Little Bits of History

October 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2017

1950: The government of Iran is the first to benefit from the Point Four Program. Harry Truman’s inaugural address was given on January 20, 1949. He listed four primary objectives within his foreign policies. The fourth of these was to offer technical assistance programs to “developing countries” who were willing to enter into bilateral agreements with the US. At the conclusion of World War II, the USSR and US found themselves in what came to be known as the Cold War. Truman wished to win over the “hearts and minds” of the developing world by offering them a way to move forward after the devastation of the global conflict.

His plan was to offer US know-how in a variety of fields, but especial in agriculture, industry, and health. Countries from the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa had complained that help from the US was mostly given to European countries. In order to help what was then called “third world” countries, Truman offered US help with the hope that it would build stronger economies in these underdeveloped countries as well has show that democracy and capitalism could provide for the welfare of the individual. It was not a program of economic aid but rather built on giving technical advice to those countries willing to accept the offer. It was not a colonial venture, according to Truman, but an offer to help with recovery after the War.

Point Four was the first global US foreign aid program but it drew inspiration from the wartime Office of the Coordinator of the Inter-American Affairs which had offered aid to Latin American countries during the previous decade. Secretary of State Dean Acheson urged Truman to make the same benefit to the third world countries of the day. A new committee was created on February 9, 1949 within the Department of State and chaired by Samuel Hayes. The Technical Assistance Group obtained funding of $25 million for the 1950/51 fiscal year.

The Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA) gained Congressional approval on October 27, 1950. Even before this, Iran entered into a partnership with the US to gain assistance in their quest to generally improve their economy. It was never meant to be for a single area, but a global effort and offers were extended to a variety of countries around the world. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name, but kept the program itself, and placed it under the auspices of the Foreign Operations Administration. Successive programs include the International Cooperation Administration and the Agency for International Development.

Communist propaganda holds that the free nations are incapable of providing a decent standard of living for the millions of people in under-developed areas of the earth. The Point Four program will be one of our principal ways of demonstrating the complete falsity of that charge.

The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing. All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. – all from Harry S Truman



Allies to POWs

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2015
MS Sinfra when first launched by the Fern Line

MS Sinfra when first launched by the Fern Line

October 19, 1943: The MS Sinfra sinks. The cargo ship was built in 1929 by Akers Mekaniske Verksted in Oslo, Norway. She was launched on May 15, 1929 and completed in July. She was 385 feet long and 55 feet at the beam. There were two 6-cylinder diesel engines powering twin screw propellers which gave her a top speed 12.5 knots or 14.4 mph. The steel-hulled ship was christened Fernglen and had electric lighting, wireless telegraph, and two decks. She was one of nine ships belonging to Fearnley & Egar and the ships formed the “Fern Line”. They carried phosphate and cotton to Japan and then after a stop in the Philippines, sailed to the US with copra, the dried kernel of the coconut.

While on a voyage from Macassar In the Netherlands East Indies with 7,422 tons of copra and heading toward Denmark, she ran aground. The damage was said to be beyond economic repair and the ship was towed back to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. She was sold to a Swedish company who refurbished her and renamed her Sandhamn. At the time, it was one of the largest hull repair jobs ever done in Sweden. Work was done in December 1934. The ship plied the waters as a cargo vessel for five years before being sold to the French in 1939 and named Sinfra. She was confiscated by the Germans in 1942.

Crete had been captured by the Germans and Italians in May 1941. There were 21,700 Italians occupying the easternmost prefecture. When Armistice between Italy and the Allies was signed on September 8, 1943, the Italians on the island were offered the choice of continuing to fight with the Germans or to be sent to perform forced labor. The Germans used ships to transport those who would not continue fighting. Dozens of these ships were lost resulting in the death of about 13,000 prisoners. There were 2,389 prisoners loaded in the cargo holds on Sinfra on October 18. They were guarded by 204 Germans. Also aboard was a shipment of bombs.

