#AtoZChallenge – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From Liberace to Lawrence of Arabia and Other L’s

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter L.

1952 – Liberace

Liberace has a popular 1950s television show for his musical entertainment.

In 1952, The Liberace Show (1952), a syndicated television program, turned Liberace into a musical symbol. It began as a summertime replacement for The Dinah Shore Show (1951), but after two years, the show was one of the most popular on TV. It was carried by 217 American stations and could be seen in 20 foreign countries. Sold-out live appearances at Madison Square Garden enhanced the pianist’s popularity even more. Soon, Liberace added flamboyant costumes and expensive ornaments to his already unique performances.

1957 Little Rock

Little Rock, Arkansas is the site of an anti-integration standoff, as Governor Orval Faubus stops the Little Rock Nine from attending Little Rock Central High School and President Dwight D. Eisenhower deploys the 101st Airborne Division to counteract him.

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas, the Little Rock School Board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.

By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance.  Called the “Little Rock Nine”, they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

1958 Lebanon

Lebanon is engulfed in a political and religious crisis that eventually involves U.S. intervention

In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun’s term, an insurrection broke out, instigated by Lebanese Muslims who wanted to make Lebanon a member of the United Arab Republic. Chamoun requested assistance, and 5,000 United States Marines were briefly dispatched to Beirut on 15 July. After the crisis, a new government was formed, led by the popular former general Fuad Chehab.

1962 Liston Beats Patterson

Liston beats Patterson: Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson fight for the world heavyweight championship on September 25, ending in a first-round knockout. This match marked the first time Patterson had ever been knocked out and one of only eight losses in his 20-year professional career.

1962 Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia: The Academy Award-winning film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence starring Peter O’Toole premieres in America on December 16.

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 epic historical drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel through his British company Horizon Pictures, with the screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. The film stars Peter O’Toole in the title role. It is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential films in the history of cinema. The dramatic score by Maurice Jarre and the Super Panavision 70 cinematography by Freddie Young are also highly acclaimed.

The film was nominated for ten Oscars at the 35th Academy Awards in 1963; it won seven in total: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography (Color), Best Art Direction (Color), Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama and the BAFTA Awards for Best Film and Outstanding British Film.

The film depicts Lawrence’s experiences in the Arabian Peninsula during World War I, in particular his attacks on Aqaba and Damascus and his involvement in the Arab National Council. Its themes include Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his own identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes. As well as O’Toole, the film stars Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains and Arthur Kennedy.

In 1991, Lawrence of Arabia was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry

#AtoZChallenge – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: The King and I, Krushchev, Kerouac and Kennedy

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter K.

1951 – The King and I

The King and I, musical, opens on Broadway on March 29.

The King and I is the fifth musical by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam (1944), which is in turn derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical’s plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King’s drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love to which neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. It ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time, and has had many tours and revivals.

1956 – Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev makes his famous Secret Speech denouncing Stalin’s “cult of personality” on February 25.

“On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” was a report by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. Khrushchev’s speech was sharply critical of the reign of deceased General Secretary and Premier Joseph Stalin, particularly with respect to the purges which had especially marked the last years of the 1930s. Khrushchev charged Stalin with having fostered a leadership personality cult despite ostensibly maintaining support for the ideals of communism.

The speech was a milestone in the “Khrushchev Thaw”. Ostensibly, the speech was an attempt to draw the Soviet Communist Party closer to Leninism. However it possibly served Khrushchev’s ulterior motives to legitimize and consolidate his control of the Communist party and government, after political struggles with Georgy Malenkov and firm Stalin loyalists such as Vyacheslav Molotov, who were involved to varying degrees in the purges. The Khrushchev report was known as the “Secret Speech” because it was delivered at an unpublicized closed session of Communist Party delegates, with guests and members of the press excluded. The text of the Khrushchev report was widely discussed in party cells already in early March, often with participation of non-party members; however the official Russian text was openly published only in 1989 during the glasnost campaign of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

1957 – Kerouac

Jack Kerouac publishes his first novel in seven years, On the Road.

Jack Kerouac was an American writer best known for the novel On the Road, which became an American classic, pioneering the Beat Generation in the 1950s.  On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use. The novel, published in 1957, is a roman à clef, with many key figures in the Beat movement, such as William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise.  It was released as a film in 2012.  The trailer is rated R so I chose not to include it in my post.  I never saw it but apparently the film doesn’t capture the energy of the novel.

1960 – Kennedy

John F. Kennedy beats Richard Nixon in the November 8 general election.

Much has been written about this President.  I think something of note for today’s post would be the effect of television on the election.  You see 1960 was the first Presidential election that the debate was televised.  Richard M. Nixon was not prepared for being visually seen by the American public.  According to CBS News, if you were watching television on the night of Sept. 26, 1960, you probably thought that the young Sen. John F. Kennedy had won that night’s presidential debate. Yet if you heard the event on radio, Vice President Richard M. Nixon was the clear winner.  The lesson is that when professional television people ask you if you want your makeup applied by professionals, take them up on it.  They know best.

