Mata Hari – She Died a Spy’s Death

By | Aug 7, 2017

The name Mata Hari is known as a female spy. The Real Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida “Grietje” Zelle on August 7, 1876 and was executed on October 15, 1917 after being sentenced on July 25, 1917 as a German spy.

Prior to World War One, Mata Hari was many things. She was the wife of a Dutch naval officer Rudolf John MacLeod and mother of two. She was an Adulter when she moved in with another Dutch officer when still married to MacLeod. The couple divorced in 1903 and she moved to Paris where she began life as a performer. She was an artist model, circus horse rider and beginning in 1905 an exotic dancer.

Whether she was actually a spy or a scapegoat may never be determined. Since Netherlands had stayed neutral she was able to cross borders freely. She was a courtesan to many high-ranking allied military officers during this time and had admitted to work as an agent for France intelligence. If true she would have been a Double Agent.

Her downfall began in January of 1917 when the French intercept a coded radio broadcast with information about an agent code-named H-21. Other information led them to Mata Hari as being that agent. Strangely the message was in a code that the Germans had already known to be broken so it’s possible that she may have been set up for the fall by the Germans. Her only crime may have been her sleeping with married military officers.

When she was executed by firing squad she was not bound nor wearing a blindfold. She had refused to wear one. She stood without motion as the 12 men raised their rifles, took aim at her chest and then fired.

She may have been only one of ten women and 300 men executed by the French for espionage, but she is the only one that is still remembered. it is a legend that may last forever.

Music, The Brothers Gibb and 1977-78

By | Jul 30, 2017

In a 53 week period from July 30, 1977 to July 29, 1978 The Brothers Gibb (The Bee Gees, brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin, or their younger brother Andy) held the Number 1 spot for 31 weeks.

July 30 – August 13 and September 17, 1977 (4) “I Just Want to be Your Everything” – Andy Gibb
December 24, 1977 – January 7, 1978 (3) “How Deep is Your Love – Bee Gees
February 4 – February 25 ( 4) “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees
March 4 – March 11 (2) ” (Love is) Ticker than Water” – Andy Gibb
March 18 – May 6 (8) “Night Fever” – Bee Gees
May 13 – “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Elliman (Written by the Bee Gees)
June 17 – July 29 (7) – “Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb

During this 53 week period the only artists to have a Number 1 song are:
August 20 – September 10 & September 24 (5) – “Best of my Love” The Emotions
October 1 & 8 (2) “Star Wars Theme” – Meco
October 15 – December 17 (10) – “You Light Up My Life” Debby Boone
January 14 – January 28 (3) – “Baby Come Back: – Player
May 20 & 27 (2) – “With a Little Luck” – Wings
June 3 – “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” – Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams
June 10 – “You’re the One That I Want” – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

The movie “Grease” would have another Number 1 song in 1978, its theme song “Grease” by Frankie Valli and written by Barry Gibb. It would spend 2 weeks at Number 1, August 26 and September 2.

In 1978, 25 weeks found a song either written or performed by one of the 4 brothers at the number one spot including 15 weeks in a row from February 4th to May 13th.

A Fellowship Published

By | Jul 21, 2017

The classic book by J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings was first published as three volumes; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King on July 21, 1954, on November 11, 1954 and on October 20, 1955 respectively in the United Kingdom.

The book was created as a single volume and was broken up into sections by the publisher.

When The Fellowship of the Ring was published, an index was promised. However that complete Index and Appendices were not complete until the 1966 revised edition was printed. These Appendices gave a view of the World of Middle-Earth and it’s three Ages that Tolkien began in 1917.

While recovering from ‘Trench’ fever 1917 Tolkien began work on a tale he called The Fall of Gondolin part of a larger project he would name The Book of Lost Tales. The Lord of the Rings would become part of this world.

While his children were young he began telling them a fairy tale of a Hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins who lived in a hole in the ground. With the encouragement of his friend C.S. Lewis, (Lewis would later create his own children tales The Chronicles of Narnia), Tolkien finished The Hobbit tale in 1933. In 1936 the manuscript was shown by a family friend to publisher Stanley Unwin. The Hobbit was published in 1937.

The Lord of the Rings was begun as its sequel in 1937 and took until 1953 to complete. Tolkien was exacting in the writing of his tales and would work his Middle-Earth mythology his entire life, with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit being the only major works of this mythology published during his life.

