Little Bits of History

July 16

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2017

1769: La Misión San Diego de Alcalá is founded. Spanish friar Junipero Serra founded the first Franciscan mission in The Californians, a province in New Spain. Translated into English the mission’s name was The Mission of Saint Didacus of Acalá.  Didacus was a Franciscan lay brother and served with the first group of missionaries to the Canary Islands. He died in 1463. The Jesuits had tried to bring their faith to The Californians earlier and their first mission failed. By 1697, they were successful in establishing a foothold. The Jesuits founded a total of 18 missions in the lower ⅔ of Baja California Peninsula. They were expelled in 1767 and the Franciscans were brought in. A new governor was also brought in to oversee the transition.

Serra was born in Spain and came to the Spanish colonies in 1749, landing in Veracruz. His group then had to travel to Mexico City via the Camino Real or royal path. During the trip, Serra was bitten by something which caused his leg to swell. It became infected and never properly healed; it bothered him for the rest of his life. He was placed in charge of the Sierra Gorda Spanish Inquisition in 1752 and found several natives to be witches of the “most detestable and horrible” sort. This was his only report on the matter. Serra was also a practitioner of self punishment. While other missionaries of the time also did this, none were quite so extreme as Serra.

When King Carlos expelled the Jesuits, Serra was brought north. The first Europeans arrived at what is today San Diego by sea when they landed there on April 11. The first overland group arrived on June 29. Many of the early explorers died en route either from starvation or accident. Sierra arrived on July 14 and two days later a cross was raised and Father Serra held the first Mass. With that, the Mission San Diego de Alcalá was officially founded. In just a few months, food had run low and there were still no permanent buildings. The local inhabitants resented the incursion of Spaniards and attacked within a month. They considered abandoning the mission.

Father Serra was fearful of leaving, believing that if abandoned, “centuries might come and go” before any Europeans returned and were able to save the souls, if not the bodies of the natives. Luckily, a supply ship arrived in time to save the fledgling mission. The mission grew and eventually became the city of San Diego which now covers 372 square miles and has a population of 1.4 million people. It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the United States. They mark this date as the founding and the city was incorporated on March 27, 1850. It passed from Spain, to Mexico, to the California Republic before becoming part of the US in 1848.

Thank God I arrived the day before yesterday, the first of the month, at this port of San Diego, truly a fine one, and not without reason called famous. – Junipero Serra

Well, when I was a kid, I grew up in San Diego next to the ocean. The ocean was my friend – my best friend. – Robert Ballard

The bridge to Coronado Island off San Diego was built because the mob had a hotel there and needed a way to get people out there. – Don Winslow

I need to surf – surf and yoga. Whenever I’m in L.A., I go down to San Diego to surf for the weekend, and I always come back perfect. – Rodrigo Santoro

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Whack, Whack …

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2015
Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio

July 16, 1941: Joltin’Joe sets a Major League Baseball record. Joe DiMaggio was born in California in 1914 as Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio. He was the eighth of nine children in the family. The father was a fisherman and hoped that his five sons would follow in his footsteps but young Joe would do anything to escape the boat. The smell of dead fish nauseated him. His father called him “lazy” and “good for nothing”. Joe began playing semipro baseball with his older brother, Vince, who talked the manager into letting his baby brother fill in as shortstop. Joe made his professional debut on October 1, 1932 at the age of 17. Between May 27 and July 25, 1933, Joe hit safely in 61 consecutive games, a Pacific Coast League record.

In 1934, Joe tore the ligaments in his knee when he misstepped while getting out of a taxi. It could have ended his career in baseball, but scout Bill Essick of the New York Yankees was sure it would heal and brought Joe in for a look. Joe passed the physical in November and the Yankees purchased his contract from the San Francisco Seals for $50,000 and five players. Joe stayed with the Seals for the 1935 season. He made his major league debut on May 3, 1936 batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. Joe played with the Yankees for his entire MLB career – 13 years. He led the team to nine titles during those years. He signed a record breaking contract in 1949 and became the first baseball player to earn over $100,000 for a year.

The record he created on this day has remained unbroken. Beginning on May 15, 1941 (just weeks before Lou Gehrig died of ALS), Joe began his hitting streak when he was up against the Chicago White Sox and pitcher Eddie Smith. The previous record hitting streak in MLB went for 41 games and was held by George Sisler from his 1922 season. At first, Joe was not trying to break Gorgeous George’s record, but as he got closer both he and the press of the day began to speculate about the possibility. On June 29, Joe broke George’s record when he doubled in the first game of a double header against the Washington Senators and then singled in the nightcap game with a record 42 game streak.

