he would become a lawyer. The boy was sent off to school in Massachusetts and graduated as valedictorian of his class. As a reward he was sent to Europe. When he returned and entered Yale University, he did so as an English major with a minor in music. He wrote 300 songs while at Yale.

World War I intervened and Porter served in the French Foreign Legion. In 1919, he married a divorcee who was eight years older than he was. She found the marriage advantageous in upholding her social status and he could pose as a heterosexual in a time when homosexuals were not accepted. They remained married until she died in 1954 and seemed devoted to each other. Porter’s success at songwriting was full throttle in the 1920s and 1930s. He was in a serious horseback riding accident in 1937 which left him disabled and in constant pain. His shows in the early 1940s were not quite flops, but did meet with his former success.

And then, Kiss Me, Kate opened. It was his most successful musical ever and the only time one of his shows had over 1,000 performances. It was the first time he wrote the music and lyrics as firmly connected to the script – an integrated musical. In 1949, the first time a Tony Award was presented for Best Musical, it was given to Kiss Me, Kate. But Porter’s life was falling apart. His mother died in 1952 and then his wife died in 1954. After 34 operations on his injured right leg, it had to be amputated in 1958. He lived out the remaining years of his life as a recluse. He died of kidney failure in 1964 at the age of 73.

My sole inspiration is a telephone call from a director.

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.

Good authors, too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose… anything goes.

Most gentlemen don’t like love, they just like to kick it around. – all from Cole Porter

Also on this day: Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Countess Bathory – In 1610, the Blood Countess was stopped.
Ted on the Loose – In 1977, Ted Bundy once again escaped from prison.
Not So Special – In 1924, Edwin Hubble announced that we were not alone.
Hat Trick – In 1896, the first hat trick during a Stanley Cup playoff game took place.

Hat Trick

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2014
Montreal Victorias

Montreal Victorias 1896 team

December 30, 1896: Ernie McLea helps his team win the Stanley Cup. He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1876. He went to Bishop’s College School in Lennoxville and met two of his future teammates there. He went on to McGill University and played both rugby and cricket while there. He joined the senior Montreal Victorias for the 1896 season. They were playing the Winnipeg Victorias for the Stanley Cup in a one-game playoff. McLea scored a hat trick during the game, the first ever during Stanley Cup play. One of his scores was the winning goal scored two minutes before the game ended with a 6-5 score. He played five seasons with the Victorias and scored 17 goals in 24 regular season games. After retiring, he stayed with hockey and became an on-ice official.

A hat trick is making three goals in a game. The term was first used in 1858 when HH Stephenson took three wickets with three consecutive deliveries while playing cricket. A collection was held for Stephenson and he was brought a hat filled with the donations from grateful fans. The term first saw print in 1878. It became popular in North America in the 1940s when the National Hockey League began using the term. Hat tricks in test cricket are extremely rare with only 41 recorded. In hockey, it has become customary for fans to throw their hats onto the ice after witnessing a hat trick. A natural hat trick is even trickier and the three scores must be made consecutively.

The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded to the winner of the Stanley Cup Finals held by the National Hockey League. Originally commission in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, it is named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was Governor General of Canada then. He awarded the cup to the top-ranking amateur ice hockey club in Canada. It was first awarded in 1893 to Montreal HC. In 1915, the two professional hockey organizations the National Hockey Association and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association decided their respective championship teams would play each other and the winner would take the cup.

Eventually, the cup came to be the symbol of victory in the National Hockey League. There are three cups: the original Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the authenticated Presentation Cup, and the Replica Cup at the Hall of Fame. The NHL does not actually own the trophy, but uses it in agreement with the two Trustees of the Cup. Unlike other professional sports trophies, a new cup is not made each year. Winning teams get to keep the cup until a new winner gets to bring the prize home. Today, the playoffs are an elimination tournament consisting of four rounds of best of seven series. Eight teams from each of the two conferences qualify to begin. The Finals will be being on April 15, 2015 for the current season.

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be. – Wayne Gretzky

All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity. – Gordie Howe

Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. – Mario Lemieux

You see a hockey player, you’d never know he’s a professional athlete. But you put the skates on him, and he becomes a beast. – Junior Seau

Also on this day: Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Countess Bathory – In 1610, the Blood Countess was stopped.
Ted on the Loose – In 1977, Ted Bundy once again escaped from prison.
Not So Special – In 1924, Edwin Hubble announced that we were not alone.

Countess Bathory

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2013
Elizabeth Báthory

Elizabeth Báthory

December 30, 1610: Elizabeth Báthory is apprehended. The Hungarian countess was a member of a prominent aristocratic family most noted for defending Hungary and Poland against the Ottoman invasion. There were many noted members of the family including several princes. Elizabeth was the niece of the King of Poland and an uncle on the other side of the family was the Voivod or Prince of Transylvania. She grew up in Ecsed Castle on the family estate in Nyírbátor, Hungary.

