Little Bits of History

October 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2017

1957: Moshe Dwek lobs a grenade. Dwek was born in Aleppo, Mandatory Syria into a Jewish family in 1931. In 1944, he was part of a group of Jewish boys who immigrated to Mandate Palestine and initially lived on kibbutz Forot and then on kibbutz Glil Yam. He fought in the Israeli War of Independence and in 1950, his entire family including parents and siblings immigrated to Israel. There are some references to a childhood injury that may have left him mentally unstable. There are also reports that he suffered a second injury after coming to Palestine, before Israel was founded.

Dwek attempted to sue the Jewish Agency for $66,000 for injuries but lost his case. He sent a series of threatening letters to the judge and was arrested but was found unfit to stand trial. He later tried to stow away on a plane bound for New York City, unsuccessfully. He was affiliated with no political parties. He was distraught over the lack of medical care and his inability to receive national insurance for his declining health. On this day, he entered the Frumin House where the Knesset was meeting. The unicameral portion of the Israeli government is the legislative branch responsible for passing all laws and electing the President and Prime Minister.

Rabbi Haim-Moshe Shapira of the National Religious Party was seriously injured. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Foreign Minister Golda Meir, and Transport Minister Moshe Carmel were all injured by shrapnel. Ben-Gurion and Meir were the intended targets. Dwek was examined by experts and found fit to stand trial. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, part of the time he was incarcerated was spent in a psychiatric hospital. He requested a retrial and was denied as was his request for a pardon after serving ten years of his sentence.

After his release, Dwek started his own political party, Tarshish. He made his own run for the Knesset in 1988 based on ending Ashkenazi hegemony (giving Jews returning from Diaspora the chance to be full Israeli citizens). He also demanded Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews be given greater control of government functionality. He included demands for building a university, college, and religious polytechnic institute in the city of Netanya. His commercials began with him chanting No’ar, No’ar, No’ar (literally “youth, youth, youth”). He received only 1,654 votes which was not enough to gain him his longed for seat in the Knesset.

In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles. – David Ben-Gurion

We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown and when strawberries bloom in Israel. – Golda Meir

Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom. – John F. Kennedy

Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury. – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad



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Black Tuesday

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2015
Crowds outside NYSE

Crowds outside NYSE

October 29, 1929: Wall Street trading leads to the day known as Black Tuesday. The crash began on October 24 and was the most devastating stock market crash in US history. It was also the beginning of the Great Depression affecting all Western industrialized countries. After World War I, the country was rejoicing in wealth, prosperity, and a new sense of freedom and the Roaring Twenties were a symbol of the newfound optimism. Many rural Americans decided to become urban Americans and the move to the cities created a labor pool which fueled growth. But with so many farmhands moving to the cities, the American farmer was left in crisis.

There was much talk about the excessive speculation in the stock market and on March 25, 1929 there was a mini crash after the Federal Reserve pointed out the dangers. Speculation in this sense means investing in risky transactions in the hopes of making large sums of money due to market fluctuations. On March 27, Charles Mitchell of National City Bank announced they would provide $25 million to stop the stock market’s slide. While it worked, at least temporarily, the US economy was in trouble with steel production down, housing markets in decline, and car sales slowing. Because easy credit had been available, many Americans were drowning in debt. Even with all these indicators, the market recovered and continued to climb throughout the summer with an increase of total value of 20% between June and September.

On September 20, the London Stock Exchange crashed and several top investors were jailed for fraud and forgery. In America, this made investors pause and in the days leading to the ultimate crash, the markets were extremely volatile. Adding to the fear was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act being debated in Congress which was to raise tariffs to a high not seen for over 100 years.  On Black Thursday, October 24, the market lost 11% of its value on opening due to very heavy trading. The tickers around the country couldn’t keep up with the rapidly dropping prices and so stocks were sold without knowing what the actual value was. Panic broke out on the trading floor. Richard Whitney, at the request of several bankers, went to the floor and began buying large blocks of blue chip stock in the hopes of stemming the panic. It worked and the market was only down 6.38 points for the day.

