Little Bits of History

June 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2017

1966: The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded. NOW was founded at the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women by 28 women. These included Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan. In October an additional 21 men and women also joined and were credited with founder status. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained eleven sections or Titles. Title VII of the Act (Subchapter VI of Chapter 21) prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This applied to any employer who has 15 or more employees for each working day. There are some exceptions, but they are very well defined and must be met in all criteria.

The law was not being enforced and women were still being flagrantly discriminated against in the workplace. The Third National Conference was unable to issue a resolution to recommend the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) address the situation vis a vis women’s employment. The women gathered in Betty Friedan’s hotel room to form a new and hopefully more active organization. It was felt the women’s movement needed a pressure group akin to the NAACP’s efforts on behalf of Americans of color. The focus of NOW was to mobilize women to combat discrimination and promote full equality for both sexes. There was a hope that women’s college enrollments would increase in both undergrad and graduate level disciplines.

NOW hoped to have fewer women employed in “pink collar” jobs and get them into a more skilled work environment, commensurate with their skill levels. Equal pay for equal work was also an issue. Springing from the Civil Rights movement, NOW was also one of the first women’s movements to include the issues of black women in their efforts. Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray authored NOW’s Statement of Purpose in 1966. Friedan had scribbled some notes on a napkin and the two women fleshed out their concerns and goals for the group. The overall purpose was to ensure women were treated as a full human beings with all the rights and responsibilities accorded to any adult male, supported by the law’s ability to enact redress for infringements.

In 1968, NOW created their own Bill of Rights with eight rights they wanted for all Americans, regardless of gender. One of their goals was to pass and Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the US Constitution. First brought forth as an idea in 1923, nearly a hundred years later, this Amendment has not passed and women’s rights are less secure than other classes of US citizens. The ERA was finally passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The deadline for the required number of states to ratify it passed without the requisite 38 states approval. The 35 states who ratified the ERA were not enough. Five states had ratified it and then rescinded their vote. Nine states passed it in one chamber of the state legislature, but not both. Six states simply defeated the amendment.

Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.

A woman is handicapped by her sex, and handicaps society, either by slavishly copying the pattern of man’s advance in the professions, or by refusing to compete with man at all.

We need to see men and women as equal partners, but it’s hard to think of movies that do that. When I talk to people, they think of movies of forty-five years ago! Hepburn and Tracy!

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. – all from Betty Friedan

Only in White

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2015
1953 Corvette

1953 Corvette

June 30, 1953: The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the production line. Also known as C1, it was the first generation of the sports car sold by Chevrolet, a division of General Motors. It is sometimes called the “solid axle” generation since the independent rear suspension was not included until the 1963 Sting Ray model. Harley Earl had been working for GM since 1927. As soldiers from World War II returned home with MGs, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, and similar cars, he proposed that GM should build a two-seat sports car. He was given permission to lead a team to design a new car which they called Project Opel. They hand built EX-122, a pre-production Corvette prototype which was shown for the first time at the 1953 General Motors Motorama held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.

The hope was to make the sports car affordable and to that end, GM executive Robert McLain demanded that off the shelf mechanical parts be used along with the chassis and suspension from the 1949-1954 Chevrolet passenger cars. There were modifications as the drivetrain and passenger compartment were shifted farther back to create a 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution. The wheelbase was 102 inches and the engine was basically the same 235 CID six cylinder that powered all other Chevrolet models – it did have a higher compression ratio along with other boosters for higher performance. Output was 150 horsepower and since Chevrolet did not have a manual transmission able to handle that horsepower, a two-speed Powerglide automatic was used. Zero to 60 mph took 11.5 seconds.

During the last half of the year, 300 Corvettes rolled off the line. They were largely hand built on a makeshift assembly line from an old truck plant in Flint, Michigan. Another factory was being prepared for full-scale 1954 production. The outer body was made of then revolutionary glass fiber reinforced plastic. The speculation that it was because of steel shortages is not supported. In 1952 and 1953, Chevrolet made almost 2 million steel bodied cars and a few hundred more wouldn’t have mattered, nor would the next year’s plan to build 10,000 Corvettes. The price of the new 1953 Corvette was $3,498 or $30,763 today.

