Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Unheeded Warnings!

April 14, 2018

Despite receiving numerous warning of sea ice, it wasn’t until her lookouts actually saw the ice that the danger was realized and by then it was too late to take evasive action.  The Titanic struck the iceberg at approximately 10:40 PM and began sinking on this date in 1912.  A tragic event indeed.   When they made the movie “Titanic,” I’m sure the Hollywood took more than their share of liberties with the story (for entertainment value, of course), but the theme song, “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion continues to stir my emotions.

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Fun Fact Friday, Number Seventy-One!

April 13, 2018

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “American history.”  Do you know . . . what was Billy the Kid’s real name?

William H. Bonney was actually an alias that Billy the Kid was using when he was sentenced to die.  His real name was probably William Henry McCarty, Jr.  His mother preferred to call him Henry because she did not want him known as a junior.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

The Pony Express!

April 9, 2018

The Pony Express, utilizing horse and rider teams in relay fashion, was an early mail-delivery system between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California (more than 2,000 miles).  But did you know . . .

  • they were more than twice as fast as their competitors?
  • they were a financial failure and only remained in business for nineteen months?
  • there was a weight limit on the riders?
  • the riders were required to take a loyalty oath?
  • the mail was carried in a specially designed saddlebag?
  • the cost kept ordinary people from using the Pony Express?
  • one rider completed a 380-mile run in less than two days?
  • the riders didn’t have the deadliest job?
  • Buffalo Bill Cody was not a Pony Express rider?
  • the transcontinental telegraph is what put the Pony Express out of business?

Source: www.history.com

“You May Fire When You Are Ready, Gridley . . . !”

March 3, 2018
GeoDeweyThese are the words spoken by Commodore George Dewey on May 1st of 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay (in the Philippines) during the Spanish-American War to Captain Charles Vernon Gridley.  But were you aware that it wasn’t until March 3, 1899, that George Dewey became the very first person in the United States to hold the distinguishing rank of “Admiral of the Navy.”
“You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”  ―George Dewey
Source/Notes:  To Charles Vernon Gridley – the captain of his ship – on 1 May 1898 – As quoted in: Washington Post, 3 October 1899.
Photo source:  By Admiral George Dewey, scanned from photogravure from 1899 book in Infrogmation own collection, and uploaded by Infrogmation to en:Wikipedia on 13 November 2002. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Fifty-Seven!

January 5, 2018

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “world history.”  Do you know what object killed most British sailors in eighteenth-century sea battles?

Contrary to popular belief (or what you might consider as logical), most sailors were NOT killed by cannon balls.  Rather, they were killed by the flying wood splinters that were caused by the cannon balls.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Fifty-Five!

December 22, 2017

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “language/initials/mottos.”  Do you know when the English word “pig” was first used as a pejorative term for a police officer?

Sorry, it was not the 1960s during the Civil Rights era.  Rather, in the early nineteenth century, “pig” was used and applied to plainclothes policemen in London.  However, in languages other than English, the term was used much earlier (e.g., when the children of Israel condemned the Roman police authorities long before the nineteenth century).

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

A Mule is Born!

October 26, 2017

Today marks the day that the first mule was born in the United States (1785).

In addition, October 26th represents the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • Jewish weekly newspaper in English  (The Jew [monthly], New York, NY, 1849)
  • washing machine (Hamilton Erastus Smith, Philadelphia, PA, 1858)
  • steeplechase (American Jockey Club, Jerome Park, Westchester County, NY, 1869)
  • Army pilot to fly solo in an airplane (2nd Lieutenant Frederic Erastus Humphreys, College Park, MD, 1909)

Source: Famous First Facts, by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell

First Female Supreme Court Justice!

September 25, 2017

Today marks the day (in 1981) that Sandra Day O’Connor took her seat on the Supreme Court of the United States after taking the oath of office (which was administered by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger).  She was originally nominated on July 7th by then President Ronald Reagan and was eventually approved by the Senate, in a 99-0 vote, on September 21st.

In addition, September 25th was the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • newspaper published in the British colonies (Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestic, Boston, MA, 1690)
  • newspaper publisher (Benjamin Harris, “the father of American newspapers,” 1690)
  • constitutional amendments to fail the ratification process (first two articles of the eventual Bill of Rights, 1789)
  • play presented by a Jewish professional acting troupe (Die Hexe, Hebrew Opera and Dramatic Company, New York, NY, 1880)
  • micropaleontology course at a college (Columbia University (Prof. Jesse James Galloway), New York, NY, 1924)
  • transatlantic telephone call carried by the transoceanic cable  (Cleo Frank Craig [Chairman, AT&T] in New York, NY, to British Postmaster General in London, UK, 1956)

Source: Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

Time to Evacuate!

August 27, 2017

Do you recall which natural disaster caused the evacuation of an entire city?  It was Hurricane Katrina (a category 3 hurricane),  that caused the evacuation of the entire city of New Orleans on this date in 2005.  As the storm approached the then mayor, Ray Nagin, asked for voluntary departures, but the very next day (August 27th), he made the exodus mandatory.  Obviously, those without transportation were unable to comply and when Katrina hit (on August 29th), she destroyed levees and sunk the city under floodwaters up to twenty feet deep.

In addition, August 27th was the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • expedition of Englishmen to cross the Allegheny Mountains  (Fort Henry, VA, 1650)
  • theatrical performance (The Bare and the Cubb, Accomack, VA, 1665)
  • cyclone of record (Jamestown, VA, 1784)
  • major battle lost by American forces (Battle of Long Island, 1776)
  • steamboat to carry a man (built by John Fitch, Delaware River, 1898)
  • industrial school for girls (Lancaster, MA, 1898)
  • oil well that was commercially productive (Seneca Oil Company, Titusville, PA, 1859)
  • metal clarinet (Charles Gerard Conn, Elkhart, IN, 1889)
  • radio broadcast sent from an airplane (James A. Macready, above Sheepshead Bay, NY, 1910)
  • ship to fire a Polaris missile (Observation Island, 1959)
  • Ambassador assassinated in office (John Gordon Mein, ambassador to Guatemala, 1968)

Source: Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janel Podell.

“Kindred Spirits!”

August 21, 2017

 

Asher_Durand_Kindred_Spirits

“Kindred Spirits,” 1849 

This is the title of a painting by Asher Brown Durand, an American painter and one of the founders of the Hudson River School, who was born on this date in 1796.  Despite not taking up painting until her was 40 years of age, he was considered by some as the “father of American landscape painting,” and judging by the detail in this and his other paintings, I can see why.   This painting currently resides within a two-hour drive of my apartment — the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  Alice Walton supposedly paid $35 million (a record for the price paid for an American painting at the time) to acquire this piece in 2005; the museum wasn’t officially opened until late 2011.