The rally continued on Friday and the markets were then open for half days on Saturdays and that too, saw the markets rise. But the weekend papers had stories about what was happening on the floor of Wall Street and on Monday many investors with margin calls decided to get out of the market altogether. The market dropped 13% on Monday. On this day, with panic selling at a fever pitch and no buyers to pick up even the inexpensive stocks, the market dropped another 12%. While a few financial giants attempted to stem the tide, the public lost confidence in the stock market and the value of the markets were down $30 billion dollars over the two days.

One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute. – William Feather

The difference between playing the stock market and the horses is that one of the horses must win. – Joey Adams

If stock market experts were so expert, they would be buying stock, not selling advice. – Norman Ralph Augustine

You get recessions, you have stock market declines. If you don’t understand that’s going to happen, then you’re not ready, you won’t do well in the markets. – Peter Lynch

Also on this day: Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
Seeing Red – In 1863, the International Red Cross got its start.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1940, the first peacetime draft in the US was instituted.
Raleigh – In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed.
Serial Killer – In 1901, Jane Toppan was arrested.



Serial Killer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2014
Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan

October 29, 1901: Jane Toppan is arrested. She was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1857 to Irish immigrant parents. Her birth name was Honora Kelley. Mrs. Kelley died of tuberculosis when her two daughters were very young. Paul Kelley was unable to care for his daughters. He was both alcoholic and an eccentric dubbed Kelley the Crack (as in crackpot and not related to drugs). Stories abound about the crackpot status of the family patriarch. One such tale tells of his sewing his own eyelids shut while working as a tailor. This is unsubstantiated and probably untrue, but the story itself lends credence to the instability of Paul Kelley.

In 1863, a few years after his wife’s death, Paul brought then eight-year-old Delia Josephine and six-year-old Honora to the Boston Female Asylum. This was an orphanage for indigent female children and was established in 1799. Paul gave over his two daughters and never saw them again. Documents from the asylum indicate this truly was in the girls’ best interest and note the girls were “rescued from a very miserable home”. No other records from the asylum tell how their time there was spent. However, in November 1964, Honora Kelley (now seven) was placed as an indentured servant in the home of Ann C. Toppan of Lowell, Massachusetts. Honora was never formally adopted, but she took the family name and changed her first name to Jane.

In 1885, Jane began training as a nurse at Cambridge Hospital. During her residency, she used patients as test subjects for experiments with morphine and atropine just to see what the drugs did to their nervous system. She spent time alone with patients and would drug them, climb into bed with them, and hold them close as they died. She later admitted to getting a sexual thrill from this. She moved on to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1889 and killed several more people before returning to Cambridge. She worked as a private nurse and was able to seriously begin her serial killer career in 1895 with the murder of her landlords. She killed her foster sister in 1899, tried to seduce her brother-in-law, unsuccessfully, and finally moved in with Alden Davis, a recent widower.

She killed Davis and two of his daughters within weeks. She was arrested on this day and by 1902 had confessed to 31 murders. She went to trial and on June 23 was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity. She was committed for life to the Taunton Insane Hospital. A Hearst newspaper reported she had hoped to be declared insane so she might be released later. If so, her plan did not work and she remained institutionalized until her death. She died on August 17, 1938 at the age of 81.

That is my ambition, to have killed more people-more helpless people-than any man or woman who has ever lived. – Jane Toppan

Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest. – W.H. Auden

Murder is not some fictional conceit, imagined for the purpose of entertainment, but actually happens: and afterwards no credits roll, and life has to continue to be lived even if you have absolutely no idea where the deeds to the house are kept, or who services the lawn mower. – Michael Marshall

When I hear about people murdering, I wonder, What has to go through your brain to say, I don’t want him breathing anymore? What makes you get that angry? How can you take someone’s breath away? That just blows my mind. – Gilbert Arenas

Also on this day: Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
Seeing Red – In 1863, the International Red Cross got its start.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1940, the first peacetime draft in the US was instituted.
Raleigh – In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed.

