Which is the way that's clear
Today in History:
July 23, 1885 -
One of the most famous residents of West 122th Street and Riverside Drive made a most fateful decision on this date.
In 1881, Ulysses S.Grant, American general, the eighteenth President of the United States and famous horseback riding drunk, purchased a house in New York City and placed almost all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses, Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. Very wrong move. Ward swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant) in 1884, bankrupted the company, Grant & Ward, and fled.
Grant learned at the same time that he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given pensions, and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the office of President. Grant first wrote several articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century Magazine, which were warmly received. Mark Twain offered Grant a generous contract for the publication of his memoirs, including 75% of the book's sales as royalties.
Terminally ill, Grant finished the book just a few days before his death. The memoirs sold over 300,000 copies, earning the Grant family over $450,000. Twain promoted the book as "the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar," and Grant's memoirs are also regarded by such writers as Matthew Arnold and Gertrude Stein as among the finest ever written .
Ulysses S. Grant died at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at the age of 63 in Mount McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. His last word was a request, "Water" (I'd like to believe it was actually, "Sir, cut my bourbon with water."
Grant's funeral was one of the greatest outpourings of public grief in history. A large funeral parade marched through New York City from City Hall to Riverside Park. It had 60,000 marchers, stretched seven miles, and took up to five hours to pass. Well over one million spectators witnessed the parade.
The funeral was attended by numerous dignitaries, including President Grover Cleveland, his cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, the two living ex-presidents (Hayes and Arthur), virtually the entire Congress, and almost every living figure who had played a prominent role during the Civil War.
Civil War veterans from both North and South took part, reflecting the high esteem in which he was held throughout a reunified country. General Winfield S. Hancock led the procession, and Grant's pallbearers included former comrades -- General William T. Sherman, General Philip H. Sheridan, and Admiral David D. Porter - as well as former Confederates - Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Simon B. Buckner.
Completed in 1897, Grant's Tomb is the second largest mausoleum in North America (the Garfield Memorial is the first).
July 23, 1904 -
At the turn of the last century, ice-cream men were a breed apart. It was hard work making ice-cream and the rewards were few. "You don't choose ice cream," they said, "ice cream chooses you."
Well, Charles E. Menches was an ice-cream man. They say it ran in his veins. (They say forget the autopsy: they say you don't need actual ice-cream in your blood to have it in your veins.)
Charles E. Menches had always known he'd be an ice-cream man. Everyone had known. While other boys in St. Louis played stickball or jacks, little Chuckie experimented with different creams and salts. While other boys dreamed of being doctors or lawyers, little Chuckie dreamed of exotic flavor combinations like cinnamon-onion swirl and artichoke-pistachio.
Charles E. Menches's passion for ice cream was infectious. He made his brother Frank an ice-cream man. They began traveling to fairs and special events across the Midwest to sell ice cream from a tent.
They did what all ice-cream men did: they scooped their ice cream into bowls and sold it to their customers. People loved ice cream back then, just as they love it today. And why not? It was ice cream.
One sweltering day at the St. Louis World's Fair--July 23, 1904, to be precise--Charles E. Menches and his brother Frank sold so much ice cream that they ran out of dishes.
An ordinary ice-cream man might have folded up his tent and taken the rest of the day off. But not Charles E. Menches. Charles E. Menches knew the code of the ice-cream man. More than that, he lived it.
The people of St. Louis would not be denied their ice cream. Not if Charles E. Menches had anything to say about it.
The tent beside Charles and Frank's ice cream tent belonged to Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian pastry-maker who sold sweet wafer pastries called Zalabia. (Ernest A. Hamwi was what Syrians would call a Zalabia man, but they wouldn't say he had Zalabia in his veins. Syrians would never talk such tripe.)
In a moment of brilliant epiphany, Charles E. Menches bought all of Ernest A. Hamwi's Zalabia and rolled them into cones. He then began selling his ice cream in sweet wafer cones instead of dishes.
The ice cream cone was born.
(Sure, Italo Marchiony had received U.S. patent #746971 for the ice-cream cone seven months earlier in New York., but Italo Marchiony had never been an ice-cream man.)
July 23, 1923 -
While driving his 1919 Dodge, retired revolutionary Pancho Villa is ambushed and assassinated. But even with 16 gunshot wounds he still manages to kill one of his attackers.
Curiously, Villa's head is stolen from his grave three years later and never recovered. Despite persistent rumors, Yale's secret society Skull and Bones denies they possess the artifact.
But we know better.
July 23, 1966 -
The "longest suicide in Hollywood" finally ended on this date, with the death of Montgomery Cliff of a heart attack brought on by his severe drug and alcohol addictions. In 1956, while filming Raintree County, he smashed his car into a tree after leaving a party. Elizabeth Taylor kept him from choking to death by removing two teeth lodged in his throat. She had been co-starring in the movie and happened to be at the party. Besides the two missing teeth, the accident left Monty with a broken jaw and nose, crushed sinus cavity, and severe facial lacerations which required plastic surgery. He needed reconstructive surgery on his face and returned after several weeks to finish the film.
He is now the most famous 'resident' of Quaker Cemetery in Prospect Park Brooklyn.
And so it goes.