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This Day In History

November 8

1731 -- Benjamin Franklin opens the first library in the colonies.

1847 - Author Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula, is born.

1895 - Wilhelm Roentgen discovered x-rays.

1950 - US plane shoots down N. Korean Mig-15 in first jet-to-jet dogfight.

1960 - John F. Kennedy is elected President, defeating Richard Nixon.
November 8

On this day in 1519, Moctezuma welcomed Hernan Cortes to Tenochtitlan in present day Mexico City. Just how Cortes pulled off the conquest of Mexico may have more to do with the Aztecs making a lot of enemies in their own conquests than with the Moctezuma thinking Cortes might have been Quetzalcoatl, but that legend is interesting from another aspect. Some descriptions of Quetzalcoatl are of a white, bearded, deity, who was driven out by Tezcatlipoca and who escaped onto the the Atlantic on a raft, threatening to return in the First Year of the Reed. The First Year of the Reed occurred on a 52 year cycle, and Cortes happened to show up in the First Year of the Reed. Whatever went down in 1519, Quetzalcoatl in that particular legend resembles a European. Add to it that the legend has Quetzalcoatl escaping on a raft of snakes, and that the Nordic peoples often carved dragon heads on their ships, and it's enough to make you go "Hmm."

Mr. Scruffy

Moderator Emeritus
November 8

392 - Roman Emperor Theodosius declares Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire.

1889 - Montana is admitted as the 41st state of the Union.

1923 - Adolf Hitler, president of the far-right Nazi Party, launches the Beer Hall Putsch, his first attempt at seizing control of the German government.
November 9

1936 - Astronomer Carl Sagan is born.

1936 - Mary Travers, of the folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary, is born.

1967 - The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine is published.

1994 - The element darmstadtium (Ds), atomic number 110, is created.
November 9

On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Thousands streamed from East Germany into West Germany, and the wall came down. Except it wasn't supposed to happen. The whole thing took place because of a man and a mistake.

East Germany had decided to grant travel visas for East Germans who wanted to go to West Germany. Starting on November 10, 1989, East Germans would be allowed to apply for travel visas to West Germany. That was also to be the date of the official announcement.

That's when Gunter Schabowski made his mistake. Who in the world is Gunter Schabowski? He was a member of the East German Politburo. On November 9, Schabowski announced that travel restrictions to West Germany would be lifted. When asked when this would take place, he said "Immediately, without delay."

Thousands quickly gathered at checkpoints, and things started to get confusing. There were some claims that checkpoints along the wall were already open. At the Bornholmer Street Checkpoint, Harald Jager was the chief officer on duty, and coked on his sandwich as he heard Schabowski. Just the day before, the mayor of East Berlin had ordered that they "capture or destroy" trespassers at the checkpoints, and now there's this. Jager was already having a bad day. He had undergone medical tests for possible cancer, and was to go in on November 10 for his results. Hungry had opened it's borders to Austria about a couple of months earlier, and he had heard Schabowski's announcement. Now he's faced by growing numbers insisting that the checkpoints were open and demanding to be allowed to cross. Jager did what anyone in that situation would: He contacted his superiors for instructions.

That was Rudi Ziegenhorn. Ziegenhorn told him to turn people away, but to let "provocateurs" through. Huh? The idea was to let them out of the country but not back in, but Ziegenhorn didn't explain that.

At this point Jager was essentially on his own. Faced with an increasingly hostile crowd, he had a "forget this" moment, and opened the gates. Other checkpoints along the wall followed suit, and the rest is history.

A Colonel Heinz Shafer of the East German Army later claimed he opened his gate at Waltersdorf prior to Jager.
November 10

1483 - Martin Luther is born.

1775 - The United States Marine Corps is founded in Philadelphia.

1919 - Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47 rifle, is born.

1925 - Actor Richard Burton is born.

1969 - Sesame Street debuts on public tv.

1975 - The ship Edmund Fitzgerald sinks during a storm on Lake Superior.

1983 - Microsoft Windows 1.0 is introduced.
November 11

1885 - General George S. Patton is born.

1918 - Germany signed an armistice with the Allies, ending fighting in World War I. An estimated 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians were killed.

