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Today in History

Peacoat

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We have had previous discussions on the firsts set by Amelia Earhart, so I think it is somewhat noteworthy that today's date in 1928 she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by airplane. It wasn't that great of an accomplishment as she flew as a passenger. In her words, "A sack of potatoes." But still it shows her adventurous spirit at age 31, I believe.
 
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scotrace

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In 1429, June 18, Joan of Arc whipped the English at the battle of Patay.
1815, June 18, roles are reversed. The English whip Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo, Belgium.

Sir Paul McCartney is 77. Isabella Rossellini is 67.
 

LizzieMaine

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On this date in 1938, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Babe Ruth to his last major-league contract -- to serve as the team's first base coach for the rest of the season. Ruth had high hopes that this job would lead to his being appointed the Dodgers manager for 1939 -- it was well-known that incumbent manager Burleigh Grimes was on the way out -- but the Babe soon learned he'd been hired solely to goose attendance by hitting monster home-runs over the Ebbets Field right-field screen during batting practice. Ruth proved himself somewhat less than competent as a coach, and sealed his fate with the team by getting into a clubhouse fistfight with his old enemy Leo Durocher, who slapped him around and pushed him into a locker.

As an additional indignity Ruth couldn't even have his traditional uniform number "3," as it belonged to second baseman Pete Coscarart who declined to give it up. The Babe's last major-league jersey bore the number "35."

The final blow came at the end of the 1938 season, when the Dodgers announced their new manager -- Leo Durocher.

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Ruth would never again hold any kind of a job in baseball. 60 years later, the uniform he is wearing in the above photo sold at auction for $310,000. It displayed very little wear.
 

GHT

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50 years ago the movie, "The Italian Job," was released. The chase of three Minis through the streets and sewers of Turin has been voted one of the top ten film chases of all time. If you can, do read Michael Caine's biography, "Blowing Bloody Doors Off."
 

scotrace

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It was ten years ago, June 25, 2009, that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, passed away at age 50.

June 25, 1982, the movie Blade Runner was released.

June 25, 1943: Jews in the Czestochowa Ghetto in Poland rose up against their Nazi captors. The SS put it down within days. By 1943, many of the inhabitants had already been shipped to the Treblinka extermination camp. The population a year earlier had been close to 50,000. Less than 10,000 remained at the time of the uprising.
 

GHT

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On this day in 1957, the British Medical Research Council publishes a report suggesting a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.
Evidence had been gathering for more than a decade beforehand. In 1949, Richard Doll, a researcher working for the Medical Research Council, and Bradford Hill, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene, began looking at lung cancer patients in London hospitals. The patients were asked about family history, diet and previous diseases. In 649 cases of lung cancer, two were non-smokers.

Doll and Hill followed up their work and, by 1956, the link was incontrovertible: more than 200 heavy smokers had died in a four-year period while the incidence among non-smokers was negligible.

The U.S. Surgeon General's first Smoking and Health report was led by the then, Surgeon General Luther Terry, with the help of an advisory committee, the 1964 landmark report linked smoking cigarettes with dangerous health effects, including lung cancer and heart disease.

Thousands of internal tobacco industry documents released through litigation and whistleblowers reveal the most astonishing systematic corporate deceit of all time. The industry denied and continues to deny that it is clear that smoking causes lung cancer - yet it has understood the carcinogenic nature of its product since the 1950s.

Today, the rate of smoking in North America, is similar to that of Western Europe, about 18%. Tobacco companies continue to spray the tobacco, before cigarette production, with additional addictive chemicals.
 

LizzieMaine

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Yesterday in 1919, the New York Daily News published its first issue -- beginning the era of tabloid journalism in America. The paper, a heavily-illustrated sheet inspired by the success of London's Daily Mirror, was "a three-ring circus of crime, sports, and vice" according to one critic, but it hit a note with the average working-class New Yorker of the time, who found the paper just the right size to easily read on the subway, and within five years the News had the highest circulation of any newspaper in the US, a distinction it held well into the 1970s.

The News was the ba***rd child of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the reactionary publisher of the Chicago Tribune and his one-time socialist cousin Joseph Medill Patterson, but it was Patterson who single-handedly ran the paper, micromanaging every detail of its composition and content. The paper emphasized catchy headlines, a front page covered in photos, a pictorial centerspread, and a sports section that took up the last third of each issue. News stories emphasized local New York City news over all else -- with crime and sex scandals always the favorite material. The paper also had a strong lineup of pseudonymous columnists -- film critic "Nancy Randolph," women's editor "Antoinette Donnelly," and advice columnist "Sally Joy Brown," the most prominent. There were plenty of features designed to spur reader mail -- "Embarrassing Moments," "Bright Sayings of Children," "A Helping Hand," and most of all "Voice of the People," the breeziest letter-to-the-editor column in the city, filled with grouchy people from Brooklyn complaining about loud girls outside their windows at night and rude sailors pushing them aside at lunch counters. And Patterson was especially interested in comics, taking a direct hand in the creation of several of what turned out to be the most popular strips in the country, and giving the News what has to stand as one of the best comic lineups any paper ever had.

