Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2015
Protest for the Hollywood Ten

Protest for the Hollywood Ten

November 25, 1947: The Hollywood Ten are systematically blacklisted. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood saw a number of disturbing trends exacerbated by the Great Depression and World War II. A number of strikes brought the producers and unions into greater conflict. The American Communist Party lost a great deal of their membership after political intrigue in Europe escalated. The Russian agreements with Germany led to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to proclaim a widespread sympathy between Hollywood and Communism. Martin Dies, Jr. was chairman of HUAC in 1940 he was given a list of 42 movie industry people who were Communists, according to John Leech, former Party member. Some big names were mentioned, but Dies would “clear” them if some terms were met.

On July 29, 1946, William Wilkerson, founder of The Hollywood Review, published a column entitled “A Vote for Joe Stalin” and named many Communist sympathizers. He followed with more lists in August and September. As a side note, his son admitted in 2012 on the 65th anniversary of the articles that his father was motivated by revenge against those who thwarted his ambition. In October 1947, the HUAC used the lists Wilkerson published and subpoenaed a number of those on the lists to testify at hearings. The goal was to find if Communist sympathizers had been placing propaganda in US films. The hearings opened with Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan who was at the time the president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Several big names in Hollywood formed a Committee for the First Amendment but the group soon came under attack. Many of those who were investigated had at one time been members of the American Communist Party. Of the 43 witnesses, 19 declared they would not give evidence. There were 11 “unfriendly witnesses” and one of them, foreign born Bertolt Brecht, finally agreed to testify. The other ten refused and cited the First Amendment. When they refused to testify, the HUAC put pressure on the film industry to demonstrate an “anti-subversive” ideology. On November 17, the Screen Actors Guild voted to make officers swear they were not Communists. On November 24, the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the Hollywood Ten for contempt.

On this day, a press release, called the Waldorf Statement, announced the ten would be fired or suspended without pay and not reemployed until they were cleared of the contempt charges. The list grew over the next few years and was finally unofficially ended in 1960 when Dalton Trumbo, one of the Ten, was finally credited once again as a screenwriter. A number of those who were blacklisted were still barred from working for years to come.

One of the most dangerous plots ever instigated for the overthrow of this Government has its headquarters in Hollywood … the greatest hotbed of subversive activities in the United States. We’re on the trail of the tarantula now. – John E. Rankin

You fuckers sold me out. – Humphrey Bogart to Danny Kaye at a Committee for the First Amendment meeting

Members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers deplore the action of the 10 Hollywood men who have been cited for contempt by the House of Representatives. We do not desire to prejudge their legal rights, but their actions have been a disservice to their employers and have impaired their usefulness to the industry. – from the Waldorf Statement

To this end we will invite the Hollywood talent guilds to work with us to eliminate any subversives: to protect the innocent; and to safeguard free speech and a free screen wherever threatened. – from the Waldorf Statement

Also on this day: Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, was first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.
Thankful – In 1926, this Thanksgiving Day spawned several tornadoes.
Plans Gone Awry – In 1120, the White Ship sunk.

Plans Gone Awry

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2014
Drawing of the White Ship sinking

Drawing of the White Ship sinking

November 25, 1120: The White Ship sinks. The ship was plying the English Channel and sank near the Normandy coast off Barfleur. It was a new ship and captained by Thomas FitzStephen whose father, Stephen FitzAirard, had captained the ship William the Conqueror used when he invaded England in 1066. The ship had been offered to Henry I of England to use for his return to England from Barfleur. The King had already made other arrangements but allowed the White Ship to take much of his retinue back to England. Aboard the ship was William Adelin, heir to the throne, and two of the kings’ illegitimate children (Richard of Lincoln and Matilda FitzRoy) as well as many other nobles.