 

 

#AtoZChallenge – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From Joe DiMaggio to JFK Blown Away, What Else Do I Have To Say

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter J.  Billy Joel’s song lyrics begin with 1949,  the year of his birth on May 9, 1949.  Today I begin with persons mentioned for that year in the order they are mentioned.
 

1949 – Johnnie Ray

Johnnie Ray signs his first recording contract with Okeh Records, although he would not become popular for another two years.

John Alvin “Johnnie” Ray (January 10, 1927 – February 24, 1990) was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. Extremely popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics as a major precursor of what would become rock and roll, for his jazz and blues-influenced music and his animated stage personality. Tony Bennett credits Ray as being the true father of rock and roll.  Recognize the name.  I did not here is one of his hits.

1949 – Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees go to the World Series five times in the 1940s, winning four of them.

Joseph Paul “Joe” DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 – March 8, 1999), nicknamed “Joltin’ Joe” and “The Yankee Clipper”, was an American Major League Baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands.  DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships.  At the time of his retirement, he ranked fifth in career home runs (361) and sixth in career slugging percentage (.579). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, and was voted the sport’s greatest living player in a poll taken during the baseball centennial year of 1969. So why did Billy Joel list him in 1949?  Joe DiMaggio and the New York Yankees go to the World Series five times in the 1940s, winning four of them.  1949 was one of them.

 

1950 – Joe McCarthy

oseph McCarthy, the US Senator, gains national attention and begins his anti-communist crusade with his Lincoln Day speech.

On February 9, 1950, during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy (Republican-Wisconsin) claims that he has a list with the names of over 200 members of the Department of State that are “known communists.” The speech vaulted McCarthy to national prominence and sparked a nationwide hysteria about subversives in the American government.  In the next few weeks, the number fluctuated wildly, with McCarthy stating at various times that there were 57, or 81, or 10 communists in the Department of State. In fact, McCarthy never produced any solid evidence that there was even one communist in the State Department. Hmm fact checking 1950s style.

 

1953 – Joseph Stalin

On March 5, 1953, Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union since 1924, dies in Moscow.  He was 74 year-old.  Stalin did not mellow with age; he prosecuted a reign of terror,

Joseph Stalin dies on March 5, yielding his position as leader of the Soviet Union.

purges, executions, exiles to the Gulag Archipelago (a system of forced-labor camps in the frozen north), and persecution in the postwar USSR, suppressing all dissent and anything that smacked of foreign, especially Western European, influence. To the great relief of many, he died of a massive heart attack on March 5, 1953. He is remembered to this day as the man who helped save his nation from Nazi domination—and as the mass murderer of the century, having overseen the deaths of between 8 million and 10 million of his own people.

 

1954 – Juan Peron

Juan Perón spends his last full year as President of Argentina before a September 1955 coup.

Juan Domingo Perón [8 October 1895 – 1 July 1974] was an Argentine lieutenant general and politician. 1954 was his last full year in office.  After serving in several government positions, including Minister of Labour and Vice President, he was thrice elected President of Argentina, serving from June 1946 to September 1955, when he was overthrown in a coup d’état, and then from October 1973 until his death in July 1974.

During his first presidential term (1946–52), Perón was supported by his second wife, Eva Duarte (“Evita”), and the two were immensely popular among many Argentines. Eva died in 1952, and Perón was elected to a second term, serving from 1952 until 1955. During the following period of two military dictatorships, interrupted by two civilian governments, the Peronist party was outlawed and Perón was exiled. When the left-wing Peronist Hector Cámpora was elected President in 1973, Perón returned to Argentina and was soon after elected President for a third time. His third wife, María Estela Martínez, known as Isabel Perón, was elected as Vice President on his ticket and succeeded him as President upon his death in 1974.

So for any excuse to include some of the music from Evita, I share the following from Youtube

Private and public moments from life of the most charismatic couple of Argentina – Eva & Juan Peron. Their feelings, work and tragedy of Eva’s cancer.
Music: “You Must Love Me” by Madonna, Evita Motion Picture Soundtrack.

1955 – James Dean

James Dean.

1955 was quite a year for James Dean.  James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor. He is remembered as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956).  Dean’s premature death on September 30, 1955 in a car crash cemented his legendary status. He was 24 years-old. He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and remains the only actor to have had two posthumous acting nominations. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the 18th best male movie star of Golden Age Hollywood in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list.

1963 – JFK blown away, what else do I have to say?
 So much has been written about this tragic moment in world history.  If I was to write a song similar to this song by Billy Joel, I would have to start this this event as it happened just days before I was born.

From the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum website

Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas.   Crowds of excited people lined the streets and waved to the Kennedys. The car turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository, gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza.  Bullets struck the president’s neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The governor was also hit in the chest.  The car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital just a few minutes away. But little could be done for the President. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites, and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. Though seriously wounded, Governor Connally would recover.

The president’s body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by US District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. The brief ceremony took place at 2:38 p.m.

Less than an hour earlier, police had arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a recently hired employee at the Texas School Book Depository. He was being held for the assassination of President Kennedy and the fatal shooting, shortly afterward, of Patrolman J. D. Tippit on a Dallas street.

