Little Bits of History

September 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2017

1598: Gabriel Spenser dies. Born some time around 1578, he was an Elizabethan actor who worked with some of the major theater companies in London. He worked with both Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Shakespeare’s company) and the Earl of Pembroke’s Men. He seems to have been a rather volatile young man and in December 1596 got into an argument with James Feake. They were at the house of a Shoreditch barber when they got physical. According to Spencer, Feake, the son of a goldsmith, went on the attack. He grabbed a copper candelabrum and threw it at Spencer, missing him. Spencer attacked Feake, without unsheathing his sword, but poked Feake in the eye and the sword penetrated his brain. Feake died three days later. There is no record of a punishment for this, so Spencer may have successfully argued self-defense.

Spencer was part of the cast for the new play, The Isle of the Dogs, written by Ben Jonson and Thomas Nashe. The play was considered scandalous, perhaps for satirizing both the Queen and Parliament. The play was banned, all copies destroyed and Jonson, Spencer, and one more actor, Robert Shaw, were imprisoned. Nashe escaped as did all other cast members. Records remain seeking the arrests of the rest of the cast, but nothing ever came of it. The three were released after eight weeks. In November 1597 Spencer joined a new crew, the Admiral’s Men, as a shareholder, giving him a percentage but this caused the Earl of Pembroke’s Men to file suit for breach of contract.

On this day, for reasons lost to history, Spenser and Jonson met on Hoxton fields to engage in a duel. Although Jonson wrote about it later, his only comment was that Spenser had an unfair advantage because he had a longer sword. The 26-year old playwright/actor Jonson faced the 20-year-old incensed actor Spencer who initialed the duel. Spenser was able to wound Jonson, cutting his arm. But Jonson was able to create what would later be determined to be a six inch gash along Spenser’s right flank. Spenser died of his wounds.

Jonson was arrested and confessed to the killing. He was held briefly in Newgate Prison, but was eventually released by benefit of clergy. This legal wrangling came when he read a brief bible verse, Psalm 51 – which came to be known as the “neck verse” because you could keep from being hanged by invoking it. Jonson gave up his “good and chattels” and his left thumb was branded. He was released. He went on to create many plays and  poems. He even gained royal patronage. He died in 1637 at the age of 65.

To speak and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.

True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice.

He threatens many that hath injured one. – all from Ben Jonson

O God, have mercy upon me, according to thine heartfelt mercifulness. – from Psalm 51




Calorie Counter

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2015
Wilbur Olin Atwater

Wilbur Olin Atwater

September 22, 1907: Wilbur Olin Atwater dies at age 63. He was born in Johnsburg, New York in 1844 and grew up in New England. He did not fight in the US Civil War, instead pursuing his studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He was interested in civil engineering and agricultural chemistry and in 1868 he enrolled in Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School. There he studied agricultural fertilizers for mineral content and received his PhD in 1869. He then spent two years in Leipzig and Berlin visiting agricultural experiment stations. He also visited Scotland, Rome, and Naples and wrote of his travels for US newspapers. He returned to the US to teach at East Tennessee University and later went to Wesleyan to serve as their first Professor of Chemistry.

Atwater is best known for studies of human nutrition. He and fellow Wesleyan scientists Edward Rosa and Francis Benedict worked to create a system to measure “precisely” the energy provided by food – what we know today as calories. They did this by their invention of a respiration calorimeter which was housed in the basement of Judd Hall. Annual costs for experimentation surpassed $10,000 and it was considered a dream project for the 19th century. Atwater ran about 500 experiments in his lifetime with the first done in 1896. He studied respiration and metabolism in animals and humans.

He ran food analysis, dietary evolution, work energy consumption, and digestible foods all aided by his calorimeter. Atwater’s studies were based on the first law of thermodynamics which states that energy can be transformed, but it cannot be created nor destroyed. Applying this law to humans was a new concept but Atwater was able to prove that whatever food was consumed by a human and not converted to energy for use, was stored in the body. It changed how people thought about science and about humans and their place in the world ecology. His studies helped people understand the food calorie in both terms of consumption and metabolism.

The Atwater system or derivatives of it are still used today. They are used to calculate the available energy found in foods. However, it is not without dispute, but no better alternatives have been proposed. Atwater measured the heat of combustion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and noted they varied slightly depending on the sources. It is argued that his values were based on a typical diet of the time and are not appropriate for the diet we consume today. The digestibility coefficients for mixtures varies and are not the same as for individual items of food. Even with improved systems today, Atwater’s system remains the basis for the science of nutrition in the US.

