Sunday, December 29, 2013

DECEMBER 29 = Massacre at Wounded Knee

Eyewitness to Wounded Knee

"During this time a medicine man, gaudily dressed and fantastically painted, executed the maneuvers of the ghost dance, raising and throwing dust into the air. He exclaimed 'Ha! Ha!' as he did so, meaning he was about to do something terrible, and said, 'I have lived long enough,' meaning he would fight until he died. Turning to the young warriors who were squatted together, he said 'Do not fear, but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us. The prairie is large, and their bullets will fly over the prairies and will not come toward us. If they do come toward us, they will float away like dust in the air.' I turned to Major Whitside and said, 'That man is making mischief,' and repeated what he had said. Whitside replied, 'Go direct to Colonel Forsyth and tell him about it,' which I did. "

The "Ghost dance" religion

This was the recollection of Philip Wells, a mixed-blood Sioux Indian who served the U.S. Army as in interpreter of the events on the morning of this date, December 29, in 1890. It was on this date that a massacre of Sioux Indians occurred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The "ghost dance" to which Wells refers is a dance to a miraculous vision that an
Indian named Wakova had had. This man, a Paiute mystic had fallen into a trance during an eclipse of the sun that he saw while in Nevada (The "Ghost Dance" is pictured above). When he came out of his trance, he told others that he had been taken up into the world of the spirits. While amongst the spirits, he had received a revelation that a new day was dawning for the indigenous American peoples. He saw a world in which the Indians who had died would return, the vast herds of Buffalo would be restored, and the white oppressors would be vanquished. But this was strictly a religious faith of an afterlife. This new faith had certain tenets, which included behavior that was non-violent; there was to be no lying, no stealing, no cruelty. The dance would enable those who followed this faith to catch a brief glimpse of this paradise. It came to be called the "Ghost dance religion" by whites because it hinged on this belief in reuniting with dead spirits.

The Massacre at Wounded Knee

The Sioux added their own facet to this new faith: the wearing of brightly colored shirts which they said would be impervious to the white man's bullets. This sounded ominous to many of the white men who heard it, and this unease boiled over at Wounded Knee. The recent killing of Chief Sitting Bull had frightened some of the Chief's followers to take refuge in the camp of Big Foot, a Miniconjou Sioux Chief. When Big Foot and his followers were encamped at Wounded Knee Creek, they were surrounded by 470 troopers of the U.S. 7'th Cavalry who were armed with Hotchkiss Guns, a light rapid fire field cannon - a kind of precursor to the machine gun. At 8:00 that morning, the Sioux men came out and sat in a semi circle in front of their tipis. Colonel James Forsyth (pictured below), determined to disarm these men, sent
soldiers into their tipis to accomplish this. This tension quickly exploded into full fledged violence. One young Indian pulled out a gun and began firing. The Hotchkiss guns opened fire and swept the field, cutting down anything that moved. The few armed Indians tried to resist, but it was hopeless. In all, 25 white men were killed as opposed to over 180 Indians. This included the sick, such as Chief Big Foot who died as he attempted to rise from his sick bed, as well as women and children.  The bodies of the dead, were left to lie until a blizzard subsided. On January 1, they were buried in a common grave, pictured at the top. This was the final "battle" between the indigenous American peoples and white men. The period of conflict was over, and peace - some would say the peace of the graveyard - settled in hereafter.

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!

Sources =

Time Life the OLD West Books 24 Volume SET (The Old West) By Time Life Books (Leather Bound - 1977) "The Great Chiefs", text by Benjamin Capps Time Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1975.

The American Heritage Book of Indians - Narrative by William Brandon American Heritage Publ. Inc., New York, 1961.

Pictures =


"Ghost Dance" :


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Saturday, December 28, 2013

DECEMBER 28 = Carrie Nation STRIKES!!

"I was awakened by a voice which seemed to me speaking in my heart, these words, 'GO TO KIOWA,' and my hands were lifted and thrown down and the words, 'I'LL STAND BY YOU.' The words, 'Go to Kiowa,' were spoken in a murmuring, musical tone, low and soft, but 'I'll stand by you,' was very clear, positive and emphatic. I was impressed with a great inspiration, the interpretation was very plain, it was this: 'Take something in your hands, and throw at these places in Kiowa and smash them.' "

This was how Carrie Nation described the heaven-sent vision that sent her into countless bars and saloons across the United States wielding a hatchet to smash the evil demon of alcohol. And she began the hatchet phase of her career on today's date, Dec. 28, 1900 at the Hotel Carey saloon in Wichita, Kansas.

Carrie Nation Grows Up HATING Booze!!

Standing at nearly 6 feet tall and weighing 180 pounds, Carry Amelia Moore Nation, Carrie Nation, as she came to be known, cut an imposing figure. She had been born on November 25, 1846 in Garrard County, Kentucky, to slave owners George and Mary Campbell Moore. For most of her early life she was in poor health and her family experienced financial setbacks, moving several times and finally settling in Belton, Missouri in Cass County. In 1867 she married
Dr.Charles Gloyd, who had a severe drinking problem. They had one child, a daughter, before separating in 1868. Gloyd died a year later, and Carrie attributed her strong anti-liquor sentiments to this poor first marriage. Miss Carrie married David A. Nation, nineteen years her senior—an attorney, minister, and newspaper editor with children, in 1874. The Nations moved to in Medicine Lodge, Kansas wherein he worked as a minister at a local church while Carrie ran a succcesful hotel. (Above, Nation, circa 1874) Nation started a local branch of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and campaigned for the enforcement of Kansas's ban on the sales of liquor. Her ways of campaigning ranged from from simple protests to singing to saloon patrons hymns accompanied by a hand organ, to yelling to bartenders with such clarion calls as, "Good morning, destroyer of men's souls." But she got poor results from this sort of thing. So she prayed to God for guidance and in 1899 had the epiphany which she described above.

