Little Bits of History

February 6

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2017

1958: British European Airways flight 609 crashes at it attempts to take off. Manchester United football (soccer) team had been playing in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) against Red Star Belgrade. They were flying home in an “Elizabethan” class Airspeed Ambassador. The plane needed to refuel, as the distance between Belgrade and Manchester was beyond its range. They stopped in Munich for this. James Thain, pilot, and Kenneth Rayment, co-pilot attempted takeoff at 14.19 GMT. They aborted takeoff due to issues in the left boost pressure gauge along with an odd sound from the engine. Three minutes later, a second attempt was made and again they had the same issues. They offloaded all the passengers and began to troubleshoot the issues. It began to snow, heavily. There was talk of the plane remaining in Germany for the night, but Thain knew that would put the team behind schedule.

Elizabethan planes had a known issue with the boost surging and it was noted that a slower opening of the throttle could lessen impact. Munich had an exceptionally long runway of about 1.2 miles. This would have been enough space to slow the throttle increase and gain enough momentum for takeoff. Thain made the call to fly. The plane was deiced and the passengers reboarded. They were given clearance for takeoff at 15.02 and agreed to watch instruments carefully. They pulled back on the throttle and began their drive down the runway. They called out speeds at 10-knot increments and had a slight problem at 85 knots. After a quick correction they pushed forward. At 117 knots, Thain called “V1” which meant it was no longer safe to abort takeoff. They were committed. But just at that point, speed began to drop.

The plane skidded at the end of the runway, crashed through a fence, crossed a road, and clipped a house with the left wing, sheering it from the aircraft. Everyone in the house was able to escape safely. Not so, for the passengers of the plane. The plane continued to rip apart. Twenty of the passengers died aboard the plane and three more died later at the hospital. Rayment was trapped in his seat, but Thain was able to escape. As flames crept closer to the engine filled with 500 imperial gallons of fuel, Thain warned everyone away from the soon to explode plane. He grabbed fire extinguishers and attempted to keep the flames from the engine while goalkeeper Harry Gregg regained consciousness inside the plane. He was able to escape and brought out some of the passengers with him.

Two crew members, Rayment and a cabin steward, were killed. Eight of the Manchester United players and three staff members were killed. Eight journalists and two other passengers also perished. Four of the crew survived as did nine footballers, two of whom never played again. Matt Busby, the team manager, survived and was eventually able to rebuild the team. Six other passengers survived. The cause of the crash was at first assumed to be pilot or mechanical error. But the real cause was the runway. Most planes took off with less distance, as the aircraft could have without the problems. But at the end of the runway, slush was accumulating and as they reached this portion just before takeoff, the drag from the slush slowed the aircraft, making takeoff impossible. German authorities took action against Thain, but he was cleared of all charges.

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. – Carl Reiner

The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed of one thing and one thing only. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Even in winter an isolated patch of snow has a special quality. – Andy Goldsworthy

And finally Winter, with its bitin’, whinin’ wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow. – Roy Bean

American Colonization Society

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2015
American Colonization Society

American Colonization Society

February 6, 1820: The first American Colonization Society (ACS) ship leaves New York City. The ACS was formed in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey as an attempt to appease two separate groups which were on opposite sides of the issue of slavery. In 1786, the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor attempted to establish the Sierra Leone Province of Freedom as a haven for escaped colonial slaves. Paul Cuffee, a wealthy mixed-race shipowner and advocate hoped to settle freed blacks back in Africa. He was able to finance successful voyages to British ruled Sierra Leone and help freed blacks settle in Africa. He died in 1817 and his ventures may have helped inspire the ACS.

The early advocates felt repatriation in Africa would allow freed slaves a better chance for a full life. Slaveholders were against mandated abolition and saw the movement of freed slaves back to Africa as a way to stem further revolts among the slaves. Beginning in 1821, thousands of free black Americans moved to Liberia and the colony continued to grow and gain economic stability. In 1847, the legislature of Liberia declared themselves to be an independent state. Critics of ACS claim it was a racist society and point to the benevolent origins which eroded. They further charge that it became an American colonization tool to form an empire in Africa. The ACS closely controlled the development of Liberia until it declared itself independent.

