Little Bits of History

June 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2017

1596: Bear Island is discovered. Willem Barents and Jacob van Heemskerk named the barren land after a polar bear they saw swimming nearby. The 69 square mile island is at the southernmost tip of the Svalbard archipelago. Bear Island is in the western part of the Barents Sea (named after Willem). The sea is located off the northern coast of Norway and Russia at the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Bear Island is remote, barren, and for hundreds of years remained terra nullius, a term from Roman law meaning “nobody’s land” and used by international law to mean not now or ever under any sovereign rule. There are no residents of the island but it has been used in the past for mining, fishing, and whaling purposes. Today, a meteorological station is located there and so it is visited for data collection.

Svalbard, since a 1920 treaty under Norwegian control, covers 23,561 square miles of land area divided between many islands with Spitsbergen being the largest and where all the 2,667 residents live. It is the northernmost settlement in the world where a permanent civilian population resides. While other places are farther north, they are occupied by rotating researchers. The Arctic climate is forbidding but slightly less than other regions of the same latitude due to ocean currents. It is 74⁰ north and the midnight sun of summer lasts 99 days and the polar night of winter lasts for 84 days. Glacial ice covers 60% of the land while another 30% is barren rock. Only 10% is covered by vegetation. Despite this, it is a breeding ground for polar bears and some seabirds along with reindeer, Arctic fox, and other marine mammals.

It is believed that Viking seafarers knew of Bear Island but it’s recorded history begins on this day. Barents, a Dutch explorer, was on this third expedition when he came upon the stark island. Steven Bennet conducted more explorations of the island in 1603 and 1604 and noted how many walruses were there. A few years later, it was used basically as a hunting ground for the walrus and other seal species. Eggs of the nesting seabirds were also harvested until as late as 1971.

There were several nations laying claim to the land. Scotland/United Kingdom  made their bid in 1609. The Dutch felt it was their by right of discovery. Denmark and Norway claimed the lands as well. But there were no permanent settlements to help those claims. The Svalbard Treaty of February 9, 1920 found Norway’s claim to be the most substantial and gave the archipelago to them. Today terra nullius claims are usually disputed border lands but also include some parts of Antarctica and by convention, international waters are owned by all mankind. When we stepped out into space, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 proclaimed the Moon and other celestial bodies to belong to all of us.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea. – Thomas Fuller

Never go into strange places on a falling tide without a pilot. – Thomas Gibson Bowles

The sea finds out everything you did wrong. – Old Norwegian Adage


Wobbly Bridge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2015
London Millennium Footbridge as seen from Saint Paul's Cathedral

London Millennium Footbridge as seen from Saint Paul’s Cathedral*

June 10, 2000: The Millennium Bridge, London opens. Officially called the London Millennium Footbridge, it was a uniquely designed steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames. It is unofficially called the Wobbly Bridge. The south side of the bridge is located near the Globe Theatre, the Bankside Gallery, and Tate Modern. The north side is next to the City of London School below St. Paul’s Cathedral. The bridge was built so that a clear view of the cathedral’s façade is seen as one crosses the river and it is framed by the bridge supports.

In 1996, a competition was held by the Southwark council and RIBA Competitions. The winners were Arup, Foster and Partners and Sir Anthony Caro with their novel plan “blade of light”. There were height restrictions to help improve the view so the supporting cables were below the deck level. The bridge was designed with two river piers and has three main sections, each a different length: 266 feet, 472 feet, and 354 feet from North to South. The total length of the structure is 1,066 feet and the aluminum deck is 13 feet wide. There are eight suspension cables pulled to a force of 2,000 tons against the piers set in each of the river’s banks. It was designed to support a working load of 5,000 people.

Usually an Act of Parliament is required to build a bridge across the River but on this occasion (the first in over 100 years), Port of London Authority granted a license instead. Construction began in 1998 with the main work beginning in April 1999 with Monberg & Thorsen and Sir Robert McAlpine building the bridge at a cost of £18.2 million (£2.2 million over budget) and opened on this date (two months late). The cost of the bridge was paid for by the Millennium Commission and the London Bridge Trust. For the opening day’s ceremonies, volunteer for Save the Children walked across the bridge. As they did so, they noticed an eerie swaying motion. They unconsciously began walking in step which only increased the phenomenon.

After they made it safely to the other side, there was only limited traffic permitted on the bridge. Two days later, the bridge was closed. The walkers’ natural movements caused a small sideways oscillation in the bridge and as they continued to walk, the movement was amplified. There were 90,000 people who walked across the bridge on opening day, with 2,000 at a time as the highest number. It took two years of modifications to completely get the “wobble” out of Wobbly Bridge. These lateral vibrations are unusual, but not unique as other bridges have been known to experience the same problem. The bridge was retrofitted with 37 fluid-viscous dampers for horizontal control and 52 tuned mass dampers for vertical control. The bridge reopened in February 2002 after spending another £5 million for repairs. While the wobble is now completely gone, the name sticks.

