Little Bits of History

The Beatles

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2015
The Beatles

The Beatles

November 22, 1968: The Beatles release The Beatles. The double album was released in a sleeve which was white and contained only the name of the band/title embossed on the front cover. They were also numbered. Because of the appearance of the album, it is also called the White Album. Their prior album cover had been vividly (possibly garishly) colored in 1967 when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band debuted. Most of the songs on The Beatles were written in March and April of 1968 and it was recorded between May 30 and October 14 of that year. No singles were released from the double album set but it reached the number one slot in both their homeland and in the US. At the time of its release, it was met with mixed reviews and cited as being non-responsive to the turbulent issues of the late 1960s.

Most of the songs included were written during the men’s stay in India. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh had hosted The Beatles for a Transcendental Meditation course which included long periods of meditation and self-reflection. While the trip was conceived as an escape from the troubles of the world, instead John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both revitalized and resumed their songwriting, often in met in secret to share what they had accomplished separately. While Sgt. Pepper was written in an LSD fog, the men took no hard drugs with them to India. All they had at their disposal was some marijuana. Their cleared minds have been said to allow them to reconnect with their music and Lennon stated he thought he wrote some of his best songs while on retreat.

The album included work from four increasingly independent artists rather from a group effort. The men were becoming more differentiated and more at odds with each other. Some of the recordings do not even include all four members of the band working together. They sometimes worked in different studios using different engineers and then combining sounds. The animosity between the band and managers, editors, engineers, and others became intense and caused disruptions during much of the recording. Things got so intense, Ringo Starr left and had to be begged to return. Of the 30 tracks included, only 16 have all four band members included.

The Beatles was released on this date in Britain and three days later in the US. It was originally to be called A Doll’s House, but the title was scrapped after another British band released Music in a Doll’s House earlier in the year. It was the first album by the band to be released by Apple Records and the only original double album. There was much contention around the double album itself with many, including the producer, feeling it should have been a single album. The cover design was by Richard Hamilton with input from McCartney. In 2008, an original pressing of the album cover with serial number 0000005 sold for £19,201 on eBay.

When you think about rock at its origin, and you think of the Beatles and millions of kids screaming as loud as they can and running as fast as they can towards the Beatles, there’s no one who is that kind of lightning rod, who commands that kind of power and has that kind of creative magma. – Jack Black

My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. – Steve Jobs

The Beatles’ story is all of our stories. It is about how the youth culture emerged, the drug culture emerged, how politics rose to the fore as a universal debate. It’s about rebellion, it’s about the growth of the British entertainment system, the growth of the rock n’ roll entertainment system. – Bob Spitz

You’re not a baby boomer if you don’t have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles breakup, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate. – P. J. O’Rourke

Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.
Humane – In 1954, the Humane Society was founded.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2014
Humane Society logo

Humane Society logo

November 22, 1954: The Humane Society is founded. Originally known as the National Humane Society, it is today called The Humane Society of the United States or HSUS. Fred Myers, Larry Andrews, Marcia Glaser, and Helen Jones moved to address issues of animal welfare. They saw that local organizations were not equipped to handle the far-reaching problems. The HSUS formed after a schism with the American Humane Association due to disagreements over pound seizures, rodeos, and other policies. Their guiding principle, as issued in 1954 was “the Humane Society of the United States opposes and seeks to prevent all use or exploitation of animals that causes pain, suffering, or fear.”

The humane movement began in the 1860s with the idea of kindness to animals making great strides during the Civil War. The most influential source in 1954 was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In his 1952 Nobel Peace Prize speech, he advocated for compassion as the root of ethics and including not just all men, but every living thing. Joseph Wood Krutch was also influential and his writings indicated a deep level of appreciation for wilderness and nonhuman life. With these inspiring forces, the founders of HSUS devised a society to be founded in Washington, D.C. to help confront and combat cruelties nationwide.

The Humane Slaughter Act was passed in 1958, just four years after their founding. This law covered the entire nation rather than all the local laws passed in prior times. An early issue for the HSUS was animals used in research, testing, and education. Biomedical research was becoming more widespread and it was hoped that animals could not be obtained from pounds or shelters. While local humane societies tried to protect animals from pound seizure, the clout brought by a national entity helped to curb this operation. By the 1970s the issue was gathering far more attention and animal rights were moving forward.

In 2004, Wayne Pacelle was appointed CEO and president. Since then, the HSUS has been working on a number of initiatives including greyhound racing, puppy mill cruelty, and animal trapping. They have worked for Animal Protection Litigation and have partnered with other humane organizations. They helped during Hurricane Katrina with animal rescue and saved about 10,000 animals (along with the help of other organizations). They advocate for the rights of all animals, not only for those forced to fight, but also for abused animals used for display such as in circuses and zoos or aquariums. They have questioned the pet industry and have a program, Pets for Life, to ensure proper treatment of companion animals. Their efforts are ongoing and extensive, reaching out for a human treatment for all nonhuman life.