By 1956, there was a new body, a much improved convertible top (with a power assist option), and real glass windows (also with a power assist option). There was an optional hardtop model. By this time, a 3-speed manual transmission was standard and the Powerglide automatic was option. The six-cylinder engine was abandoned and a new V8 was brought online. It remained at 265 cubic inches but put out between 210 and 240 horsepower. Beginning in 2014, Corvette was in its seventh incarnation. Today’s car has the old 6-speed automatic replaced with an 8-speed one. They now come with a 6.2L Small Block V8 engine which produces 455 horsepower. Zero to sixty now takes only 3.8 seconds. The base price is $78,995.

Happiness is not around the corner, it is the corner.

They say money can’t buy happiness……But I’d rather cry in a Corvette than in a Kia.

A corvette is an automobile, the rest are just cars!

Wrap your ass in fiberglass . . .drive a Vette! – Corvette sayings

Also on this day: What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurred.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.
Monkeying Around – In 1860, an Oxford debate on evolution was held.
John Quelch – In 1704, the pirate died.

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John Quelch

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2014
Pirate flag?

Pirate flag?

June 30, 1704: John Quelch dies. He was born in London in 1666 and little is known about his early life. What causes him to be of interest is his death. John became a pirate in 1703 and was quite successful in his endeavors. His worth when captured was £10,000 or about £1.4 million or about $2.36 million today. It is assumed that piracy on the open seas is as old as trade crossing the open seas. The term comes from the Latin term pirata and the Greek word peirates or brigand. The word is related to peril. It is typically used as an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The word has been hijacked to mean the stealing of music or other intellectual property.

In July of 1703, Captain Daniel Plowman was given a license to privateer against the French and Spanish ships off the coast of Newfoundland and Arcadia by Joseph Dudley of Boston. John Quelch was Plowman’s lieutenant aboard the Charles. Before leaving Marblehead, Massachusetts the crew mutinied and locked the Captain in his cabin. They elected Quelch as captain and the ship headed south rather than north. Plowman was thrown overboard, but it is unclear whether or not he was dead before being evicted. The crew attacked Portuguese ships off the coast of Brazil even though England and Portugal were not at war. There is a legend stating the crew buried some of the haul on Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire.

When the ship returned to Marblehead ten months later, the crewman scattered after dividing the loot. Within a week, Quelch was in jail for his attack against Portuguese ships. This nation was not in his letter for privateering (legal piracy) and more importantly, Queen Anne and the King of Portugal had just become allies. Quelch and crew were taken to Boston to be tried. This was the first admiralty trial outside England and what one historian has called “the first case of judicial murder in America.” Trial under Admiralty Law is without a jury and was instituted after civil and criminal courts proved unable to stem the tide of increasing piracy.

There were 45 men who were known to be on the ship. There was nothing mentioned about the disposal, either dead or alive of the original Captain, Plowman. The men were tried for piracy and not murder. Five others beside Quelch were hanged on this day. Three men had turned Queen’s evidence and escaped persecution by that means. John Templeton was not even 14 years old yet and found to be a servant and not charged. There is some rumor that Quelch flew a pirate flag referred to as Old Roger by his crew and this is where we get the term Jolly Roger for a pirate flag. However, Quelch flew nothing more than the a privateer’s flag of St. George.

They should take care how they brought Money into New England to be Hanged for it. – John Quelch – last words

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island. – Walt Disney

I don’t really know much about pirates, or pirate culture. I’d be a contrarian pirate. – Todd Barry

There’s very little admirable about being a pirate. There’s very little functional about a pirate. There’s very little real about a pirate. – Will Oldham

Also on this day: What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.
Monkeying Around – In 1860, an Oxford debate on evolution is held.

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Tight Rope

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2013
Charles Blondin

Charles Blondin

June 30, 1859: Charles Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Blondin was born in St. Omer, France in 1824. At the age of five, he was sent to École de Gymnase in Lyon by his gymnast father. After only six months of training, he made his first public appearance with the name “The Little Wonder.” His naturally graceful moves along with learned skills made him a favorite attraction. He also was said to have a charismatic personality, did everything in a grand way, and was a true showman.