There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection. – H. G. Wells

A pier is a disappointed bridge. – Julian Barnes

Someday when peace has returned to this odd world I want to come to London again and stand on a certain balcony on a moonlit night and look down upon the peaceful silver curve of the Thames with its dark bridges. – Ernie Pyle

It has always seemed to me that the most difficult part of building a bridge would be the start. – Robert Benchley

Also on this day: Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was formed.
US Naval Academy – In 1854, the first class graduated from USNA.
Oxford v. Cambridge –  In 1829, the first Boat Race between the two schools took place.
Teenager Sees Reds – In 1944, Joe Nuxhall went pro.
Equal Pay – In 1960, the Equal Pay Act was signed into law.

* “London Millennium Bridge from Saint Paul’s” by Jan Kameníček – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Equal Pay

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2014
Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 being signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.

Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 being signed into law by President John F. Kennedy.

June 10, 1963: The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 is signed into law by President John F. Kennedy. The newer law was amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The EPA provided that no employer could discriminate between employees on the basis of sex and pay unequal wages for equal work. Included in the text of the Act was the reasons why discriminatory wages were inherently bad and what issues were being attended to by this law. Unfair wages depress living standards for the employees affected, prevents the maximum utilization of the workforce, tends to cause labor disputes and obstructs commerce, burdens commerce and the free flow of goods, and finally is an unfair method of competition.

Section 206 (d)(1) of the EPA prohibits employers from discriminating based on sex by paying wages to employees at a lesser rate than the opposite sex receives. Equal work and jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility performed under similar working conditions demand equal remuneration. To successfully bring a case the employee must show that disparate wages are paid to the opposite sex, the employees involved perform essentially the same job, and they have done these jobs under similar working conditions. If these three conditions are met, a prima facie case is established and the employers must then defend with one of four possible options. A seniority system, merit system, earnings measured by quantity or quality of production, or any other reason other than sex for the pay difference.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that women’s salaries vis-à-vis men’s have risen sharply since the implementation of the law. By 1979 women were earning 62% of men’s earning while that number rose to 80% by 2004. The gender pay gap remains firmly in place not only in the US, but around the world. It is difficult to study because women exhibit very different characteristics for many of the factors that affect pay. Men tend to choose fields where higher wages are already paid and they tend to work more hours per week than their counterparts. Because of these, it is difficult to assess what is causing the pay difference, discrimination or different work habits.

The raw difference in wages in the US is 20.4% but as much as 65.1 to 76.4% of that difference can be attributed to different work styles or career choices. If adjusted for these factors, the pay difference is between 4.8 and 7.1 %. Many studies have agreed on these figures but they tend to disagree with the remaining 5-7% causation – some lay the blame on discrimination while other factors are found in other studies such as social pressures against women seeking employment in high paying fields while men are encouraged to prioritize job satisfaction over many other life choices. This has lifelong implications as not only pay at the time of employment is less for women, but it means their pensions and Social Security payments are less in retirement.

It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages. – Henry Ford

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages. – H. L. Mencken

Men who do things without being told draw the most wages. – Rodney Dangerfield

Salaries and wages must reflect the reality of the enterprise’s economic performance; deviations from the planned performance should be reflected in pay. – Samora Machel

Also on this day: Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is formed.
US Naval Academy – In 1854, the first class graduated from USNA.
Oxford v. Cambridge – In 1829, the first Boat Race between the two schools took place.
Teenager Sees Reds – In 1944, Joe Nuxhall went pro.

US Naval Academy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2013
United States Naval Academy 1854

United States Naval Academy 1854

June 10, 1854: The United States Naval Academy graduates its first class. The Academy is located at Annapolis, Maryland and is also called Annapolis. The institution was founded as the Naval Academy in 1845 by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. The school was located at the former US Army post, Fort Severn. The Navy’s officers were seen as lacking critical skills. The school’s purpose was to train officers. Studies began and the school opened on October 10, 1845 with 50 Midshipmen and 7 professors (3 civilians and 4 officers).

The early program was 5 years of training. The first and last years were classroom work and the middle three years were spent at sea. When war with Mexico was declared on May 13, 1846, the new academy responded with accelerated training and provided 90 trained officers before the end of the war. The successful response to the crisis helped to gain Congressional recognition along with funding for repairs to the school. Professor Henry Lockwood who was a West Pointer (Army), helped to bring full military drills and customs to the Navy school. It did not endear him to the Midshipmen.

