Little Bits of History

September 21

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2017

1933: Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) holds its first show. Salvador Lutteroth was a Mexican professional wrestling promoter born in 1897 in Mexico. At  age 17 he joined the Mexican Revolution, attaining the rank of captain. After the war, he got a government job and moved to Ciudad Juarez in 1929, where he was first exposed to professional wrestling on a trip to Texas. Wanting to bring this same thrill to Mexico, Lutteroth and his financial backer, Fracisco Ahumada, created EMLL, today called Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and one of the longest running wrestling events in the world.

For their premiere event, they tried to book Arena Nacional, the elite boxing venue in Mexico City. They were turned away and forced to rent a rundown venue, Arena Modelo. The event was wildly successful and as the one year anniversary rolled around, they created the EMLL 1st Anniversary Show and drew a sellout crowd of 5,000 paying fans. In 1934, an American wearing a black leather mask was on the ticket – the mask was something of a promotional mid-level stunt in America at the time, but new to Mexico. By including El Enmascarado, the tradition of the sacred position of the mask in Lucha Libre became the ultimate status symbol for luchadors.

In the early days, most of the top names in the shows were American, but as time marched on, more Mexican wrestlers were included. At the time, the promotional system inside Mexico was an issue, but Lutteroth wanted local talent and worked around the system. In 1942, a masked wrester dressed in silver appeared. He was called El Santo or The Saint. He was a huge hit and became synonymous with Mexican wrestling. He is often called the greatest Mexican wrestler of all time. With his popularity, other Mexican wrestlers were also elevated in status and became stars in their own right. Lutteroth financed the building of Arena Coliso and moved EMLL to that venue.

By the mid-1980s, Lutteroth’s grandson, Paco Alonso, was at the helm of EMLL. Although associated with the National Wrestling Alliance since the 1950s, they distanced themselves due to infighting. In 1991, they changed their name to CMLL. During the next two years, they created eight CMLL World titles over which they had control along with three NWA titles they still controlled. Their matches were televised and interest increased. They retain control over nine major promotions and the CMLL Anniversary event is the longest premiere event of the season. Lutteroth became the most powerful booker and promoter of wrestling in Mexico as well as top tier worldwide. He died in 1987 at the age of 90.

We, as a wrestling community, better remember it is more than one individual that makes a winner. – Dan Gable

Wrestling is ballet with violence. – Jesse Ventura

To me, wrestling is therapy. No matter how bad my personal situation is, when I step into the ring, all my troubles disappear. My baggage stays in the back where it belongs. – Eddie Guerrero

Wrestling was like stand-up comedy for me. Every night I had a live audience of 25,000 people to win over. My goal was never to be the loudest or the craziest. It was to be the most entertaining. – Dwayne Johnson



Oppau Explosion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2015
Oppau explosion

Oppau explosion

September 21, 1921: The Oppau explosion takes place. Oppau today is part of Ludwigshafen, Germany. It is located along the Rhine River in southwestern Germany and remains home of BASF. They are the largest chemical producer in the world and had been founded in 1865. One of their storage silos was the site of the explosion on this day.  Prior to 1911, the plant produced ammonium sulfate as fertilizer. But during World War I, Germany was unable to obtain sulfur due to both war conditions and embargos. So the plant began producing ammonium nitrate as well, possible because the Haber process did not need overseas resources. The Haber or Haber-Bosch process remains in use as an artificial fixation process for producing ammonia.

Ammonium nitrate is far more hygroscopic (attracting water from the environment and holding it) than is ammonium sulfate. The two products mixed together and under the pressure of its own weight, formed on solid mass of plaster-like stuff. The 65 foot high silo was packed solid and the only way to get it out was to use pickaxes. However, if anyone dared enter the silo, they were threatened by being buried in collapsing fertilizer. It was understood at the time that the substance was volatile, but even so, it was decided that small charges of dynamite would be safe. The process had been used safely during World War I.

Tests done in 1919 concluded that the mix, if it was less than 60% nitrate, was unlikely to explode. Tests indicated that mixtures at 50/50, it was stable enough to store in 50,000 tonne lots which was ten times more than the amount involved the explosion. So dynamite was used. There had been an estimated 20,000 firings in an attempt to clear the silo and they were done safely. Since everyone involved in the explosion was killed, it is not clear what went wrong. More recent testing has shown that the theory of less than 60% nitrate is safe is simply wrong. When nitrate is less than 50%, explosions are confined to a small space, but the higher the concentration, the more likely an explosion will take place. Nearby nitrates can be ignited by small explosions and detonate and expand.