William had been born in 1103 in Winchester, Hampshire in southern England. His mother was Matilda of Scotland. His name is sometimes written as William Ætheling, Adelinus, Adelingus, or Audelin. Henry I was the youngest son of William the Conqueror. When William was fatally injured, he divided his property amongst his sons since primogeniture had not taken full effect. Henry had two, possibly three, legitimate children. Matilda, his eldest, William followed, and Richard may have existed, but if so, he died young. Henry’s extracurricular activities were far more fruitful. He had up to nine sons and fifteen daughters by various mistresses. William was a pampered, spoiled child, set to inherit the throne of England. He was 17 years old when he died.

Prior to the journey from the mainland to England, William supplied wine to the travelers and crew. According to Orderic Vitalis, William supplied so much wine that some of the travelers were no longer well enough to travel. Still, there were about 300 on board when the ship set sail. The drunken passengers pressed Thomas FitzStephen to try to overtake the king’s ship which had set off earlier. The White Ship was fast and new, with the best technology of the time put into her construction. She sailed away in the dark and soon struck a submerged rock. Taking water from the huge gash in the port side, the ship capsized. William made his way to a small boat and would have survived except he turned back to rescue his half-sister Matilda. Other drowning passengers swamped the boat and all of the drowned.

With his only legitimate son dead, King Henry I was in a quandary. His only surviving legitimate child was Matilda (not the woman on the boat) and he pressed his barons to swear an oath of allegiance to her. No woman had ruled England independently and Matilda was not a popular person in her own right. Without a male heir, a period known as The Anarchy ensued. Two factions arose with one led by Stephen of Blois, the king’s nephew, and the other by Matilda and her husband Geoffrey of Anjou – founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. The two sides warred and The Anarchy lasted from 1135 to 1153 with devastating effects, especially in southern England.

Here also perished with William, Richard, another of the King’s sons, whom a woman without rank had borne him, before his accession, a brave youth, and dear to his father from his obedience; Richard d’Avranches, second Earl of Chester, and his brother Otheur; Geoffrey Ridel; Walter of Everci; Geoffrey, archdeacon of Hereford; the Countess of Chester; the king’s niece Lucia-Mahaut of Blois; and many others … No ship ever brought so much misery to England. – William of Malmesbury

To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor / Sail, not drift. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

When I’m all grown up, come what may, / I’ll build a boat to carry me away. – Guy Gavriel Kay

Now I remembered a captain’s honor and his only duty: to bring his crew back alive. – Carsten Jensen

Also on this day: Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, is first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.
Thankful – In 1926, this Thanksgiving Day spawned several tornadoes.

Striking Hunger

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2013
Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof

November 25, 1984: Do They Know It’s Christmas is recorded. There were 36 famous musicians who gathered together to form Band Aid. The mostly British and Irish superstars came together for Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s project – Famine Relief in Ethiopia. A BBC report by Michael Buerk in late 1984 highlighted an ongoing famine decimating the Ethiopians. Previous famines had already hampered agricultural production. Civil wars destroyed farmland and upset basic trade. Drought exacerbated diminished crop returns. While the serious crop failures occurred in the north, 5.8 million people were affected by the combined factors by early 1984. Famine relief predates Band Aid’s song, however they were not particularly well managed.

The Ethiopian government proved either unable or unwilling to deal with the escalating problems. Food was withheld from rebel areas. The nation’s economy, based on agriculture, was in near total collapse. As the drought continued ≈ 8 million people were affected by the famine and over 1 million died. The BBC report inspired the RAF to initiate air drops of food to the starving people. Soon other nations also began bringing food in and delivering it directly to the starving millions.

Bob Geldof was given the use of Sarm West, Trevor Horn’s studio. Horn was unable to produce the song but donated the venue for 24 hours free of charge. Midge Ure produced the song he and Geldof co-wrote. They arrived at 6 AM and were able to prepare the Sarm system. The media and the artists began to arrive by 9 AM. It was decided to record the crescendo/chorus first. The media were given a photo opportunity and the group learned to work together. Next, individual lines were recorded. Boy George flew in from the US and arrived at 6 PM. Ure and Geldof worked through the night, completing the mix. They finished at 8 AM Monday morning.