By 1850, the school began to reorganize. Instead of the fragmented and interrupted course of study, a new four-year consecutive curriculum was developed. A new uniform was designed, a ship was assigned for summer drills at sea leaving the academic year intact, and a new superintendant was installed. New classes were added to the courses available and a foreign navy gave a nod to the school by sending a frigate to visit the site. Finally, after successfully completing the coursework, 6 graduates received their honors in the new chapel on this date.

Today, the federal military academy has 4,400 undergraduates enrolled. The campus consists of a 338 acre naval base. They train US Navy and US Marine Corps officers. They are called by a variety of names: The Academy, The Boat School, Canoe U, and for sports fans – Navy. Getting admitted to the Academy is a rigorous process with many vying for the chance to attend. The faculty is about half civilian and half military personnel. There are 21 majors available for study. Women have been part of the program since 1976, accounting for about 22% of admissions.

“To develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to provide graduates who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.” – Mission Statement of the United States Naval Academy

“The Navy has both a tradition and a future – and we look with pride and confidence in both directions.” – Admiral George Anderson

“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.'” – John F. Kennedy

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.” – Theodore Roosevelt

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The United States Naval Academy was ranked as the number one Liberal Art College in the nation in 2012 by the US News and World Report. In that same year, it was tied for first place with the US Military Academy (West Point) and the US Air Force Academy by the High School counselor Rankings of National Liberal Arts Colleges. Annapolis is tied for fifth place with the US Air Force Academy for the Best Undergraduate Engineering programs. Forbes ranked the US Naval Academy as number 17 overall in the nation in their report called “America’s Top Colleges of 2011”.

Also on this day: Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is formed.
Oxford v. Cambridge – In 1829, the first Boat Race between the two schools took place.
Teenager Sees Reds – In 1944, Joe Nuxhall went pro.

Teenager Sees Reds

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2012

Joe Nuxhall in 1944

June 10, 1944: Fifteen year old Joe Nuxhall steps up to the mound. World War II was in full swing and there was a shortage of baseball players back in the US. The year before, scouts for the Reds had visited Hamilton, Ohio to try to sign up Orville Nuxhall, Joe’s father. Orville refused to sign a baseball contract, citing his duty to his five children. Joe was the biggest kid in his ninth grade class at 6′ 2″ and weighed 190 pounds. The left-hander played baseball and basketball. After his high school basketball season, Warren Giles, general manager for the Reds, signed the teen to the team on February 18, 1944. He intended to wait until school was over, but even more players were drafted into the service.

The Cincinnati Reds needed a pitcher for the ninth inning of a game against first place St. Louis Cardinals. Joe was called to the mound and retired his first batter on a groundout. He was then faced with a series of batters who intimidated the teen. He gave up five walks, two hits, and five runs and also hit a batter before he was relieved. After the game, he was sent down to the minors where he continued to play. He was just 15 years and 316 days old during his first run with the majors.

After his big debut, he regained his amateur status and played football, basketball, and baseball for his high school teams. After graduating, Joe played in the minor leagues with several different teams. Finally, in 1952, he was once again called up to the majors and once again played for the Reds. He played 16 years in the big leagues with 15 of them for the Cincinnati team. He pitched 484 games, a record which stood until Clay Carroll passed it in 1975. After retiring from playing ball, he moved on to announcing the game, again for the Reds.

During his career, he had 1,372 strikeouts and had a 135-117 win-loss record. He played with the Reds from 1952-60, then played with the Kansas City Athletics and Los Angeles Angels before returning to Cincinnati in 1962 where he played until he retired in 1966. He had an earned run average (ERA) of 3.90. An earned run in this sense, is any in which the pitcher is held accountable (not an error by the fielding players). The number of runs are based on pitching nine innings. The lowest ERA record is held by Chicago White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh with a 1.82. Anything less than two is considered exceptional with 2-3 being excellent and 3-4 being better than average.

I was pitching against seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, kids 13 and 14 years old… All of a sudden, I look up and there’s Stan Musial and the likes. It was a very scary situation. – Joe Nuxhall

From the first day I walked on the field at spring training in Tampa, Joe was always there to help with whatever. He just oozed Reds baseball. He’s a lovable guy. – Johnny Bench

Joe was one of the most competitive guys I played with. You think you are going to beat him? The hell you are! And he was like that until the very day he took off the uniform. – Pete Rose

I played behind Joe for many years here in Cincinnati. He was always one of the best, both on and off the field, and that hasn’t changed. – Leo Cardenas

Also on this day:

Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is formed.
US Naval Academy – In 1854, the first class graduated from USNA.
Oxford v. Cambridge –  In 1829, the first Boat Race between the two schools took place.