Carrie Has an Ax or a Hatchet to Grind

Nation gathered several rocks – "smashers", in her dry parlance – and went to Dobson's Saloon on June 7. Crying out "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate," she started wrecking the saloon's stock with her rocks. She smashed two other saloons in Kiowa, after which a tornado hit eastern Kansas. She took this as as divine approval of her actions. And subsequently switched over to a hand held hatchet as her chosen method of dispensing God's wrath. And her first foray into axing the drinks came today in Wichita, wherein she also smashed up a titillating picture of Cleopatra behind the bar. Between 1900 and
1910 she went on a national tear, and was arrested some 30 times after leading her followers in the destruction one watering hole after another while shouting "Smash, ladies, smash!" to her confederates. Saloons took to posting signs saying "All nations welcome except Carrie". Prize-fighter John L. Sullivan was said to have run and hid when Nation burst into his New York City saloon. Self-righteous and formidable, Nation mocked her opponents as "rum-soaked, whiskey-swilled, saturn-faced rummies." All the time she referred to herself as "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like." Author Herbert Asbury in his 1929 book "Christs Bulldag" called her "the most industrious meddler and busy-body that even the Middle West, hotbed of the bizarre and the fanatical, has ever produced."

Carrie Nation's Bottle Crushing Legacy

Although Nation's campaign of saloon wrecking won her national prominence, the immediate results were not what she had hoped. She suceeded in pressurimg Kansas into enforcing its prohibition laws more aggressively, but most of the country still sanctioned the sale of alcohol. Towards the end of her life Nation resided in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where she founded the home known as Hatchet Hall. Having deteriorated both mentally and physically, she collapsed during a speech in a Eureka Springs park, and was taken to a hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas. She died there on June 9, 1911,and was buried in an unmarked grave in Belton City Cemetery in Belton, Missouri. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union later erected a stone inscribed "Faithful to the Cause of Prohibition, She Hath Done What She Could" and the name "Carry A. Nation". Ironically, by the time the U.S. actually did adopt prohibition in 1920, Nation was largely forgotten--but the hatchet-waving Kansas reformer unquestionably helped lay the foundation for America's ill-fated experiment with with a dry society.

Carrie Stops by the Queen City...

Incidentally, Miss Carrie brought her hatcheting crusade to my very own native town of Cincinnati at one point. According to the book "Yesterday's Cincinnati", she took one look at all of the Saloons lining Vine Street and immediately gave up. "I would have dropped from exhaustion before I had gone one block!!"

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!


by Luke Feck, E.A. Seemann Publishing Inc., Miami, Fla. 1975.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

DECEMBER 25 = The Christmas Truce of 1914


"25th Dec. At 8.30 a.m. I was looking out, and saw four Germans leave their trenches and come towards us; I told two of my men to go and meet them, unarmed (as the Germans were unarmed), and to see that they did not pass the half-way line. We were 350-400 yards apart at this point..... They were three private soldiers and a stretcher-bearer, and their spokesman started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce.  He came from Suffolk, where he had left his best girl and a 3.5 h.p. motor-bike! He told me that he could not get a letter to the girl, and wanted to send one through me. I made him write out a post card in front of me, in English, and I sent it off that night. I told him that she probably would not be a bit keen to see him again. We then entered on a long discussion on every sort of thing. I was dressed in an old stocking-cap and a man's overcoat, and they took me for a corporal, a thing which I did not discourage, as I had an eye to going as near their lines as possible. I asked them what orders they had from their officers as to coming over to us, and they said none; they had just come over out of goodwill."

The Frontline Troops Call a Halt to the Fighting

This was the highly improbable scene that morning of Dec. 25 in 1914 as described by Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the 2'nd Scots Guards of the British Army in France. The actual events, while not so strange when looked at in context of the war up to that point, are all the more remarkable for being true. It was still early in the war, and the hate generated by years of relentless combat and propaganda had not set in yet. Troops still had recent memories of home; civilian life was not so far off as it would soon become. And the surroundings of the battlefield were not nearly so stark and outer worldly as they would become. Villages still were in evidence, and no-mans land was not yet the shell-hole hell-hole that it would become in only a short time. It still bore traces of life. And for the troops that took the biggest part in the events of Dec. 24 -25, 1914, the British and the Germans, it was comparatively easy. The war had raged in France and Belgium thus far. So their men could still think of home as a place untouched by war. Nevertheless, combat companies which had only recently been locked in mortal combat with each other found themselves exchanging Christmas greetings that year.

The Spirit of Peace Begins to Spread...

The event started in the Ypres (pronounced "eepres", but derisively pronounced "wipers" by the Brits) region of Belgium. German troops there began decorating small Christmas trees on Dec. 24. They continued by singing "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night"), and the Brits in opposing trenches responded by singing English Christmas carols. It was reported in one of the Brit newspapers - the Daily Telegraph that the Germans somehow had shipped a chocolate cake to the Brit trenches along with a note requesting a ceasefire at 7:30 that evening in order to celebrate the season as well as their captain's birthday. The Brits agreed, and sent some tobacco as a return gift. Both sides had recently received care packages from home, so they had an extra amount of food with them. So when 7:30 came the two sides each popped their heads above the edge of their trenches, and slowly began to emerge. Eventually, the men came out and began to exchange other gifts of tobacco, and cakes that they had received from home. The truce spread to other areas of the battle front. In some areas, the truce was called as a way for men from both sides to collect their dead from no-mans land, and give them a proper burial. Inevitably, the men in the burial teams began to interact.

The Officers Really Didn't Like the Idea....