There were close to 53,000 Yankee fans to watch Joe tie Wee Willie Keeler’s 1897 44 game streak. July began with this momentous statistic but Joltin’Joe wasn’t finished. He kept getting hits  and finally broke the 50 game level on July 11 against the St. Louis Browns. In his 56th game on this day, he again safely hit while playing against Cleveland. The next day, while once again facing Cleveland, his string was finally broken. He was walked, but did not get a safe hit. He made the next 16 games, as well and so make it to base for 73 games, 72 of 73 with a safe hit. Another record. He retired at age 37, announcing it on December 11, 1951. He lived to age 84, dying from lung cancer in 1999.

DiMaggio’s streak is the most extraordinary thing that ever happened in American sports. – Stephen Jay Gould

When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game. – Joe DiMaggio

‘m just a ballplayer with one ambition, and that is to give all I’ve got to help my ball club win. I’ve never played any other way. – Joe DiMaggio

We need a hit, so here I go. – Joe DiMaggio

Also on this day: Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was published.
Calendars – In 622, the Islamic calendar began.
No Kissing – In 1451, King Henry VI banned kissing.
Lovely Rita – In 1935, the first parking meter was unveiled.
Hijacked – In 1948, a plane was hijacked.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2014
2014 hijacked plane

2014 hijacked plane in Geneva

July 16, 1948: Miss Macao is hijacked. The Catalina seaplane was owned by Cathay Pacific and operated by a subsidiary. This was the first hijacking of a commercial plane and took place when the cockpit was stormed. The plane crashed and killed 25 of the 26 people on board. The lone survivor was Huang Yu, the hijacker. He survived by jumping from the emergency exit just prior to the crash. He was brought to court by the Macau police but they deferred to Hong Kong where the plane was registered. The British government there claimed the crime took place in China and they did not have jurisdiction. Since no one wished to try him, Huang was released without a trial on June 11, 1951 and was then deported to the People’s Republic of China.

Hijacking is also called aircraft piracy and also sometimes referred to as skyjacking. It is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. The reasons can be varied. In the above incident, the goal was robbery. Also, planes have been hijacked in order to demand a change of route so the hijackers can be taken to where they believe they would find a safe haven. In at least three cases, the planes were hijacked by either the pilot or co-pilot. The biggest use for hijacking is to hold the passengers as hostages to effect a trade for money or some political concessions. This last often produces an armed standoff between those inside the plane and those on the ground where the plane is landed.

The first non-commercial hijacking took place on February 21, 1931 when armed revolutionaries in Peru approached Byron Rickards demanding to be taken to the fighting. He refused. After a ten-day standoff, Rickards was informed that the revolution was successful and he was free to go if he took one of the members of the group to Lima. Howard “Doc” DeCelles was in Mexico and approached in December 1929 to take an unwanted passenger to an unknown destination, he told a Fort Worth newspaper in 1970. He claims to be the first hijacked pilot as he did deliver his passenger as demanded. The world’s first fatal hijacking took place in 1939 when a pilot instructor was aloft when he was shot by his student who wanted to keep the plane for himself.

Between 1948 and 1957 there were 15 hijackings worldwide. Between 1958 and 1967, it rose to 48 or about 5 per year. In 1968, there were 38 and in 1969 there were 82, the largest number in a single year. Between 1968 and 1977, the annual average was 41. The numbers dropped and there were 18 per year during the 1988 to 1997 decade. The September 11, 2001 hijacking of three planes resulted in 2,996 direct deaths making it the most fatal in history.  The case of DB Copper is the only unsolved hijacking in American history. The last plane to be taken over was on February 17, 2014 when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 was diverted to Geneva and the hijacker was the co-pilot who was arrested.