Seeing Red

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2013
Jean Henri Dunant

Jean Henri Dunant

October 29, 1863: An international conference in Geneva ends. In 1859 Jean Henri Dunant, a Swiss businessman, arrived in Italy to discuss trade issues. Instead, he witnessed the Battle of Solferino. The engagement was part of the Austro-Sardinian War. Dunant was appalled by the carnage. About 40,000 men lay across the battlefield, dead or dying. There was no organized effort to help the suffering men. Dunant gave up his original plan and spent days helping with the treatment of the wounded, regardless of army affiliation. He also encouraged the local civilians to give medical treatment to any wounded soldier.

Dunant wrote about the experience and self-published A Memory of Solferino. He sent copies to leaders, both political and military, throughout Europe. He not only graphically described the horror of the aftermath of battle, but advocated for the formation of national voluntary relief organizations as well as international treaties to permit their action. He sought to protect neutral nurses and medics on the battlefield. On February 9, 1863 Dunant and four other wealthy Genevans formed the Committee of Five. They hosted a three-day international conference attended by 36 individuals representing 14 nations. They laid the groundwork for the International Red Cross.

A year later, with all European governments, the US, Brazil, and Mexico involved, the group adopted the first Geneva Convention “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Armies in the Field.” In 1867 the name became International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The Geneva Convention was updated as the role of the ICRC grew with the ever expanding horrors of Two World Wars. The Red Cross on a white background is a reversal of colors of the Swiss flag, a way to honor Dunant. It is a protection symbol. While the shape of the cross is specified for official flags, any red cross on a white background is to be honored. During the Russo-Turkish War, it was thought Muslims might be alienated by the cross, so a Red Crescent was added.

Today, there are several ethnic or religious based flags, all with red symbols across a white background. In 1919 the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was formed. It is the largest humanitarian organization in the world and offers assistance without regard to nationality, race, religion, class, or political beliefs. There are 186 Societies across the globe with more being formed. Each Society is made up of volunteers and staff and works both at home and internationally. In 2006 about 35,000 volunteers responded to 480 emergencies worldwide.

“We’re not all in a position to suddenly show up in New Orleans and start handing out supplies, but you do what you can with what you have. I’m a radio guy. So I tried to put together something that would drive people to help out with the Red Cross.” – Chris Miller

“The American Red Cross is one of the things you know you can depend on in time of crisis – always seems to be leading the charge – when something bad happens and we want to help, that’s where we go, to make sure we make a difference.” – Brooks and Dunn

“When I was a young schoolboy at the Beijing Opera Academy in Hong Kong, I was very poor and yearned for some of the most basic things in life. My fellow students were in similar need and it was at this time that a representative from the Red Cross arrived, bringing us supplies. My classmates and I were so grateful and touched and I vowed to always remember this generosity.” – Jackie Chan

“Why I support the Red Cross? Ask the millions that are saved every day because of the gift of blood, ask the family that lost their home in a fire and the Red Cross assisted, it could be your son or brother or the kid next door.” – Cristina Saralegui

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Jean Henri Dunant was born in 1828 in Geneva, Switzerland. His family were devout Calvinists and he was brought up to participate in social works. His father was known for helping orphans and parolees while his mother worked with the sick and the poor. In 1852 he founded the Geneva chapter of the YMCA.  At the age of 21 he was forced to leave college due to poor grades and so he began an apprenticeship with Lullin et Sautter, a money-changing firm. He was successful in this endeavor and remained employed by the bank. He traveled on business to Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily in 1853 and after his visit he wrote his first book. In 1856 he started a business to function in foreign countries and was granted a land concession to carry this out. However, land and water rights were not fully understood and he was on his way to discuss these problems with Napoleon III when he came upon the Battle of Solferino.

Also on this day: Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1940, the first peacetime draft in the US was instituted.
Raleigh – In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was executed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2012

Sir Walter Raleigh

October 29, 1618: Sir Walter Raleigh dies. He was born into a Protestant family in the year 1552 or 1554. He was the youngest of five sons, three of the older boys were half-brothers. All of Catherine’s sons were prominent in Elizabethan England. Catherine’s aunt was Elizabeth’s governess and so the boys were introduced at court. Since religion was such an issue during this time, the family had many close calls during Queen Mary I of England’s reign, as she was a staunch Roman Catholic. Because of their trouble with Queen Mary, Raleigh grew to hate Roman Catholicism and Catholics. He was a staunch supporter of Queen Elizabeth I – a Protestant – and made it known soon after her taking the throne in 1558.