On Sunday morning, November 24, Oswald was scheduled to be transferred from police headquarters to the county jail. Viewers across America watching the live television coverage suddenly saw a man aim a pistol and fire at point blank range. The assailant was identified as Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner. Oswald died two hours later at Parkland Hospital.

#AtoZChallenge – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: We Called Him IKE

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter I.  Billy Joel didn’t mention anything that began with the letter I so I made do.
1952 IKE
The United States presidential election of 1952 was that nation’s 42nd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1952. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was the landslide winner, ending a string of Democratic wins that stretched back to 1932. He carried the Republican Party (GOP) to narrow control of the House and Senate. During this time, Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was at a high level, as was fear of communism in the US, epitomized by the campaign of McCarthyism. Foreign policy was a main issue in the race for the Republican nomination. The nation was polarized over the stalemated Korean War, and the extent of corruption in the federal government became a major issue as well. The economy was prosperous and economic and social issues played little role in the campaign

Dwight D. Eisenhower is first elected as U.S. president, winning by a landslide margin of 442 to 89 electoral votes. His opponent was Adlai Stevenson

United States presidential election, 1952
United States


November 4, 1952

All 531 electoral votes of the Electoral College
266 electoral votes needed to win

Turnout 63.3% Increase 10.3 pp
Eisenhower official.jpg AdlaiEStevenson1900-1965.jpg
Nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower Adlai Stevenson
Party Republican Democratic
Home state New York Illinois
Running mate Richard Nixon John Sparkman
Electoral vote 442 89
States carried 39 9
Popular vote 34,075,529 27,375,090
Percentage 55.2% 44.3%

United States presidential election in Alabama, 1952 United States presidential election in Alaska, 1952 United States presidential election in Arizona, 1952 United States presidential election in Arkansas, 1952 United States presidential election in California, 1952 United States presidential election in Colorado, 1952 United States presidential election in Connecticut, 1952 United States presidential election in Delaware, 1952 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 1952 United States presidential election in Florida, 1952 United States presidential election in Georgia, 1952 United States presidential election in Hawaii, 1952 United States presidential election in Idaho, 1952 United States presidential election in Illinois, 1952 United States presidential election in Indiana, 1952 United States presidential election in Iowa, 1952 United States presidential election in Kansas, 1952 United States presidential election in Kentucky, 1952 United States presidential election in Louisiana, 1952 United States presidential election in Maine, 1952 United States presidential election in Maryland, 1952 United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 1952 United States presidential election in Michigan, 1952 United States presidential election in Minnesota, 1952 United States presidential election in Mississippi, 1952 United States presidential election in Missouri, 1952 United States presidential election in Montana, 1952 United States presidential election in Nebraska, 1952 United States presidential election in Nevada, 1952 United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 1952 United States presidential election in New Jersey, 1952 United States presidential election in New Mexico, 1952 United States presidential election in New York, 1952 United States presidential election in North Carolina, 1952 United States presidential election in North Dakota, 1952 United States presidential election in Ohio, 1952 United States presidential election in Oklahoma, 1952 United States presidential election in Oregon, 1952 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania, 1952 United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 1952 United States presidential election in South Carolina, 1952 United States presidential election in South Dakota, 1952 United States presidential election in Tennessee, 1952 United States presidential election in Texas, 1952 United States presidential election in Utah, 1952 United States presidential election in Vermont, 1952 United States presidential election in Virginia, 1952 United States presidential election in Washington, 1952 United States presidential election in West Virginia, 1952 United States presidential election in Wisconsin, 1952 United States presidential election in Wyoming, 1952 United States presidential election in Delaware, 1952 United States presidential election in Maryland, 1952 United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 1952 United States presidential election in New Jersey, 1952 United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 1952 United States presidential election in Connecticut, 1952 United States presidential election in West Virginia, 1952 United States presidential election in Vermont, 1952 United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 1952

ElectoralCollege1952.svg

About this image
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Eisenhower/Nixon, blue denotes those won by Stevenson/Sparkman. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

#AtoZChallenge – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From the H-Bomb to Hypodermics On the Shore

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter H.

1951 – H-bomb

On May 12, the United States detonated a hydrogen bomb on an island in the Pacific. The hydrogen bomb is many times more powerful than an atomic bomb. The Russian development of an A–bomb convinced the US to proceed with development of the H–bomb.

On Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the United States, on May 12th, 1951, detonated the first hydrogen bomb. The bomb was based on the combination of a nuclei of heavy hydrogen, called deuterium, and the process of fission.

1959 – Hula hoops

Billy Joel included the hula-hoop for the 1959 segment of his song because that was the year it reached 100 million in sales.  It was patented March 5, 1963 after, this hip-swiveling toy that became a huge fad across America after it was first marketed by Wham-O in 1958.  The company’s co-founder was Arthur “Spud” Melin. An estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold in its first four months of production alone. In 1948, friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr founded a company in California to sell a slingshot they created to shoot meat up to falcons they used for hunting. The company’s name, Wham-O, came from the sound the slingshots supposedly made. Wham-O eventually branched out from slingshots, selling boomerangs and other sporting goods. Its first hit toy, a flying plastic disc known as the Frisbee, debuted in 1957. The Frisbee was originally marketed under a different name, the Pluto Platter, in an effort to capitalize on America’s fascination with UFOs.   Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop, dubbed “Hula” after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance of the same name, and demonstrating it on Southern California playgrounds. Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.  The enormous popularity of the Hula-Hoop was short-lived and within a matter of months, the masses were on to the next big thing. However, the Hula-Hoop never faded away completely and still has its fans today. According to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, in April 2004, a performer at the Big Apple Circus in Boston simultaneously spun 100 hoops around her body. Earlier that same year, in January, according to the Guinness World Records, two people in Tokyo, Japan, managed to spin the world’s largest hoop–at 13 feet, 4 inches–around their waists at least three times each.

