Little Bits of History

January 1

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2017

1902: The first Rose Bowl game is played. The game played on this date was called “Tournament East-West football game” and was played between the Michigan Wolverines and the Stanford Cardinals. Fielding Yost had coached at Stanford before moving to Michigan for the 1901 season. The Wolverines had played undefeated prior to this game while Stanford had a 3-1-2 season. Michigan trounced the competition. The final score for the game was 49-0 when Stanford quit in the third quarter. Michigan’s record for the season now stood at 11-0 and they were crowned as the national champion. The game was so lopsided that it was not played again the following year, or the year after that. In fact, it wasn’t again played until the State College of Washington (now Washington State University) defeated Brown University in the 1916 Rose Bowl, the first time the name was used.

Between 1916 and 1922 the games were played in Pasadena’s Tournament Park located about three miles away from the specially built Rose Bowl stadium. An January 1, 1923 the game was played at the new venue, near to Caltech. The new stadium was needed because crowd sizes were increasing and all the fans did not fit in the older arena. The 1923 game had Penn State losing to USC 3-14 in front of 43,000 spectators. The seating at the stadium has been altered several times since the original game with peak seating capacity at 104,594 between the years of 1972 and 1997. At one time it was the largest seating capacity in the country but was superseded by Michigan Stadium in 1998. Today, with a capacity of 92,542 it ranks seventh in the US list of football stadiums and is the largest post-season bowl game venue.

The games have been played yearly since 1916. Between that time and 1946 (except during World War I), the game was always played between a member of the Pacific Coast Conference (now the Pac-12 Conference) and a team from the Eastern US. The teams were not necessarily the conference champions. During World War I, military bases sported teams which also played at the Rose Bowl. Another war caused another problem. In 1942, just weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attacks on Pacific Ocean and West Coast shipping lanes, the venue was moved. It was assumed such a massing of Americans would make an ideal target sitting on the West Coast and so the 1942 game was played in Durham, North Carolina.

Today, there are a number of Bowl Games available but the Rose Bowl remains the highest attended college football game. Known as The Granddaddy of Them All, it is played on January 1 unless that day is a Sunday, in which case the game is moved to Monday so as not to compete with professional football games. Beginning in 1998, teams were chosen by the Bowl Championship Series. It was hoped teams would still be from the East and West with Pac-12 vs Big 10 if possible. This was replaced in 2014 with the College Football Playoff in which four teams are selected for two national semifinal games which then leads to the championship game. In this arrangement, the Rose Bowl is one of the semifinal games every three years and if not hosting, has other top contenders play. Those first teams who met on this date have returned many times over the years. USC has the most wins of this game at 24, but Michigan is second with 8 wins and Stanford is third with 7. Interestingly, Michigan also has the most losses at 12.

The Rose Bowl is the only bowl I’ve ever seen that I didn’t have to clean. – Erma Bombeck

You can learn a line from a win and a book from a defeat. – Paul Brown

Football is not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport. Dancing is a good example of a contact sport. – Duffy Daugherty

A good football coach needs a patient wife, a loyal dog, and a great quarterback – but not necessarily in that order. – Bud Grant

Tagged with: ,

A World’s First in Flight

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2015
Benoist aircraft ready for launch

Benoist aircraft ready for launch

January 1, 1914: The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line (SPT) commences operation. Thomas W Benoist was brought in to manage the fleet of three planes. The new airboats connected the two cities in Florida. They are about 23 miles apart and separated by Old Tampa Bay. Today, there is a bridge which makes the travel time about a half hour (depending on traffic). The bridge was not available in 1914 and the trip took 2 hours by boat, 4 to 12 hours by train, and 20 hours by car. A three month contract was signed for the service with the St. Petersburg board of trade on December 17, 1913. This was the tenth anniversary of the Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk.

The hangers for the planes were not completed and one of the planes, Lark of Duluth, was unaccounted for. It had been placed on a freight train and still had not arrived in time for opening day. On this date, SPT Airboat Line became the world’s first scheduled winged airline service. The maiden flight was piloted by Antony H Jannus who flew a Benoist Type XIV from St. Petersburg to Tampa. The local paper had given lots of ink to the upcoming event and there were approximately 3000 people on hand to watch a parade and listen to an Italian band at the departure point.

An auction was held for the first round trip ticket aboard the biplane. Abram C Pheil was the winner with his $400 bid. The former mayor of St. Petersburg boarded the wooden, open-air plane and made the 23-minute trip which rarely got higher than five feet above the water. Two more airboats were soon added to the fleet. One was used to ferry passengers and the other was used as a training plane for pilots. One way tickets were priced at $5 each and cargo was shipped at $5 for 100 pounds. The first cargo was a bundle of the local paper, the St Petersburg Times. They made 172 flights covering over 7,000 miles and had ferried 1,205 people before closing on May 5, 1914 – five weeks after the contract termination.