The commanders of the troops took a decidedly dim view of this sort of fraternization. Comfortably ensconced in fine homes well behind the frontlines, they sent orders that this was all to stop. But in actual practice they and their counterparts on the other sides were surprisingly relaxed, viewing this as an interval during which they could shore up their own defences. Captain Hulse, quoted above had left orders that this was to stop, and left to report the situation to headquarters. He had no sooner returned than he found about twenty or thirty men from both sides gathered in no-mans land talking quite amiably:

"Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged addresses given and received, photos of families shown, etc. One of our fellows offered a German a cigarette; the German said, 'Virginian?' Our fellow said, 'Aye, straight-cut', the German said 'No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!'... It gave us all a good laugh." There were even impromptu soccer games played in some places. This spontaneous truce could not of course last. But it did go on for all of Christmas day in those places where it did occur. In some sectors it actually lasted for some days after New Years. Captain Hulse recorded the end of non-hostilities:

"During the afternoon the same extraordinary scene was enacted between the lines, and one of the enemy told me that he was longing to get back to London: I assured him that "So was I." He said that he was sick of the war, and I told him that when the truce was ended, any of his friends would be welcome in our trenches, and would be well-received, fed, and given a free passage to the Isle of Man! Another coursing meeting took place, with no result, and at 4.30 p.m. we agreed to keep in our respective trenches, and told them that the truce was ended."

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources :

"Silent Night - the 1914 Christmas Truce" by Stanley Weintraub, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2001

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL # 3 = Dickens, Irving at Christmas

Washington Irving's Sketchbook

"There is something in the very season of the year, that gives charm to the festivity of Christmas. At other times, we derive a great portion of our pleasures from the mere beauty of nature. Our feelings sally forth and dissipate themselves over the sunny landscape, and we 'live abroad and everywhere'......But in the depth of winter, when nature lies despoiled of every charm, and wrapped in her shroud of sheeted snow, we turn for our gratification to moral sources....our thoughts are more concentrated; our friendly sympathies more aroused. We feel more sensibly the charm of each other's society, and are brought more closely together by dependence on each other for enjoyment. Heart calleth unto heart, and we draw our pleasures from the deep wells of living kindness which lie in the quiet recesses of our bosoms; and which, when resorted to, furnish forth the pure element of domestic felicity."
- From "The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon", "Christmas", by Washington Irving (Above).

A Public Reading of "A Christmas Carol"

"It must be sixteen or seventeen years ago -- I cannot fix the date exactly, though the affair made a strong impression on me at the time -- that I witnessed Charles Dicken's debut as a public reader. .... It was the Christmas Carol that Mr. Dickens read; the night was Christmas Eve. As the clock struck the appointed hour, a red, jovial face, unrelieved by the heavy moustache which the novelist has since assumed, a broad, high forehead, and a perfectly Micawber-like expanse of shirt-collar and front appeared in a red baize box, and a full, sonorous voice rang out the words 'Marley was dead to begin with' -- then paused, as if to take in the character of the audience. No need of further hesitation."

Charles Dickens

The above quotation is taken from an account of a public reading given by Charles Dickens of his fabulous, and wildly successful story, "A Christmas Carol" . The publication of "A Christmas Carol" came at a very low ebb in Dicken's career. He had achieved great fame and celebrity with his work "Sketches by Boz", and had achieved (then) unheard-of publishing success with "The Pickwick Papers" which was published in installments, and for which 40,000 readers were lining up for copies by the end of November of 1837. But these successes were followed by "Oliver Twist", which did reasonably well, but then came "Barnaby Rudge" , and "Martin Chuzzlewit" both of which failed to attract nearly the readership of the previous works. In publishing, then as now, a writer is only as successful as his latest book, and "A Christmas Carol" proved to be exactly what Dickens needed to revive his flagging fortunes, selling out the initial printing of 6,000 copies in three days, and achieving nearly universal critical acclaim.

Unfortunately, Dickens did not receive nearly the financial boost to his fortunes from Carol, as the financial machinations of his publishers left him with very little to show for. And further, copyright laws in the year of 1843 when Carol was published did not protect a writers work from theft by others as it does now. It was very common for successful works of literature to be copied almost verbatim for unauthorized stage productions. While Dickens did not realize the financial gain which he had hoped for, "A Christmas Carol" definitely revived his career, and set the stage for later financial successes. And the unauthorized stage productions sent Dickens himself out on the road to public readings of his work such as the one described above. The Anonymous audience member continued:

" The voice held all spellbound. It's depth of quiet feeling when the ghosts of past Christmases lead the dreamer through the long forgotten scenes from his boyhood --its embodiment of burly good nature when Old Fezziwig's calves were twinkling in the dance....its exquisite pathos by the deathbed of Tiny Tim dwell yet in memory like a long-known tune."

Sources =

by Washington Irivng

"A Christmas Carol"
by Charles Dickens.
London, John Camden Hotten, 1869.

"The man Who Invented Christmas" - Les Standiford
Crown Publsihers, New York, 2008.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL # 2 = A Visit With Mr. Pickwick...

For the holidays, a brief little peak into the world of Pickwick Society:

"Numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief season of happiness and enjoyment. How many families, whose whose members have been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of life, are then reunited, and meet once again in that happy state of companionship and good-will, which is a source of such pure and unalloyed delight, and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of the world,...Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!"

- from "the Pickwick Papers"
 (1836-37) by Charles Dickens.

MORE about Charles Dickens and Christmas tomorrow...........

Born on December 24 :

Kit Carson, 1809
Howard Hughes, 1905

Born on December 25 :

Sir Issac Newton, 1642
Clara Barton, 1821
Humphrey Bogart, 1899
Cab Colloway, 1907
Anwar Sadat, 1918
Rod Serling, 1924
Barbara Mandrell, 1948
Sissy Spacek, 1949.
Lori Heinzelman Kendall, 1959.

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL # 1 = "Good King Wenceslas"

"Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,_When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;_Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel,_When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel...."

If you wish to hear the Carol, click on this sentence

Wenceslas I (907 – September 28, 935), or Wenceslas I, was the duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935, purportedly in a plot by his own brother, Boleslav the Cruel.

