(From the Old Farmer's Almanac:) The term Cat Nights harks back to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form.
This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.” Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.
I did not know this.
August 17, 1929 -
James Horace Alderman, convicted of murdering 2 Coast Guardsmen and a Secret Service agent in 1927, was hanged at 5:00 a.m. at Coast Guard Base 6 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was reported in the media that Alderman's neck was broken and he died a painless death.
In fact, Alderman kicked and strangled for a full twelve minutes before being pronounced dead by a local doctor. He was the only person ever executed on Coast Guard property.
And I always thought seamen knew how to tie knots.
Please kick a reporter in the teeth in their honor.
It's Sean Penn's and Robert DeNiro's Birthday.
Today in History:
August 17, 1896 -
Bridget Driscoll, a 44-year-old mother of two, becomes the world's first automobile fatality when she steps in front of a car outside the Crystal Palace in London. At the coroner's inquest, Arthur Edsall states he had been driving at only 4 mph.
The motorist also claims that when he saw the pedestrian, he rang his bell and shouted "Stand back!" For whatever reason, the coroner accepts Edsall's preposterous story.
August 17, 1945 -
... All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others....
Animal Farm by George Orwell, the most famous satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism, is first published.
August 17, 1948 -
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is arrested for bad checks in San Luis Obispo, California. In court a fortnight later, Hubbard pays the $25 fine.
If I say anymore, Tom Cruise may kill me.
August 17, 1959 -
Kind of Blue, Miles Davis' brilliant and influential jazz album, was released on this date by Columbia Records.
It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time.
August 17, 1960 -
A great George Pal sci-fi classic, The Time Machine was released on this date.
A question has always plagued me - Did the Morlocks eat the Eloi raw or cooked?
August 17, 1980 -
Dingos snatch baby Azaria from a campground near Ayers Rock, Australia. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain (Meryl Streep - A dingo ate my baby), is later convicted of murder and spends three years in prison, but the conviction is ultimately overturned.
Apparently there have been a number of baby/dingo incidents over the years, the dingo not differentiating animals from humans. (The fact that if you rearrange the letters in LINDY CHAMBERLAIN you get CHILDREN BY ANIMAL is just a coincidence.)
August 17, 1987 -
Rudolf Hess is found hanged by an electrical cord at Spandau prison,aged 93. He was incarcerated there for 40 years, 21 of those years as the solitary inmate.
In 1941 Hess flew to Scotland with ideas of peace in his head, making Hitler very very upset.
August 17, 1998 -
President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president in American history forced to testify in a criminal case investigation of which he was the focus. Other presidents before Clinton had testified before grand juries in the past, but they had always done so to give evidence against others.
Thomas Jefferson testified against former Vice President Aaron Burr. Gerald Ford testified in a trial of a man who had tried to assassinate him. Jimmy Carter testified in the bribery trial of a financier named Robert Vesco. But Clinton was the first sitting president ever to be served a subpoena to testify in his own indictment.
And so it goes.