Between 1816 and 1819, the members of ACS, some of whom were well known political figures of the day, relentlessly pressured Congress and the US President for support. In 1819 Congress gave them $100,000 and they were able to take 88 black emigrants and three white ACS agents aboard the Elizabeth and said for West Africa and Liberia. ACS purchased the freedom of slaves and paid for their passage as well as helping already freed African-Americans get back to Africa. Henry Clay attempted to get Congress to fund sending colonists to Liberia without success but some state legislatures were willing. Several states eventually helped move freed blacks from America to Liberia. While some in America saw it as a means to colonial expansion, the idea was never fully adopted.

The first ship arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone and then sailed south to what is currently the northern coast of Liberia. All three whites and 22 of the blacks died of yellow fever in the first few weeks. The rest of the settlers returned to Sierra Leone and waited for another ship to arrive. Nautilus sailed twice in 1821 and they were able to create a settlement at Mesurado Bay on an island they called Perseverance. They ran into many difficulties along the way, one of which was the resistance of locals to accept the colonists – some of which resulted in armed confrontations. Even so, during the next decade, 2,638 African-Americans migrated to the area. The colony had an agreement with the US Government to accept freed slaves who had been taken from illegal slave ships.

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. – Nelson Mandela

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. – Albert Camus

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man. – Robert Green Ingersoll

Also on this day: Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
Not So Old – In 1987, President Ronald Reagan became the oldest sitting US President.
QEII – In 1952, British King George VI died.
Voice Artist – In 1914, Thurl Ravenscroft was born.
Trains – In 1815, the first railroad charter in the US was issued.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2014
New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company

New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company

February 6, 1815: The first railroad charter in the United States was issued to the New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. The idea was taken from turnpike charters and granted to John Stevens and others to build a line between New Brunswick and Trenton. This first charter became the model for other railroad charters used in the US. By 1830, two competing companies were hoping to build a canal connecting the Delaware River with the Raritan River, the first serving Philadelphia and the latter New York City. An agreement was reached and the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company was chartered on February 4, 1830. Travel along the seaboard was essential, not just for people, but for the goods they needed.

On March 7, 1832 the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company was chartered and they were tasked with building a railroad connecting with some others in the region and again trying to move people and goods along the coast. Eventually, Jersey City and Trenton would be connected. From 1839 to 1867 many more improvements with connections and realignments were chartered. Not only was it important to move people and goods, but it became necessary to move war supplies to keep the Union soldiers equipped. After the war, many two of the major lines merged and became the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company.

The company stayed in business until 1976 when they were taken over by Amtrak and Conrail, with some of the tracks going to one provider and the rest to the other. At first, Contrail operated a commuter rail system under the New Jersey Department of Transportation but in 1979 the commuter lines were taken over by New Jersey Transit. The rails have been in use, as standard gauge rails, since their inception. Today, they are still moving people and goods along the coast with interchanges and other systems lacing the seaboard.

John Stevens was born in 1749 and was a lawyer, engineer, and inventor. He constructed the first US steam locomotive, the first steam-powered ferry, and the first commercial ferry service from his estate in Hoboken. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and helped form US patent law. At age 27 he was promoted to Captain in George Washington’s army. After the war he was made treasurer of New Jersey and bought land at public auction which today is the city of Hoboken. He was interested in moving goods and people around the region and may have been influenced in this endeavor as a way to keep his family together. He and his wife had eleven children, many of them as famous and influential as their father.

In the end, the railroads made America and nanotech will make the 21st century, and that is the end of the story. The beginning of the story and the end of the story. – Felix Dennis

The rage for railroads is so great that many will be laid in parts where they will not pay. – George Stephenson

Yet, in 1850 nearly all the railroads in the United States lay east of the Mississippi River, and all of them, even when they were physically mere extensions of one another, were separately owned and separately managed. – John Moody

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day: Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
Not So Old – In 1987, President Ronald Reagan became the oldest sitting US President.
QEII – In 1952, British King George VI died.
Voice Artist – In 1914, Thurl Ravenscroft was born.

Not So Old

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2013
Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

February 6, 1987: Ronald Wilson Reagan celebrates his 76th birthday during his tenure as US President, making him the oldest President in US history. Reagan was first elected to the Presidency in 1980 after serving as Governor of California from 1967-1975 and one unsuccessful run at the highest political seat in the nation. He was elected again to that seat in 1984 taking a stunning 525 of the possible 538 electoral college votes, losing only Minnesota and Washington, DC.

