Friday, April 15, 2011

Take Five (minutes)

Sit down. Put down any beverage or eating implement and watch this.

Alright, you may resume your day

Today in History:
April 15, 1792 -
The Guillotine is first tested on human corpses.

Delis all over France have to wait years for the meat slicer to be invented.

April 15, 1865-
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, dies from a bullet wound inflicted the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer.

The president's death came only six days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War.

April 15, 1910 -
In San Francisco detective Tim Riordan arrested Jolly Trixie, aka Miss Kitty Plunkett, for allegedly violating the Penal Code. She was accused of being deformed and exhibiting her deformity in a Fillmore Street show house.

Plunkett said she weighed only 585 pounds as opposed to the alleged 685 pounds. Two physicians testified that she was perfectly symmetrical.

You just know if television was around at the time, this would have been a reality series on Fox TV.

April 15, 1912 -
Unsinkable ship Titanic sinks after being torn by iceberg, with a loss of 1493 passengers.

There were 212 staff members of the 712 survivors. Nearly 60% of the first-class passengers survived, except for John Jacob Astor IV .

When the Titanic hit an iceberg and began sinking, Astor did not believe there was any serious danger, but helped his wife into a lifeboat as a precautionary measure. He gave his own place in the lifeboat to stranger, a woman, saying, "The ladies have to go first." When his pregnant wife tried to get out too, he said, "Get in the lifeboat, to please me." He lit a cigarette and said, "Good-bye dearie. I’ll see you later." He stood back, lit a cigarette, and tossed his gloves to his wife.

She survived; he, famously, did not.

April 15, 1945 -
British and Canadian troops liberate the Bergen-Belsen death camp in northern Germany on this date.

Bergen-Belsen was located in a village in west Germany about 30 miles north of Hanover. About 40,000 people were liberated from the camp, although about 13,000 later died of illness. Overall, about 70,000 people died in Belsen.

April 15, 1955 -
The first McDonald's franchise opens in Des Plains, a suburb of Chicago. Because it is the first one launched by Ray Kroc, he names it "McDonald's #1" despite the fact that the McDonald brothers had already opened eight of their chain restaurants before they began accepting licensees.

Kroc's unfortunate numbering system guarantees perpetual confusion for amateur fast food historians the world over.

April 15, 1962 -
Actress Clara Blandick, 80, the Auntie Em of the Wizard of Oz, takes an overdose of sleeping pills and ties a plastic bag around her head in a Hollywood hotel room on this date.

Prior to this, she had prominently arranged her resume and press clippings so the newspapers would get her obituary right.

April 15, 1983 -
Tokyo Disneyland opened. It was the first Disney park to be built outside of the United States

It is owned by The Oriental Land Company, which licenses the theme from The Walt Disney Company. Tokyo Disneyland and its companion park, Tokyo DisneySea, are the only Disney parks not owned by The Walt Disney Company.

Oriental Land Co. is scheduled to reopen its Tokyo Disneyland theme park on April 15 after a closure of about one month due to the March 11 earthquake.

April 15, 1990 -
Greta Garbo died in New York City at age 84, on this date.

She finally got her wish.

And so it goes.

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