She married Ferenc Nádasdy in 1575 at the age of 15. For a wedding present, her husband gave her Csejte Castle, the country house, and 17 adjacent villages. Her new home was located in the Little Carpathians in what is today Slovenia. The area surrounding the castle was fertile agricultural lands. While her husband was away in war, Elizabeth ran the estate and defended it from attack. She was highly educated and could read and write in four languages. She was known to intervene on behalf of poor women mistreated by circumstances or men.

Between 1602 and 1604, Lutheran minister István Magyan began complaining about atrocities perpetrated. He took his complaints as far as Vienna. Finally, Hungarian authorities under King Matthias (Elizabeth’s cousin) sent Juraj Thurzo to investigate. It was now March 1610 and two men began collecting evidence. Elizabeth and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls and young women. There is some conjecture that Elizabeth’s husband introduced her to the thrill of inflicting chaos on others. He died in 1604 and she carried on without him.

While she murdered peasant girls with apparent impunity, something had to be done when she started killing girls of lesser nobility. Elizabeth was arrested, but if convicted, her lands would have been forfeit. Her children and sons-in-law managed to simply lock her away. It is said she killed over 600 girls. While she never stood trial, her accomplices were found guilty of 80 murders. Elizabeth was placed on house arrest and walled into a set of rooms in her castle. She remained there for four years, until she died at the age of 54.

“One accomplice testified that on some days Elizabeth had stark-naked girls laid flat on the floor of her bedroom and tortured them so much that one could scoop up the blood by the pailful afterwards, and so Elizabeth had her servants bring up cinders in order to cover the pools of blood.” – Raymond T. McNally

“There is a great streak of violence in every human being.  If it is not channeled and understood, it will break out in war or in madness.” – Sam Peckinpah

“Wild animals never kill for sport.  Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow-creatures is amusing in itself.” – James Anthony Froude

“To torture a man you have to know his pleasures.” – Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Ferenc Nádasdy was born in 1555 to one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Hungary. He was 16 when he was engaged to Elizabeth Bathory. The families were evenly matched financially. The Bathory family had a longer history and was much greater in scope concening matters of influence. Ferenc was barely literate and was said to have just a meager understanding of both Latin and German. During their long engagement, Elizabeth became pregnant by one of the servants. The man was castrated and then fed to the dogs while Elizabeth was sent off to have the child. The daughter born to her was kept secret and disassociated from the family. After their marriage, the couple had five more children; only three survived infancy.

Also on this day: Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Ted on the Loose – In 1977, Ted Bundy once again escaped from prison.
Not So Special – In 1924, Edwin Hubble announced that we were not alone.

Not So Special

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2012
Edwin Hubble

Edwin Hubble

December 30, 1924: Edwin Hubble announces there are other galaxies in the universe. Copernicus stated the solar system was heliocentric, but not very loudly. Galileo backed him up with a louder voice and since that would dispute some Biblical scripture, he was forced to recant and punished for his heresy. Regardless of the Pope’s conviction, the solar system is heliocentric and the universe does not revolve around the Earth. Not only are we not the center of everything, we aren’t even a very important part of everything that is, except to ourselves, of course. Telescopes gave scientists better and better images of what was beyond naked eye vision out there in deep space.

Edwin Hubble was born in Missouri in 1889. The family moved to Chicago in 1898. Hubble was an athlete and while in high school, he broke the state record for the high jump. He went the University of Chicago and played basketball for them. He went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and at Oxford he studied law. He eventually earned a Ph.D. in astronomy, but he still practiced law in Kentucky for a time. He rose to rank of major while serving in the US Army during World War I. After the war, bored with law, he went back to astronomy and peering into the abyss of the night sky.

He worked with the new 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson in Southern California and studied spiral nebulae. It was thought, at the time, that these fuzzy patches in the sky were clouds of gas or dust within our galaxy. The Milky Way was thought to contain everything in the universe (still believing we were the central focus of the entire universe in some small way) except the Magellanic Clouds. However, as Hubble studied the nebula Andromeda, he found a number of stars. Some of these were Cepheid variable stars which vary in intensity from bright to dim. Back in 1912, Henrietta Leavitt of Harvard had shown that by using these Cepheid stars, one could calculate the distance between Earth and their position.

On this date, Hubble announced that we were not the only galaxy and in fact there were many different galaxies out there. He was able to compute the distance to Andromeda as approximately 860,000 light years. The farthest stars of our own galaxy are about one-eighth of that distance. Although this was indeed a cosmic discovery, it was not front page news. Hubble went on to discover about 25 more galaxies during his life. He also employed the Doppler effect and during the 1920s was able to prove that stars were moving away from us. He also proved their red shift was proportional to the distance. Hubble died in 1953. NASA honored him by naming their space telescope after him.