During his first term as President, on March 30, 1981, John Hinckley, Jr. shot the President in the chest. The bullet lodged in his left lung, missing his heart by less than an inch. James Brady, Thomas Delahanty, and Timothy McCarthy were also shot in the attack. As the President was rolled into surgery he quipped, “I hope you’re all Republicans!” Dr. Joseph Giordano replied, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.” Reagan was released from the hospital on April 11 and continued in his role as President.

During his second campaign, his age became a factor. The opposition pointed out that an aging President could be detrimental. Drawing on his experience as an entertainer, he joked, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” There are age restrictions for government positions, but only on the lower end. One must be 35 years of age to be President of the US, 30 years of age to be a Senator, and 25 to be a Representative. Some states have age restrictions, too. South Dakota’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and State Senators and Representatives must be 21, but the Public Utilities Commissioner must be 25.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest elected President. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest President at age 42. He assumed the seat when President William McKinley was assassinated. He was not elected until he was 46, like both Ulysses S. Grant and Bill Clinton. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected President at age 43. While Reagan was older as President, it should be noted that Queen Elizabeth II still reigns at age 81.

“One way to make sure crime doesn’t pay would be to let the government run it.”

“Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.”

“To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.”

“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.” – all from Ronald Wilson Reagan

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: The oldest currently serving state leader is Cuthbert Sebastian who is 91 years old and represents Queen Elizabeth at Saint Kitts and Nevis. Shimon Peres is President of Israel and is 89. Right behind him is Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and 88 years old. There are other rules in their 80s including Queen Elizabeth who is now 86. She has been Queen of England since 1952. Abdul Halim of Kedah is 85 and has been ruling in Malaysia since 2011. Hastings Branda was President of Malawi at the age of 96 when he lost his election bid. Two others were in their 90s when they were leaders of their nations and died while in office. President Reagan died on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93.

Also on this day: Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
QEII – In 1952, British King George VI died.
Voice Artist – In 1914, Thurl Ravenscroft was born.

Voice Artist

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2012

Voice Artist

February 6, 1914: Thurl Ravenscroft is born in Norfolk, Nebraska. He moved to California in 1933 to study interior design at the Otis Art Institute. Sir Guy Standing was impressed by Thurl’s humor at a party. Standing suggested the young artist go into show business. After a fellow member of the church choir also mentioned show business, Thurl took the hint.  He auditioned for Paramount and became a studio singer. Soon he had so many calls for jobs, he quit art school, always thinking he could return if show business didn’t work out.

By the mid-1930s Thurl was a regular on the radio program Goose Creek Parson. He moved to Kraft Music Hall and sang backup for Bing Crosby, the star of the show, and any guests as well. He joined a quartet and began to sing with them, too. In 1942 he enlisted in the Air Transport Command (ATC) and served for five years with them. At the time, ATC was a semi-military organization responsible for bringing aircraft overseas to military bases. Thurl met his future wife who worked for TWA. They married in June 1946, three weeks after they met.

After the war, Thurl tried to rejoin the quartet. His replacement in the group didn’t want to leave. Thurl and Max Smith joined together as the Mellomen. The duo pulled in various jobs with top names such as Danny Kaye, Frank Sinatra, and even Elvis. They worked for Walt Disney in films, on television, and on recordings. They worked with Edgar Bergen on the radio and they did many commercials. At one time, the Mellomen had 28 different beer accounts.

Thurl recorded an album of gospel songs on his own. It is Thurl’s voice on many Disney sound tracks. He worked for the Disney Studios for more than 60 years. Some of his most famous songs are the theme songs for Zorro and the Mickey Mouse Club. Although left off the credits, it is Thurl, not Boris Karloff, who sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! But perhaps his most famous gig – one he held for 53 years – was with Kellogg’s. In more than 500 commercials, Thurl is the voice of Tony the Tiger. That’s gr-r-r-reat!