The Life of Wencenslas I; Duke of Bohemia

Wenceslas was son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia (which comprises most of what is today the Czech Repiblic), and Drahomíra who was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief of Havolans and was baptized at the time of her marriage. In 921, when Wenceslas was thirteen, his father died and he was brought up by his grandmother, Saint Ludmila, who raised him as a Christian. A dispute between the fervently Christian regent and her daughter-in-law resulted in Ludmilla’s death, possibly arranged by Drahomira on September 15, 921. Wenceslas is usually described as exceptionally pious and humble, and a very educated and intelligent young man for his time. It is thought that Drahomira attempted to reconvert her son to the old pagan religion, but little is known for sure about her regency. Whatever her attempts were to influence her son, he remained piously Christian and evidently didn’t care much for his mum, because upon assuming the throne in in 924 or 925 Wenceslaus had Drahomíra exiled .

After gaining the throne at the age of eighteen, he defeated a rebellious neighboring duke named Radslav. He also founded a rotunda consecrated to St Vitus at Prague Castle in Prague, which exists as present-day St Vitus Cathedral. In September of 935 a group of nobles—allied with Wenceslas' younger brother Boleslaus—plotted to kill the prince. After Boleslav invited Wenceslas to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian in the city of Stará Boleslav, on the banks of the Elbe river, three of Boleslav's companions murdered Wenceslas on his way to church after a quarrel between him and his brother. Boleslav thus succeeded him as the Duke of Bohemia. There is a tradition which holds that Saint Wenceslas' loyal servant, Podevin, avenged his death by killing one of the chief conspirators. Podevin was executed by Boleslav.

Wencenslaus Becomes a Cult Hero and....

Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, and cults about him developed in Bohemia and in England. Soon after his death, several biographies of him were in circulation which emphasized his status as a "righteous king"— a leader whose great piety, and princely vigor were the source of his power. Cosmas of Prague, a chronicler of Bohemian nobility wrote in about the year 1119 :

“But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.”

Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I post-humously proclaim- ed for him the title of King, hence his reference in the song as “King Wencelas”. King Wencelas remains to this day the patron saint of the Czech State. An equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslas is located on Wenceslas Square in Prague. His helmet and armour are on display inside Prague Castle. Since 2000, the feast day of Saint Wenceslas (September 28) is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, celebrated as Czech Statehood Day.

GOOD Kings Wenceslas!!

In 1853, English hymn writer John Mason Neale (below) wrote the
"Wenceslas" lyrics, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore. Neales' lyrics were set to a tune based on a 13th century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" ("The time is near for flowering") first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection "Piae Cantiones". Helmore adapted the carol melodies and Neale either paraphrased the carol lyrics into English or wrote entirely new lines. Excerpts from both the music and words were published in "Carols for Christmas-tide" (London: Novello) in 1853, which contained 12 carols. At the time, Piae Cantiones was virtually unknown in England; thereafter, its words, its music, and its tale of the "Good King Wenceslas" and his determination to help the poor would be read, adapted and performed throughout the English-speaking world.

The rest of the carol goes:

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling,_Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”_“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;_Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:_Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”_Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;_Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;_Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”_“Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly_Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted_Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed._Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,_Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing."

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!


"Kingdoms of Europe" by Gene Gurney, Crown Publishers, New York, 1982,_Duke_of_Bohemia

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

DECEMBER 19 = "A Christmas Carol" is Published

On today's date in 1843 Charles Dickens classic tale "A Christmas Carol" was published, and shortly began reviving the flagging fortunes of Dickens' career.

Since 1938, Hollywood has taken the timeless classic story "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and told it in four very different and very distinct versions. In 1938, Reginald Owen filled in for Lionel Barrymore (who would go on to similar fame as "Mr. Potter" in 1946's "It's A Wonderful Life"), in 1951, Allistar Sim made your flesh crawl, in 1984, George C. Scott growled, and in 1999, Patrick Stewart out-glowered them all!! To read my review of all four films, comparing them to each other, as well as to the story by Charles Dickens, simply log on to the following web address at "Today in History II:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DECEMBER 17 = The Wright Brothers FLY!!

The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk

"They cooked breakfast and they straightened up and they waited for the wind to break. And Wilbur was staring out of the doorway and he stood up and he walked to the door and he said, 'we have waited long enough. Today will be the day. We're going to fly.'"

This was the moment of decision as described by John Gillikin of the National Park Service. This was the moment that Orville Wright decided he and his brother Wilbur were going to fly their machine. On this date, December 17 in 1903 at a wind-swept field in isolated, barren Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright changed the shape and size of the world forever. (Pictured above, Orville left, Wilbur right.) Though reaction at the time was slow to catch on, these two Bicycle Repairmen, these two modest family men from the American middle class of Dayton, Ohio had just made the first heavier than air flight in history -- a power that had been sought after by mankind's inventors and scientists dating back to Leonardo DaVinci in the days of the Italian Renaissance. Mr. Gillikin goes on to describe the moment itself:

The Moment of the Wright Brother's First Flight

"This time no hill. This time they placed their launching system on a level field beside their building, playing the cradle, cradle on the rail, hook a wire to hold it back, spin propeller. Now it's Orville's turn. The local men said Wilbur approached them and I'm not really sure whether he did this with Orville's knowledge or not and he said that Orville was going to be afraid and that he didn't want him to look scared. He wanted cheering and shouting and happiness. One of the local men said when the brothers shook hands it looked like two men that were never going to see each other again. Orville took his place at the controls and Wilbur held the wing tip. They had taken John Daniels aside beforehand and they said, we need a picture of this. To our knowledge John Daniels had never used a camera in his life. But, why not? They just told him, they set the camera up and they said when the machine flies in front of you, squeeze the ball. 10:35 A.M., they dropped the wire. There was sand blowing, high wind, the machine began to crawl forward. Finally after about 45 feet it lifted into the air, 120 feet, twelve seconds later, it touched the earth. Humanity had flown."
The Reaction to the Wright Brother's First Flight