BASF had changed the process for making nitrates and the humidity level of the mixture was lowered by nearly half, which lowered the apparent density. Both of these factors increased the explosive potential. The charge fired on this day caused the entire silo to explode. The sound was heard in Munich, almost 200 miles away. Windows were shattered in Heidelberg, 18 miles away, stopping traffic. About 80% of the buildings in Oppau were destroyed and 6,500 people were homeless. About 500-600 were killed and thousands more were injured. Where the silo once stood was a crater 300 x 400 feet and 60 feet deep. There were 450 tonnes of fertilizer in the silo (and 4,500 tonnes in the warehouse). The damages were listed as 321 million Marks at the time, but inflation in Germany was bizarre and it is not possible to convert that to a meaningful number in today’s economy.

If people will bring dynamite into a powder factory, they must expect explosions. – Dorothy L. Sayers

Fertilizer does no good in a heap, but a little spread around works miracles all over. – Percy Ross

Decay is quiet but ghastly, explosion is dramatic and dreadful. There’s not much to choose between the two of them in reality, and most of our lives have sufficient of both. – Anne Roiphe

Two out of every five people on Earth today owe their lives to the higher crop outputs that fertilizer has made possible. – Bill Gates

Also on this day: Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia found out there was a Santa Clause.
Got Milk? – In 1995, the Miracle of the Milk began in India.
Monday Night Changes – In 1970, Monday Night Football premiered.
Ablaze – In 1776, New York City was on fire.
Dead Poet’s Society – In 19 BC, Virgil died.

Dead Poet’s Society

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2014


September 21, 19 BC: Virgil dies. The poet’s official name was Publius Vergilius Maro. We know of his life via a lot biography by Varius which got incorporated into works written later by Suetonius, Servius, and Donatus. Because of the imprecise nature of the writings, Virgil’s true biographical information is somewhat problematic. According to tradition, he was born in the village of Andes, in Cisalpine Gaul on October 15, 70 BC. There is a suggestion of Etruscan, Umbrian, or possibly Celtic roots. It is said he was from humble beginnings, but modern scholars feel he was instead from an equestrian landowning family who could afford to educate their son. He attended several schools and briefly considered careers in rhetoric or the law before turning to poetry.

The poet is known for three major Latin works – the Eclogues or Bucolics, the Georgics, and his most famous work, the Aeneid. The first of these is a group of ten poems modeled on the Greek poet’s Theocritus’s method of hexameter poetry. Some believed it was autobiographical and written after the loss of his lands after the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. Today, this seems to be unsupported inference. The Georgics was published later. The superficial meaning of the work is how to run a farm and each of the four books tackles one area of land management or animal husbandry. The entire book is influenced by the political times and the power struggles between Augustus and Antony.

The Aeneid is considered to be Virgil’s finest work and one of the most important poems in western literature. The epic poem, based on the Iliad and the Odyssey, has 12 books written in dactylic hexameter verse which is a rhyming scheme used by classic poets based on six feet with stress given to specific syllables. In the Aeneid, a warrior fled from the sacking of Troy and came to Italy. Eventually, after six books rather akin to the adventures in the Odyssey, we come to the founding of Rome. The final six books are more connected to the Iliad. Virgil worked on the epic poem for the last eleven years of his life. He traveled to Greece in 19 BC in order to work on revisions for his poem. He met Augustus in Athens and returned home.

On the return trip, he got ill and died on this day. He had left instructions that this final work be burned. Augustus insisted that it be published with as little alteration as possible. Lucius Varius Rufus and Plotius Tucca were his literary executors and they followed the orders of the Emperor rather than of their client. There are few obvious errors other than a few lines which do not carry the hexameter rhythm. While Virgil was impressed by and followed in the footsteps of Homer, his own work was also later appreciated. Dante honored the influence by having Virgil guide us through hell and purgatory in his own Divine Comedy.

They succeed, because they think they can.

Every calamity is to be overcome by endurance.

It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep may be.

Myself acquainted with misfortune, I learn to help the unfortunate. – all from Virgil

Also on this day: Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia finds out there is a Santa Clause.
Got Milk? – In 1995, the Miracle of the Milk began in India.
Monday Night Changes – In 1970, Monday Night Football premiered.
Ablaze – In 1776, New York City was on fire.

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Got Milk?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2013


September 21, 1995: A miracle occurs. Ganesha is a Hindu god with a variety of names: Ganesa or Ganesh and also called Ganopati, Vinayaka, and Pillaiyar. Devotees include Hindis, Jains, and Buddhists. Ganesha sports an elephant head, making him extremely recognizable. He was one of the five principle deities of Smartism (from the 9th century). He is given the task of Remover of Obstacles. Due to the great admiration for the god, the title of Shri (a Hindu title of respect) is often placed before his name.