We’re the backup singers. We make everything roll. – Brian Randle

You can never devalue the product with an ad if you’re talking about beer or pop because it doesn’t really have any value. You need a big creative ad with a nondurable product so that when you open up your box of Frosted Flakes, you aren’t thinking the mess that’s inside, you’re thinking of Tony the Tiger. – Michael Bernacchi

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You’re a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch. – Dr. Seuss

They’re Grreat! – Thurl Ravenscroft as Tony the Tiger

Also on this day:

Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
Not So Old – In 1987, President Ronald Reagan became the oldest sitting US President.
QEII – In 1952, British King George VI died.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2011

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, June 1953

February 6, 1952: British King George VI dies. George was the second son of the King George V and was not expected to ascend to the throne. When his brother abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson, George became the King of the UK and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. He was king from 1936 until his death on this day. Prior to his becoming the king, he had married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the couple had two daughters. The king managed to lead the country through World War II, along with the help of his Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. However, the stress of the war exacted a price. His elder daughter took on more duties as his health declined.

His daughter was in Kenya and had just returned from a night spent at Treetops Hotel when word of her father’s death arrived. She had been on her way to tour Australia and New Zealand. Her husband,  Prince Philip, broke the news to his wife. She was asked what her regnal name would be. Unlike her father who changed his name from Albert to George in order to preserve the idea of the line of the House of Windsor, Elizabeth kept her own name. In fact, she even kept her surname and Philip Mountbatten became part of the House of Windsor.

Elizabeth became Queen of England and all the Commonwealth nations immediately upon the death of her father. However, the coronation did not take place until June 2, 1953. It was held at Westminster Abbey and most of the ceremony was televised. For many of the 20 million viewers, this was the first time they had watch television and sales increased tremendously during this time.

Queen Elizabeth has served as leader of her country (and the Church of England) for over 50 years. She continues to sit on the throne with the line of succession firmly held by her offspring. Her eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales is next in line for the throne. He has two sons by his first wife, Princess Diana. William and Henry would be next in line after their father. Princess Anne, the couple’s only daughter, also has two children. The two younger sons, Andrew and Edward each have two children.

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” – Queen Elizabeth II on her 21st birthday

“We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep.” – Elizabeth II

“I have to be seen to be believed.” – Elizabeth II

“I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” – Philip Mountbatten

Also on this day:
Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
Ronald Reagan – In 1987, Ronald Reagan became America’s oldest president.

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Tobacco Road

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2010

Smoking ban humor

February 6, 1987:  A no smoking ban in federal buildings throughout the US is put into effect. However, both houses of Congress are still smoking sections.  One of the world’s first smoking bans came in 1575 when tobacco use was banned in any church in Mexico or any Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. The Pope followed the Mexican ecclesiastical council and in 1590 Pope Urban VII threatened to excommunicate any who brought the weed (in any form) even close to a church. Citywide bans in Europe followed suit and some major cities banned the use of the product throughout their jurisdiction.

By 1000 BC, tobacco – native only to the Americas – was already in use, being smoked or chewed. In 1493, one of Christopher Columbus’ crew was the first European to try the evil weed. One of the crewmen, Rodrigo de Jerez, brought this early version of a Cuban cigar to Spain and was immediately imprisoned for three years after lighting up in public.

Today, the health issues of smoking are paramount. Passive smoking can cause all the same health issues as smoking itself. Non-smokers who live with smokers have a 20-30% greater risk of lung cancer when compared against non-smokers who live with non-smokers. Those who work in smoky environment have and increased risk measured at 16-19%. Smoking is a major risk factor for many diseases affecting the heart and lungs. It potentiates one’s inherent risks, making it easier for the disease to manifest.

Smoking is banned by various degrees in most first world and some third world countries. The US has no federally established program. However, smoking here as decreased by half over the last 40 years or so. In 1965 42% of the adult population in America smoked and by 2006 that number was only 20.8%. Each state and many communities are able to enact and enforce smoking rules as they see fit. One side effect of the smoking bans when carried to all venues, is the number of bars filing for bankruptcy as it seems drinking and smoking are done in concert.

“If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.” – Douglas Adams

“There are some circles in America where it seems to be more socially acceptable to carry a hand-gun than a packet of cigarettes.” – Katharine Whitehorn

“Thank heaven, I have given up smoking again!… God! I feel fit. Homicidal, but fit. A different man. Irritable, moody, depressed, rude, nervy, perhaps; but the lungs are fine.” – A.P. Herbert

“Remember, if you smoke after sex you’re doing it too fast.” – Woody Allen

Also on this day, in 1987 Ronald Reagan became America’s oldest president.

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