The Wrights did indeed become celebrities for their invention. While they were dumbfounded when the United States War Department turned them down when they offered the U.S. the rights to their invention, they took it to Europe where they flew it in a demonstration for the Kaiser, William II of Germany. But as with the U.S., the European nations had their own men working on possible flight. So they returned to the U.S. and established
the Wright Company to manu- facture airplanes in 1909. They had spent much of their early years after their (Above, the assembly room at the Wright Company Factory, circa 1904) invention in fear that someone would steal their idea. So it was in 1912 that Wilbur, while pursuing one of many lawsuits against infringes of their copyright, fell ill while in Boston with typhoid fever. He died three weeks later at the age of 45. Orville lost interest in the Company after that and sold it in 1915 along with their patents for one million dollars. Orville Wright died of a heart attack in January of 1948. He was 76 years old. The legacy of the Wright Brothers is profound. While the monetary rewards which they received in their lifetime were limited, they did receive the credit for being the first men to fly a heavier than air craft. At the time of his son's death in 1912, his father said of his son Orville something that could well be said of both of the Wright Brothers:

"An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadfastly, he lived and died."

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources :

"First Flight: The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Airplane"  by T.A. Heppenheimer, Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J., 2003

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Monday, December 16, 2013

DECEMBER 16 = Beethoven's Birthday!!

"...a short, stout man with a very red face, small, piercing eyes, and bushy eyebrows, dressed in a very long overcoat which reached nearly to his ankles...notwithstanding the high color of his cheeks and his general untidiness, there was in those small piercing eyes an expression which no painter could render. It was a feeling of sublimity and melancholy combined...The wonderful impression made on me was heightened every time I met him. When I first saw him at Baden, his white hair flowing over his mighty shoulders, with that wonderful look -- sometimes contracting his eyebrows when anything afflicted him, sometimes bursting into a forced laughter, indescribably painful to his listeners -- I was touched as if "King Lear" or one of the old Gaelic bards stood before me."

- Sir Julius Benedict.

Beethoven's Innovations to Music

{NOTE = click on the highlighted words in this paragraph for musical examples}
The "old Gaelic Bard" that Sir Julius is describing is Ludwig van Beethoven,born on this date, December 16, 1770 in the city of Bonn in what is now the Federal Republic of Germany. On first seeing him in 1823, Benedict was no doubt expecting someone or something else. And that is what listeners and performers of Beethoven's sublime music have been getting ever since. From his magnificent chamber works, to his monumental orchestral music Beethoven has been surprising and intriguing the music worldever since he burst upon
it at the end of what is known as the "Clas- sical" period. In his First Symph- ony, for example, often seen as a tribute to his one-time teacher Franz Joseph Haydn, Beethoven started out on  the dominant chord resolving to the tonic. Then in the standard Minuet movement he takes the listener on a raucous romp in three, complete with accents on the SECOND beat! In the Third Symphony, he replaces the standard Adagio with a very somber "Marcia Funebre". In the Fifth Symphony, he links each movement with some variation of the famous short-short-short-long opening motif. In the Ninth Symphony Beethoven writes a final movement complete with a monumental chorus, yet what does he interrupt all of this for? A little Turkish Band!

Beethoven's Place in Musical History

The man's inventiveness, his determination to produce music which from the very first continuously stretched the envelope of established musical forms and practices, was endless. In spite of deafness which had overtaken him completely well before he had written the third of his nine symphonies, he almost single-handedly pulled the music of the western world into the romantic era. Professor Donald J. Grout says of Beethoven:

"Historically, Beethoven's work is built on the achievements of Classical period. Through external circumstances, and the force of his own genius he transformed this heritage and became the source of much that was characteristic of the Romantic period. But he himself is neither Classic nor Romantic; he is Beethoven, and his figure towers like a colossus astride the two centuries."

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources =

"A History of Western Music" by Donald J. Grout, W.W. Norton and Co. Inc., New York, 1960, 1973.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

DECEMBER 15 = Eichmann Gets Death

"On Friday, December 15, Judge Landau asked Eichmann to rise and delivered the sentence:
' For the dispatch of each train by the Accused to Auschwitz, or to any other extermination site, carrying one thousand human beings, meant the accused was a direct accomplice in one thousand premeditated acts of murder... Even if we had found that the Accused acted out of blind obedience, as he argued, we would still have said that a man who took part in crimes of such magnitude as these over years must pay the maximum penalty known to the law... But we have found that the Accused acted out of an inner identification with the orders that he was given and out of a fierce will to achieve the criminal objective ... This Court sentences Adolf Eichmann to death.'

It was the first -- and to this day only --  sentence of death by an Israeli court.
Eichmann was motionless, his lips drawn together as if he was forcing himself to suppress even the slightest reaction.  His throat and the collar of his shirt were soaked with sweat. Eight minutes after the session began, the bailiff called , 'All rise!' and the judges filed out.  The trial was over."

This was the scene in the Israeli courtroom on today's date. December 15, in 1962.  The court sentenced Adolf Eichmann (pictured above, circa 1942), one of the primary architects of "The Final Solution",  as "the Holocaust" -- the systematic attempt to exterminate Europe's entire Jewish population -- came to be known, to death by hanging.  It was, as noted by the author of the above excerpt, David Bascomb the only such sentence ever issued by an Israeli court. either then or since.

So much for "I was only following orders."