As she headed toward Greece, ten fighter aircraft (combined USAF and RAF planes) engaged the ship. At 10.05 PM, the ship was struck by a torpedo near the front hatch and at 11 PM she was hit by a bomb which penetrated the engine room. She was without steering and on fire. At 2.31 AM on this day, she blew up and sank. Most of those killed in the sinking were Italian POWs. There were between 2,000 and 5,000 killed, depending on reports. Survivors included 597 Italians, 197 Germans, and 13 Greeks. There had been two escort vessels with the transport and 11 other German ships responded to the SOS. Rescue efforts were prioritized to bring in Germans first. Reports showed that as the ship was sinking, the Germans had locked the Italians in the holds and thrown hand grenades at them. The Italians broke free and charged life boats and the Germans opened up with machine gun fire. After returning to Crete, about half of the Italian survivors were executed for “undisciplined behavior” at sea.

A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him. – Winston Churchill

I was not an anthropology student prior to the war. I took it up as part of a personal readjustment following some bewildering experiences as an infantryman and later as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany. The science of the Study of Man has been extremely satisfactory from that personal standpoint. – Kurt Vonnegut

Under the Geneva Convention, for example, a POW is required only to provide name, rank, and serial number and cannot receive any benefits for cooperating. – John Yoo

My father, unusually for a PoW, talked about his experiences, but he talked about them in a very limited way. – Richard Flanagan

Also on this day: Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.
Disco – In 1959, the Scotch-Club opened.
New Beginnings – In 1781, the Siege of Yorktown ended.



Tagged with: ,

New Beginnings

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2014
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

October 19, 1781: The Siege of Yorktown ends. This was a defining battle of the American Revolutionary War which lasted from September 28 until this day, ending with a victory for the combined troops of the Continental Army, led by George Washington, and the French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau. The British were under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. This was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. The capture of Cornwallis and the surrender of his troops led the British government to negotiate an end to the war.

As the fighting continued, advancing Continental troops with their allies were outnumbering British troops and their allies about two to one. They were able to contain Cornwallis and his ability to retreat and regroup was halted at York River. On the morning of October 17, a British officer waved a white flag in surrender. The bombardment ceased and the officer was led behind enemy lines and negotiations began at the Moore House on the next day. The negotiators included Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross for the British, Lieutenant Colonel Laurens for the Americans, and the Marquis de Noailles for the French. In order to retain the favor of the French, Washington gave them equal say in the negotiations.

The capitulation was signed on this day; signatories included Washington, Rochambeau, the Comte de Barras (for the French Navy), Cornwallis, and Lieutenant Thomas Symonds (British Navy). Cornwallis’s troops were considered prisoners of war and were given a promise of good treatment. Officers were permitted to return home after taking parole. At 2 PM, all was in place and the British asked for the traditional Honors of War which included marching with flags waving and muskets shouldered while playing an enemy tune as a signal of tribute to the victors. This was denied just as the defeated men in Charleston had been denied this right earlier.

The Americans captured 8,000 troops, 214 artillery pieces, thousands of muskets, 24 transport ships, and other spoils of war. Cornwallis refused to meet formally with Washington, claiming illness and refused to come to the ceremonies. Brigadier general Charles O’Hara came in Cornwallis’s stead and offered the sword of surrender to Rochambeau. Rochambeau demurred to Washington. O’Hara then offered the sword to Washington who also refused to take the sword but signaled instead to his second in command. Benjamin Lincoln, the defeated Major General at Charleston, finally took the sword from the humiliated O’Hara. The British marched out, laid down their arms between the French and American armies and those on the other side of the river also surrendered at the same time.

I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country.

Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.

I beg you be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. – all from  George Washington

Also on this day: Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.
Disco – In 1959, the Scotch-Club opened.

Not Soccer – Not Rugby

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2013
American Football

American Football

October 19, 1873: The rules of American football are first codified. The game was a derivative of the British game of rugby. There are some major points of divergence, however. The most glaring of these are the line of scrimmage rulings and the down-and-distance rules. Walter Camp is often called the “Father of American Football” due to his role in the codification process. While there are traditional Native American ball games, football’s roots spring from games played in schoolyards and villages across Europe. Centuries before America was colonized, ball games of many types were played across the pond.

On November 6, 1869 teams from Rutgers University and Princeton University played what is credited as the first intercollegiate game of football. Each team had 25 players who attempted to kick a ball into the opposing team’s goal. The first to score six times was the winner and there was no throwing or carrying the ball. Rutgers, the home team (and rule maker) won 6-4. After beating Princeton, they began the time honored tradition of team loyalties and rivalries by literally running the Princeton team and their fans out of town. Princeton called for a rematch on their turf, where they made the rules – and won 8-0.