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

By | Jul 18, 2017

On July 18, 1925 the first volume of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf was published. The work is a combination autobiography and political ideas of the young Hitler. It was originally titled Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. The publisher, Secker and Warburg, retitled the work Mein Kampf or My Struggle.

This first edition had a printing of 500 copies. The work was not popular, but people did request a larger printing and one was finally printed.

While Hitler was in prison serving a term for high treason, he began writing (actually dictating) his autobiography so that the German public would know what he stood for. He was released on December 20, 1924 about a year after beginning his five year term.

The second volume Die Nationalsozialistische Bewegung or The National Socialist Movement was released in December 1926. This was a few months after a second edition of the first volume was published.

After Hitler became chancellor in 1933, the book was extremely popular. In reality it became the Nazi Bible with over 10 million copies distributed in Germany. Every Soldier received a copy as did every newly-wed couple.

In 1928, Hitler felt that even with Mein Kampf the German public did not understand his ideas and brought his loss of the elections of 1928. He began a sequel, which was never finished, that he called Zweites Buch or Secret Book.

Zebulon Pike’s 1806 Expedition

By | Jul 15, 2017

After The United States under President Thomas Jefferson completed what is known as the Louisiana Purchase, the government found it necessary to explore the region. The most commonly known expedition to explore the vast ‘purchase’ is the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It wasn’t the only one. Perhaps just as important was the Pike’s expedition, which left the city of St. Louis on July 15, 1806.

The leader of this expedition was Zebulon M. Pike, an Army Captain who had just returned from an expedition to find the source of the Mississippi River. Even though he didn’t find the source he did travel much of it. When he left St Louis his party included 17 men from his Mississippi River expedition; two new volunteer soldiers; his second-in-command, Lt. James Biddle Wilkinson, a volunteer physician, Dr. John H. Robinson; and Baronet Vasquez, an interpreter from St. Louis.

Spain, who still held a great deal of territory in what is now the United State’s southwest, was not happy that France transferred the rights of ‘Louisiana’ to the Americans. Tensions were high between the two countries and even within the United States. Aaron Burr was part of a group who conspired to separate the western territories from the rest of the United States to form their own country.

During the expedition which explored across the great plain which he described as an “immense and trackless deserts”. A desert in the 19th century was thought to be any treeless or uninhabited lands whether they were arid or not. On November 15 he saw a great peak in the distance. This peak now bears his name as Pikes Peak.

Even though winter was coming, Pike’s expedition began climbing the mountain range. Once the weather got too bad they abandoned their quest to climb to the top of the over 14,000 foot peak. They were able to explore the base of the Rocky Mountains.

By the end of January 1807 they reached a river, that they thought to be the Rio Grande, but was actually the Red River. Here they decided to build a fort. It was at this fort that the party was captured by Spanish troops who arrested them as spies. They were released, but all of their records and journals were kept. Pike was still published in 1810, The expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike to headwaters of the Mississippi River, through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, during the years 1805-6-7.

Red Sox Pitcher – George Herman (Babe) Ruth

By | Jul 11, 2017

It was on July 11, 1914 that the 19 year old left handed pitcher George Herman Ruth made he first appearance for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox played the Cleveland Indians defeating them 4-3. In 1914 Babe Ruth would appear in 4 games starting 3 of them. He pitched 23 innings, with a record of 2 wins, 1 lost and ERA of 3.91.

From this point until the end of the 1919 season Ruth played for the Red Sox. He was primarily a Pitcher for them until 1918, when he was used both as a pitcher and an outfielder. He was 18-8 in 1915, 23-12 in 1916, 24-13 in 1917, and 13-7 in 1918 and had the most wins for a left-handed pitcher in baseball from 1915-1917.

In 1919 he played in 130 games, pitching 133.3 innings in 17 games with a record of 9 wins 5 losts. He had 29 Home Runs, 114 RBIs with a batting average of .322. At the end of the season his contract was sold to the New York Yankees.

After going to the Yankees he would only pitch in 5 more games. Once in 1920, twice in 1922, once in 1930 and again in 1933.

Ruth pitched in 163 games in his pitching career with 148 of these games being starts and 107 complete games. His career pitching record was 94 wins, 46 lost with an ERA of 2.28. The only year in which he gave up more Home Runs as a Pitcher than he hit as a batter was in 1914.