Adolf Eichmann and the Wansee Conference

By early 1942 with the German Army bogged down in the snow outside Moscow, and with America having entered the war against Hitler's Germany, it had become clear that the war against the Allies just might not be won.  Immediately the criminal regime which by then ruled most of Europe - Adolf Hitler and his band of Nazi cutthroats - turned to what to do with the millions of Jews, the focus of Hitler's hate, under
their control. They had been "evacu- ated" from as many areas as the Nazis could reach them, and herded into ghettos in Eastern Europe, and a good many had been forced to emigrate to countries outside of German control. But this was not enough... Hitler wanted to exterminate as many of the Jews of Europe as he could, while he could.  So he set the best minds in his government to setting up a process through which this genocide could be accomplished.  

Hence, on January 20, 1942, fifteen of Germany's top governmental and military officials met at a plush home in the Berlin suburb of Wansee (above). This meeting was arranged and run by Obersturmbannfuhrer (Lt. Colonel) Adolf Eichmann of the S.S., which was essentially the Nazi's official military arm for terror against
anyone in German-occupied territory.  At this conference (held in the room pictured left) which was chaired by S.S. General Reinhard Heydrich (who was nick-named "the Butcher of Prague") it was formally decided, and a process was set in motion whereby the Jews of Europe would be murdered on a mass scale utilizing gas chambers to kill as many as possible, and crematoriums to dispose of the bodies as efficiently as could be managed.  The various participants were ordered by Heydrich to report to Eichmann and to coordinate all of their plans through him.  And the entire system of genocidal camps... Dachau, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka... all of them, were set up with railroads linking them together on Eichmann's authority, and in some cases with his direct involvement.         

"Un Momentito , Senor."

Flash forward to a bus station near Buenos Aires in the South American nation of Argentina on the night of May 11, in the year 1960. Eichmann, having fallen from the "glory" of his Nazi years was forced to flee Europe one step ahead of the authorities, both Allied and German which sought to prosecute him for war crimes.  Many ex-Nazis have come to Argentina wherein a dictatorial regime has sheltered them from the justice of the war crimes tribunals of Nuremburg.  A group of Israeli agents have, operating under the strictest secrecy, managed to track Eichmann to a small home which he shares with his wife and sons on Garibaldi Street (below) under the alias of "Ricardo Klement". The night is full of thunder and lightening, but no rain.  The agents wait in a
car near the bus stop where Eichmann is expected to get off a bus, to return home.  Agent Peter Z. Malkin describes the capture:

"We were fifteen yards apart.  I could hear his footfalls, regular as ticks on a clock.  Would he pause at the sight of the car?  No. He didn't even hesitate. Twenty-five feet between us. Fifteen. 
"Un momentito senor.'  The simple sentence I had practiced for weeks.  
He stopped.  Behind black-rimmed glasses, his eyes met mine.  He took a step backward.  I leapt at him, grabbing for his right hand.  
We fell hard to the ground and tumbled into the shallow ditch alongside the walkway.... As I struggled to my feet, hoisting him with me, I eased the pressure on his throat.  Suddenly, shockingly, he let out a piercing scream.  It was the primal cry of a cornered animal.  Tightening my grip, I abruptly cut it off.
Momentarily shaken, I quickly recovered.  'It will do you no good, you bastard,' I told myself as I dragged him toward the car. 'This is the end for you!'"

Eichmann is Tried in Israel.

Eichmann's capture set off a world-wide sensation when it was announced by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in a special session of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament on May 23, 1960. The government of Argentina claimed that it's sovereignty had been violated, and demanded Eichmann's return, which of course it did not get.  A special courtroom was set up to accommodate
750 spectators and Television cameras carried the trial to audiences around the world. Throughout, Eichmann - who was kept behind bulletproof glass appeared basically composed, but clearly nervous. Nevertheless he appeared to be an inoffensive, frightened old man.  And he never looked at the spectators, instead keeping his gaze firmly on the prosecutor. As Bascomb recalled:
"Throughout the prosecution, Eichmann remained composed and alert.... Usually he would keep his eyes focused on the prosecutor.  Occasionally, though, his head would jerk to the left, seemingly involuntarily, or he would draw his cheeks to the point where the skin was tight across the bones of his face. 'In moments like these,' one witness recounted, 'he is somewhat like the Eichmann we would like to see: an inexplicably merciless face, sending a shiver up my spine.'"

Despite his outward appearance as the slight old man, and his attorney's attempts to paint Eichmann as simply doing what he was told, "following orders" was the constant refrain, and trying to say that in some instances, Eichmann had even saved some of the Jews who were in his charge, the weight of the documentary evidence as well as eyewitness testimony made it clear that Eichmann was guilty as charged.  He conducted appeals after his guilty verdict, but they were denied.  He was hanged on May 31, 1962 at a prison in Ramla, Israel.  His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered at sea outside of Israeli territorial waters.


"Hunting For Eichmann" by Neal Bascomb, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Publ. Co. New York, 2009.

"Eichmann In My Hands" by Peter Z. Malkin and Harry Stein, Warner Books, New York, 1990.

Directed by Frank Pierson, HBO Films, 2001.

Friday, December 13, 2013

DECEMBER 13 = The Battle of Fredericksburg

The Irish Brigade Attacks!

" 'Irish Brigade advance,' is heard in bold, distinct accents above the clamor of battle --- "Forward, double quick, guide centre;'....they are greeted by a murderous fire of grape and canister and minie balls. Gaps are opened in the ranks, but they close and move still onward. The enemy now falls from his first behind his second line of breastworks. They gain the second fence, within sixty yards of the enemy's batteries and are met by a most disastrous enfilade and direct fire from the rebel artillery and infantry...The rebel position was unassailable, it was a perfect slaughter pen, and column after column was broken against it....The advance of the brigade was actually impeded by the bodies piled one upon another....It was not a battle -- it was a wholesale slaughter of human beings -- sacrificed to the blind ambition and incapacity of some parties."

- Captain D.P. Conyngham.