1961 – Hemingway

On July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway was found dead of a shotgun wound in the head at his home here today. His wife, Mary, said that he had killed himself accidentally while cleaning the weapon. Hemingway’s obituary ran on the front page of The New York Times on July 3, 1961.   Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works. Additional works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.
Ernest Hemingway commits suicide on July 2 after a long battle with depression.

Ernest Hemingway commits suicide on July 2 after a long battle with depression.

1965 – Ho Chi Minh

This year marks the United States first major entrance into the war in Vietnam.  Operation Rolling Thunder started which was the title of a gradual and sustained aerial bombardment campaign conducted by the U.S. 2nd Air Division (later Seventh Air Force), U.S. Navy, and Republic of Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) from 2 March 1965 until 2 November 1968.  This included the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply line from North Vietnam to the Vietcong rebels in the south.

The Hồ Chí Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) to the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) through the neighboring kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia. The system provided support, in the form of manpower and materiel, to the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (called the Vietcong or “VC” by its opponents) and the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN), or North Vietnamese Army, during the Vietnam War.  It was named by the Americans after North Vietnamese president Hồ Chí Minh. According to the United States National Security Agency’s official history of the war, the Trail system was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century.”

Ho Chi Minh: A Vietnamese communist, who served as President of Vietnam from 1954–1969. March 2 Operation Rolling Thunder begins bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply line from North Vietnam to the Vietcong rebels in the south. On March 8, the first U.S. combat troops, 3,500 marines, land in South Vietnam.

1983 – Heavy Metal Suicide
 In the 1970s and 80s, heavy metal bands became popular. Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest in particular were sued for fans’ suicides after listening to their songs “Suicide Solution” and “Better By You, Better Than Me”, respectively.
Heavy metal suicide: In the 1980s Ozzy Osbourne and the bands Judas Priest and Metallica were brought to court by parents who accused the musicians of hiding subliminal pro-suicide messages in their music.

Heavy metal suicide: In the 1980s Ozzy Osbourne and the bands Judas Priest and Metallica were brought to court by parents who accused the musicians of hiding subliminal pro-suicide messages in their music.

1983 –Homeless Vets

According to federal law, the United States’ military involvement in the Vietnam War began in February 1961 and lasted until May 1975 (Over 14 years). Approximately 2.7 million American men and women served in Vietnam. During the war, more than 58,000 servicemen and women lost their lives.  Vietnam Veterans represent the largest cohort of American Veterans in terms of service era.  It goes unsaid that this large population had been exposed to war in general and conditions such as that during the Vietnam War, the U.S. military used more than 19 million gallons of various herbicides for defoliation and crop destruction in the Republic of Vietnam. Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime during the period beginning Jan. 9, 1962, and ending May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides (Agent Orange).  Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families was established in 1979 so it is likely that Billy Joel is referring to research conducted by this organization that indicated that there is a growing number of homeless veterans from the Vietnam War.

Homeless vets: Veterans of the Vietnam War, including many disabled ex-military, are reported to be left homeless and impoverished.

Homeless vets: Veterans of the Vietnam War, including many disabled ex-military, are reported to be left homeless and impoverished.

1988 – Hypodermics on the shores

I remember this well.  In 1988, the fear of AIDS was very high including that it could be contracted from shared needles.  When needles began washing up on the beaches, people who had little chance of exposure previously visited the beaches in fear.  Known as the Syringe Tide, it was an environmental disaster during 1987-88 in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York where significant amounts of medical waste, including hypodermic syringes, and raw garbage washed up onto beaches on the Jersey Shore, in New York City, and on Long Island. This forced the closing of beaches on the Atlantic coast. Officials scrambled to identify the source of the material as some local economies struggled with diminished tourism.

Hypodermics on the shore: Medical waste was found washed up on beaches in New Jersey after being illegally dumped at sea. Before this event, waste dumped in the oceans was an “out of sight, out of mind” affair. This has been cited as one of the crucial turning points in popular opinion on environmentalism.

#AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: Godspeed, John Glenn

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter G.

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS AVIATOR

ENGINEER

ASTRONAUT

UNITED STATES SENATOR

With a flag draping his coffin at Arlington National Cemetery, the first American to orbit the earth was laid to rest this week on April 6, 2017.  John Herschel Glenn, Jr. died on December 8, 2016 when he was 95 years-old; however the  ceremony in Arlington was scheduled to coincide with what would have been his 74th wedding anniversary to his wife Annie.

