The year was 1890

When he died in 1890, his mother threw away a lot of his weird paintings. And no wonder – he had never sold a single painting in his entire life. Well, that’s not exactly true. His younger brother did buy one. He had been was a problem child. The son of a Dutch minister, he…

The year 1938

  When 23-year-old Sister Rosetta Tharpe took the stage at Carnegie Hall just before Christmas, 1938, she took the audience’s breath away. First, she was playing a guitar; that was for men, not women. Second, she was playing it in a way no one had ever heard before. No one, that is, except the small…

The Year was 1953

Five days after her father died, Antha Belle was born on Jan. 6, 1953. Her mother had signed away her parental rights to the dad. And he had arranged to have his own mother be legal guardian for the unborn baby. Which she did, then she adopted Antha Belle, giving her a new name: Catherine…

The year was 1989

It appeared out of the blue. Or out of the black, actually, on Friday night, December 15. The NYSE was furious – get that bull out of here! By the time a New York Post photographer appeared on Saturday, the 7,000 lb., 16-foot long bronze bull was already being lifted by a crane and on…

The Year was 2017

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a cinematic success. But there have been real life wonder women throughout our history. Some were samurai. Tomoe Gozen (c.1157-1247) became an excellent archer and sword handler. In one battle, she threw herself upon an enemy leader and decapitated him. “Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka [Minamoto] sent…

The year was 1844

Alexandre Dumas had so many ideas! But he didn’t have time to do all that bothersome research, all that cumbersome writing. So he set up a kind of factory system to get it all done in one lifetime. His grandmother had been a slave in Haiti.  That meant her children with the French nobleman who…

The year was 1722

In the middle of the south Pacific, two thousand miles from anywhere, a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen came upon a strange sight – a small island ringed with huge, weird moai – gray stone statues which looked like primitive heads. Some were more than 30 feet tall, many with red topknots. One moai, never…

The year was 1392

Geoffrey Chaucer, an accountant, had the good luck to marry the sister of the mistress of John of Gaunt. And John of Gaunt’s father was the King of England. To impress his high-born friends, Chaucer started writing what we would call dirty stories. They were impressed. Chaucer found a way to link his stories together…

The year was 1800

The painting, The Naked Maja is known as the first pornographic picture ever. The horrified Church authorities demanded the artist, Francisco Goya, paint clothing on her or they would destroy the canvas. Worse, the model was suspected to be the13th Duchess of Alba, and she was looking straight at the painter – no embarrassment here!…