Such was the madness of the Union attack on the rebel positions on today's date, December 13 in 1862 during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Captain David Power Conyngham was a staff officer with the Irish Brigade which took a key role in the Union effort to dislodge the Confederate troops from their defensive positions behind the stone walls on Mareye's Heights. The rebel positions were indeed , as Captain Conyngham put it unassailable, and row after row of union troops were cut down in futile frontal assaults against the strongly entrenched rebels.

The Union Army at Fredericksburg

The Union's Army of the Potomac strongly outnumbered the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia, yet under the command of George Mac Clellan, it had made precious little headway in coming to grips with the rebel forces. In spite of a victory at the Battle of Antietam the previous summer, Mac Clellan still moved at a snail's
pace, and had allowed the souther- ners to escape. President Abraham Lincoln, exasper- ated with the inaction of his commander relieved him and replaced him with Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was determined to show the fighting spirit that his predecessor had lacked by going straight after him and his capitol city of Richmond.  But Burnside lacked the intelligence to make the right move at the right time. He intended to move on Fredericksburg by moving his army across the Rappohannock River on pontoon bridges, feigning an attack on the rebel right, while moving the bulk of his army against their left, into the town of Fredericksburg. And when he arrived at the scene of his attack, the rebels were not there yet. Unfortunately, neither was his pontoon bridging equipment. Instead of crossing the river as best he could and dislodging the @ 500 men there, he waited for almost two weeks for the equipment to arrive. By the time it did, the rebels were there in force.

General Lee's tactics at Fredericksburg

And General Lee was not at all fooled by Burnside's feint to his right. He had the bulk of his own forces firmly and strongly entrenched behind the stone walls on the hills overlooking the town of Fredericksburg (as pictured below). So when Burnside launched his main attack on December 13, the result was a complete slaughter.

"The troops then advanced, each brigade in succes- sion, under a most murderous fire of artillery and musketry, the artillery fire reaching the troops in a most destructive manner in the town even before they had commenced the movement."

as recorded by General Hancock in his battle report.

"Casualties were staggering...."

"In truth the casualties were staggering: especially by contrast.  The Federals had lost 12,563 men, the Confederates, well under half as many: 5389.  The latter figure was subsequently adjusted to 4201, just under one third of the former, when it was found that more than a thousand of those reported missing or wounded had taken advantage of the chance at a Christmas holiday after the battle." in the words of Shelby Foote.

So the Army of the Potomac retired back across the Rappohannock to lick it's wounds, and Lincoln relieved Burnside and continued his search for the right man to lead his armies.

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!

Sources =

"The Irish Brigade and It's Campaigns." - Series I, Volume 21. by Capt. D.P. Conyngham
Fordham University Press, New York, 1994.

"The Civil War, a Narrative.  Vol..Two, Fredericksburg to Meridian."
by Shelby Foote, Random House, New York, 1963

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DECEMBER 11 = Edward VIII Abdicates

"At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak. A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, the Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart." 

Edward and Mrs. Simpson

These were the words of Great Britain's King Edward VIII to his people as he informed them of his decision to abdicate his throne on today's date, December 11 in 1936. Edward had become the King of England less than a year earlier following the death of his father, King George V.  His decision to abdicate voluntarily came when the Church of England, and most British politicians (with the exception of Winston Churchill), condemned his decision to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an
American woman who was twice divorced and thus was seen as unsuitable to become Queen. Edward's affair with Mrs. Simpson was widely reported in American and European newspapers, but was kept out of British newspapers due to a "gentleman's agreement" between the government and the press. When Mrs. Simpson divorced her husband, American businessman Ernest Simpson in October, the King proposed to wed her in a "morganatic" marriage in which she would be granted no rights or property. But when the government of Prime Minister of Stanley Baldwin (above) rejected the idea as impractical, the situation came to a head, and the scandal broke for the first time in English papers, leading to the King's departure. He went on to describe his personal feelings in his address:

King Edward VIII Abdicates

"You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the empire, which, as Prince of Wales and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love."

Recent scholarship has suggested that Baldwin's government may have deliberately forced the crisis as away of removing Edward, who was a sympathizer with the fascist regimes of Italy's Mussolini, and Germany's Hitler. Strained relations between England and those countries meant that war might break out, and in that case, having a
King who was a fascist sympa- thizer would have been a security risk to say the least.  Much of this situation was portrayed accurately in the Academy Award winning film for "Best Picture of the Year 2010" - "The King's Speech", which dealt primarily with the speech defect suffered by the Duke of York, Edward's younger brother. So far as I can tell, that film's depiction of Edward VIII (above as played by Guy Pearce) as a fairly shallow and self-absorbed man who was far more devoted to his little romance with Mrs. Simpson than to his annoying duties as King, is largely correct. Whatever the case, Edward left and his younger brother took his place as George VI. The new King gave Edward the title of Duke of Windsor. Edward and Mrs. Simpson were married on June 3, 1937.

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!


Released by UK Film Council, See-Saw Films & Bedlam Productions, directed by Tom Hooper, screenplay by David Seidler, 2010.