In 1962 John Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth, where he circled it three times.  Marked as one of the greatest events in the United States Space Race, Glenn’s Mercury 7 flight in 1962 made him an instant national hero. He became the oldest man in space when he returned aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998 at age 77.

Seven things to know about John Glenn (Source: http://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-notknow-about-john-glenn-and-friendship-7)

*He was a shining aviation star before the Mercury Program

Glenn had fallen in love with flying at an early age, building model airplanes while growing up in Ohio. In 1941, Glenn discovered a U.S. Department of Commerce program looking for students to train as pilots. Just six months after he received his license, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Glenn initially enlisted in both the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy aviation cadet program, but was eventually assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps. Glenn flew 59 missions in the South Pacific, where one of his wingmen was baseball legend Ted Williams.  After serving in the Korean War, Glenn was appointed to a naval test pilot program, where he completed one of the world’s first supersonic transcontinental flights in 1957. Glenn received an enormous amount of publicity following this feat, which brought him to the attention of the NACA, the predecessor to NASA, who selected him to become one of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

*The spaceship name, Friendship 7 was a name given by John Glenn

The official name for Glenn’s mission was Mercury-Atlas 6.  “Mercury” for the mission program itself (named after the Roman god of speed), and “Atlas 6” to indicate that this was the 6th mission to use the newer, faster Atlas rocket as a launch vehicle. The astronauts selected for the Mercury program often gave their capsules personal nicknames. Glenn asked his children for suggestions on what he should name the vessel before finally deciding on the word “Friendship” and adding the number “7” to honor his fellow

John Glenn with the Friendship 7 in 1962. He was hailed as a national hero and a symbol of the space age as the first American to orbit Earth. Credit NASA

Mercury members.

*Glenn’s mission was delayed numerous times, leading to concern and anxiety.

Originally scheduled for December 1961 and then pushed to January 13, problems with the new Atlas rocket that would serve as the space capsule’s launching pad caused a two-week delay. On January 27, with television crews already set up to broadcast from both the launch site and Glenn’s home, where his wife, Annie, and his children were anxiously watching, poor weather conditions forced another postponement. When the mission was scrapped, the reporters, accompanied by none other than Vice President Lyndon Johnson, tried to gain access to Glenn’s home in hopes of interviewing his wife. Annie refused to speak to them, and when John heard about the pressure put on his wife, he backed her up, leading to a clash with government officials. The launch was delayed yet again on January 30 after a fuel leak was discovered, followed by yet another weather delay. Finally, with all mechanical issues solved and fair weather forecasted, Glenn was once again strapped into Friendship 7 early on the morning of February 20, 1962.

*Glenn didn’t actually hear the legendary words “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

As mission control performed its final system checks, test conductor Tom O’Malley initiated the launch sequence, adding a personal prayer, “May the good Lord ride all the way,” to which Carpenter, the backup astronaut for the mission, added, “Godspeed, John Glenn.” Carpenter later explained that he had come up with the phrase on the spot, but its did hold significance for most test pilots and astronauts: “In those days, speed was magic…and nobody had gone that fast. If you can get that speed, you’re home-free.” The phrase soon became part of the public consciousness, but Glenn himself didn’t hear Carpenter’s comment until he had returned to Earth. Due to a glitch in Glenn’s radio, Carpenter’s microphone wasn’t on his frequency.

O’Malley (left) with John Glenn and Paul Donnelly in front of Friendship 7

*There were several scary moments aboard Friendship 7.

The launch of Friendship 7 went flawlessly, and Glenn encountered few issues in the early stages of the flight. During his second orbit, mission control noticed a sensor was issuing a warning that Friendship 7’s heat shield and landing bag were not secure, putting the mission, and Glenn in danger. Officials did not immediately inform Glenn of the potential problem, instead asking him to run a series of small tests on the system to see if that resolved the issue, which eventually clued Glenn in to their concerns. After a series of discussions, it was decided that rather than following standard procedures to discard the retrorocket (an engine designed to slow down the capsule upon reentry), Glenn would keep the rocket in place to help secure the heat shield. He successfully reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after a flight of 4 hours and 55 minutes. When officials inspected the recovered capsule, they determined that the heat shield had never been in danger and a faulty sensor had caused the problem.

*Glenn—and NASA—were mystified by an unusual sighting during the mission.

During the first of Glenn’s three orbits, he reported seeing a series of small particles floating outside his capsule. As he reported to NASA, he had never seen anything like it, and he thought it looked like a series of luminescent stars surrounding him. Glenn referred to the specks as “fireflies,” and tried banging on his capsule walls to see if he could make them move, which he could. Some NASA scientists worried that the sparks were a malfunctioning part of the space capsule or that’s Glenn’s mysterious vision was caused by a medical condition he encountered while in space, while others tried to find a more spiritual meaning to the celestial “fireflies.” So, what were they? The mystery was solved later that year, when Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter made his orbital flight aboard Aurora 7. Carpenter also reported seeing the particles, and to him they looked like snowflakes. Turns out, Carpenter was pretty close to the truth. They were indeed bits of frozen condensation on the capsule’s exterior that broke off as it moved from through areas of varying temperatures.