On this date, before dawn, a pilgrim in New Delhi, India approached a temple. A spoonful of milk was offered to Lord Ganesha and as the spoon was held to the trunk, the milk disappeared. Word of the miraculous occurrence quickly spread. Other devout Hindis brought milk to shrines and temples. By mid-morning it was noted that statues all across North India were greedily drinking milk. Not only statues of Ganesha, but the entire Hindu pantheon was thirsty.

By noon, worshipers in other countries were witnessing the same from their statues. Hindu temples in Britain, Canada, Dubai, Nepal, and others also contained thirsty gods. The World Hindu Council declared the day’s events a miracle. As believers flocked to temples, traffic was blocked, especially near major houses of worship in large cities. The sale of milk skyrocketed. One store in England sold over 25,000 pints of milk while in New Delhi sales jumped 30%.

Scientists from India’s Ministry of Science and Technology arrived at a New Delhi temple. They added food coloring to the milk. The milk’s movement was found to be a matter of surface tension and capillary action pulling the liquid up. The dry statue seemed to drink up the liquid, but then gravity worked and the area under the spoon was found to be stained by the dye. By noon, the statues were getting sated and the miracle ended before nightfall. Believers were unimpressed by the scientific explanation. A similar miracle took place in August of 2006. This time, the events were seen only in India.

“A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie.” – Robert Green Ingersoll

“As we become purer channels for God’s light, we develop an appetite for the sweetness that is possible in this world. A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world that is, but toward creating the world that could be.” – Marianne Williamson

“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman

“Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.” – Elizabeth David

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent. There are four major branches or denominations of the religion: Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, and Smartism. There are a variety of other traditions as well. There are traditions or philosophies regarding daily morality. These are based on dharma, karma, and the norms of the prevalent society. There is no single founder of the religion and roots stem from the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India. Hinduism is often called the “oldest living religion” of the world. There are a number of religious texts which are classified into two types: Sruti or revealed and Smriti or remembered. There are about one billion followers today with about 950 million of them living in India.

Also on this day: Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia finds out there is a Santa Clause.
Monday Night Changes – In 1970, Monday Night Football premiered.
Ablaze – In 1776, New York City was on fire.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2012

Depiction of the Great Fire of New York

September 21, 1776: The Great Fire of New York takes place. Prior to the American Revolutionary War’s beginning in April 1775, New York City was an important commercial center. It was not, however, anything like today. New York City occupied only the lower portion of the island of Manhattan and had a population of about 25,000. Before the war the city was politically divided. After hostilities began, Patriots seized control and arrested or expelled Loyalists. In the summer of 1776 British General William Howe began a campaign to take the city. The side in power would not only controlle the commerce, but also command an important military harbor. Howe took Staten Island in July and went on to attack Long Island with naval help from his brother, Admiral Lord Richard Howe.

As the brothers approached, General George Washington made a strategic withdrawal and moved the bulk of his army back about ten miles north to Harlem Heights. Several people, including General Nathanael Greene and John Jay, advocated burning to city down to avoid the British from enjoying its benefits. Washington put the question before the Second Continental Congress which rejected the idea. Prior to and during the Patriot occupation, much of the civilian population had fled and the Patriots had control, for military use of much of the real estate. On September 15, 1776, General Howe landed on Manhattan. He marched toward Harlem and the two armies clashed. As the British took the city, they also took control of the real estate.

In the early hours of this day, a fire broke out in the city. John Joseph Henry, an American prisoner aboard the HMS Pearl, said it began in the Fighting Cocks Tavern, near Whitehall Slip. The weather had been dry and there were strong winds. The fire spread both north and west. Residents still in the city took to the streets, fleeing the flames as they encroached amid the tightly packed homes and businesses. They carried what possessions they could as they ran from the fire and found refuge in the town commons, today called City Hall Park. The fire crossed Broadway and burned most of the city between Broadway and the Hudson River. The prevailing winds changed, the fire neared a relatively undeveloped area, and late in the day, it was extinguished.

It is unknown exactly how many buildings were destroyed. Numbers range from 400 to 1,000. That number is 10 to 25 percent of the 4,000 building then comprising New York City. Trinity Church was destroyed; St Paul’s Chapel survived. General Howe blamed the colonists for deliberately setting the fire in his report to London. George Washington wrote to John Hancock on September 22, vehemently denying this charge. Historians cannot find any evidence of arson. The British took over what buildings were left standing. Crime and poor sanitation plagued the area during the British occupation which ended in November 1783.