God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages. – Jacques Deval

The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?” – Jeremy Bentham

Personally, I would not give a fig for any man’s religion whose horse, cat and dog do not feel its benefits. Life in any form is our perpetual responsibility. – S. Parkes Cadman

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight. – Albert Schweitzer

Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2013
Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel

November 22, 1928: Boléro by Maurice Ravel is first performed. Dancer Ida Rubinstein asked Ravel to orchestrate some music for her using Iberia by Isaac Albéniz. There were some copyright issues so Ravel quit working on Iberia and began to rework one of his own pieces. He abandoned that and wrote an entirely new piece. The musical form was based on a Spanish dance – the bolero. The work was called Fandango, but the name soon changed to Boléro.

Boléro is a one-movement orchestral work with choreography for the premiere by Bronislava Nijinska. The Paris Opéra hosted the event with Walther Straram conducting. Ravel composed the piece with background percussion remaining unchanged while the top rhythm’s single theme played over it. The eighteen-bar sections were repeated twice as each different instrument in the large orchestra joined in. The key changed for some instruments half way through. Ravel said it took seventeen minutes to perform at the “correct” tempo.

Ravel was born in France in 1875. His mother was of Basque descent and his father was a Swiss inventor and industrialist. The family moved from Ciboure to Paris while Maurice was still an infant. He began piano lessons at age seven. His first piano recital was given in 1889 when he was fourteen. He was obviously an accomplished pianist but he preferred composing to playing. He was sent to the Conservatoire de Paris where he was awarded first prize in the piano competition in 1891. He was not so interested in the academic side of his schooling.

In the 1890s Ravel met Claude Debussy who was twelve years older. The older man both influenced and helped younger musicians. Ravel composed piano pieces which were often compared and contrasted to Debussy’s work. Ravel was a small, frail man and unable to enlist for World War I. He became a truck driver to help the war effort. He composed music as well. His most famous piece, Boléro, was written after an American tour showcasing his work. In 1932 he was involved in a taxi accident. He suffered a head injury and never fully recovered. He underwent experimental brain surgery in 1937. He survived the surgery, woke briefly, then lapsed into a coma and died. He was 62.

“As a child, I was sensitive to music – to every kind of music.” – Maurice Ravel

“Don’t you think this theme has an insistent quality? I’m going to try and repeat it a number of times without any development, gradually increasing the orchestra as best I can.” – Maurice Ravel

“We are not made for marriage, we artists. We are seldom normal, and our life still less so.” – Maurice Ravel

“Inside a tavern in Spain, people dance beneath the brass lamp hung from the ceiling. [In response] to the cheers to join in, the female dancer has leapt onto the long table and her steps become more and more animated.” – The Scenario, as listed in the premiere program

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Ida Rubenstein was a Russian ballerina, actress, patron, and Belle Époque figure. The last item means Beautiful Era and was part of French and Belgian history dating from 1871 until the beginning of World War I. It was characterized by a feeling of optimism and goodwill both in France and abroad. Rubenstein was born to a wealthy Jewish family in the Ukraine in 1885 and orphaned at an early age. She made her ballet debut in 1908 when she danced as Salomé in Oscar Wilde’s work of the same name and stripped nude while performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. She was not considered a top tier ballerina as her training began too late. However, she was noted for her stage presence and work outside of dance. She was a beloved model for many of the era’s distinguished painters. She continued to dance until the beginning of World War II, often giving free concerts. She died in 1960 shortly before her 75th birthday.

Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.

The Ship

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2012

The clipper, Cutty Sark

November 22, 1869: A Scottish clipper is launched. These ships of the 19th century were quite fast, probably how they got their name. At the time, the word “clip” meant to run or fly swiftly and the ships, with at least three masts and a square rigging, were able to fly across the water. These ships were made mostly in American and British shipyards although some European countries, notably France and the Netherlands, also produced clippers. They traveled all over the world but were used mostly for trade between America and the United Kingdom and her colonies. They were also used for the New York to San Francisco run around Cape Horn, especially during the California gold rush. The Dutch used them in their tea trade.

The Jock Willis shipping line ordered the building of the ship with John Willis owning 40 of the 64 shares of interest and Robert Dunbar Willis owning the other 24. Scott & Linden built the ship at a cost of £16,500 (about £1,160,000 today). She was one of the last tea clippers built and one of the fastest – having benefitted from  years of perfecting the design. Her name: Cutty Sark. The same year as her launch, the Suez Canal also opened and with the shorter distance now available, trade turned to steam ships to bring cargo from the East to the West. Cutty Sark therefore spent only a few years plying the tea trade before turning to wool from Australia. The fast ship held the record time for ten years, as the shortest travel time from the Land of Oz to Britain.

Even as clipper ships had evolved, so did steam and eventually steam ships took over the trade even for wool. In 1895, Cutty Sark was sold to the Portuguese and renamed Ferreira. She continued to work as a trade vessel until 1922 when she was sold to a retired sea captain, Wilfred Dowman. He used her as a training ship and operated out of Falmouth, Cornwall. He died in 1938 and the ship was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College, Greenhithe. There, she became an training ship for cadets and worked alongside HMS Worcester. The venerable old lady of the sea became too outdated even for training purposes in 1954 and was moved to permanent dry dock at that time.