*Glenn returned to space, 36 years after Friendship 7.

Group protrait of the crew members of NASA mission STS-95 taken while in space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, 1998

John Glenn remained with NASA until 1964, but did not return to space in any of the later Mercury missions. It is believed that President Kennedy and other government officials, well aware of the symbolic importance of the first man to orbit the Earth, ordered NASA to keep him grounded, for fear of his being injured or killed in a space program that was still, in many ways, in the developmental stage. Glenn returned to Ohio, where he became a successful businessman. He later entered politics, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974, serving four terms. Glenn maintained close contacts with NASA, and spoke often of his regret at not having been part of subsequent missions, including the lunar landings. In 1998, however, John Glenn got his wish and returned to space. Though it had been more than 35 years since he had last suited up, Glenn was selected as part of the crew aboard the space shuttle Discovery. His participation, at the age of 77, would allow scientists to study the affects of space travel on the elderly. When Glenn returned from the nine-day mission, he and his fellow crew members were welcomed home with a ticker-tape parade in New York City, marking the second time Glenn had received such an honor.

 

GODSPEED, JOHN GLENN

#AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: Foreign Debts

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter F and for Billy Joel’s song, we have foreign debts.
1983 Foreign Debt

Although foreign debt has been an aspect of the United States government even before it was the United States, the 1980s are particularly notable.  During the 1980s ‘Reaganomics’ started a trend of higher and higher obligations to foreign creditors that continues into the 21st Century.  When Ronald Reagan became President in 1980, the nation’s debt/GNP ratio was 33%. The policies of the Reagan Administration paired tax cuts with increased defense spending and refusal to cut spending elsewhere, causing foreign debt to soar. When President Reagan left office in 1988 the debt/GNP ratio was 53%, the highest in US history.

#AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From Eisenhower to Eichmann and All the “E’s” in Between

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter E.  We start all the way back in 1952 with a new United States President and a new Queen of England.
1952 Eisenhower
Sorry I moved this one to I for IKE as I had no other for that letter 🙂

Dwight D. Eisenhower is first elected as U.S. president, winning by a landslide margin of 442 to 89 electoral votes. His opponent, Adlai Stevenson

1952 England’s Got A New Queen

England’s got a new queen: Queen Elizabeth II succeeds to the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms upon the death of her father, George VI, and is crowned the next year.

Did you watch the series on Netflix “Crown”?  I loved the story of the current Queen when she just took the thrown.  Now the longest reigning monarch in Great Britain history, Queen Elizabeth II became queen on February 6, 1952, and was crowned on June 2, 1953.  She was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later known as King George VI), and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.   She married Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947.  She is the mother of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, as well as the grandmother of princes William and Harry.
1955 Einstein
On the 18th of April 1955 Albert Einstein died in Princeton Hospital, New Jersey. He was 76 years old.  Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. He developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). Einstein’s work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. Einstein is best known in popular culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”). He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”, a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory.  Einstein’s intellectual achievements and originality have made the word “Einstein” synonymous with “genius”.

Albert Einstein dies on April 18 at the age of 76.

1955 Elvis Presley
It was a important year for Elvis with many events happening in his career; however the most likely reason that Billy Joel listed Elvis in 1955 is that on November 21, 1955, at the Sun Studios, with several of his business associates and family members looking on, Elvis signs with RCA; his deal holds him to four singles a year, a 5% royalty, and $5,000.

Elvis Presley signs with RCA Records on November 21, beginning his pop career.

This song, one of his most famous is from his debut album with RCA
1959 Edsel is a no go
The Ford Motor Company introduced the 1958 model Edsel automobile on September 4, 1957 after much fanfare. Initial sales were disappointing to say the least. Ford had hoped to sell 200,000 of the 1958 model Edsels, but ended up only producing 68,045.  To try and bolster sales, Ford redesigned the car somewhat and removed some features that had not done well on the 58’s, but again sales were very low, compared to expectations. Only 47,396 of the 1959 models were produced.  The 1960 model was released in the fall of 59, but was basically a 1960 Ford with some sheet metal changes and did not resemble the earlier models very much at all. Only 2,846 of the 1960 models were produced, mainly just to fulfill dealer contracts.  Ford decided to discontinue the Edsel in favor of smaller cars that were becoming popular at the time, and on November 19, 1959 announced that it would no longer produce Edsels.

Edsel is a no-go: Production of this car marque ends after only three years due to poor sales.

1961 Eichmann
Otto Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was tasked by SS-Obergruppenführer (general/lieutenant general) Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. In 1960, Eichmann was captured in Argentina by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Following a widely publicized trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged in 1962.

Adolf Eichmann, a “most wanted” Nazi war criminal, is traced to Argentina and captured by Mossad agents. He is covertly taken to Israel where he is put on trial for crimes against humanity in Germany during World War II, convicted, and hanged.

 

Tune in tomorrow which is brought to you by the letter F where Billy Joel sings about Foreign Debts.  What only one phrase to write about.  What will I do with all the extra time on my hands?

#AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From Doris Day to Dylan and All the D’s In Between

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter D.  Billy Joel’s song lyrics begin with 1949,  the year of his birth on May 9, 1949.  Today I begin with an person mentioned for that year.
1949 Doris Day
Long before she crooned her trademark song, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)”, which she introduced in the film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Doris Day was making films.  In 1949 she starred in two, My Dream Is Yours  and It’s a Great Feeling.

Doris Day enters the public spotlight with the films My Dream Is Yours and It’s a Great Feeling as well as popular songs like “It’s Magic”; divorces her second husband.

1954 Dacron

DuPont purchased the rights to Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers’s organic chemical research in 1945 after he developed synthetic nylon from polyester. Chemical engineers at DuPont dedicated an entire laboratory to perfect Dacron, which is known for its durability, resistance to degradation and high tensile strength. They patented the fabric in 1953.  Suits made of the synthetic fabric began to debut in May of 1951, with items sold by Deering, Milliken & Co., and a $79.50 model from Hart, Schaffner & Marx. Adjusting for inflation, the suit would sell for more than $650 today.  Dacron became commercially available for medical use in 1957. The synthetic fiber was used to graft arteries and veins during bypass surgery. Dacron was widely used in vascular surgery from the late 1950s through the 1970s.  Dacron is a polymer obtained through chemical reactions between ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. The synthetic fabric is used in curtains, fire hoses, dresses, men’s suits, sails, knitted wear, woven sportswear and many other applications.

Dacron is an early artificial fiber made from the same plastic as polyester.

 

1954 Dien Bien Phu Falls

On May 7, 1954, the French-held garrison at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam fell after a four month siege led by Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh. After the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the French pulled out of the region. Concerned about regional instability, the United States became increasingly committed to countering communist nationalists in Indochina. The United States would not pull out of Vietnam for another twenty years.

Dien Bien Phu falls. A village in North Vietnam falls to Viet Minh forces under Vo Nguyen Giap, leading to the creation of North Vietnam and South Vietnam as separate states.

 

1955 Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett was a five-part serial which aired on ABC from 1954-1955 in one-hour episodes, on the Disneyland series. The series starred Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as his friend, George Russel.  The first three episodes of the serial were edited together as the theatrical film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) and rebroadcast in color in the 1960s, when the Disney program went to NBC. This series and film are known for the catchy theme song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”. It was filmed in color at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Mountain Farm Museum adjacent to the visitor center at Oconaluftee, near Qualla Reservation’s entrance and Janss Conejo Ranch, California.  The final two episodes were edited together as the theatrical film Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (1956). It was filmed in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois.

Davy Crockett is a Disney television miniseries about the legendary frontiersman of the same name. The show was a huge hit with young boys and inspired a short-lived “coonskin cap” craze.

1955 Disneyland

Disneyland, Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, opens on July 17, 1955.  The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and soon brought in staggering profits. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion.

Disneyland opens on July 17, 1955 as Walt Disney’s first theme park.

 

1961 Dylan

On April 11, 1961, Bob Dylan plays his first major gig in New York City. A number of major developments in the year that followed would set Bob Dylan on his road toward stardom, but the very first of those was his appearance at Gerde’s Folk City.

Bob Dylan is signed to Columbia Records after a New York Times review by critic Robert Shelton.

This is not the 1961 event but it is Dylan from 1963 on television

Tune in tomorrow which is brought to you by the letter E: Edsel is a no go, Eihmann, Eisnstein, Eisenhower, Elvis Presley and England’s Got A New Queen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ – We Didn’t Start the Fire from A to Z: From the Catcher in the Rye to China’s Under Martial Law and Other “C’s”

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
 Today is brought to you by the letter C.  Just like with the letter B yesterday,  there are several mentions in Billy Joel’s iconic lyrics that begin with the letter C.
1951 The Catcher in the Rye is a novel by J. D. Salinger.  A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage angst and alienation. It has been translated into almost all of the world’s major languages.  The novel’s protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion.  The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.  The novel was included on Times 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923 and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

1953 Roy Campanella, receives the National League’s Most Valuable Play designation for the second time.  Nicknamed “Campy”, he was an American baseball player, primarily as a catcher. From Philadelphia, he played for the Negro leagues and Mexican League for several seasons before entering the minor leagues in 1946. He made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 1948. His playing career ended in 1958 when he was paralyzed by an automobile accident.  Widely considered to be one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game, Campanella played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s and 1950s. After he retired as a player, Campanella held positions in scouting and community relations with the Dodgers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.

Roy Campanella, an African-American baseball catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, receives the National League’s Most Valuable Player award for the second time. (Note: He was paralyzed in a car crash in 1957)

 

1953 Communist Bloc

Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany, Poland and Albania were the countries that comprised the Communist Bloc during the Cold War. Politicians also referred to it as the Iron Curtain, the Eastern Bloc or the Soviet Bloc. The Communist Bloc was a matter of contention between Europe and the Soviet Union as the struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States developed.  Since Billy Joel placed this in the 1953 section of the lyrics, he was probably referring to the uprising in East Germany which started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on 16 June 1953. It turned into a widespread uprising against the German Democratic Republic government the next day. In Germany, the revolt is often called People’s Uprising in East Germany. In remembrance of it, 17 June became a national holiday of West Germany, prevailing until reunification.  The uprising in East Berlin was violently suppressed by tanks of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and the Volkspolizei. In spite of the intervention of Soviet troops, the wave of strikes and protests was not easily brought under control. Even after 17 June there were demonstrations in more than 500 towns and villages.