Food imaginatively and lovingly prepared, and eaten in good company, warms the being with something more than the mere intake of calories. I cannot conceive of cooking for friends or family, under reasonable conditions, as being a chore. – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking the cookie causes calorie leakage. – Lewis Grizzard

To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party. – Adelle Davis

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. – James Beard

Also on this day: Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight took place.
Regrets – In 1776, Nathan Hale was executed as a spy.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
Movies – In 1910, the Duke of York’s Picture House opened.
Ford Tough – In 1975, the US President survived an assassination attempt.

Ford Tough

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2014
President Ford immediately after shots were fired

President Ford immediately after shots were fired

September 22, 1975: An attempt to assassinate US President Gerald Ford takes place. Squeaky Fromme had just attempted to kill the President 17 days before. Rather than hide in safety, the President continued his normal routine. Sara Jane Kahn Moore was born in West Virginia in 1930. She entered nursing school and served in the Women’s Army Corps. She went on to become an accountant. She was divorced five times and had four children before she turned to revolutionary politics earlier in the year. She was obsessed with Patty Heart and her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Randolph Hearst created People in Need to feed the poor as an attempt to appease the group holding his daughter. Moore was a bookkeeper for People in Need and an FBI informant when she became the second woman to attempt a presidential assassination.

Moore had been evaluated by the Secret Service earlier in the year and she was said to be no threat to the President. On September 21, 1975 she was picked up and released but not before police confiscated her .44 caliber revolver and 113 rounds of ammunition. On this day, she purchased a .38 caliber revolver but did not have time to test the gun. She was standing in the street outside the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She saw her target and took a shot. The sights on the gun were off and she narrowly missed the President. She again raised the gun to shoot, but before she could get a shot off, former Marine Oliver Sipple grabbed her arm and saved the President’s life. He also pulled Moore to the ground.

Moore was brought to trial and pled guilty to attempted assassination. She was sentenced to life in prison. In 1979, while at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia, Moore escaped only to be recaptured hours later. She was returned to prison, but transferred to a more secure one. She served the remainder of her prison term at a women’s prison in Dubin, California where she worked as an accountant earning $1.25 per hour. On December 31, 2007, Moore was released from prison. She was 77 years old at the time. President Ford had died of natural causes on December 26, 2006. She remained under supervised parole for five years after her release.

Fromme was also sentenced to life in prison and eventually she, too, was at the women’s prison in Dublin, California. Fromme was transferred from there to the Alserson prison where she, too, escaped. She was attempted to get in contact with Charles Manson. She was captured two days later and then sent to Fort Worth, Texas. She was first eligible for parole in 1985 but did not pursue it. She was finally granted parole in July 2008 but was not released because of her prison. She was finally released from prison on August 14, 2009 and moved to New York.

I do regret I didn’t succeed, and allow the winds of change to start. I wish I had killed him. I did it to create chaos.

I didn’t want to kill anybody, but there comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun.

The government had declared war on the left. Nixon’s appointment of Ford as Vice President and his resignation making Ford President seemed to be a continuing assault on America.

I know now that I was wrong to try. Thank God I didn’t succeed. People kept saying he would have to die before I could be released, and I did not want my release from prison to be dependent on somebody, on something happening to somebody else, so I wanted him to live to be 100. (2007) – all from Sara Jane Moore

Also on this day: Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Regrets – In 1776, Nathan Hale was executed as a spy.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
Movies – In 1910, the Duke of York’s Picture House opened.



Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2013
Nathan Hale statue at Yale

Nathan Hale statue at Yale

September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale gives up his one life for his country. Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. At age 13, he and his brother, Enoch, began their educations at Yale College. Both brothers joined Linonia, Yale’s literary fraternity. They were able to debate on a wide range of topics including astronomy, mathematics, literature, and ethics, especially the ethics of slavery. Nathan graduated with first-class honors in 1773 at the age of 18.

Nathan took a job teaching in East Haddam and then moved to New London. When war was declared, the young man left his teaching position to join the Connecticut militia. He was elected first lieutenant. He was not yet fully instated and missed the fighting during the Siege of Boston (April 19 – March 17, 1775) but joined the regular Continental Army’s 7th Connecticut Regimen on July 6, 1775. He served under Colonel Charles Webb.

