Eighty-seven years ago, today, Robert Smith drank his last drink, the date marked by AA for its anniversaries.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship dedicated to abstinence based recovery from alcoholism through its spiritually inclined Twelve Step program. Following its Twelve Traditions, AA and autonomous AA groups are self-supporting through the strictly voluntary contributions from members only. The Traditions also establish AA as non-professional, non-denominational and apolitical, with an avowed desire to stop drinking as its sole requirement for membership. Though AA has not endorsed the disease model of alcoholism, to which its program is nonetheless sympathetic, its wider acceptance is partly due to many members independently promulgating it. A recent scientific review shows that by many measures AA does as well or better than other clinical interventions or no treatment. In particular, AA produces better abstinence rates with lower medical costs. As of 2020, having spread to diverse cultures, including geopolitical areas normally resistant to grassroots movements, AA has estimated its worldwide membership to be over two million with 75% of those in the U.S. and Canada.
AA marks 1935 for its founding when Wall Street analyst and newly recovering alcoholic Bill Wilson, then reeling from a failed proxy fight, sought to stay sober by commiserating with detoxing surgeon Bob Smith. After leaving the Oxford Group to form a fellowship of alcoholics only, Wilson and Smith, along with other early members, wrote Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism, from which AA acquired its name. Published in 1939 and commonly called “the Big Book”, it contains AA’s Twelve Step recovery program. Later editions included the Twelve Traditions, first adopted in 1946 to formalize and unify the fellowship as a “benign anarchy”.
Sixty-five years ago, [today] on November 12, 1954, a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen became the last immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. Later that month, the ferry Ellis Island made its final stop at the island in New York Harbor and the immigration facility closed for good, ending its run as a gateway to the United States for generations of immigrants.
These days Ellis Island is a national symbol remembered in sepia tones but, while it was in active service, the station reflected the country’s complicated relationship with immigration, one that evolved from casual openness to rigid restriction. “It was not a great welcoming place for immigrants but, it was not a place of horrors either,” says Vincent Cannato, author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island.
Until the end of the 19th century, individual states handled immigration with rules varying by jurisdiction. [T]hen, immigration soared. In light of the influx, the federal government decided in 1891 that it had to take charge.
New York was immigration’s epicenter. Some 75 percent of the country’s steamship traffic came through New York Harbor and so did 75 percent of the nation’s immigrants, according to Cannato. New York state ran an immigration facility called Castle Gardens at the tip of Manhattan but, the new federal Office of Immigration wanted an intake and inspection station in a more controlled location. It selected Ellis Island, a three-acre spot of land in the harbor between New York and New Jersey […].
The immigrants who eventually passed through Ellis Island started their journey by buying passage on a steamship, usually sailing from Europe. Between 1892 and 1924, 12 million people successfully traversed this highly efficient conveyor-belt immigration system. Most immigrants were processed through Ellis Island in a few hours and only 2 percent that arrived on the island were prevented from entering the United States.
[T]his era of mass immigration came to an end with the passage in 1921 and 1924 of new laws that severely limited immigration by establishing quotas for individual countries and requiring immigrants to obtain visas from American consulates. Since most official immigration screening now happened at U.S. consulates abroad, Ellis Island became increasingly irrelevant. The facility, which had once teemed with thousands of hopeful immigrants, transformed into “a major center for deportation and for holding enemy alien spies,” says [Barry] Moreno. “It was like night and day.” President Eisenhower quietly closed Ellis Island in 1954.
How Ellis Island Shepherded Millions of Immigrants Into America
November 13, 2019
This was going to be a post on the highest recorded heat level, listed in the Guinness (Book) of World Records. Supposedly, one-hundred and seven years ago, today, Death Valley got up to 134.4℉. I read Wikipedia, I read Guinness and I read History & Headlines. If it made it into Guinness, someone must have thought it was legitimate. Well, after taking a dive into Weather Underground‘s investigation of this record (this is a very long read), posted by weather historian Christopher Burt on October 24, 2016, I’m not so sure this event ever happened.
I have contacted Guinness for a challenge. We shall see how this plays out. ~Vic
Nine years ago, today, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri. It formed at 5:34 pm CDT and dissipated at 6:12pm CDT. I remember this one, vividly. I had just moved back to North Carolina from Texas and was, literally, still unpacking. I was shocked at the devastation. ~Vic
[This] was part of a larger, late May tornado outbreak and reached a maximum width of nearly one mile […] during its path through the southern part of the city. This particular tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city and, then, continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.