Today, Cutty Sark is a museum ship and is one of three ships in London on the core Collection of the National Historic Ships Register (which is like a Grade 1 Listed Building), the other two being HMS Belfast and SS Robin. There are two other ships also made with a composite construction which means they have a wooden hull built over an iron frame. Only one other 19th century clipper ship remains, the City of Adelaide. Cutty Sark was undergoing conservation and was badly damaged in a fire on May 21, 2007. She was restored and the ship reopened to the public on April 25, 2012.

A sailing ship is no democracy; you don’t caucus a crew as to where you’ll go anymore than you inquire when they’d like to shorten sail. – Sterling Hayden

Admire a small ship, but put your freight in a large one; for the larger the load, the greater will be the profit upon profit. – Hesiod

No one would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in the storm. – Charles Kettering

One ship drives east and other drives west by the same winds that blow. It’s the set of the sails and not the gales that determines the way they go. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Also on this day:

Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.

China Clipper

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2011

China Clipper

November 22, 1935: The China Clipper takes off for its first commercial flight. Also designated by NC14716, the Martin M-130 four engine flying boat was built for Pan American Airways to be used for transpacific air service. There were three built at a cost of $417,000 each. They were meant to fly between San Francisco and Manila, delivering air mail.

On this date, the plane left from Alameda, California. This was the first attempt to deliver air mail across the Pacific Ocean. The flight started out dangerously when a flyby over the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (still under construction) had to be aborted. The pilot realized he did not have the altitude to clear the bridge and had to fly under it instead. Even with this ignominious beginning, the plane finally made it to the destination. It landed in Manila on November 29 and delivered over 110,000 pieces of mail.

For this initial flight, the pilot was Edwin C. Musick and the navigator was Fred Noonan. The departure point in Alameda is California Historical Landmark #968. Today it is located in the Naval Air Station Alameda. This event was a first and was important to both California, the jumping off point, and the world at large. The dissemination of information was quickened by this method of delivery.

Pan Am service kept China Clipper in service until January 8, 1945. On that date, it was destroyed in a crash in Port of Spain. Port of Spain is the capital of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. While flying in the Caribbean, it was reported the ship hit a boat under blackout conditions (this was during World War II). There were 16 passengers and 9 crew aboard who were killed in the crash. On a second approach to land, it came in too low. It is also reported that it merely hit the water rather than a dark ship. Either way, it sank quickly. Seven of those on board were able to survive the crash. The flight had left from Miami, Florida and was headed to the Belgian Congo. The plane had stopped in Puerto Rico and flew on to Port of Spain.

“When [pilot Edwin Musick] finally got airborne he was right on the [Bay] bridge and there was no way he’d be able to get over it. So, to everyone’s amazement, he just coolly flew under it, dodging some hanging construction materials in the process.” – Kin Robles

“Discourse is fleeting, but junk mail is forever.” – Joe Bob Briggs

“Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.” – Henry L. Stimson

“I am not overlooking any mail. I’m looking at all of it. I even wrote back to the Viagra people.” – Randy Newman

Also on this day:
Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2010

Engraving of Blackbeard the Pirate by Thomas Nicholls

November 22, 1718: Lt. Robert Maynard chases down and kills the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Edward Teach was born around 1680 in England, probably Bristol. He began his seafaring life during the War of Spanish Succession in Jamaica. He joined forces with another pirate, Benjamin Hornigold in 1716.

Teach was a large man with a bushy black beard. He wove hemp into his beard and lit it on fire while approaching ships. The terrifying specter was often enough to forestall any form of resistance. He was a scary person with legends that were bandied about even in his own time. He is said to have shot and killed one of his own crew just to remind the rest of the crew who was boss.

Teach made captain in the pirate fleet when he overtook a French slave ship, Le Concorde. She was a two-ton frigate with 20 cannons. Teach refitted her with another 20 cannons and rechristened her the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He eventually commanded four ships with over 300 pirates under his control.

He stayed along the coastlines and in the estuaries because the shallow waters made it harder to defend against his superior strength. In May 1718, the Queen Anne foundered and was lost. Blackbeard had homes in Nassau and in North Carolina where payoffs to the governor, Charles Eden, kept him safer. However, the British were not amused with the piracy and eventually Lt. Maynard led the attack, bringing Blackbeard down with five gunshots and over 20 cuts from swords. Blackbeard was beheaded as proof of his demise in order to collect the £100 reward. His head was hung from the bowsprit for bravado and place on a pike in Bath, England as a warning.

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?” – Steve Jobs

“If you can’t find something here, you can’t find it anywhere, … There’s a pirate in everyone!” – Michael Egan

“May we all co-operate and join this war on pirates.” – Jackie Chan

“Suddenly you’re like a pirate, you’re 65 years old and you’ve got an earring.” – Fred Willard

Also on this day, in 1928 Bolero by Maurice Ravel was first performed.