The song went to the pressing plants and the press was ready by Tuesday. The record went on sale Thursday, November 29 and went immediately to the number one spot on the charts. The only record to outsell the group’s effort has been Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana. Do They Know It’s Christmas sold 3.51 million copies and together with Live Aid, a concert put on by Geldof in July 1985, raised £110 million for famine relief. The song was recorded again in 1989 and 2004.

“I don’t think anyone sets out to malign poor people but certainly that’s what we do through organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.”

“It’s really very simple, Governor. When people are hungry they die. So spare me your politics and tell me what you need and how you’re going to get it to these people.”

“Everything that’s rock n roll is ever meant to be is happening now. I need to get over the shock that that thing is actually happening and that thousands of millions of people around the world are watching.”

“Mankind at its most desperate is often at its best.” – all from Bob Geldof

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Bob Geldof was born in 1951 in County Dublin, Ireland. He rose to fame as the lead singer for the Boomtown Rats, an Irish rock band of the 1970s and 80s. He is also a songwriter, having cowritten the above song which was one of the best selling singles of all time. He did some occasional acting as well as being a political activist. He and Midge Ure founded the charity, Band Aid, to help raise money as well as awareness for famine relief and then organized both Live Aid and the Live 8 concerts in 2005. He is currently an adviser to the ONE Campaign, another charity founded by fellow Irishman, Bono. He is a father’s rights activist having suffered the plight of single fatherhood. He has twice been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He has also received the Man of Peace title which honors, as the name suggests, work for peace and justice in an often unjust and chaotic world.

Also on this day: Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, is first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.
Thankful – In 1926, this Thanksgiving Day spawned several tornadoes.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Day tornado outbreak

November 25, 1926: Thanksgiving Day becomes grisly. There are five countries around the globe who celebrate a Thanksgiving day. Canada, Liberia, Norfolk Island, and Puerto Rico all celebrate as well as the US. Canada has their day in October and the rest of the celebrants set aside a day to give thanks in November. On this particular day, there was a terrible storm brewing across the American Midwest. The deadliest November outbreak of tornadoes swept across the plains with at least 27 twisters touching down. The strongest November tornado, estimated as a class F4, devastated the town of Heber Springs, Arkansas. There were 51 deaths in Arkansas alone and a total of 76 deaths and 400 injuries.

Tornadoes are violent storms featuring a rotating column of air descending from a cloud (usually a cumulonimbus cloud, but in rare cases a cumulus cloud) that touches down to Earth. They are also called twisters or cyclones, however the latter word is used by meteorologists to include any closed low pressure circulation. Tornadoes come in many different varieties and can range from mild funnel clouds to massive supercells. When these storms occur over water, they are called waterspouts rather than tornadoes, but they can also be quite damaging and hold a great amount of power. They have been observed over all the continents except Antarctica, but the majority of them touch down in “Tornado Alley”, the American Midwest.

These storms have a predictable life cycle, although it is difficult to actually predict exactly where they will touch down and their paths are often erratic. They are usually associated with thunderstorms and the funnel spout will lower from the cloud base. As it does so, it begins to take in more cool, moist air from the downdraft. It creates a low pressure area on the base and lowers toward Earth. As it reaches ground, it is said to be in the “mature stage” which can last from a few minutes to more than an hour. The rear flank downdraft region eventually wraps around the funnel and chokes off the tornado’s air supply. The swirling mass begins to weaken and thins out, becoming rope like. This “dissipating stage” rarely lasts for more than a few minutes and the storm dies out.

There is a typical tornado as seen in the Wizard of Oz, but there are also other types. There can be multiple vortex tornadoes which have, as the name suggests, more than one funnel spout. There are, as mentioned above, waterspouts, when the storm takes place over water, but there can also be landspouts, or a dust-tube tornado, not associated with the cloud system. There are also some similar meteorological events: gustnadoes, dust devils, and fire whirls and steam devils. None of these are considered to be true tornadoes because they are not associated with clouds and generate from a different weather patterns.

