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 1909

Now that baseball season is underway, what is the most spectacular catch ever made? Or is it two? There are surely a lot of candidates, but these two can’t be beat. The first one happened on Monday Aug. 16, 1909. It was made by New York Giants’ right fielder, Red Murray. The red-haired John Murray,…

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 1588

“My pig wife.”   “My stupid son.” People said these things not because they believed them but because they were respectful of the gods. You did not praise your loved ones for fear of offending the gods, for fear of arousing the gods’ jealousy. But new father Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 52, and one of the greatest warlords…

The Year was 1917

This was the year the unthinkable happened – a woman ran for Congress. And won! The state was Montana and the woman was Republican Jeannette Rankin. Her achievement was monumental because she was a lobbyist for the suffrage movement. In fact, because she had pushed Montana to give women the vote in 1914, they could…

The Year was 2007

Both prime ministers met death at the hands of their countrymen. The astounding thing is that they were father and daughter. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was born in the Raj of the British Commonwealth and went to college in California and then in England, where he studied law. In 1953, Bhutto married and Iranian beauty. Two…

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 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….