Blondin’s showmanship abilities along with fearless daring led him to increasingly dangerous undertakings. By the age of 35, playing to international audiences, he crossed the Falls on a tightrope 3 inches thick, 1,100 feet long and 160 feet above the water. Once he had crossed the Falls, he needed to keep the audiences wowed and devised ever more bizarre crossings. He crossed blindfolded, in a sack, with a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying his manager – Harry Colcord – on his back, and stopping midway and sitting down to cook and eat an omelet.

Niagara Falls had already been used in a spectacular feat of daring or stupidity, depending on your viewpoint. Sam Patch in October 1829 jumped from a high tower into the gorge below the falls and survived. Captain Matthew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, drowned in 1883 along with two others as a group of men attempted to swim across the whirlpools and eddies downstream from the Falls. Seven others in the fateful group gave up before being killed by the swirling waters.

Going over the falls in a barrel is now illegal from both the US and Canadian side and heavily fined. However, in 1901, 63-year-old Annie Taylor was the first to survive going over the falls in a barrel which she did as a publicity stunt. Since then, 14 others have gone over the falls with or without a device and with or without surviving. On July 9, 1960, 7-year-old Roger Woodward was swept over the falls and was plucked from the waters at the bottom by the crew from the Maid of the Mist, a tour boat cruising under the falls. Roger’s 17-year-old sister had been pulled from the water just a few feet before she, too, would have been swept over the falls.

“No one should ever try that again.” – Annie Taylor, after going over Niagara Falls in a barrel

“In the beginning you must subject yourself to the influence of nature. You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking of a tightrope.” – Henri Matisse

“If you had a friend who was a tightrope walker, and you were walking down a sidewalk, and he fell, that would be completely unacceptable…” – Mitch Hedberg

“Actors say they do their own stunts for the integrity of the film but I did them because they looked like a lot of fun.” – Steve Coogan

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Niagara Falls is actually three different waterfalls straddling the border between Canada and the US. Ontario is on the Canadian side while New York is on the US side. The Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the three falls and are on the Canadian side. The American Falls are, appropriately, on the American side. The Bridal Veil Falls are also on the American side and separated from the larger falls by Luna Island. The Niagara River drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The combined falls have the highest flow rate of any water fall in the world but there are other measurements to create a variety of biggest and best waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America measure by both height (165 feet) and flow rate. The average flow rate shows more almost four million cubic feet of water going over the falls each minute with that reaching over six million cubic feet when the water is high.

Also on this day: What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.
Monkeying Around – In 1860, an Oxford debate on evolution is held.

Monkeying Around

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2012

Thomas Huxley

June 30, 1860: Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and biologist Thomas Huxley debate at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, was published on November 24, 1859. Charles Darwin was aboard HMS Beagle captained by Robert FitzRoy as the ship sailed the world’s seas. Between 1831 and 1835, the ship was used for scientific study around the world. Darwin kept detailed notes throughout the journey. He did not publish his findings immediately upon return, but waited over twenty years and published only when it looked like his theory would be put forth by another scientist.

The idea of evolution, also called common descent and the transmutation of species, had been around since at least the sixth century BC. The first record of the idea was found in the writings of Greek philosopher, Anaximander. It was also touted by other Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Afro-Arabs. Charles Darwin contributed the idea of natural selection as a way for species to advance. Based on the idea of good mutations surviving and passing on the new genetic information, while poor mutations died out, the theory of evolution was gaining popularity.

But the idea was not accepted as credible by a variety of people. Several prominent men of the era met at Oxford to discuss the highly controversial ideas Darwin presented. Bishop Wilberforce was one of the premiere speakers of his time. He was also an Anglican Bishop and completely opposed the ideas set out in Darwin’s book. There is no verbatim account of the debate as carried out on this day. There were speakers, some quite boring, and then there was an exchange of opinions. The reports following the debate are our only records. Huxley was a noted scientist and a supporter of Darwin. Darwin himself was too ill to attend the debate.

During the exchange, in a fit of pique, the Bishop was said to have asked the scientist if it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey. Huxley is said to have whispered to a friend, “The Lord hath delivered him into mine hands.” He then replied to the Bishop that he was not ashamed to have a monkey for an ancestor, but would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his gifts to obscure the truth. While this was supposed to have silenced the Bishop, others mention a speech by Joseph Dalton Hooker, a friend and mentor to Darwin, whose presentation left Wilberforce silent.