Oxford v. Cambridge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2011

Boat race map

June 10, 1829: The first Boat Race between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge is held. The official name for the race is Xchanging Boat Race, but it also called the University Boat Race or the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. The two teams meet on the Thames River using specially designed boats meant for racing. The boats hold eight rowers, each with a single oar. Four of the rowers are on the stroke side, four on the bow side, and the cox steers the boat using a rudder, usually at the stern.

The tradition began in 1829 when friends from opposing schools set up a race. Cambridge’s Charles Merivale challenged Oxford’s Charles Wordsworth to a race held at Henley-on-Thames. Oxford took the win, covering the assigned distance in 14:03. The next race wasn’t held until 1836 when Cambridge tied up the score, winning in 36:00. Again there were missed years but in 1839, Cambridge won again. Races are held almost yearly, with some years missing, the last during World War II.

The course is curving and runs for 4 miles and 374 yards. The S shaped route is sometimes called the Championship Course. It runs from east to west, beginning at Putney Bridge and ending at Chiswick Bridge. Before the race begins, the President of each club meet to call a coin toss, vying for first choice of “station” or which side of the river they will row on. This decision is based on the way the wind is blowing.

The coxes try to each position into the best part of the river, where the current is fastest. This often leads to blades clashing and warning from the umpires. The race is run upstream, against the current, but it is run as the tide comes in. It isn’t all fun and games and some of the boats have actually sunk during the race. The last race was held on March 26, 2011 with Oxford winning by more than four lengths. Over the years, Oxford has won 76 official races, Cambridge 80 with each team taking two of the unofficial races held during World War II.

“Muttlebury had a natural aptitude which amounted to a genius for rowing, and, as he was not only massively large and full of courage but herculean in muscular strength, it was inevitable that he should be an outstanding exponent of oarsmanship.” – The Times obituary for Stanley Muttlebury, “the finest oarsman to have ever sat in a boat” and Cambridge alumnus

“Real athletes row. Everyone else just plays games.” – rowing shirt logo

“Glory is in the team not the individual.” – Sean Sullivan

“It’s not the chariot – it’s the horses.” – Will Perkins

Also on this day:
Friends of Bill – In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is formed.
US Naval Academy – In 1854, the first class graduated from USNA.

Friends of Bill

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 10, 2010

Bill W. and Dr. Bob

June 10, 1935: William Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith form the first Alcoholics Anonymous [AA] in Akron, Ohio. The goal of AA is for people to get and remain sober with the help of a 12-step program while sponsors or friends offer support within the group. Dr. Bob and Bill developed the 12-step program based on teachings from the Oxford Group. The premise of the 12 steps are that you admit to needing help, and help others through a spiritual commitment to God or a Supreme Being.

Bill was a successful stockbroker until the crash of 1929 despite being an alcoholic since the age of 22. He was born in 1895 in Vermont. When Bill was ten, his father left on a business trip and simply never came back. His mother opted to leave the family in order to study osteopathic medicine. So Bill and his sister were left in the care of their grandparents. Bill met his future wife in 1913 when he was 17 and she was 21. He tried college but dropped out after panic attacks made his life miserable. Bill was drafted in 1917 and had his first beer at an officer’s party. He went on to stronger drink and noticed a calming effect. He began drinking frequently. Bill was first committed to a hospital for drug and alcohol addictions in 1933. He was eventually told he needed to quit drinking entirely or the disease (not moral failing, but physical disease) would kill him.

When a drinking buddy came to his house, instead of drinking all day, he was invited to the Oxford Group. Bill declined, was later hospitalized due to a drinking binge, and had a religious conversion. He quit drinking. He wanted to help others do the same, but was not very successful. He traveled to Akron, Ohio for a business deal that fell through. He wanted a drink, but instead looked for someone, another drinker, to help him get past the craving. He found Dr. Bob.

After success in Akron and New York City, Bill W. decided to write a book in 1939 that described the process where he outlined his 12 steps. Two years later, the Saturday Evening Post talked with Bill and the resulting article sparked interest in the group. In fact, there are AA groups from Antigua to Zimbabwe. With over 2,000,000 members helping each other, the world is definitely a more sober place, but not necessarily glum.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

“When you stop drinking, you have to deal with the marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place.” – Jimmy Breslin

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“We drink one another’s health and spoil our own.” – Jerome K. Jerome

Also on this day:
In 1854, the
US Naval Academy graduated its first class.
In 1829,
The Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford is first held.

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