The Year was 1916

Thanks to Steve Ellis for this idea! Should we blame farmers? What about school bus drivers? No. For Daylight Savings Time, we must blame World War I. Making optimal use of daylight was an idea that was used even in ancient times. The Romans adjusted their water clocks for every month. In 1895, a New…

The Year was 2019

What was the pin Nancy Pelosi was wearing during the State of the Union Address? It was a mace. So what is a mace? Way back when people weren’t the kind, thoughtful human beings we are today (!), men – and maybe women – settled their disagreements by clubbing each other over the head with…

The Year was 986

The red-haired, red-bearded Viking, Eric the Red (Erik Thorvaldsson), may well be the greatest public relations genius the world will ever see. His said, “Men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name.” What land was he talking about?  Eric was born in a violent time and place….

The Year was 1582

Or was it 45 BC? Or 1752? Or 1929? Or… This was the year that January 1st became New Year’s Day. The first person to decree this was Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. He was disgusted with the mess the lunar calendar had created over time. And emperors weren’t averse to added or taking days…

The Year was 1941

Alan Turing is famous for building a computer and being part of a team that broke Germany’s unbreakable Enigma Code in World War II on July 9, 1941. This story is told in the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game. It also brought British cryptologist Joan Clarke to prominence. A brilliant mathematician, Clarke graduated from Cambridge…

The Year was 1035

When King Cnut died in 1035, it should have been a simple matter to divide his kingdom between his two teenage sons. King Cnut had a wife, Emma of Normandy. They had a son, Harthacnut.  King Cnut also had a mistress, Aelfgifu. And they had a son, Harold Harefoot. King Cnut ruled two kingdoms, the…

The Year was 1388

Married at 15, she lost her young husband, Etienne, the love of her life, when she was 24. She didn’t know how she could go on without him. Even if she could pull herself out of her deep depression, how would she feed her babies? Or her mother? Christime was a noblewoman in the Court…

The Year was 1793

On a hot summer day in Paris, concealing a butcher knife in her long skirts, Charlotte Corday appeared at the gates of Jean-Paul Marat’s house. She told the guards she had names of Marat’s enemies – for the guillotine. And she would give them to no one but Marat. His wife had a bad feeling…

The Year was 1843

It took only two months for Charles Dickens to create Tiny Tim and Scrooge and write A Christmas Carol, but what was his purpose? It was not about Christmas. When Charles was 12, his father, a government employee, was sentenced to debtors’ prison. As was the custom, the family went with him, all except Charles,…