Communist bloc is a group of communist nations dominated by the Soviet Union at this time. Probably a reference to the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany.

 

In 1957 Chou En-Lai the specific reason that Billy Joel included the Premier of the People’s Republic of China in that year is not known to me.   Here are a few items of interest.  The Kashmir Princess was a chartered Lockheed L-749A Constellation aircraft owned by Air India. On 11 April 1955, it was damaged in midair by a bomb explosion and crashed into the South China Sea while en route from Bombay, India, and Hong Kong to Jakarta, Indonesia.  Sixteen of those on board were killed, while three survived. The target of the assassination was the Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai. In 1957 he played a significant role in negotiating settlements of issues arising from Polish and Hungarian conflicts with the Soviet Union.

Chou En-Lai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, survives an assassination attempt on the charter airliner Kashmir Princess.

 

1958 Charles de Gaulle  was a French general and statesman. He was the leader of Free France (1940–44) and the head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944–46). In 1958, he founded the Fifth Republic and was elected as the 18th President of France, a position he held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the Cold War era and his memory continues to influence French politics.

Charles de Gaulle is elected first president of the French Fifth Republic following the Algerian Crisis.

 

1958 California Baseball As I wrote about yesterday for B and Brooklyn’s Got A Winning Team, the Dodgers moved to California but they were not the only team to move.  As shown in the newspaper headline below, the New York Giants move to California too.  After the move, baseball had the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.  Can you imagine what it felt like to be a New York baseball fan. Of course they still had the Yankees.


California baseball begins as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants move to California and become the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. They are the first major league teams west of Kansas City

 

1958 Children of Thalidomide probably one of the most tragic pharmaceutical disasters of our time.  Thalidomide was first marketed in 1957 in West Germany under the trade-name Contergan. The German drug company Chemie Grünenthal developed and sold the drug. Primarily prescribed as a sedative or hypnotic, thalidomide also claimed to cure “anxiety, insomnia, gastritis, and tension”. Afterwards, it was used against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. Of course this is where it all went wrong.  Thalidomide became an over-the-counter drug in West Germany on October 1, 1957. Shortly after the drug was sold in West Germany, between 5,000 and 7,000 infants were born with phocomelia (malformation of the limbs). Only 40% of these children survived. Throughout the world, about 10,000 cases were reported of infants with phocomelia due to thalidomide; only 50% of the 10,000 survived. Those subjected to thalidomide while in the womb experienced limb deficiencies in a way that the long limbs either were not developed or presented themselves as stumps. Other effects included deformed eyes and hearts, deformed alimentary and urinary tracts, blindness and deafness. The negative effects of thalidomide led to the development of more structured drug regulations and control over drug use and development.  Last year on the British television show “Call the Midwife”, it was the late 1950s early 1960s and the show dealt with the defects from Thalidomide and it was heart wrenching to watch.

Children of Thalidomide: Mothers taking the drug Thalidomide had children born with congenital birth defects caused by the sleeping aid and antisemitic, which was also used at times to treat morning sickness.

 

1959 Castro  On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government.

Fidel Castro comes to power after a revolution in Cuba and visits the United States later that year on an unofficial twelve-day tour

 

1960 Chubby Checker  “The Twist” is an American pop song written and originally released in early 1959 by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters as a B-side to “Teardrops on Your Letter”. Ballard’s version was a moderate 1960 hit, peaking at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Chubby Checker’s 1960 cover version of the song gave birth to the Twist dance craze. His single became a hit, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 19, 1960

 

Chubby Checker popularizes the dance The Twist with his cover of the song of the same name.

 

1983 Crack The In America the crack epidemic was a surge of crack cocaine use in major cities across the United States between 1982 and the early 1990s. This resulted in a number of social consequences, such as increasing crime and violence in American inner city neighborhoods, as well as a resulting backlash in the form of tough on crime policies.

Crack cocaine use surged in the mid-to-late 1980s.

 

1989 China’s Under Martial Law on May 20th. Though martial law was scheduled for May 21, news of the impending order was leaked to the public, so the timetable was moved up. Premier Li Peng hastily announced martial law in the early morning hours of May 20.  The order, declared pursuant to Article 89, Section 16 of the PRC Constitution, was to come into effect at 10:00 am in eight urban districts of Beijing.  Events from Tiananmen Square unfolded before the world on televison.  Tiananmen Square is located in the center of Beijing, the capital of China. Tiananmen means “gate of heavenly peace.” In 1989, after several weeks of demonstrations, Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square on June 4 and fired on civilians.  Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to thousands. It has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests. Several dozen people have been executed for their parts in the demonstrations.

 

China’s under martial law: On May 20, China declares martial law, enabling them to use force of arms against protesting students to end the Tiananmen Square protests.

 

Tune in tomorrow which is brought to you by the letter D: Dacron, Davy Crockett, Dien Bien Phu Falls, Disneyland, Doris Day and Dylan.