Thomas Benoist was born in 1874 in Missouri. His interest in flight began even before heavier than air planes. He was unsuccessful in sponsoring a lighter than air flying machine which was similar to a helicopter and then became interested in ballooning. He and his brother began Aeronautic Supply Company in 1907 and helped others achieve flight. Benoist made his own first flight on September 18, 1910. He opened a flying school in March 1911 and also bought out his brother and opened Benoist Aircraft Company, which burnt to the ground in October, destroying five completed planes. He dreamed of flying across the ocean. While stepping off a streetcar, he struck his head against a telephone pole. He died on June 14, 1917 at the age of 42. His company had built over 100 airplanes, but without his leadership, it went out of business in 1918.

The most beautiful dream that has haunted the heart of man since Icarus is today reality. – Louis Bleriot

There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings. – Wilbur Wright, 1905.

You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky. – Amelia Earhart

No one can realize how substantial the air is, until he feels its supporting power beneath him. It inspires confidence at once. – Otto Lilienthal

Also on this day: Julian Calendar – In 45 BC, a new calendar went into effect.
The Times Are a’Changin’ – In 1788, The Times of London was first published.
The Granddaddy of them All – In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses parade was held.
Homestead Act – In 1863, the first claim under the Homestead Act was made.
Ceres Found – In 1801, the first asteroid was located.

Ceres Found

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2014
Giuseppe Piazzi

Giuseppe Piazzi

January 1, 1801: Giuseppe Piazzi discovers a small planet in an odd spot. Back in 1772 Johann Elert Bode suggested that the space between Mars and Jupiter could contain a planet. His supposition was based on the Titius-Bode Law, which has been discredited. William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 seemed to substantiate the Titius-Bode law. In 1800, a request was sent out to 24 astronomers who began a search for the “missing” planet. Franz Xaver von Zach led the group searching for the wayward planet. Piazzi was not part of their group at the time of the discovery, although an invitation was issued. Piazzi at first thought that Ceres was a comet. After 24 different observations, he became ill. He announced his discovery  on January 24 in two different letters to other astronomers.

Ceres has an equatorial radius of 302.8 miles with an area of 1,100,391 square miles which is about the size of Argentina. The mass of this dwarf planet is 0.0128 Moons or 0.00015 Earths. The mean surface temperature is 168 Kelvin or -157.3° Fahrenheit. Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt and the mass has been determined by the way it interacts with other objects in the belt. By examining the surface it has been determined that the interior holds quite a bit of water. The planet’s crust is probably rich in iron clays and carbonate minerals as well. There is a small possibility of it having a tenuous atmosphere.

The asteroid belt lies between Mars and Jupiter and is sometimes called the main asteroid belt or main belt to distinguish it from other asteroids in the Solar System. About half the mass of the entire belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea. Ceres is the only one of these large enough to be considered a dwarf planet. The rest of the material in the belt is so thinly scattered that many unmanned objects have been able to traverse the region without incident. Even so, there are sometimes collisions between some of the more substantial asteroids and when this happens, a fine dust is left behind and much of the belt is made of this dust.

As the Solar System was forming from the primordial solar nebula, planetesimals were formed. These are the precursors to planet formation. The area between Mars and Jupiter received enough gravitational disruption from the giant planet, Jupiter, that the protoplanet was unable to form. Collisions were too violent and instead of forming a core of fused together material, the material exploded into dust. Because of this, 99.9% of the asteroid belt’s original mass was lost in the first 100 million years. Some of these fragments have made their way to the inner portion of the Solar System and became meteors with meteorites striking the planets and moons closer to the Sun. Even today, when Jupiter and the Sun form an orbital resonance, there is disruption of the asteroids within the belt.

We need to take command of the solar system to gain that wealth, and to escape the sea of paper our government is becoming, and for some decent chance of stopping a Dinosaur Killer asteroid. – Larry Niven

The chances that your tombstone will read ‘Killed by Asteroid’ are about the same as they’d be for ‘Killed in Airplane Crash.’ – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sooner or later the space program will need to save us by detecting and deflecting an incoming asteroid. – Nathan Myhrvold

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid. – Mark Twain

Also on this day: Julian Calendar – In 45 BC, a new calendar went into effect.
The Times Are a’Changin’ – In 1788, The Times of London was first published.
The Granddaddy of them All – In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses parade was held.
Homestead Act – In 1863, the first claim under the Homestead Act was made.