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. – John Muir

If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron. – Lee Trevino

Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability. – Ho Chi Minh

The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. – Aesop

Also on this day:

Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, is first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.

Perfect Storm

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2011


November 25, 1703: Great Britain is hit by the worst storm ever recorded there. This Great Storm of 1703 struck Southern England and also affected the English Channel. On this day, the highest British winds ever recorded hit the books at 120 mph. The storm began the day before and didn’t totally dissipate until December 2. All dates are Old Style – the calendar used at the time. Britain did not convert to the Gregorian Calendar until 1752.

The hurricane made landfall with a barometric reading of 973 millibars as measured in South Essex. Some today believe the pressure may have dropped as low as 950 millibars. Standard pressure at sea level is 1013.25 mbar. These low readings are part of what helps a hurricane form. The low barometric reading, along with the wind speed help to determine the category of hurricane, although the lower air pressure is even more important than the speed of the wind.

In 1703, there were many ships at sea returning from helping the King of Spain fight against the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Many of these ships were damaged or sunk. It is believed that between 8,000 and 15,000 sailors lost their lives in the storm. The first Eddystone Lighthouse was also destroyed by the storm, killing the six occupants. Not only lives were lost, but in the New Forest in the southeast part of England, 4,000 oak trees were felled.

The Thames River is affected by tides always and with the storm surge and rushing water, about 700 ships were thrown together downstream from the London Bridge. As with all hurricanes, property damage on land was also noted. The lead roof was blown off Westminster Abbey and the Queen had to hide in the cellar of St. James’s Palace as chimneys collapsed. There was flooding throughout the area. A collapsing chimney fell on Bishop Richard Kidder at Wells, and killed him and his wife. The rise of journalism was taking off in England at this time and this Great Storm was the first weather news story written about on a national scale.

“Human misery must somewhere have a stop; there is no wind that always blows a storm.” – Euripides

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“It is better to meet danger than to wait for it. He that is on a lee shore, and foresees a hurricane, stands out to sea and encounters a storm to avoid a shipwreck.” – Charles Caleb Colton

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” – Willa Cather

Also on this day:
Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, is first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2010

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

November 25, 1952: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is first produced on stage, the longest running play in London, still running today. The cast of characters is limited to eight, with a reference to the first murder victim. The cast gathers at Monkswell Manor and each in turn is considered to be the murderer of Maureen Lyon in London. Mrs. Boyle proves her innocence by being the next victim, also proving the murderer is present. The classic whodunit continues to enthrall after more than fifty years on stage.

Agatha Mary Clarrisa Miller married twice, first was Colonel Christie with whom she had a daughter. During December 1926 Ms. Christie disappeared for ten days to much fanfare in the press. Was this a publicity stunt or was it in fact due to PTSD? Was she suffering a temporary amnesia after the death of her mother and the revealed infidelity of her husband? She married Sir Max Mallowen, an archeologist, after her divorce. The marriage was initially happy, but eventually it, too, devolved into infidelity.

Christie was a prolific author. She is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling fiction author with only the Bible and Shakespeare outselling her works. She has sold at least 1 billion copies of her work in English and another 1 billion in the 45 languages into which her works have been translated.

She had written over 80 novels with 39 of them starring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective, and another 15 with Miss Marple solving crimes. She also authored four non-fiction books. She wrote seven romances under the name of Mary Westmacott. She wrote 25 plays, 4 radio plays, 1 television play, along with 222 short stories in 21 collections. Her tales have been adapted into 25 movies, 44 TV movies, and a TV series. There is even a video game. She died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 85 after suffering from a cold.

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”

“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.”

“Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.”

“The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don’t give a damn.”

“There’s too much tendency to attribute to God the evils that man does of his own free will.” – all from Agatha Christie

Also on this day, in 1984 Band Aid records Do They Know it’s Christmas.