The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have the time to fall. – Orville Wright

To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. But to fly is everything. – Otto Lilienthal

If you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. If you use the airplane the next day, it’s an outstanding landing. – Chuck Yeager

Airplanes may kill you, but they ain’t likely to hurt you. – Satchel Paige

Also on this day: Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is published.
Calendars – In 622, the Islamic calendar began.
No Kissing – In 1451, King Henry VI bans kissing.
Lovely Rita – In 1935, the first parking meter was unveiled.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2013
Islamic calendar

Islamic calendar

July 16, 622: The Islamic calendar begins. Other names for it are Muslim or Hijri calendar. The lunar based calendar is used to date events in many Muslim countries. There are 12 months with a year lasting 354 days. The 11.25 days difference between the Hijri and Gregorian calendars are simply ignored. This is the reason for Islamic feasts to seemingly move through the Gregorian calendar year. Years are called Hijra years because the first year was the time when Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina.

Prior to this calendar, Arabian time was kept using a lunisolar calendar. Months were based on lunar rotation but the seasons were synchronized with the solar year by use of an intercalary month. The older calendar began each year with the autumnal equinox. Certain months were ordained to be peaceful. By manipulating the intercalary month, time could be massaged to accommodate warring tendencies. The Qur’an forbids this method of time management.

There are twelve months in the Islamic calendar, beginning with Muharram and ending with Dhu al-Hijjah. The ninth month, Ramadan, is the most venerated of them. During daylight hours of this month, devout Muslims avoid eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. The gates of Heaven are open all month while the gates of Hell are said to be closed. Each week has seven days, as with the Gregorian calendar. The week begins with yaum al-ahad or Sunday and ends with the Sabbath, yaum as-sabt.

There are mathematical problems with the Islamic calendar and its inaccuracies vis-à-vis the solar year. Many Muslims have further problems with dates. All holy days occur on the same date of the Muslim calendar, but not in the Gregorian calendar. Some countries use algorithms to determine when a new month begins. Others insist on a physical sighting of the new moon. There are some who propose a global Islamic calendar in order to help standardize major Islamic events rather than the current hodgepodge country-by-country reckoning of when a new month starts.

“The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” – Muhammad

“Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave.” – Muhammad

“All actions are judged by the motive prompting them.” – Muhammad

“Ramadan makes you closer to God.” – Saddam Hussein

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Time is a dimension and through it events can be ordered from the past through the present and into the future. Time measures the duration of events as well as the interval between them. The measurement of time is part of many different enterprises with religion being only one of them. Philosophy and science have both long studied the idea of time itself. The useful measurement is used in a variety of ways in business, sports, music, and dance. There is debate between two philosophies of time. One is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe and independent from the events in the other dimensions. The other is that time is a “container” through which events moves or flow. Time is essential in the measurement of other things, such as velocity. Time is divided into smaller and larger pieces with yoctosecond being our current smallest measurement and it is 10-24 of a second. The exasecond is 1018 seconds or about 32 billion years. The cosmological decade is longer but is not a precise measurement and is simply 10 times the previous cosmological decade and begins either 10 seconds or 10 years after the Big Bang (depending on the definition).

Also on this day: Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is published.
No Kissing – In 1451, King Henry VI bans kissing.
Lovely Rita – In 1935, the first parking meter was unveiled.

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Lovely Rita

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2012

First parking meter design

July 16, 1935: Oklahoma City is home to the world’s first parking meter. A parking meter is a device used to collect a fee in return for the right to park for a set amount of time. They are usually used to regulate on-street parking in cities and help regulate traffic and control mobility issues. Publisher and lawyer Carl Magee invented a parking meter to help ease congestion in Oklahoma City. He filed his patent for the device on May 13, 1935 and was granted patent #2,118,318 on May 24, 1938. This date saw the first installation of the device. It was met with mixed reviews by the people of Oklahoma City.

Early models included a coin acceptor, a dial to engage the mechanism, and a pointer and flag to alert the user to the amount of time purchased or remaining. The basic model remained in use for over forty years with only a few changes to the exterior design. A few modifications like a dual headed stand and different materials were all the changes made. The use of the meters spread and by 1960, New York City hired the first crew of “meter maids.” Everyone on the crew was female until 1967, when the first male was hired. Their job was to enforce usage of the meters.

In the mid-1980s a digital version of the parking meter was introduced with electronic components, keyboards, and displays. These allowed for more flexibility. Before the end of the century, millions of parking meters had been sold but the need for a new system was already evident. Many areas have switched to collective pay and display machines and some use electronic money and communication devices. Because they are outdoors, the meters have always been susceptible to damage from the elements. They have also always been targets of vandals.