The Times are a’Changin

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2013
John Walter

John Walter

January 1, 1788: The first edition of The Times of London is published. The paper was founded in 1785 by John Walter. Originally called The Daily Universal Register, after 940 issues, the name was changed. Walter was not only founder but editor as well. Born in 1738 or 1739, he was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and became a wealthy coal merchant. He over-speculated as an underwriter for Lloyds of London and went bust.

In 1782, Walter purchased a patent which improved logotypes for printing. Rather than simply letters, there were words or portions of words included. He improved on the idea and in 1784 he bought an old printing office. He began by printing books. Then on January 1, 1785 he started a newspaper. Three years later, he changed the name. It was his pioneering journalistic efforts which brought news from the Continent, especially France, to the London readers. He was sent to Newgate Prison in 1789 for libel printed in The Times.

John Walter, Jr. took over editorship of the paper in 1799 after another libel case was brought against his father. The subject matter covered in the press ranged from politics to science and literature to the arts, all the while building a sound reputation for reporting. Policy makers and financiers read The Times, looking for accurate news from home and abroad. The readership grew and there were few competitors. By 1850, with John Walter III in charge, penny press papers were encroaching on The Times’ turf and financial ruin was a possibility.

The Walters family owned the paper until 1908 when Lord Northcliffe took ownership. The Astor family took over in 1922 and Roy Thompson bought them out in 1966. News International, run by Rupert Murdoch, has owned the paper since 1981. James Harding has been Editor since 2007. The daily paper holds a political allegiance to the center-right. Their headquarters are in Wapping, London. The paper’s circulation is nearly 620,000 with more news available online. The British Business Survey of 2005 named The Times as their preferred UK newspaper.

“Newspapermen learn to call a murderer ‘an alleged murderer’ and the King of England ‘the alleged King of England’ to avoid libel suits.” – Stephen Leacock

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” – Jerry Seinfeld

“A newspaper consists of just the same number of words, whether there be any news in it or not.” – Henry Fielding

“People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” – A. J. Liebling

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: As the internet provides news for more and more people, the circulation of many papers has fallen and many more have simply gone out of print. The Times remains with both a print and internet presence. They are still owned by News Corporation and James Harding remains the editor. They political alignment is considered to be Conservative (Center-right). Their circulation has fallen to about 400,000 since this was first published.

Also on this day: Julian Calendar – In 45 BC, a new calendar went into effect.
The Granddaddy of them All – In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses parade was held.
Homestead Act – In 1863, the first claim under the Homestead Act was made.

Tagged with: ,

Homestead Act

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2012

Homesteading family

January 1, 1863: Daniel Freeman makes the first claim under the Homestead Act. Freeman was born in Ohio in 1826. He was a physician and a Civil War veteran. The 37-year-old was a widow, or possibly divorced, father of three. He was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas when he chose a parcel of land on Cub Creek, four miles outside Beatrice, Nebraska for a claim as soon as the Homestead Act took effect. He filed a preemptive declaration on September 8, 1862. He was in Brownville, Nebraska on New Year’s Eve and persuaded a clerk to open the office shortly after midnight to file his claim. Another 416 people filed their claims on this day.

The Homestead Act was a US Federal law giving freehold title of 160 acres to eligible claimants. An initial filing fee was charged and the land could be purchased after six months of residency for $1.25 per acre or $200 (≈ $3,500 today). Lands claimed had to be undeveloped and outside the original 13 colonies. The successful applicant was anyone who had not taken up arms against the US Government, including freed slaves. The three-step process included 1) filing an application; 2) improving the land; and 3) filing for deed of title. The Act was signed by President Lincoln on May 20, 1862.

The Homestead Act was an improvement of the Preemption Act of 1641. This act also sold public lands to squatters for $1.25 per acre. The eligibility requirements were more restrictive than the 1862 act. The Homestead Act led to 1.6 million homesteaders who took title to 270,000,000 acres, or 10% of US land, before it was repealed. Homesteading was stopped in the contiguous US in 1976, but was permitted until 1986 in Alaska. The last homesteader was Kenneth Deardorff who obtained 80 acres on the Stony River in southwest Alaska. He had fulfilled all the requirements for his claim by 1979 but did not receive his deed for the land until 1988.

The purpose envisioned by the authors of the law was to grant land for agriculture. The maximum grant of 640 acres was too small for many regions in the arid Rocky Mountains. Homesteaders, acting as a front for large cattle ranchers, would lay claims to acres with water sources and thus control the water rights. There were many small and inefficient farms across the area called America’s Bread Basket. Misuse of the land led to soil erosion and may be one of the causes behind the Dust Bowl crisis. Part of the problem stemmed from changes in farming. The smaller farms were the proper size for animal-powered tilling and reaping, but were no longer efficient. Freeman’s homestead was successful and is now, ironically, maintained by the National Park Service.

