A Blast From The Past

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International  |  Nov. 20, 2001 at 6:00 AM
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Today is Nov. 26.

The "Warsaw Ghetto" was established on this date in 1940, when the Nazi occupiers of Poland forced 500,000 Jews in Warsaw to live in a confined area surrounded by an eight-foot-high concrete wall.

As World War II raged in Europe and Japan continued its conquests in the Pacific, the United States was trying very hard to stay out of the fray. It was on this date in 1941 that Secretary of State Cordell Hull submitted American proposals to the Japanese peace envoys that were in Washington, D.C. The surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would occur less than two weeks later.

The United States and Iraq restored diplomatic relations on this date in 1984, ending a 17-year break. They wouldn't last long.

It was on this date in 1992 that the United States offered to send up to 20,000 ground troops to civil war-torn Somalia as part of a United Nations force to get relief supplies to the starving populace.

This is the anniversary of the first U.S. holiday by presidential proclamation. President Washington had declared Nov. 26, 1789, to be Thanksgiving Day. Both houses of Congress had recommended to him that a day of public thanksgiving be observed. The actual proclamation was issued Oct. 3, 1789.

It was on this date in 1832 that the first streetcar railway in America started public service in New York City, from City Hall to 14th Street. The car was pulled by a horse, and the fare was 12 1/2 cents.

And the film "Casablanca" premiered in New York City on this date in 1942. The movie originally had been scheduled to premiere in June 1943. However, the Allied invasion of North Africa, which had begun on Nov. 8, 1942, prompted the studio to push up the premiere. The movie opened nationwide on Jan. 23, 1943.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Nov. 27.

The nation's first living donor liver transplant took place on this date in 1989. Doctors at the University of Chicago removed a portion of a woman's liver and implanted it in her 21-month-old daughter. Both recovered, and the procedure has since become an alternative to transplants involving cadaver livers.

Also on this date in 1989, Virginia certified Douglas Wilder as the nation's first elected black governor by a razor-thin margin of 0.38 percentage points.

British treasury chief John Major was elected leader of the ruling Conservative Party on this date in 1990, succeeding Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister, also was the longest-serving PM of the 20th century, having taken office in 1979.

It was on this date back in 1901 that the U.S. War Department authorized creation of the Army War College to instruct commissioned officers. The officers' school was to be built in Leavenworth, Kan.

During a visit to the Philippines, Pope Paul VI was stabbed in the chest by a Bolivian painter disguised as a priest on this date in 1970. The pontiff survived the attack at Manila Airport and continued as leader of the world's Roman Catholics for another eight years.

And town officials in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, evicted the Rev. Francis Gastrell, the Vicar of Frodsham, from William Shakespeare's home on this date in 1759 after he cut down a 150-year-old tree that had been planted by the famed writer. Gastrell chopped down the tree because he was annoyed by the many Shakespeare enthusiasts who came to look at it. He sold the tree for firewood, but it was recovered by a jeweler-woodcarver, who fashioned hundreds of relics from the wood.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Nov. 28.

It was on this date in 1963 that Cape Canaveral, the space center in Florida, was renamed Cape Kennedy in honor of President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated in Dallas six days earlier. The name change was initiated by President Johnson. Area residents later voted to revert to the original name, but the NASA spaceport remained the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia ended on this date in 1989, when Czechoslovak Premier Adamec agreed to a coalition government. The next day, the Czechoslovak Parliament revoked the Communist Party's monopoly. The vote followed a wave of demonstrations sparked by the beating of protesters earlier in the month.

Czechoslovakia would later split up into two nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Tragedy struck a Boston nightclub on this date in 1942. A fire swept the Cocoanut Grove, killing 491 people. Most of the victims suffocated or were trampled to death.

On this date in 1520, Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the tip of South America and entered the Pacific Ocean on his way around the world. He was the first European to sail the Pacific from the east.

The British Parliament got its first female member when Virginia-born Lady Nancy Astor took her seat on this date in 1919.

And it was on this date in 1994 that serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer got what the families of many of his victims probably thought he deserved. Dahmer and a second inmate at the Columbia Correctional Center in Portage, Wis., were beaten to death by another inmate who thought he was Jesus Christ.

Dahmer, a Milwaukee chocolate factory worker, had pleaded guilty to killing 15 young men and teenage boys and was sentenced to life in prison. When police finally caught up with him, they had found bodies, parts of bodies, and bones stashed in his apartment. Dahmer also admitted to having sex with his dead victims, and eating their flesh.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Nov. 29.

It was on this date in 1990 that the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing "all necessary means" -- including military force -- against Iraq if it does not withdraw from Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991. It was the first such resolution since U.N. sponsorship of the Korean War in 1950.