About one o’clock on the morning of Saturday, the 21st, a fire broke out near Whitehall Slip. A fresh gale was blowing from the south, and the weather was dry, thus spread with inconceivable rapidity. – Martha Joanna Lamb

Trinity Church was a blackened heap of ruins, together with the parsonage, charity school, and Lutheran Church. – Martha Joanna Lamb

Howe attributed the calamity to a conspiracy. – Martha Joanna Lamb.

Providence – or some good honest Fellow, has done more for us than we were disposed to do for ourselves. – George Washington, in a letter to his cousin

Also on this day:

Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia finds out there is a Santa Clause.
Got Milk? – In 1995, the Miracle of the Milk began in India.
Monday Night Changes – In 1970, Monday Night Football premiered.

Monday Night Changes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 21, 2011

Howard CosellSeptember 21, 1970: The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets 31-20 when Monday Night Football (MNF) premieres on ABC. The show would continue with ABC through the 2005 season, broadcasting 555 games during the 36 year run. For the 2006 season, MNF moved to ESPN and continues to air games weekly during the NFL season. Both ABC and ESPN are owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Pete Rozell, the NFL Commissioner in the 1960s, envisioned a weekly game played during prime time to capture larger audiences. In 1964, a proposal for a Friday night game was soundly denied as it would interfere with the high school football schedule. On September 28, 1964 the first Monday game was played at Detroit when the Tigers hosted the Green Bay Packers to a stadium packed with 59,203 fans – the only ones to see the game as it was not televised. Both CBS and NBC aired a couple games during four seasons in the late 1960s.

The contract for the weekly game went to ABC. Keith Jackson, a veteran play-by-play announcer; Howard Cosell, a controversial New York sports commentator; and Don Meredith, a retired Dallas Cowboy quarterback co-hosted the show the first season. Cosell disapproved of ex-jocks in the booth and his ongoing feud with “Dandy” Don sparked viewer interest. There have been different announcers over the years, each adding their own personal touch to the show along with color commentators and sideline reporters. Dennis Miller’s highbrow humor went over the heads of many viewers and the show put up a webpage to explain his jokes.

The first points ever scored on MNF came when Gary Collins of the Browns completed an 8-yard pass from Bill Nelson. The 20,000th point came on November 5, 2001 on a 39 yard field goal by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos. The highest rated game in the show’s history was the 1985 clash between The Bears and The Dolphins. The highest scoring game with 95 points on the board was during the 1983 Packers and Redskins game with Green Bay taking the win at 48-47.

“Great teams have great character. These are teams that are not distraught that they’re down at halftime.” – Keith Jackson

“Sports is the toy department of human life.” – Howard Cosell

“It worked out all right. It really did. I give (Cosell) a lot of credit for setting a certain tone. He made my job so much easier.” – Don Meredith

“As Don Meredith used to say, turn out the lights, the party’s over.” – Nick Hunter

Also on this day:
Yes, Virginia – In 1897, Virginia finds out there is a Santa Clause.
Got Milk? – In 1995, the Miracle of the Milk began in India.

Yes, Virginia

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

Virginia O’Hanlon

September 21, 1897: The New York Sun publishes a letter from eight-year-old Virginia asking if there is really a Santa Claus. Dr. Philip O’Hanlon was a coroner’s assistant. He came home from work one day to find his daughter, Virginia, quite upset. Her friends at school had told her that there was no Santa Claus and she wanted her Papa to tell her the truth.

Dr. O’Hanlon, perhaps passing the buck, or perhaps with a then-normal absolute faith in journalism, told his daughter to write to the paper, saying if it was in The Sun, it had to be true. Virginia wrote in and was answered on the editorial page. It is the most reprinted editorial ever published. However, on this date, it was placed far down the page after the newly invented “chainless bicycle” was written up.

Francis Church wrote an answer. Francis and his brother, William, established the “Army and Navy Journal” in 1863 and “Galaxy” magazine in 1866. William owned a newspaper, The New York Sun, and Francis wrote for it. Francis had been a journalist during the Civil War and it was with that background in mind that he answered Virginia.

Knowing the hopelessness and suffering present in the world, especially during war time, Church wanted to show that the world was also a place of love, acceptance, good will, and joy. Taking a child’s plea and giving it an honest response, this is the message he printed, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” His position of hopefulness struck a chord in the hearts of the readers. His message remains the same for children today, celebrating the childlike faith, the poetry, and the romance that make life bearable.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.” – Francis Church

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” – Roy L. Smith

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – Mary Ellen Chase

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Also on this day, in 1995 the Milk Miracle visits the Hindu God, Ganesha.