The great spirals… apparently lie outside our stellar system.

The history of astronomy is a history of receding horizons.

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.

Past time is finite, future time is infinite. – all from Edwin Hubble

Also on this day:

Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Countess Bathory – In 1610, the Blood Countess was stopped.
Ted on the Loose – In 1977, Ted Bundy once again escaped from prison.

Ted on the Loose

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2011

Ted Bundy

December 30, 1977: Ted Bundy escapes – for the second time. Theodore Robert Bundy was born on November 24, 1946 as Theodore Robert Cowell at the Elizabeth Lund Home For Unwed Mothers. His paternity remains a mystery. He was raised by his abusive grandparents who pretended to be his parents. By 1950 his mother left her parents’ house and took her young son, who already displayed some emotional problems, with her. She married Johnny Bundy and he adopted the young child.

Stories told to various biographers concerning his youth vary widely. He was arrested twice while in high school. He went on to college where a girlfriend dumped him. Experts claim this was a turning point. He was active in politics and after graduating in 1972, worked on Governor Daniel J. Evans’s reelection campaign. He entered law school, but eventually began to skip classes. By April 1974 he had dropped out completely.

We do not know when or where Ted Bundy began murdering women. He told various tales to a number of people over time. Before his death, he admitted to killing 30 women across seven states in the years between 1974 and 1978. He was stopped for a traffic violation in Utah and in his trunk was found a ski mask and various paraphernalia. He was already a suspect in Washington State, but the Utah police needed more information. They put him under surveillance.  Eventually he was arrested and charged in Utah in 1975 with kidnapping and assault of 18-year-old Carol DaRonch. He was found guilty and sentenced to prison. He was later also charged with his first murder.

He escaped during a change of venue in June 1977 and was recaptured. He escaped again on this day and was able to flee the state. He was arrested in Florida on February 15, 1979, after another string of violent crimes. His notoriety brought him fame and a wife, who may have had his child in October 1982. He was found guilty of murder at one trial and then again for another murder at a second trial. He was sentenced to death in the electric chair. The sentence was  carried out on January 24, 1989. While waiting on death row, he granted interviews to two biographers and details of his crime spree came to light.

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God!”

“Murder is not about lust and it’s not about violence. It’s about possession.”

“I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.” – all from Ted Bundy

Also on this day:

Once in a Blue Moon – In 1982, the only total eclipse of a blue moon in the entire century took place.
Countess Bathory – In 1610, the Blood Countess was stopped.

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Once in a Blue Moon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 30, 2010

Lunar eclipse by Randy Brewer

December 30, 1982: The only total lunar eclipse of a Blue Moon in the last century occurs. A “blue moon” is not about color, but about the rarity of the event. It is the second full moon in a calendar month. There were 41 Blue Moons in the 20th century. There were four eclipses during Blue Moons in the same 100 year period, but this date produced the only Total Eclipse of a Blue Moon.

The lunar cycle, or the time it takes for the moon to travel through its phases, is 29 days, 12 hours, and 44 minutes. The phases of the moon are based on what we can see in the night sky. The Moon is non-luminous, only reflecting sunlight, not producing light on its own. What we see, whether a New Moon [no Moon at night], a crescent shape, or even a Full Moon, is created by the triangulation of the Sun, Moon, and Earth.

The Moon is always half lit, but we can only see portions of it because of the relation of the three bodies. A New Moon means that the half that is lit by the Sun faces away from Earth. A Full Moon means just the opposite, the Sun is behind the Earth and fully illuminating the face toward us. The orbit of the Moon is 5º tilted from the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. If this were not so, there would always be eclipses.

An eclipse occurs when the shadow of the Earth [Latin term – umbra] passes over the illuminated face of the Moon. The bodies line up 2-4 times each year. About 35% of the time there is a penumbral [Latin term – almost shadow] eclipse that is difficult to see even with a telescope. Another 30% of eclipses are partial while the last 35% are total eclipses. The first lunar eclipse was recorded in 721 BC by Ptolemy in Almagest. Lunar eclipses, unlike solar eclipses, can be seen anywhere on Earth during the nights they occur.

“It’s only during an eclipse that the Man in the Moon has a place in the sun.” – unknown

“When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.” – Chinese proverb

“The moon is nothing / But a circumambulating aphrodisiac / Divinely subsidized to provoke the world into a rising birth-rate.” – Christopher Fry

“I don’t know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.” – George Bernard Shaw

Also on this day, in 1610 the Blood Countess was finally stopped.