By March 1776, Nathan was promoted to Captain and was given command of a small unit of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton’s Rangers with the orders to defend New York City. During the Battle of Long Island, the first major battle after the Declaration of Independence was issued, New York City was taken over by a flanking maneuver of the British forces. A delegation of Patriots met with the British on September 11, 1776 but peace was averted as the rebellious Americans refused to withdraw the Declaration.

Hale volunteered to go behind enemy lines to secure information regarding enemy strength and movement to bring back to General Washington. Hale was captured and as usual for the era, hanged as a spy and illegal combatant. Hale was marched to his execution site and “comported himself eloquently” but no one wrote down his speech. It was only later and by hearsay evidence that his famous line was recorded. The 21-year-old may have quoted lines from Joseph Addison’s play, Cato, instead. Either way, he is a hero today and the nation is grateful for his courage, valor, and honor. In fact, in 1985, he was officially declared the state hero of Connecticut.

“I only regret that I have but one life to give my country.” – Nathan Hale, attributed

“How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.” – Joseph Addison, in Cato

“He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.” – Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day

“Hale is in the American pantheon not because of what he did but because of why he did it. Nathan Hale spied on the British because the general’s tent was right next to his schoolhouse. On his way back to the Continental Army, the British broke into his school house and attacked him.” – Richard Helms

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Nathan Hale was considered a hero of his time, but there were no images left for future statue makers to use when erecting memorials to the young man. We do know from some letters left by others that he had blond hair, blue eyes, and was taller than average (at that time). He was thoughtful and intelligent and able to converse on many topics. Two famous statues have been created. One stands in New York City and one is located in front of Connecticut Hall where he lived when he attended Yale. One of his ancestors had been involved in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. His nephew, Edward Everett, was the “other” speaker at Gettysburg who was so impressed with Lincoln’s brief speech.

Also on this day: Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
Movies – In 1910, the Duke of York’s Picture House opened.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2012

Duke of York Picture House (photo by Hassocks5489)

September 22, 1910: The Duke of York’s Picture House opens. It remains open to this day and is the oldest continuously operating purpose built cinema in Britain. When it opened in Brighton, England, it was one of the earliest cinemas in the world. The architects were Clayton & Black. They used some of the walls from the Amber Ale Brewery, the building which occupied the space prior to the Picture House. The façade is new, but some of the rear walls were once part of the brewery. One hundred years later, the building remains largely unchanged.

The Duke’s was always a discerning cinema and in the early years had a slogan: “Bring her to the Duke’s, it is fit for a Duchess.” The name itself comes from a West End theater. Mrs. Melnotte-Wyatt was associated with both venues. It was built slightly outside the center of town and catered to a more upscale audience. This may have helped launch the business and has certainly helped to sustain it. In 1981, it began operating as an arts cinema. Although it was not always used for “class” acts, in lean times it was even host to punk rock concerts. It was rather run down when it went up on the block again.

In 1994 it was purchased by Picturehouse Cinemas. They have invested heavily in the building in an effort to return it to its former glory. When new, the color scheme was red and cream. It originally seated over 800 guests. Even today, one of the balcony boxes remain. However, now it hosts one screen and can seat 283. Today, there is also a café/bar upstairs and a concession space downstairs. There are giant model legs painted like those of a Can Can dancer on one of the towers in the front of the building. These were added by a previous owner and reminiscent of the “Not The Moulin Rouge Theatre” in Oxford. In 2007, a fund drive was held to help raise money to put a new roof on the building. Over £25,000 was raised. The roof was replaced in April 2008. At the same time, the balcony was remodeled.

Clayton & Black was an architectural firm from Brighton and established in 1876. Charles E Clayton and Ernest Black opened their firm and eventually their sons, Charles L Clayton and Kenneth Black, along with other architects, joined. The firm’s first recorded work was the rebuilding of the Blenheim House and was commissioned in 1875-6. They also worked on the Gwydyr Mansions in 1890 and the former Royal Assurance Society office found on North Street in Brighton. They also created a large number of red-brick buildings in Hove. The company dissolved in 1974.

A visit to a cinema is a little outing in itself. It breaks the monotony of an afternoon or evening; it gives a change from the surroundings of home, however pleasant. – Ivor Novello

Although for some people cinema means something superficial and glamorous, it is something else. I think it is the mirror of the world. – Jeanne Moreau

My duty is to try to reach beauty. Cinema is emotion. When you laugh you cry. – Roberto Benigni

The essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy. – Francis Ford Coppola

Also on this day:

Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Regrets – In 1776, Nathan Hale was executed as a spy.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.


