Friday, August 8, 2014

Many million dreams away

August 8, 1953 -
The song Vaya con Dios recorded by Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford reached number one on the Billboard magazine Best Seller Chart and stayed there for 9 weeks.

August 8, 1960 -
Brian Hyland's
song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini reached number one on the pop charts.

For most of his adult life, a man named Paul Van Valkenburgh claimed that he wrote this under the name Paul Vance, and that he sold the rights to it when he was young. Even his wife, who he was married to for 40 years, believed him. When Valkenburgh died in 2006, his obituary reported that he wrote the song, and relatives of the real Paul Vance received condolences, only to find out that Vance was very much alive and had the royalty checks to prove that he really did write the song. According to Vance, he has no ill feelings toward Valkenburgh, and claims that the song has made him several million dollars.

August 8, 1963 -
John Sturges'
adventure film, The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen, premiered on this date.

The film was shot entirely on location in Europe, with a complete camp resembling Stalag Luft III built near Munich, Germany. Exteriors for the escape sequences were shot in the Rhine Country and areas near the North Sea, and Steve McQueen's motorcycle scenes were filmed in Fussen (on the Austrian border) and the Alps. All interiors were filmed at the Bavaria Studio in Munich.

August 8, 1988 -
Believe it or not, NYC hits a record high of 88 on 8/8/88.

August 8, 1988 -
Wrigley Field
in Chicago was the last Major League Baseball venue to begin holding night games when they turned on its lights for the first time on this date.

The first major league night game happened in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935 when US President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously switched on the lights.

Today in History:
August 8, 1908 -
Wilbur Wright
made his first public flight demonstration for the first time to a very skeptical audience in Le Mans, France, at the Hunaudières horse racing track, on this date.

Wilber's ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers, including several pioneer French aviators, among them Louis Bleriot. 

August 8 1925 -
40,000 robed Klansmen march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. -- a bit less than 1% of total Klan membership (and the Klan membership included about 15% of the nation's eligible voting population.)

Very scary, boys and girls, very scary.

August 8, 1929 -
Taking off from Lakehurst N.J., heading east, the German airship Graf Zeppelin began its 21-day, around-the-world flight.

The flight was partly sponsored by American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who paid for about half the cost of the flight in return for exclusive media rights in the United States and Britain.

August 8, 1942 -
Eight Germans secretly entered the US during World War II with plans to attack the US civil infrastructure. They were captured due to information provided by two of the Nazis, George Dasch and Ernest Burger.

Dasch and Burger were imprisoned and the other six Nazi saboteurs were executed on this date. In 1948, US President Harry S. Truman released Dasch and Burger, allowing them to return to Germany.  (Try to get that image you have in your mind of J Edgar out of your mind.)

August 8, 1945 -
Wanting to help their allies, USSR declared war against Japan in WW II on this date, after confirming the situation in Hiroshima. Soviet troops launched a massive surprise attack (August Storm) against Japanese occupation forces in northern China and Korea. Within days, Tokyo's million-man army in the region had collapsed in one of the greatest military defeats in history.

A large nuclear explosion is a great way to clear one's mind.

August 8, 1963 -
By tampering with railway signals, a 15 man team halts the Glasgow-to-Euston Royal Mail train in Buckinghamshire. The criminals make off with 120 sacks containing £2.6 million in cash. The incident goes down in history as "The Great Train Robbery."

For some bizarre reason, Phil Collins stars in a movie based on one of the men involved in the robbery.

August 8, 1968 -
The first successful heart transplant in Japan occurred when Dr. Jurō Wada removed a beating heart from a teenager whom he had declared brain dead, and transplanted it into another teenager with congenital heart disease on this date.

The boy who received the transplant lived for another three months and Dr. Wada was arrested for murder. His trial dragged on for six years before it was finally dropped.

August 8, 1968 -
Someone should have said "beware the 8th of August" to Nixon!

Richard M. Nixon was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. Later that day, Nixon chose Maryland Gov. Spiro T. Agnew to be his running mate.

August 8, 1973 -
VP Spiro T Agnew branded as "damned lies" reports he took kickbacks from government contracts in Maryland on this date. 

He vowed not to resign (Right!)

August 8, 1974 -
Richard M. Nixon
resigned the office of the presidency on this date, the first American president in history to do so (actually Millard Fillmore had resigned from office several times but as no one in the country took any notice of him, he had no one to turn his resignation in to, so he remained in office). His policies as president had been rather liberal. He began arms control agreements with the Soviet Union. He eased relations with China. He established the Environmental Protection Agency, expanded Social Security and state welfare programs and tried to create a national health insurance system. He was also a chronic alcoholic, suffered from a raging persecution complex and had overly active sweat glands

He won re-election in 1972 in a landslide, but in that same year a group of men broke into the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, and in that break-in were the seeds of his downfall.

August 8, 1987 -
Lynne Cox
became the first person to swim across the icy-cold waters of the Bering Strait from Alaska to the Soviet Union.

Her accomplishment eased Cold War tensions as Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev both praised her success.

And so it goes.

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