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 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 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 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 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 2007

“I want to go back.” These words were not supposed to be possible. The romantics believe that Alex knew exactly what he was saying. The scientists believe that Alex was not using real language but a “two-way communication system,” whatever that exactly means! Alex was a parrot, an African Grey. They are known for their…

The Year was 1565

Elin did not want to go to England. She was 15, and she was being made to travel with Princess Cecilia from Sweden to London. The purpose of the trip was to talk young Queen Elizabeth into marrying Cecilia’s brother, King Eric. The other five royal ladies of Princess Cecilia’s retinue were all about her…

The year was 3300 BCE

Knowing when the new year began was vital for existence – planting, harvesting, rainy season, dry season. And honoring the right gods at the right time was crucial. Humans did it for 2.5 million years before the Sumerians finally wrote it down in 3300 BCE. The new lunar year officially began on the first moon…

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,…