Tevye’s Family

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2011

Fiddler on the Roof

September 22, 1964: The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof opens. The story is based on Tevye and his Daughters or Tevye the Milkman and was originally titled Tevye. The original story was written by Sholem Aleichem in 1894. The tale was first written in Yiddish and the musical’s title gives a nod to the Marc Chagall painting entitled “The Fiddler.” This was just one of many paintings depicting Jewish life of Eastern Europe, many of which contained a fiddler, a metaphor for the joyousness of life lived in a rich tradition rife with uncertainty.

This original Broadway production began at the Imperial Theatre, transferred to the Majestic Theater in 1967, and finally moved to The Broadway Theater in 1970. The show ran for 3,242 performances. It was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins with a set design by Boris Aronson. Zero Mostel starred as Tevye the milkman with Maria Karnilova playing his wife, Golde. Both won Tony awards for their performances. Paul Lipson was Mostel’s understudy and went on to perform in the role of Tevye more than 2,000 times – more than any other actor.

The show opened in London in 1967 and played for 2,030 performances. There have been other revivals and even a film version of Fiddler. The two act musical contains ten major songs in the first act and another nine in the second. Tevye and Golde are on stage with their five daughters, four suitors for the daughters, a village matchmaker, and other elders of the village.

The play is set in Russia in 1905 and opens with Tevya explaining the precarious life of Jews at this time. A matchmaker comes by and sets up matches for the older daughters. The struggles of daily life are a theme throughout. There is even talk of a minor pogrom in the near future. The eldest daughter makes a successful match and is married. After the wedding, the Jews are told they all must leave the village, the pogrom has arrived. In the second act takes place months later, as the revolution continues Tevya is again faced with the flouting of tradition as his second daughter has arranged her own marriage. Life goes on and the daughters continue to astound their parents. Tevya’s third daughter wishes to marry outside the faith causing a crisis. As time moves on, the family survives, but is scattered across two continents.

Perchik: In this world it is the rich who are the criminals. Someday their wealth will be ours.
Tevye: That would be nice. If they would agree, I would agree.

[about Yente, the matchmaker]
Tzeitel: But Mama, the men she finds. The last one was so old and he was bald. He had no hair.
Golde: A poor girl without a dowry can’t be so particular. You want hair, marry a monkey.

Perchik: Money is the world’s curse.
Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover.

[to God]
Tevye: Sometimes I think, when it gets too quiet up there, You say to Yourself, “What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?”

Also on this day:
Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Regrets – In 1776, Nathan Hale was executed as a spy.


Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

The Long Count fight

September 22, 1927: Jack Dempsey loses to Gene Tunney in “The Long Count” heavyweight boxing fight. Dempsey held the heavyweight title from 1919-1926, when he first lost to Tunney. Dempsey was one of the greats, knocking out 26 of his opponents in the first round.

Dempsey lived the life of a celebrity and married a movie star, Estelle Taylor in 1925. He appeared in films and fought rarely in the years leading up to his first match against Tunney.

Tunney, an ex-Marine, was only two years younger than his opponent, but had been fighting regularly. He was fast and skilled and could out-box Dempsey who had lost his timing and reflexes in the intervening years. Dempsey accepted defeat gracefully in 1926, but did consent to a rematch.

Before their bout, a new rule came into play. It was not accurately followed during the fight which was viewed by thousands and gambled on by even more, especially Mobsters. The new rule said that during a knock down, the standing fighter should go to a neutral corner while the timekeeper began the count. The referee took eight seconds to get Dempsey into a corner and only then began the count. Tunney got up at nine and won the fight on points.

The debate remains. Could Tunney have really gotten up without the extra seconds to regroup? Was the referee paid off by those heavily betting on the fight? Ring size was at issue as well, since rather than the usual 16-foot ring Dempsey favored, the fight was held in a 20-foot ring. Tunney held the heavyweight championship title until 1928.

“Honey, I just forgot to duck.” – Jack Dempsey, after losing to Tunney on September 23, 1926

“A champion is one who gets up when he can’t.” – Jack Dempsey

“I zigged when I should have zagged.” – Jack Roper, after losing to Joe Louis on April 17, 1939

Reporter: [Billy] Conn is going to use plenty [of] footwork, and do lots of running.
Louis: He can run, but he can’t hide.” – Joe Louis

Also on this day, in 1776 Nathan Hale gave his one life for his country.