In his 22 year career Ruth would have a career average of .342, have 2,873 hits of which 714 were Home Runs and 136 were Triples. He also received 2,062 walks. It makes you wonder what his numbers would have been if he hadn’t spent the first 4 years primarily as a pitcher.

The Duck Almost as Famous as a Mouse

By | Jul 9, 2017

When he first appeared in the Disney Silly Symphonies cartoon short The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934 he may not have been the character as we know him today. But it was the first appearance of Donald Duck.

The 1934 Donald had not become the Donald as we know him today, but even though features did change he was in his blue sailor suit and hat and exhibited a bit of a temper.

While July 9th is officially Donald’s birthday, it was twice mention that his birth was on a 13th. In the 1944 film The Three Caballeros his birthday is given as “Friday the 13th” and in the short Donald’s Happy Birthday his birthday is March 13.

Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, would make their first animated appearance in the April 15, 1938 film, Donald’s Nephews. They had already appeared as characters in the comic strip featuring Donald Duck.

By the 1940s Donald was as popular as Mickey Mouse. A 1938 poll showed him as being more popular. Even though they were originally shown as partners it became obvious that Donald wanted to be the Super Star. All in jest it has created a rivalry that maintains even to this day.

All in all Donald Duck doesn’t look to bad for celebrating his 83th Birthday. Happy Birthday Donald.

The Path to Independence

By | Jun 30, 2017

How much do you actually know about what happened on and around July 4, 1776?

We all know that July 4th is the birthday of the United States, but is it really?

Events that led up to the birth of the United States started in 1774 when 56 representatives from 12 of the British Colonies meet in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26. They created a Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress in response to the Intolerable Acts.

A second Continental Congress was called to convene on May 10, 1775. Letters of invites to this congress was supposed to be issued to Georgia, Quebec, Saint John’s Island (now Prince Edward Island), Nova Scotia, Georgia, East Florida, and West Florida. It appears that only Georgia and Quebec actually received these invitation letters.

The 12 colonies came together on May 10, 1775, Georgia didn’t arrive until July. By the time this congress convened, the Battles of Lexington and Concord had been fought and war had begun. Congress was to take charge of the war effort. On June 14, 1775, the Congress voted to create the Continental Army out of the militia units around Boston and appointed George Washington, at the time a delegate of Virginia, as commanding general of the Continental Army.

While Congress was moving towards declaring independence from the British Empire many delegates lacked the authority from their home governments to take this action. That was until Richard Henry Lee, a representative from Virginia, received from The Virginia’s House of Burgesses new instructions. On May 15, 1776 the House of Burgesses resolved that “the delegates appointed to represent this colony in General Congress” be instructed to propose to that respectable body to “declare the united Colonies free and independent states.”

Lee presented on June 6, 1776, a resolution to congress that read;

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Debate began on the resolution, but it was decided to wait for three week so that the delegates could send the resolution to their home colonies and receive direction on voting. It also appeared to those present that the resolution would pass and that there needed to be a suitable declaration for the resolution.

On June 11, 1776 a committee, consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, was formed. They were known as the Committee of Five.

The committee delegated that Jefferson would write the draft. Jefferson and the committee worked on it from June 12 until June 27. Franklin and Adams made several minor corrections and the entire committee made additional changes and additions, a total of forty-seven alterations including the insertion of three complete paragraphs to Jefferson’s original draft. Jefferson then produced another copy incorporating these changes and the committee presented this copy to the Continental Congress on Friday June 28, 1776.

On Monday July 1st, congress began debate on the Lee Resolution.

Delaware had three delegates representing the colony. Delaware had just recently declared their independence not only from England but also from Pennsylvania with whom they shared a Royal Governor. The three delegates were Thomas Mckean and Caesar Rodney who were for Independence, and George Reed who was against. When debate began Rodney was in Dover Delaware. As a Militia General he was seeing to the command of his troops. (Some stories are that Rodney was on his death bed. While it is true that he had a rare form of facial cancer that left him disfigured and in constant discomfort he was not at his home due to the disease. In fact Rodney lived for nearly 8 more years).

Thomas McKean, who was on the side of independence, sent a dispatch to Caesar Rodney who received it on July 1st, the day before the vote would be taken. He quickly mounted his horse and began the 80 miles trip to Philadelphia. He rode throughout the night. While he rode he encountered a severe thunderstorm. He continued to ride through the rain that turned the road to mud. He arrived shortly after the delegates returned to the Congress after their lunch break, just before the final vote was taken on Tuesday July 2nd. When Delaware was called he rose and voted in favor of Independence. George Read, the Delaware delegate who was against Independence, did sign the Declaration.