Home is not where you live but where they understand you. – Christian Morgenstern

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. – Jane Austen

Home is a shelter from storms – all sorts of storms. – William J. Bennett

I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world. – George Washington

Also on this day:

Julian Calendar – In 45 BC, a new calendar went into effect.
The Times Are a’Changin’ – In 1788, The Times of London was first published.
The Granddaddy of them All – In 1890, the first Tournament of Roses parade was held.

Tagged with: ,

The Granddaddy of them All

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2011

January 1, 1890: The Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena, California hosts the first Tournament of Roses parade. The parade is always held on January 1 unless the date falls on a Sunday. This rule was established in 1893 when it was felt that a parade would frighten tethered horses and disrupt Sunday worship services. The first parade consisted of horse-drawn carriages draped in roses [hence the name of the parade] followed by a foot race, polo matches, and a tug-of-war. There were 2,000 spectators the first year.

One of the early Rose Parade participants

Within the next few years marching bands were added. Motorized floats were added shortly thereafter. There were ostrich races, bronco busting, and one year there was a race between a camel and an elephant, with the elephant winning. Since 1923, the Rose Bowl, a college football game, has been played after the parade. For 51 years, from 1955-2006, it never rained on the parade. In 2006, it made up for lost time and poured the whole day. Since 1918, each parade centered around a theme for the floats.

The Grand Marshals have been a varied lot. Shirley Temple, child movie star, hosted in 1939 and fifty years later in 1989 and again in 1999 – the longest time between hostings. Edgar Bergen brought Charlie McCarthy, a ventriloquist dummy to co-host. Kermit the Frog and Mickey Mouse have both been Grand Marshals. Ex-President Eisenhower and not-yet-President Nixon have both held the position. Men from the Moon were Grand Marshals when the crew of Apollo 12 took the stand.

Only fresh flowers are used on the now professionally designed floats. Most American florist shops would need five years to sell as many flowers as are used on each float. Today, more than a million people line the 5.5 mile path watching for 2.5 hours. It takes about 65,000 man-hours of planning to pull off the event. There are 935 members of the Tournament of Roses Association with 38 student ambassadors working in 34 committees to get the show on the road. The floats remain on display for at least two days after the parade.

“Some of us are like a shovel brigade that follow a parade down Main Street cleaning up.” – Donald T. Regan

“I want to be so famous that drag queens will dress like me in parades when I’m dead.” – Laura Kightlinger

“Let the parade go on, … It’s a huge benefit to the city.” – Jack Mahoney

“It was an unbelievable moment. The Rose Bowl is the greatest bowl game there is. It was the greatest memory of my life.” – Joe Germaine

Also on this day:
Julian Calendar – In 45 BC, a new calendar went into effect.
The Times (London) – In 1788, the London Times was first published.

Julian Calendar

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 1, 2010

A calendar - of course

January 1, 45 BC: The Julian Calendar takes effect. The year prior to this, Julius Caesar created a calendar in conjunction with Sosigenes, an astronomer. The design of this calendar was based on the tropical year. It consisted of 12 months, one with a leap day every four years, and therefore was 365.25 days long. It was eleven minutes off per year.

The previous calendar in use was so far out of line with the tropical calendar, the last few years were called “the years of confusion.” As an example of how far adrift the calendar had become, Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon (his entry into Roman territory in order to take over control) was officially made on January 10, 49 BC. However, it was mid-autumn when he made his crossing.

The calendar in use prior to the Julian calendar consisted of 12 months that totaled 355 days with lots of manipulations to try to make the calendar match with the seasons or tropical year. When things were going smoothly, the calendar could match up with the tropical calendar. But during trying times like the Punic or Civil wars, it rapidly got out of alignment.

There were several steps involved in getting the previous calendar more in line with the actual seasons of the year. The  year 46 BC had 445 days to realign the calendar with actual time. There had been so many intercalary months missed in times of war, something drastic needed to be done. Next, an extra day or two was added to several months to make the year last 365 days. Because of the need to keep feast days (holy days) in a stable position as the last day of the month, the new days were inserted as the second-last day to the month. The Intercalairis month was abolished. This calendar remained in effect until the Gregorian calendar replaced it in 1582. Theinaccuracy of the Julian calendar allows for the addition of one day every 134 years.

“The whole history of calendar-making is that of successive attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable, and the numberless systems of intercalated months, and the like, are thus of minor scientific interest.” – Joseph Needham

“Obviously, the calendar is on our side.” – Dave Roberts

“Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.” – unknown

“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” – Julius Caesar

Also on this day, in 1788 the London Times was first published (although under a different name).

Tagged with: ,