By 1873, with each college making up home field rules, some standardization was needed. Men from Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers, and Yale met in New York City and fleshed out some regulations for the game. Harvard was invited, but they liked their own rules as they were and did not attend. So the four colleges created a list of rules based more on soccer than rugby. These were updated as time moved on. Walter Camp enrolled at Yale in 1876 and the all-around athlete changed the game once again. He modified and advocated for many new rules.

In 1878 the suggestion from Camp came to decrease the number of players from fifteen to eleven. The rule went into effect in 1880. Camp invented the line of scrimmage, the point from where the ball is snapped from center to quarterback and put into play (also enacted in 1880). The size of the field changed in 1881. By 1882 in response to unintended consequences of snapping the ball, the down-and-distance rules came into play. At the time the ball had to move five yards in three plays (no forward passes permitted – yet). With all these upgrades, the game had a distinct difference and became American football.

“Most football teams are temperamental. That’s 90% temper and 10% mental.” – Doug Plank

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

“Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become.” – Mary McGrory

“Football is, after all, a wonderful way to get rid of your aggressions without going to jail for it.” – Heywood Hale Broun

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Today, American football is played by children up through professionals. In college and for professionals, the game lasts for 60 minutes divided into four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes. High schools usually have 12 minute quarters. With the frequent stop of the game clock however, the game can typically last, at least at the professional level, for three hours. The clock is stopped by the referees when a pass is incomplete or a play ends out of bounds. Also, each team as three time outs for each half which may be used as they wish. The clock can also be stopped any time the officials need a time out to discuss the legalities involved in the game. There is also a separate play clock. There is a time limit between when the referee marks the ball ready for play and the snap, which is usually 25 seconds. However, the NFL and NCAA use a 40-second play clock starting immediately after the previous play ends. Time outs negate the play clock.

Also on this day: Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.
Disco – In 1959, the Scotch-Club opened.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2012

The Scotch-Club

October 19, 1959: The Scotch-Club opens in Aachen, Germany. Prior to this date, the business had been in operation as a restaurant. However, the owner decided to do something different. He opened it as a dancehall. Dancehalls had been in existence and were common throughout the world. The difference for this one was that rather than hire a live band to play cover songs that were popular the owner just used a record player to play the original artists’ recordings. Klaus Quirini was a volunteer newspaper journalist reporting on the opening. He was bored with the records only method of presentation and took over the mike. He announced songs and had audience games and participation. The first song he played was a popular one, Ein Schiff wird kommen by Lale Andersen. He became the first disc-jockey and this became the first discothèque.

A dancehall is today called a nightclub, discothèque, or club or disco. The entertainment venues are distinguished from bars, pubs, or taverns by the inclusion of a dance floor and a DJ booth where the DJ plays recorded music. The latter can be exchanged for the playing of live music, but it is not the norm. Most nightclubs cater to a specific type of clientele based on what music genre they usually provide. The range of options is staggering: techno, house music, trance, heavy metal, garage, hip hop, salsa, dancehall, Drum and Bass, or Dubstep music. Some even play Top 40 hits which are the top hits of the previous week.

Nightclubs can have criteria for entering. Most have a minimum age requirement since they serve alcoholic beverages inside. But some also work with a specific dress code and you would not be permitted entry unless dressed in the proscribed manner. Others may operate with a guest list and if your name isn’t on the list, you can’t get in. There is also a possibility of paying a cover charge or a fee to enter the venue. All this is moderated by someone who works the door and allows only those meeting the club’s criteria to enter. Unless, of course, you are a friend of the doorman, and he may then let you in just because.

Sometime in the early 1900s (1900 to 1920) a new kind of bar opened. This was often called a honky tonk or juke joint and music was played on a piano or jukebox. During Prohibition, these places went underground and were called speakeasies. With the repeal of Prohibition, upscale clubs opened and Americans could drink and dance the night away. The custom spread rapidly. Whisky à Gogo opened in 1947 and was the standard for discothèques post-World War II. At the beginning, two turntables were used to offer music, but the DJ chatter was not included. Time moved on and clubs have changed, but the drinking and dancing are still there, just not at the Scotch-Club which closed in 1992.

If you can handle a nightclub audience successfully, you can handle anything. – Judy Holliday

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music. – William Stafford

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well.  Just get up and dance. – Dave Barry

Through dancing many maidens have been unmaidened, whereby I may say it is the storehouse and nursery of bastardy. – John Northbrooke

Also on this day:

Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.
Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse – In 1944, Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut.