South Carolina still wasn’t in favor of independence, but Edward Rutledge, who opposed independence and had made many motions to delay the vote, convinced the delegation that for the sake of unanimity, they should vote in favor. The New York delegation abstained, since they did not have instructions from their home government. The Vote for Independence had passed.

In a letter that John Adams sent to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776 he said;

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.

Finally at a little after 11 o’clock on Thursday morning July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved. Again the New York delegation abstained from the vote, but did approve the Declaration five days later. This vote was after many hours of debate during the previous two days. There were thirty-nine revisions to the committee’s draft, including the deletion of language that denounced King George III for promoting slave trade.

John Hancock, as President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress signed the document. They were the only two to sign the document on July 4th.

It wasn’t until July 19th that congress ordered that the Declaration to be officially inscribed and signed by its members. Congressional delegates began to sign the officially inscribed copy on August 2nd. It was even signed by some members who had not voted for its adoption and some who were not present at Congress when the vote was cast.

Note:
This was originally written in 2006 and has been revised and republished on various sites each year since then.

The Summer of Love

By | Jun 3, 2017

The summer of 1967 is commonly known as the Summer of Love. In the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, thousands of young people from all over the world united for a new social experience. The result, the hippie counterculture movement came into public awareness.

Scott McKenzie in May 1967 released the John Phillip’s penned song San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair). The song written in 20 minutes was originally designed to promote the June Monterey Pop Festival.

The Monterey Pop Festival took place on the weekend of June 16 to 18, 1967. Over 200,000 people attended. The artists played for free and the proceeds from the $1 entry fee were donated to charity. Many of the performers were unknown or little known acts and this was a big first step in their career. Performers at the festival included The Big Brother Holding Company with their new singer Janis Joplin, The Who, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

The Beatles released their Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band album on June 1st. With its musical innovations, Indian instrumentals, and vivid album cover it encapsulated the very essence of the Summer of Love.

The Summer of Love attracted a wide range of people: teenagers and college students drawn by their peers, middle-class vacationers to gawk, and even partying military personnel from bases within an easy drive. The Haight-Ashbury scene did deteriorated rapidly with overcrowding, homelessness, hunger, drug problems, and crime afflicting the neighborhood. When the fall arrived many left to resume their college studies. They took with them new ideas, behaviors, and styles of fashion to most major cities in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

On October 7, 1967, those remaining in the area staged a mock funeral, “The Death of the Hippie” ceremony, to signal the end of the played-out scene.

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band”

By | Jun 1, 2017

1.    The 8th Beatles’ Album Sgt, Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was release in England on June 1, 1967 and in the United States on the next day.  However as early as May 26 the album was available at some music stores in London, England.  The Album was recorded between December 1966 and April 1967 at Abbey Roads Studios. It reached number one on the Album Charts in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

2.    The idea was for it to be ‘concept’ album based on Paul McCartney’s idea of alter egos for the four Beatles. The Album was to be not the Beatles sounds but that of their doubles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  However the alter ego band’s concept ends after the first two tracks, but the music throughout uses imaginative new musical techniques.

3.    The original intention was for the title track to be broken into sections to open and close the album.  After the recording of With a Little Help From My Friends it was decided to put it as the second track and record a rockier reprise. The final chords of A Day In The Life convinced Martin that it needed to be the final track of the album. He said,  ‘The final chord of A Day in the Life was so final that it was obvious nothing else could follow it.’

4.    The George Harrison composed Only a Northern Song was to be part of the album, but was left off in favor of Within You Without You that was deemed a better choice.  Only A Northern Song is a bitter song that gives a sarcastic commentary on the Beatles’ publishing company “Northern Songs”.

5.    The album with a few exceptions has been a critical success.  It won the Grammy Award for best Album of the Year and in 2003 in the Rolling Stone list of ‘500 Greatest Albums’ it was rated number 1.

6.    The most played song at the press bash for the album was not a song from the album but Procol Harum’s  A Whiter Shade of Pale which was release just a week before the Sgt. Pepper’s Album.  It’s reported that Lennon played the song non-stop on his way to the party.

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