Raleigh was part of the colonization effort beginning in 1584 in the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. However, his first attempt ended in failure with the loss at Roanoke Island. This first attempt paved the way for others in the coming years but his own ventures in the New World were funded for the most part by himself and some of his friends. In 1587 he once again tried to establish a colony on Roanoke Island with a more diverse group of settlers and under John White’s leadership. White returned to England only to have war intervene and was trapped in Britain as all ships were needed to defend against the Spanish Armada. By the time suppliers could return to the colony, it was once again missing.

Raleigh secretly married one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting. The couple left London and a child was born, only to die shortly thereafter. When the Queen found out about the subterfuge, both were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Eventually, all was forgiven and Raleigh was released. He once again went exploring in the New World and found a purported city of gold at the headwaters of the Caroni River. He continued to serve and explore and was once again a favorite at court. But it was not to last.

The Queen died in 1603 and was followed by King James. On July 19 of that year, Raleigh was arrested and once again thrown into the Tower of London. On November 17 he was tried for treason and acted as his own defense lawyer – brilliantly. The main piece of evidence against Raleigh was a confession by Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham. He was never called to testify. Even though found guilty, King James spared Raleigh’s life. He was released in 1616 and was back exploring in Venezuela searching for El Dorado. There, he and some men attacked a Spanish outpost. When he returned to England, the Spanish ambassador was outraged and called for Raleigh’s death. To appease the ambassador, Raleigh was beheaded, his head was embalmed, and then presented to his wife.

War begets quiet, quiet idleness, idleness disorder, disorder ruin; likewise ruin order, order virtue, virtue glory, and good fortune.

He that doth not as other men do, but endeavoureth that which ought to be done, shall thereby rather incur peril than preservation; for whoso laboureth to be sincerely perfect and good shall necessarily perish, living among men that are generally evil.

I have loved her all my youth, / But now old, as you see; / Love likes not the falling fruit / From the withered tree. / Know that love is a careless child / And forgets promise past; / He is blind, he is deaf when he list / And in faith never fast.

Strike, man, strike! (last words with his head on the block waiting to be decapitated) – all from Walter Raleigh.

Also on this day:

Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
Seeing Red – In 1863, the International Red Cross got its start.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1940, the first peacetime draft in the US was instituted.

You’re in the Army Now

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2011

Uncle Sam gets you

October 29, 1940: The first peacetime draft lottery is held in the United States with number 158 being the first number picked by Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson. Conscription was first instituted in an informal way during the Civil War and was highly unpopular. The Selective Service Act was passed in 1917 under Woodrow Wilson creating the Selective Service System (SSS). All males aged 18-25 were to register with the SSS for possible conscription.

The Selective Training and Service Act passed on September 16, 1940 under Franklin D. Roosevelt and was the first peacetime conscription act. There was a maximum of 900,000 men to be conscripted into training at any one time. The draft was permitted to expire in 1947 and it was hoped that volunteers would fill the ranks. That did not happen and the draft was reinstituted in 1948. Gerald Ford signed a bill terminating the draft in 1975 and Jimmy Carter reestablished it again in 1980.

The SSS has 136 full-time civilian employees with 57 part-time civilian directors, 200 part-time reserve force officers, and thousands of volunteers. There are currently about 13.5 million men registered with the Service which is about 95% of those eligible. Lawrence G. Romo is the current director coming into the position in December of 2009. The annual budget for year 2009 (last year available) was $22 million.

Some argue the constitutionality of conscription citing the Thirteenth Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The courts have not upheld this strategy. Women are currently exempted and the courts upheld that decision in 1981. The stated purpose of the Service it to gather combat ready troops and women are under combat restrictions. Should a draft be instituted, a lottery would be held in public view with 365 or 366 dates drawn. There are 22 classifications to determine exemptive status of conscriptees.