1922 - Novelist Kurt Vonnegut is born.

1925 - Jonathan Winters, actor and screenwriter, is born.

1962 - Actress Demi Moore is born.
November 11th is Remembrance Day throughout the Commonwealth.

A day to honour the memory of the men and women of our Armed services who have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedoms, as well as those who came home broken by their experience in uniform.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning . . . we will remember them. We will remember them.
This evening, a younger family member asked me "Why poppies?" I answered with the first line of Flanders Fields. At least they caught the reference. But it brought to mind the paper poppies we used to purchase in school. They were made by disabled vets. Haven't seen them in a long time.
November 12

1936 - The San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge opens to traffic.

1954 - The Ellis Island immigration inspection station ceases operation..


1934 - Charles Manson, cult leader and murderer.

1943 - Brian Hyland, singer. In 1960 sang Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini. It sold a million copies.

1945 - Neil Young, Canadian singer. Member of the groups Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

1961 - Nadia Comaneci, Romanian gymnast and coach. She was the first gymnast awarded a perfect 10 at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

1970 - Tonya Harding, figure skater.
November 13

1927 - The Holland Tunnel opens.

1940 - Walt Disney's film Fantasia is released.

1947 - The Soviet Union completes development of the AK-47 rifle.

1956 - The Montgomery Bus Boycott ends when the Supreme Court declares Alabama laws requiring segregated public transportation are illegal.


1955 - Whoopi Goldberg, actress and talk show host.

1967 - Jimmy Kimmel, actor and talk show host.
November 14

1853 - Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick is published in the U.S.

1889 - Journalist Nellie Bly begins her 72-day journey around the world.


1765 - Robert Fulton, engineer who developed the steamboat.

1840 - Claude Monet, French Impressionist painter.

1863 - Leo Baekeland, chemist and engineer. He developed Ve.lox photographic paper and Bakelite plastic.

1908 - Joseph McCarthy, senator and communist hunter.

1922 - Veronica Lake, actress.
November 15

1926 - The NBC radio network starts broadcasting.

1971 - Intel releases the 4-bit 4004 microprocessor.


1887 - Georgia O'Keeffe, painter.

1891 - Erwin Romme, German field marshal (the Desert Fox).

1932 - Petula Clark, English singer-songwriter and actress. One of her hits, Downtown, was released in November, 1964.

Mr. Scruffy

Moderator Emeritus
November 15

1777 - The Continental Congress adopts the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States.

1904 - King C. Gillette patents the Gillette razor blade

1959 - Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith murder four members of the Clutter Family at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas (later the subject of Truman Capote book "In Cold Blood")
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November 16

1871 - The National Rifle Association is founded.

1904 - John Ambrose Fleming, engineer, received a patent for the vacuum tube.

1938 - Albert Hofmann synthesized LSD at Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.


1896 - Oswald Mosley, British Fascist.
November 17

1970 - Lt. William Calley goes on trial for the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.


1925 - Rock Hudson, actor.

1942 - Martin Scorsese, director and screenwriter.

1944 - Gene Clark, founding member of the Byrds. He wrote Eight Miles High.

1944 - Danny DeVito, actor, producer and director.

1960 - RuPaul, drag queen.
November 18

1872 - Susan B. Anthony and fourteen other women are arrested for voting in the Presidential election.

1961 - President Kennedy sends 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.

1963 - The first push-button telephone goes into service.


1901 - George Gallup, statistician. His polling organization correctly predicted Franklin Roosevelt's victory over Alf Landon in the 1936 Presidential election.

1927 - Hank Ballard, R&B singer and songwriter.

1942 - Linda Evan's, actress. She played Krystle Carrington in Dynasty.
On this date in 1978, Jim Jones instigated the murders of Congressmen Leo Ryan and those who came with him to inspect the People's Temple. Jones then instigated the mass suicide and murder of his followers.

I remember the TV news aired the video recovered from the airstrip of the murder of Congressman Ryan and the others in his group, who were boarding the planed. Among the dead was the cameraman who recorded the incident. Later, it turned out that the brother of a girl I knew was among the US military personnel who recovered the bodies.