Tagged with: , ,

Stella or A Deal You Can’t Refuse

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2011

Marlon Brando

October 19, 1944: I Remember Mama by John Van Draton opens on Broadway at The Music Box Theatre. The play was based on Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes. Mama ran for 713 performances and starred Mady Christians as Mama. It also had an unknown actor making his Broadway debut in the role of Nels, Marlon Brando.

Brando was born in Omaha,Nebraska on April 3, 1924, the youngest of three children. His parents divorced and then reconciled. Brando’s mother was unconventional, driving and wearing pants when this simply was not done. She was also an actress. She had a drinking problem and eventually became a leader of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Brando’s childhood was tumultuous and he was sent away to a military academy at the age of 16. There he excelled in theater but got into trouble with authority and he was expelled. He was eventually invited back, but opted to drop out and never completed his education. He began digging ditches back home, but decided to follow his sisters who were already in New York City. He played summer stock and his behavior once again got him kicked out but not before he was discovered and got a role on Broadway.

Brando is best known for his roles as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (both directed by Elia Kazan in the 1950s) and Vito Corleone in The Godfather and Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (both directed by Francis Ford Coppola in the 1970s). Brando won two Oscars, three BAFTA Awards, one Emmy, and two Golden Globes. He fathered eight children and adopted three more. One of his sons was convicted of manslaughter and one daughter committed suicide at age 25. Brando died at the age of 80 in 2004.

“Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.”

“An actor’s a guy who, if you ain’t talking about him, he ain’t listening.”

“There’s a line in the picture where he snarls, ‘Nobody tells me what to do.’ That’s exactly how I’ve felt all my life.”

“People ask that a lot. They say, ‘What did you do while you took time out ?’ – as if the rest of my life is taking time out. But the fact is, making movies is time out for me because the rest, the nearly complete whole, is what’s real for me. I’m not an actor and haven’t been for years. I’m a human being – hopefully a concerned and somewhat intelligent one – who occasionally acts.” – all from Marlon Brando

Also on this day:
Streptomycin – In 1943, Streptomycin was first isolated.
Not Soccer – Not Rugby – In 1873, the rules for American football were first codified.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2010
Ball-and-stick model of the streptomycin molecule.

Ball-and-stick model of the streptomycin molecule.

October 19, 1943: Streptomycin, the first antibiotic effective as a treatment for tuberculosis, is isolated by scientists working at Rutgers University. Selman Abraham Waksman was in charge of a lab at Rutgers. His graduate student, Albert Schatz, isolated the antibiotic we know as streptomycin whose formula is C21H39N7O12 arranged in a cascading chain. Waksman’s laboratory discovered several other antibiotics, streptomycin and neomycin showed the most extensive and wide-ranged use. Waksman is credited with coining the term “antibiotic.”

Because Schatz was a grad student, he was the one performing the tests. Because he was a student, he was using equipment and techniques under the direction of Waksman. The men argued over right of ownership of the discovery. Litigation produced an answer of sorts, allowing for co-discovery. However, a Nobel Prize was awarded solely to Waksman. The contention between the two men negatively impacted both of their lives and the controversy continues.

The first step in battling bacterial disease came when it was proved that the bacteria were the cause of the disease rather than miasma or bad humours. In the late 1800s, “good” bacteria was used to fight the “bad” bacteria that caused disease. The next step was to find the chemical in the “good” germ that was causing the desired result. The first substances found were toxic not only to the bacteria, but to the host.

Penicillin was the first antibiotic discovered in the year 1929. The public distrusted the drug it was used mostly to treat soldiers during WWII. There was a large fire in Boston with many burn victims. At the time, most burn victims died of infection secondary to the burn. Merck sent in the new drug, penicillin, and the patients were successfully treated. By 1946, antibiotic treatment was widespread.

“Half of the modern drugs could well be thrown out of the window, except that the birds might eat them.” – Dr. Martin Henry Fischer

“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.” – Sir William Osler

“It is sometimes as dangerous to be run into by a microbe as by a trolley car.” – J.J. Walsh

“Orthodox medicine has not found an answer to your complaint. However, luckily for you, I happen to be a quack.” – Richter cartoon caption

Also on this day, in 1873 the rules for American football were first set down.

Tagged with: ,