A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Aug. 6, 2002 at 3:25 AM
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Today is Aug. 12.

It was aviation's worst single-plane disaster. On this date in 1985, 520 people were killed when a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 slammed into Mount Ogura in central Japan. Amazingly, four passengers survived the crash.

The Spanish-American War ended on this date in 1898 with the signing of a peace protocol. As a result of its defeat of Spain, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines -- and annexed Hawaii.

The 25th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Bethel, N.Y., was commemorated by a three-day concert in Saugerties, N.Y., which began on this date in 1994. As it did during the original Woodstock, it rained a lot.

It was on this date in 1851 that Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine, which could be used in homes. He set up shop in Boston with $40 in capital. Business was sew-sew.

And in 1973, Jack Nicklaus broke Bobby Jones' record when he won the Professional Golfers' Association championship for his 14th major title.

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


Today is Aug. 13.

Early in the morning on this date in 1961, the East German government closed the Brandenburg Gate between the east and west sectors of Berlin and strung barbed wire to prevent further population movement to the West. Telephone and postal service were interrupted. Later in the week, construction began on a concrete wall that would become known as the Berlin Wall.

It stood defiantly dividing the city for nearly 30 years until democracy swept Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. Dismantling of the wall began on Nov. 9, 1989.

On this date in 1980, President Carter was nominated for a second term by the Democratic National Convention in New York and again picked Vice President Mondale as his running mate. They lost in November to the Republican ticket of Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Singer/songwriter Curtis Mayfield was left paralyzed when he was hit by a wind-blown lighting rig on an outdoor stage in Brooklyn, N.Y., on this date in 1990. Mayfield never fully recovered from this crippling injury and died at his home in suburban Atlanta on Dec. 26, 1999.

Capt. Frank Hawkes set what was then an air speed record on this date in 1930 by flying from Los Angeles to New York in 12 hours, 25 minutes. When you factor in commuting time to and from the airports, waiting to board the plane, and getting stuck in a holding pattern, that's about how long it takes to get from the East Coast to the West Coast today...

On this date in 1869, William Gray patented the first coin-operated telephone.

One of Hollywood's most influential forces was born on this date in 1899 in London. .Director Alfred Hitchcock, the innovative master of the macabre, came to this country in 1939 and turned out an array of movie hits, usually placing ordinary people in tense or nightmarish situations. Among his nearly 60 films were "Rebecca," "Vertigo," "Rear Window," "Psycho" and "North by Northwest." .He died in 1980 shortly after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

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


Today is August 14.

This is the anniversary of V-J Day. On this date in 1945, President Truman announced that Japan had surrendered to the Allies, setting off celebrations across the United States and ending World War II. The official surrender of Japan took place Sept. 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

It was on this date in 1900 that 2,000 U.S. Marines joined with European forces to capture Beijing, ending the Boxer Rebellion against the Western presence in China.

Congress approved the Social Security Act on this date in 1935, and President Roosevelt immediately signed it into law. It established a Social Security Board to administer federal old-age and survivors' insurance benefits. This had been one of FDR's 1932 campaign pledges.

The unmanned U.S. Orbiter 1 spacecraft began circling the moon on this date in 1966.

And it was on this date in 1994 that the notorious international terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal" was captured in Sudan. He was extradited to France the next day.

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


Today is Aug. 15.

The Panama Canal officially opened on this date in 1914 when an American ship entered the canal from the Atlantic side and sailed through to the Pacific Ocean, cutting thousands of miles off a voyage that had required vessels to sail around the southern tip of South America.

India and Pakistan won their independence on this date in 1947, ending 200 years of British rule.

28 people were killed and more than 300 more injured on this date in 1998 when a bomb exploded in Omagh, Northern Ireland. A 29th victim died a month later. It was the worst attack in 29 years of paramilitary violence in Ulster.