Iraq did not comply, and the Allied Forces began their attack, code-named "Operation Desert Storm," within hours of the expiration of the deadline.

One week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, President Johnson appointed the Warren Commission to investigate the slaying. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren headed the panel, which would eventually rule that all evidence pointed to Lee Harvey Oswald being the sole gunman.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Byrd radioed that he and three crewmen aboard his plane had just passed over the South Pole on this date in 1929. They were the first people to fly over the southernmost point on Earth.

It was on this date in 1877 that Thomas Edison demonstrated his latest invention: a hand-cranked phonograph that recorded sound on grooved metal cylinders. Edison shouted verses of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" into the machine, which played back his voice.

And the first Army-Navy football game was played on this date in 1890. The Navy Middies won, 24-0.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Nov. 30.

Provisional articles of peace, which were to end America's War of Independence, were signed in Paris on this date in 1782. The formal peace treaty between the United States and Britain would be inked on Sept. 3, 1783, also in Paris. France had supported the Americans in their battle for freedom.

On this date in 1939, the Russo-Finnish War started after the Soviet Union failed to obtain territorial concessions from Finland.

As the Persian Gulf crisis continued, and the United States and its allies deployed troops in Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait more than four months earlier, President Bush made a bid for a diplomatic solution on this date in 1990. He offered to send Secretary of State Baker to Baghdad and to receive Iraq's foreign minister in Washington, D.C., to discuss things.

On this date in 1975, Israel withdrew from a 93-mile-long corridor along the Gulf of Suez as part of an interim peace agreement with Egypt.

More than 100,000 people were killed on this date in 1731 when a series of earthquakes struck China.

And it was on this date in 1992 that Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., entered an alcohol-treatment facility. The veteran lawmaker was facing a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed women who worked for him. While Packwood denied it, several other women came forward with similar stories, and he eventually resigned his Senate seat.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Dec. 1.

Remember the photos of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin sitting together after talking about how they were going to gang up on Hitler? It was on this date in 1943 that their "Big Three" meeting in Tehran, Iran, ended with the leaders pledging a concerted effort to defeat Nazi Germany.

Another historic meeting took place on this date in 1989. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II met at the Vatican and announced agreement to establish diplomatic ties. Gorbachev also renounced more than 70 years of oppression of religion in the U.S.S.R.

The Soviet Union itself had only a couple more years to live when that happened. Voters in the Soviet republic of Ukraine overwhelmingly voted for independence on this date in 1991. Ukraine became the second biggest post-Soviet republic, after Russia itself.

This is the anniversary of the first big milestone in the modern civil rights movement. On this date in 1955, a black seamstress named Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. The event triggered a yearlong boycott of the city bus system and led to the end of racial segregation on municipal buses throughout the South.

It was on this date in 1992 that "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in a New York prison for shooting the wife of her alleged lover, Joey Buttafuoco. The wife survived the attack and later would campaign to have Fisher released from prison.

Father Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town near Omaha, Neb., on this date in 1917. Spencer Tracy would later play the priest in a movie about his life. By the way, Boys Town -- a place for orphaned, abandoned or otherwise wayward children through age 18 -- now takes in girls, and is known as Boys and Girls Town. There are several such "towns" across the United States.

The first Playboy magazine was published on this date in 1953 by Chicagoan Hugh Hefner. On the cover: a rising young actress named Marilyn Monroe.

And it was on this date in 1903 that the world's first drive-in gasoline station opened for business in Pittsburgh. The restrooms haven't been cleaned since.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

Today is Dec. 2.

The Atomic Age was born on this date in 1942, when Dr. Enrico Fermi and his fellow scientists demonstrated the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. It happened in an unusual location -- a laboratory located beneath the stands of Stagg Stadium at the University of Chicago. Their breakthrough led to development of the atomic bomb three years later, in 1945.

It was on this date in 1961 that Fidel Castro disclosed that he was a communist. The former rebel -- now leader of Cuba -- acknowledged he'd concealed the fact until he solidified his hold on his Caribbean island nation.

Napoleon formally became emperor of France on this date in 1804. Just as the pope was about to place the crown on the emperor's head, Napoleon grabbed it and crowned himself --- with an audible "thunk." He then crowned his empress, Josephine, during ceremonies at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

Remember the song "John Brown's body lies amolderin' in the grave...?" It was on this day in 1859 that abolitionist John Brown was hanged for his raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, W.Va. Harper's Ferry -- at the juncture of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers -- would be a strategic railroad junction during the Civil War that was to follow.

A 62-year-old retired dentist named Barney Clark made medical history on this date in 1982 when he became the first person to get a permanent artificial heart. Clark survived with his Jarvik-7 implant for 112 days.

And it was on this date in 1927 that the Model A Ford was introduced as the successor to the Model T. The price of a Model A roadster was $395.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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