The Year was 1937

The brothers were born two years apart. The younger one died in 1937, when he was 38. The older one lived to be 86. Yet it is the younger one who became the most famous. He was George Gershwin, born in 1898 in Brooklyn. Their parents had emigrated from Russia. They wanted Ira, the first…

The Year was 1939

July 4th 1939 was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. It was a double header against the Washington Senators. Yankee Stadium was jammed with almost 62,000 fans. During the break between games, the fans heard a lot of people speak as Gehrig stood there, silent. He had said he would not speak. Lou’s mother, a German immigrant…

The Year was 1873

Margaret was four and Emma was fourteen when the U.S. Congress passed Anthony Conmstock’s 1873 Comstock Law, the “Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use.” It would put both Emma and Margaret in jail. Both women ended up in New York City. Emma came from Russia and then…

The Year was 1600

Did the Earth revolve around the Sun? No! But brilliant mathematician and astronomer Giordano Bruno was saying it did. Not only that. He also said that our solar system was just one of many. Born in Naples, Bruno became a Dominican friar, but his freethinking ideas were not going down too well with the Church….

The Year was 1956

“Do not focus your cameras below his waist.” This was the directive to the cameramen on the Ed Sullivan Show Sept. 9, 1956. You could do that on television. In a live concert, there was no way to censor Elvis’s gyrations. Whatever Ed Sullivan and the show’s producers expected, they were surprised by the polite…

The Year was 1564

The most successful fraud ever? True, according to none other than Sigmund Freud. And Charles Dickens. And Mark Twain. Who were they talking about? Shakespeare. William was born in April of 1564 to a wool merchant. His parents, John and Mary, his sisters and brothers and all three of his children were unable to read…

The Year was 1902

Selma Leeman: A Finnish-American Immigrant Girl’s Success Story From guest contributor Bruce Matson Selma Liimatainen started life in the small Village of Kivijärvi, Finland in 1889. As an 11-year-old, she arrived in America in 1902. Selma Sofia (she later changed her last name to Leeman) came to Quincy, Massachusetts to join her father and her…

The Year was 453

Even 15 centuries later, this name, Attila the Hun, brings images of barbaric carnage. The word barbarian came from the word Greeks used to designate anyone who was not Greek. To the urbane Greeks, those people sounded like they were saying “bar bar” and thus became known as barbarophonos. Barbarophonos came to mean ‘bearded and…

The Year was 1986

What do you do when you can’t sleep? You read novels. And what do you do when you want to encourage authors to write more novels? You buy a 13th century castle in Scotland and set up a writers’ retreat – all expenses paid. Doreen Mary English did just this. Born in England in 1915…

The Year was 2010

The oldest (verifiable) person in the world just died. Tajima Nabi was born in 1900, in a small town on an island in Japan. She lived 117 years and 260 days. She is succeeded by another Japanese woman, 116-year-old Miyako Chiyo. The oldest living man, 112-year-old Masazo Nonaka, is also Japanese On any given day,…