The year was 1962

With fear in his heart, Nobuo Fujita, carrying an ancient samurai sword, was bravely going to face his fate. He expected the worst – imprisonment. He was coming from Japan, headed for Oregon. What had he done? It had been 20 years earlier… On Sept. 9, 1942, Fujita and his co-pilot, Okuda Shoji, had taken…

The year was 1373

Was it arrogance? He was known for it. Was he bitter? Yes. John of Gaunt spent his life merely third in line for the throne when he clearly thought he was most qualified to be king of England. Did he see this as a way to prove to England that he was a better military…

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 1903

Langley insisted his contraption was “capable of flight.” Not that it could fly. It couldn’t. Langley wasn’t just anybody. He was Samuel Pierpont Langley, blue blood, Harvard graduate, astronomer. Determined to be first with a manned flying machine, Langley built two ¼-scale models that seemed to succeed. But were they flying? Or were they being…

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 1920

The Republican Party needed a candidate. Someone who looked “presidential” – Ohio senator, Warren G. Harding. Harding had a formidable secret weapon – his wife Florence, five years his senior. If Florence could not be president, she could be married to one. They hired a public relations guru, Albert Lasker. He emphasized Harding’s president-ability. But…

The Year was 432

Six years a slave. Irish pirates stole the 16-year-old Brit, calling him Padraig, making him take care of pigs. He escaped, made it back home, and became a cleric and then Padraig did a strange thing – he returned to Ireland in 432 AD. Everything about Padraig, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is…

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!…

The year was 1522

Hernan Cortés was known for killing Aztecs, but did he murder his wife with an axe?  The Aztecs, a sect of the Nahuatl Indians, lived in Mexico for about 300 years.  An advanced civilization with mammoth stone buildings, including pyramids, an alphabet and an extremely accurate calendar system, the Aztecs had a few flaws, including…

The year was 1988

“Never trust anybody.” This is what the tobacco mogul drilled into his little daughter’s head. Too bad Doris forgot it. Doris was the adored only child of James Duke. She lived in the kind of luxury that money could buy before there was an income tax, Her father lived in constant fear that Doris might…