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 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,…

The Year was 1151

Did King Arthur actually live? Or Guinevere? Merlin, Mordred – were any of them real? Vaguely real? Their tales of quests, of magic, of forbidden love, of betrayal were sung in ballads for hundreds of years before Geoffrey of Monmouth, a professor at Oxford from 1129 to 1151, included Arthur (books 9 and 10) in…

The Year was 1923

An upscale real estate developer decided he needed to advertise his property in a big way. He commissioned a sign be built – 13 letters, each one 50 feet tall, and set on the hillside overlooking his development. The letters were so big that telephone poles were used to secure them in place. And then…

The Year was 1965

In France, there is a system called en viager. It is like a private reverse mortgage. In 1965, Jeanne Calment, 90, owned a great apartment in Arles. Her lawyer, André-Francois Raffray, 47, wanted it. He made an agreement to pay Calment 2,500 francs per month for the apartment (about $500 at the time). When Jeanne…

The Year was 1959

The Green Bay Packers’ 1958 season had been dismal – 1-10, the worst in its franchise history. The new coach was revamping everything, even the uniforms, which he had ordered someone on his staff to redesign. When the uniform salesman and his young assistant met with the new coach, the coach said he wanted fuchsia….

The Year was 1971

A Muppet Chemist singing “Time in a Bottle”… If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you. These magical words were not written for lovers. They were written for Jim Croce’s unborn child….

The Year was 1939

Why would all these people be coming to this obscure graveyard? The caretaker could not understand the sudden interest in the nondescript grave of a teenage soldier who had died during a skirmish in the British Mandate of Palestine more than 60 years earlier, in 1939. The teenager, named Harry, had lied about his age…

The Year was 1955

Esther really wanted to win the contest and get the prize. But she had absolutely no credentials. She was sure that everyone else who was entering the contest did. She was right – big name newspaper people submitted entries. What was the prize? It was to take over the advice column that Ruth Crowley wrote…

The Year was 1922

Lee Duncan and his dog were watching a movie crew shoot a scene with a wolf for a movie called Man from Hell’s River. The wolf could not get it. Duncan called to the crew, “Hey guys, my dog could do that on the first take.” “Oh, sure!” they said. “Get lost!” But after more…