They were seen as interfering with parking privileges as well as predatory ways to collect money. Meters have often been challenged in court but are considered legal if they are used to regulate parking and not as a revenue source. The courts have answered that the meters are legal if the street on which they are located are used by enough traffic to warrant some control over the parking of vehicles in order to maintain traffic patterns and normal flow. It was also stated cities could not make “inordinate and unjustified profits by means of parking meters.”

I don’t even know how to use a parking meter, let alone a phone box. – Princess Diana

If you have never said ‘Excuse me’ to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time. – Sherri Chasin Calvo

A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works. – Bill Vaughan

When Solomon said there was a time and a place for everything he had not encountered the problem of parking his automobile. – Bob Edwards

Also on this day:

Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is published.
Calendars – In 622, the Islamic calendar began.
No Kissing – In 1451, King Henry VI bans kissing.

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No Kissing

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2011


July 16, 1439: Kissing is banned in England by proclamation of King Henry VI. The king hoped to curtail the spread of the current pestilence running rampant throughout the kingdom. The ban failed. It seems the citizens only gave it lip service.

While Henry was concerned with the spread of disease, others have been more concerned with morality or sexuality. In 2003, Moscow was considering a ban on kissing in public places. The law’s wording would have included even legally married couples. Fines and jail time were to be imposed. The citizenry was not happy with this proposed law. People were willing to go about on the streets and kiss casual acquaintances or even perfect strangers just to prove their point.

Also in 2003, a gay inmate in a Scotland prison sued because the prison guards banned him from kissing his boyfriend when he visited. The inmate pointed out that straight couples were permitted this level of intimacy. When straight couples groped each other, the inmate and his partner did the same and were immediately accosted and separated. The same happened when they kissed. The prison instituted meetings between the two men in a segregated place and with a dividing glass between them. The free partner was considering filing suit as well.

There are other weird sex laws, of course. In 1562 Naples, Italy made it a capital offense to kiss in public. In Minnesota, it is illegal to have intercourse with a live fish. There is no mention of dead fish or how one stay’s underwater long enough to keep the fish alive. Romboch, Virginia has a law on the books stating it is illegal to have sex with the lights on. Again, no mention of what happens during daylight hours. In Cleveland, Ohio it is illegal for women to wear patent leather shoes because someone might see a reflection of what is hidden by the woman’s skirt. No mention of what happens if she is wearing slacks.

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” – Albert Einstein

“The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin.” – Oscar Wilde

“Though I know he loves me, tonight my heart is sad; his kiss was not so wonderful as all the dreams I had.” – Sara Teasdale

“All the legislation in the world will not abolish kissing.” – Elinor Glyn

Also on this day:
Phony – In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye is published.
Calendars – In 622, the Islamic calendar began.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 16, 2010

J. D. Salinger

July 16, 1951: J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye is published. The novel remains controversial even today. In the 1990s it was the 13th most frequently challenged book. It was banned due to profanity, sexual references, and because it “undermines morality.”  Either in spite of, or because of this activity, it is one of the most famous 20th century literary works. The novel is often on high school reading lists and still sells about 250,000 copies a year.

The story is told by native New Yorker, Holden Caulfield, the embodiment of teenage angst. The protagonist is expelled from his school and prior to his expulsion date, runs away.  He is disturbed by the phoniness and hypocrisy he sees all around him. He would happily spend his life rescuing children. He meets with his sister, Phoebe, and when she wants to run away with him, he is aghast that she would throw away her own future. As the books draws to a close, several hints are proffered that leave one to speculate that Holden is telling his story from a mental institution in California.

Salinger was drafted during WWII and served with the US 4th Infantry Division. He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. His war experiences colored his post-war writing. He was treated for combat stress reaction after the fall of Germany.

Salinger is the embodiment of the reclusive artist. He had not given an interview since 1974. He has not published any new work since 1965. After returning from the war, he wrote short stories for The New Yorker. Pre-war he had a story called Slight Rebellion off Madison that did not see print until 1946. In that story Holden Caulfield was introduced for the first time.

“If you had a million years to do it, you couldn’t rub out even half the “Fuck you” signs in the world.”

“I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody.”

“But what I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most.”

“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.”

“I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say “Holden Caulfield” on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say “Fuck you.” I’m positive, in fact.” – all from The Catcher in the Rye

Also on this day, in 622 the Islamic calendar began.
Bonus Link: In 1451 kissing was banned in England.