“Being in the army is like being in the Boy Scouts, except that the Boy Scouts have adult supervision.” – Blake Clark

“The tragedy of war is that it uses man’s best to do man’s worst.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

“I had examined myself pretty thoroughly and discovered that I was unfit for military service.” – Joseph Heller

“It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.” – John F. Kennedy

Also on this day:
Ali, the Greatest – In 1960, Cassius Clay, later to be known as Muhammad Ali, had his first professional fight.
Seeing Red – In 1863, the International Red Cross got its start.

“Isn’t there … anyone?”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 31, 2010

Monument erected October 1998 commemorating where the Martians "landed" in Van Nest Park, Grover's Mill, NJ. (Photo by ZeWrestler)

October 30, 1938: Shortly after 8 PM the radio broadcast of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds with adaptations by Orson Welles and Howard Koch airs on CBS’s Mercury Theatre On The Air. The action took place in modern day Grover’s Mill, New Jersey and the program was to simulate a music presentation interspersed with live newscasts of the disaster. It is possibly the most successful radio program in history.

The 55-minute show played opposite a wildly popular show starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. It was known that after an initial 12 minutes, Bergen’s bit was followed by music. Over at CBS, there was an initial warning that the upcoming program was a dramatic presentation. However, many people were not listening at that time, but switched over when Bergen’s program switched to music. The new listeners were not aware that it was a dramatization, but believed that the “newscasts” were true news. Repeated warnings were aired during the last 15 mintues of the show, and as a finale as well.

Welles had his cast prepare by listening to broadcasts of the Hindenburg disaster to catch the proper mood and tone for the “newscasts.” The format had been used by BBC in London in 1926 for short pieces, but this program was new in both location and in length of the work. Of the 1.7 million people who tuned in, 1.2 million were “very excited” by the “news” but few did anything concrete with this excitement.

However, in New Jersey, where the action was supposedly taking place, a crowd did gather where the spaceship had “landed.” Police came for crowd control, contributing to the chaos. CBS was castigated for the panic, but no punishment was ever handed out. In fact, the broadcast is played yearly in the spirit of Halloween pranks. There is also a monument in the park noting the place where the Martians landed in 1938.

“Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there … anyone?” – newscaster, Ray Collins, from The War of the Worlds broadcast

“Doubts and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.” – Helen Keller

“Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation.” – Vannevar Bush

“It made our hair stand up in panic fear.” – Sophocles

“The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable.  What he wants above everything else is safety.” – Henry Louis Mencken

Also on this day, in 1973 the Bosphorus Bridge was completed, linking Europe and Asia.

Ali, the Greatest

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 29, 2010

Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali (Photo by Ira Rosenberg)

October 29, 1960: Cassius Clay, the 6’3” tall Olympic Gold Medal boxer, has his first professional fight and beats Tunney Hunsaker in a six-round decision. Clay went on to a 19-0 record, with 15 knockouts in the next three years. He continued on to become Heavyweight Champion, as well.

Clay was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, a poor child with few possessions. At the age of 12, he had one possession that he prized above all others, a red and white Schwinn bike. He rode it to a fair and when he came out of the building, he found his bike stolen. He approached a policeman, Joe Elsby Martin, Sr., and said he wanted to “whup” the thief. Joe told young Cassius that if was intent on that course of action, he needed to learn to fight. Joe was willing to teach him. Joe became his coach and led him to the 1960 Olympics were Clay won the gold in boxing.

Returning home to Kentucky, Clay was refused service in a white-only restaurant, and even got in a fight with a white gang. Racial inequality was rampant and Clay, gold medal notwithstanding, was the “wrong” race. He threw his gold medal into the Ohio River.

He went on to professional boxing where he won 56 of his 61 bouts, 37 by knockouts. He beat Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world. He changed religions and became a conscientious objector, refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He was stripped of his title and his license, fined $10,000 and sentenced to jail. However, he remained free. He eventually returned to boxing. He also loved poetry which was reflected in the names of his fights. The Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla of Manila are two. He was named “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated. He won the Presidiential Medal of Freedom in 2005. He is retired but continues to do humanitarian works around the globe. When he changed his religion, he also changed his name – to Muhammad Ali.

“It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”

“I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.”

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

“I am the greatest.”

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. ” – all from Muhammad Ali

Also on this day, in 1863 the International Red Cross got its start.