Day By Day

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Candy Corn Day" so stock up on the stuff for feeding tomorrow's trick-or-treaters; better yet stuff yourself with fistfuls of the delicious little sweets. Don't worry about running out -- Brach's Confections, the largest producer of candy corn, each year Americans eat enough Brach's candy corn that if the kernels were laid end to end, they would circle the Earth four times. You might find that impressive, I find it a bit scary -- think of the dentist bills, the stuff is made from sugar, corn syrup and honey. Yum!

On this day in 1785 Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII of England. His ascension to the throne brought to an end the dynastic struggle between York and Lancaster called the "War of the Roses". Under Henry and his Tudor successors the British economy flourished and trade expanded, state power was greatly enhanced, the Royal Navy established, and the nation emerged as a major power in the modern world. The story of the Tudor monarchs also makes for some of the greatest soap operas in history.

And on this date in 1838 Oberlin College in Ohio becomes the first American institution of higher learning to admit women.

And on this day in 1922 Mussolini led a bloodless Fascist revolution in Italy. On the following day he was made Prime Minister and the rest, as they say, is history.

And on this day in 1938 H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" was broadcast nationwide by Orson Welles' Mercury Players. This was the broadcast that panicked the nation. You can download it from the Mercury Theater website [here]. In keeping with the holiday mood, you can also get their version of "Dracula" at the same site. Just perfect for scaring the kids [or me for that matter].

And on this day in 1948 industrial "smog" killed twenty people in Donora, a little industrial town on the Mon just south of Pittsburgh, [famous as the home town of Stan "The Man" Musial, Ken Griffey, and Ken Griffey, Jr.] The thick, yellowish cloud [containing sulfuric acid, nitrogen dioxide, and flourine] formed on the 27th and persisted for three days during which it is said, "smoke ran like water". In its aftermath at least another fifty people died, including Stan's father. Here's a link to a Post-Gazette story on the killer smog.

Happy Birthday to John Adams, second president of the United States [1735]; to William F. "Bull" Halsey, admiral extraordinaire [1882]; to Ted Williams, "the Splendid Splinter" [1918]; and to Andrea Mitchell, Philly broadcaster who made it in the bigs [1946 -- jeez, I thought she was older than that].