Edward VIII, & Mrs. Simpson =

Guy Pearce as Edward VIII =

Stanley Baldwin =

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

DECEMBER 9 = "A Charlie Brown Christmas" Debuts

"When the Christmas show was done, and I saw it for the first time in a large theater I turned to my troops and I said 'My golly, we've killed it!' I thought it was such a poor job, I was so embarrassed. And you know, one of my animators turned
to me, a guy by the name of Ed Levin, and he said, 'Bill, you're going to find that this is the best picture you'll ever make.' "

- Producer Bill Melendez on his initial reaction to the animation work on his thirty minute animated cartoon "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

The Production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

First broadcast on todays date in 1965,"A Charlie Brown Christmas" featured characters from the "Peanuts" comic strip of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz's and an original story with which all of it's creators were very definitely pleased. The high point of the program came with a reading from the gospel of St. Luke by the character of "Linus" in reply to the title character's anguished question of whether anyone knew "what Christmas is all about?" The scriptural quote was the idea of Schulz himself,
and when questioned whether it was safe to use a biblical quote - in 1965, religion was considered quite a taboo subject by the television networks - Schulz replied "If we don't do it, who will?" Who would have thought that in today's "progressive" era, that the mere mention of God, let alone the respectful reading of a Biblical scripture would seem so out of place? The very use of the phrase "Merry Christmas" has come under attack in some quarters. One can only hope that this small little vestige of faith will be left intact. But the cartoonist was also unhappy with the animation work. Producer Lee Mendelson shared their misgivings:

"Well, I must admit I shared Bill's concern about the show, and I had very little confidence when I took it back to the network in New York. And the two network executives who looked at it REALLY didn't like it. They thought it was too slow, that the music didn't work, the thought the animation was too simple, and I really believe that if they hadn't (already) scheduled it for the next week, there was no way they would have broadcast that show."
Lee Mendelson (left), Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez accept the Emmy Award in 1966 for best children's program for "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

"A Charlie Brown Christmas", Flaws and All, is a Big Hit!

And looking at it today, the viewer who is used to the slick, computerized production values of the very commercials that are broadcast with the show can see the reason for Lee Mendelson's concerns. By today's standards, the animation of the film looks pretty amateurish at best. Nevertheless, the show was a huge success, coming in second in the national television ratings for that week, just behind "Bonanza". It went on to win an "Emmy" award the following spring, and has become such an audience favorite, that it has been broadcast every year since. Over the years, precious bits of the story have been snipped away in order to make room for more commercials. But so far the essential product remains there to remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas, year after year. May God bless the souls of the late Mr. Schulz for his creation of these wonderful characters, and the soul of the late Mr. Guaraldi for his inspired jazz score which plays such an integral role to the film, and may God bless us all this Christmas season!!

Caroline Bolten is Born!!
Also of very key impor- tance to me and her family from this date in history: on today's date in the year 195?, Caroline Jean Bolten was born to look after her baby brother Brian, who would be born a few years later, and to the joy of her siblings, her parents and to her friends! Happy Birthday Caroline!!

READERS!! If you would like to comment on this, or any "Today in History" posting, I would love to hear from you!!  You can either sign up to be a member of this blog and post a comment in the space provided below, or you can simply e-mail me directly at:  I seem to be getting hits on this site all over the world, so please do write and let me know how you like what I'm writing (or not!)!!


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+ 120.

DECEMBER 8 = John Lennon is Killed

Singer and song writer John Lennon was killed on today's date - December 8 in 1980.  He was 40 years old at the time of his death. Lennon was the first member of "The Beatles", the 1960's/'70's rock and roll group and cultural phenomenon to be taken from us. His death set off a wave of public mourning and remembrances the like of which had not been seen before, but which have become more common with the deaths of cultural figures such as Diana, Princess of Wales, and quite recently with the death of truly important statesmen such as Nelson Mandela.  Lennon left behind his wife, Yoko Ono, and his sons Julian, and Sean, and of course, many millions of fans.

Lennon is Shot and Killed in New York

"Police said the shooting occurred outside the Dakota, the century-old luxury apartment house where Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono lived across the street from Central Park.  Police say they had a suspect and described him as 'a local screwball' with no apparent motive for shooting Lennon. About 300 people gathered outside the entrance to the Dakota, many of them weeping." said the Associated Press in an article which made the top of the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer the next morning, one of many such front page headlines that this event produced.

The article continued: "Jack Douglas, Lennon's producer said he and the Lennons had been at a studio called 'the Record Plant' in midtown earlier in the evening and that Lennon left at 10:30 p.m.. Lennon said he was going to get a bite to eat and then go home, Douglas said.  A bystander, Sean Strub, said he was walking south near 72nd Street when he said he heard four shots.  He said he came around the corner to Central Park West and saw Lennon being put into the back of a police car.  "Lennon arrived in the company of his wife and the assailant fired.' He said the suspect, 'a pudgy kind of man' 30 to 40 years old with brown hair, was put into another police car. 'He had a smirk on his face' when police took him away Strub said."  Lennon was taken to Roosevelt Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

The "local screwball" turned out to be one Mark David Chapman whose motives were psychotic in nature, and therefore are unworthy of further consideration. "He" was tried and convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to twenty years to life in prison, from whence as of this date he has never been (and hopefully never will be) released, having been denied parole seven times.  

The World Learns of Lennon's Death on "Monday Night Football" 

It may seem odd to most of us nowadays, when we have cable TV and literally a 24 hour news cycle, but the world outside of New York learned of Lennon's death during a broadcast of "Monday Night Football". An ABC TV news producer, Alan J. Weiss happened to be at Roosevelt Hospital that night for treatment of injuries he had sustained in a motorcycle accident. Weiss recognized Lennon being brought in on a stretcher. Soon, word reached Roone Arlidge, the President of ABC news.  It was decided to announce the news soon after it was confirmed.  ABC was in the middle of broadcasting the Monday night football game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots.  Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell (below), ABC's "Monday Night Football" team of broadcasters were told and made the announcement:

"Cosell: ... but (the game)'s suddenly been placed in total perspective for us; I'll finish this, they're in the hurry-up offense.
Gifford: Third down, four. (Chuck) Foreman ... it'll be fourth down. (Matt) Cavanaugh will let it run down for one final attempt, he'll let the seconds tick off to give Miami no opportunity whatsoever. (whistle blows) Timeout is called with three seconds remaining, John Smith is on the line. And I don't care what's on the line, Howard, you have got to say what we know in the booth.
Cosell: Yes, we have to say it. Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which, in duty bound, we have to take. Frank?
Gifford: (after a pause) Indeed, it is."


Associated Press report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 1980