The News is still around, even though a shadow of what it was in the Era. But it's still fun to read, and still has that blue-collar chip on its shoulder that made it such a hit a hundred years ago. Here's to "New York's Picture Newspaper." It'll never see its bicentennial, but at least it made it this far.

Here's a fine tribute to the first century of the News, complete with a look at some typical front pages down thru the years.
 
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Up until the internet killed papers (let's just admit that and move on), I , on most days, read four papers a day in NYC - the WSJ, NYT, Daily News and Post. The WSJ and NYT gave you business, the country and the world; the Post and News gave you New York, sports (insanely good coverage of local teams), tons of fun tabloid stuff and smart stuff that wasn't "sophisticated" enough for the the NYT. The last part - smart stuff not "sophisticated" enough... - was surprisingly robust in the tabloids from breaking real news, covering stories from angles (or complete stories themselves) that the NYT didn't and having robust op/eds written by really smart people who didn't go to the right schools or did but chose another path. I read a lot on line now, but have never been able to replicate the experience of those four papers, especially, the tabloids.
 

LizzieMaine

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Reading old copies of the News from the Era -- and I have an entire closet stacked with them -- it's amazing what a well-written paper it really was. It was schlock -- but it was schlock of a very high order, produced by people who on the one hand took their jobs very seriously while on the other realizing full well that much of what they were writing was ridiculous. The result was a paper where you could always feel like you got full entertainment value for your two cents. Some of Jimmy Powers' sports columns in the forties were hysterically funny, especially when they went after Branch "El Cheapo" Rickey, and the paper's crime reporters really shone when they covered, not large-scale heists, but bungled crimes committed by inept neighborhood thugs.

The other big tabloid in the city at the time, the Mirror, never really understood the need to modulate the tone of the paper with humor -- with the exception of Walter Winchell's column, everybody on that paper took themselves deadly seriously, and the result was like being beaten over the head with a bag full of Hearst. I wish Winchell could have written for the News, and Ed Sullivan for the Mirror, because it would have been a perfect match for both.
 

GHT

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Up until the internet killed papers (let's just admit that and move on), I , on most days, read four papers a day in NYC - the WSJ, NYT, Daily News and Post.
From a young age I realised that news reports in newspapers had some sort of agenda, a political slant or a financial interest, nothing was ever unbiased. My father would tell me not to get hot under the collar and always take any news report with a large pinch of salt. But two events in the 1960's really put me off newspapers. The assassination of JFK and three years later The Aberfan disaster that killed 144, mostly schoolchildren. It was the reporting of those terrible events that struck me.
 

GHT

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'Mallard’ sets a new world speed Record for steam locomotives. The locomotive was drawing a streamlined train to which was attached to a dynamometer car, in which were charts and instruments confirmed the record.

On 3 July 1938, ‘Mallard’ locomotive, (engine number 4468,) achieved a new world record for steam trains, travelling at 125.88 MPH on the UK’s East Coast Main Line. A record that has never been broken for a steam hauled train.
mallard.jpg
 

GHT

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Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones, a multi-instrumentalist, the founder and original leader of the Rolling Stones. Jones was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool at Cotchford Farm in Hartfield, East Sussex, on 3 July 1969. He was 27.
 

LizzieMaine

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On this date in 1937, the Geo. A. Hormel Company of Chicago introduced one of the twentieth century's defining products:

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A chopped, pressed, and spiced combination of ham and pork shoulder meat, Spam was introduced with a barrage of publicity intended to hide the fact that it was a revised version of a canned meat product introduced the previous year under the name "Hormel Spiced Ham." The addition of shoulder meat reduced the manufacturing cost of the product, and made a new name necessary.

Under any name, there was nothing particularly new or unusual in 1937 about canned processed meat -- canned corned beef had been popular since the early nineteenth century, and Hormel had long had a prominent line of such products, including such delights as canned whole chickens. But the name "Spam" was a marketing breakthru for the company -- and turned a pretty generic product into something Exciting and Modern, a concept that appealed to convenience-minded 1930s housewives. Spam was heavily advertised in print, on billboards, and on radio -- and by the early 1940s it was close to becoming America's National Dish. It also attracted imitators -- within a few years, rival meatpackers Armour and Swift introduced their own versions: Armour Treet and Swift's Prem. But neither became the legend, the global phenomenon, that is Spam.

Which is for the best. You can't imagine referring to an unwanted commercial e-mail as a "treet."
 

Harp

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I've always loved Spam, never understood its bad rap. Have a can of Hormel Spam at home waiting to be opened.
Since I seldom cook, convenience is prized. Wheat toast, spam, and Skippy Peanut Butter. Yum
 

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