Sam was shut up – had not one word to say in reply, and the meeting was dissolved forthwith. – Joseph Hooker, after his speech

Oh no, I would swear he has never read a word of it. – Henry Fawcett, when asked if he believed Wilberforce had read On the Origin of Species

He (Huxley) then got hold of the BP’s assertions and showed how contrary they were to facts, and how he knew nothing about what he had been discoursing on. – Alfred Newton in a letter to his brother concerning the debate

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness. – Charles Darwin

Also on this day:

What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2011

Albert Einstein

June 30, 1905: “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” is put forth by Albert Einstein. The paper would be published on September 26. This was his third paper published in 1905 and reconciled Maxwell’s equations for electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics. It introduced major changes to mechanics close to the speed of light and became known as the special theory of relativity. His next paper, received on September 27 and published on November 21, was the paper where E=mc2 was first written. This is probably the most recognized formula in physics.

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. At the time of his birth, Ulm was in the Kingdom of Württemberg, part of the German Empire. The family moved to Munich where Einstein senior opened a company manufacturing electronic equipment. Although Jewish, Albert started his schooling at a Catholic elementary school where he excelled. His education continued through a variety of schools. He was ever curious and although the family moved around frequently, he continued to seek out learning opportunities.

Einstein hoped to teach after graduation and spent years seeking out a position. He worked in the Bern, Switzerland patent office where he was passed over for promotion until he “fully mastered machine technology.” On April 30, 1905 he completed his thesis dissertation entitle “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions” and was granted a PhD by the University of Zurich. In that same year, he published four groundbreaking papers as listed above. He was on his way.

He traveled abroad, lecturing around the globe. In 1921 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. He was visiting in the US when Hitler came to power and opted to stay in the States. He became a citizen in 1940 and began his teaching career at Princeton. He was a pacifist who became involved in the Manhattan Project. He was also a civil rights proponent. He pursued many topics from zero-point energy to wormholes; from unified field theory to wave-particle duality. He went to the hospital on April 17, 1955 with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. The defect had been repaired once seven years earlier. Einstein refused further surgery and died the next day. He was 76 years old.

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”

“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”

“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be. Information is not knowledge.”

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – all from Albert Einstein

Also on this day:
What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

What Was That?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2010

Fallen trees after the Tunguska event

June 30, 1908: At 7:15 AM, a concussion over Siberia equivalent to a 10 – 15 megaton TNT blast, levels 60 million trees over 830 square miles or 2,150 square kilometers – an area slightly smaller that Jacksonville, Florida, or about the size of Greater London, England. The area affected was near the Tunguska River in what is today Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia.

People in Tungus noted a column of blue tinged light that was almost as bright as the sun, moving across the sky. Ten minutes later, there were short bursts of sound that were reminiscent of artillery fire, that came in pulses spaced farther and father apart. The were tremors associated with the sounds, shock waves, that broke windows hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

Trees at the epicenter were destroyed. The next ring out showed trees scorched on the side facing the blast. Sheltered trees in valleys still stood. The outer limits of tree damage was 32 miles from the site of the blast. The pattern of destruction was shaped like a butterfly. Seismic stations across Eurasia noted the explosion, atmospheric pressure changes were strong enough to be measured in Britain. Even as far away as the US, night skies glowed. The glow is thought to have been caused by ice crystals trapped in the upper atmosphere. As light passed through the ice, it caused a glow similar to when the Space Shuttle re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere. All of this excitement failed to stir in depth study at the time.

If there were any early studies of the area, the results have been lost due to the upheaval of World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917 and followed by the Russian Civil War. Studies of the area from the 1950s and 1960s found silicate and magnetite in the soil. Chemical analysis showed other metals found in meteorites. Today, the hypothesis is that a meteoroid exploded in mid air, which accounts for no crater at the site and still explains the extensive damage from the shock waves.

“A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective.” – Edward Teller

“Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.” – Henri Poincaré

“We need not destroy the past. It is gone.” – John Cage

“A history in which every particular incident may be true may on the whole be false.” – Thomas Babington Macaulay

“There is no idea, no fact, which can not be vulgarized and presented in a ludicrous light.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Also on this day, in 1859 Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

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