A storm cell parked itself over the northern part of the Chicago area on this date in 1987 and dumped more than 13.5 inches of rain in 12 hours. It caused widespread flooding that shut down O'Hare International Airport and at least one major Chicago expressway, and caused more than $100 million in damage.

It was billed as three days of peace, love and music. On this date in 1969, the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival opened on Max Yasgur's farm near Bethel, N.Y., drawing an estimated 400,000 people and causing humongous traffic jams in the rural areas.

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


Today is August 16.

This is the day "The King" died. On this date in 1977, paramedics found the body of Elvis Presley on the floor of an upstairs bathroom at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. Attempts to revive him at the hospital failed and Presley was declared dead at age 42. The official cause of death was listed as heart failure, but the musician had been abusing prescription drugs for years and that likely contributed to his untimely demise. Presley was re-interred on the grounds of Graceland after vandals tried to steal his casket from a local cemetery. Fans flock to Graceland each year to mark the anniversary of his death.

Baseball great Babe Ruth also passed away on this date, succumbing in 1948 to cancer at the age of 53. The legendary slugger's body lay in state at the entrance of Yankee Stadium, where people waited for hours to pay their final respects. Ruth's funeral mass was held Aug. 19 at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

It was on this date in 1896 that the North Country gold rush began with the discovery of gold -- in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River -- in the Klondike region of Canada's Yukon Territory.

And British forces foiled plans for an American invasion of Canada by capturing the city of Detroit in the Michigan territory on this date in 1812. This happened during the War of 1812.

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


This is Aug. 17.

It was on this date in 1998 that President Clinton testified via live closed-circuit television to a federal grand jury investigating whether he'd had an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. That evening, Clinton took to the airwaves and admitted a relationship with Lewinsky that was "not appropriate." House Republicans eventually succeeded in bringing impeachment proceedings against Clinton but he was acquitted.

Natural disasters: on this date in 1999, at least 16,000 people were killed and 20,000 more injured when a strong earthquake rocked Turkey. The quake's epicenter was located near a village 55 miles east of Istanbul. And in 1915, a hurricane struck Galveston, Texas, killing 275 people.

Robert Fulton began the first American steamboat trip between Albany, N.Y., and New York City on this date in 1807. The 150-mile trip aboard what was later called the Clermont took 32 hours. While his efforts were labeled "Fulton's Folly" by his detractors, Fulton's success led to the establishment of commercial service in Sept. 1808.

On this date in 1978, three Americans -- Maxie Anderson, Ben Abruzzo, and Larry Newman -- completed the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by balloon, landing their helium-filled Double Eagle II near Paris. In all, they'd traveled some 3,200 miles in 137 hours, 18 minutes.

And news headlines on this date in 1992 announced that filmmaker Woody Allen and his leading lady, Mia Farrow, had split up after 12 years together. Allen said he was in love with the actress' adult daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. The breakup sparked a bitter child custody battle that ended with Farrow being granted custody of the couple's three children.

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


Today is Aug. 18.

Virginia Dare was born at Roanoke Island, N.C., to Elinor and Ananis Dare on this date in 1587. She was the first child of English parents to be born in the New World. However, when a ship arrived in 1591 to replenish their supplies, the settlers -- including Virginia -- had vanished.

On this date in 1916, Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky was given to the U.S. government as a national shrine to the 16th president.

On this date in 1963, James Meredith, the first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi, graduated from Ole Miss on this date in 1963. His enrollment touched off deadly riots and necessitated the use of armed guards to accompany him to class.

Just days after U.S. naval forces were ordered to prevent ships from reaching or leaving the ports of Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, American warships fired warning shots over the bows of two Iraqi tankers on this date in 1990. It was the first salvos of the U.S. embargo against Iraq. The Iraqi ships did not stop.

"The pill" hit the market on this date in 1960. The first commercially produced oral contraceptive, the birth control pill, developed by Gregory Pincus and marketed by G.D. Searle, had been undergoing clinical trials since 1954.

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

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