[The] tornado killed 158 people (with an additional eight indirect deaths), injured some 1,150 others and caused damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, and the seventh-deadliest overall. Along with the Tri-State Tornado and the 1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado, it ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornadoes […]. It was the first F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri since May 20, 1957 [and] was only the second F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri history dating back to 1950.
It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.
Additional Reading & Sources:
May Tornadoes Struck Joplin Twice in the 1970s (Joplin Globe)
Joplin Tornado (National Weather Service)
F5 & EF5 Tornadoes of the US (NOAA)
Tornado Damaged Joplin From Above (The Atlantic)
Joplin Tornado (Tornado Facts Site)
2011 Joplin Tornado (Wikipedia)
Mike Bettes Has A Hard Time
It’s Friday the 13th! Eek! Everybody…RUN! Hide! Yeah, well, enough of the hysteria. We have plenty of that going on with the corona beer virus. Sugar, rice, pasta, Clorox & Lysol hand wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper doesn’t stand a chance. Now, we have to deal with the dreaded number 13. E-gads! The humanity!
March 13 has been a rather busy day in history. Curiously, Uranus and Pluto are involved.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. The name of Uranus references the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) […]. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in [our] solar system and, […] is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure of Greek mythology. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and, both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus’ atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium but, it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia and methane […]. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system […]. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to visit the planet.
Like the classical planets, Uranus is visible to the naked eye but, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. [Two hundred, thirty-nine years ago, today], Sir William Herschel first observed Uranus on March 13, 1781 (from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), leading to its discovery as a planet, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system for the first time in history and making Uranus the first planet classified as such with the aid of a telescope.
Pluto is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known dwarf planet. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet”, formally, in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.
It is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but, is less massive than Eris. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and, is relatively small…about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit […]. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune but, a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding.
[Observations] of Neptune in the late 19th century led astronomers to speculate that Uranus’s orbit was being disturbed by another planet besides Neptune. In 1906, Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian who had founded [the] Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894, started an extensive project in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X“. Lowell and his observatory conducted his search until his death in 1916 but, to no avail. Unknown to Lowell, his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 7, 1915 but, they were not recognized for what they were.
Percival’s widow, Constance Lowell, entered into a ten-year legal battle with the Lowell Observatory over her husband’s legacy and the search for Planet X did not resume until 1929. [23-year-old] Clyde Tombaugh, who had just arrived at the observatory, discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates on February 18, 1930. After the observatory obtained further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory ninety years ago, today, on March 13, 1930. Pluto has yet to complete a full orbit of the Sun since its discovery, as one Plutonian year is 247.68 years long.
The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Percival and finally Constance. These suggestions were disregarded. The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology.
June 14 was a banner day for the countries of France, Lithuania and Poland. Except for reading the words, we, today, have no clue what these people went through. ~Vic
Paris started mobilizing for war in September 1939 when Nazi Germany, and their allied Soviet Union, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Treaty, invaded Poland. […] the war seemed far away until May 10, 1940, when the Germans attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. The French government departed Paris on June 10 and the Germans occupied the city on June 14.
In the spring of 1939, war with Germany already seemed inevitable. On March 10, the city began to distribute gas masks to civilians and on March 19, signs were posted guiding Parisians to the nearest shelters. On August 31, anticipating bombardment, the French government began to evacuate 30,000 children out of the city […]. On September 1, news reached Paris that Germany had invaded Poland, and France, as expected, promptly declared war on Germany. […] in February 1940, ration cards for food were issued [..].
The French defense plan was purely passive, waiting for the Germans to attack. After eight months of relative calm, […] the Germans struck France on May 10, 1940, bypassing the Maginot Line and slipping through the Ardennes. On June 3, the Germans bombed Paris and its suburbs for the first time […]. On June 8, the sound of distant artillery fire could be heard in the capital. On 10 June, the French government fled Paris […]. On June 12, the French government, in Tours, declared Paris to be an open city [and] that there would be no resistance. At 5:30 in the morning of June 14, the first German advance guard entered the city […]. By the end of the afternoon, the Germans had hung a swastika flag at the Arc de Triomphe […].
The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania before midnight of June 14, 1940. The Soviets, using a formal pretext, demanded to allow an unspecified number of Soviet soldiers to enter the Lithuanian territory and to form a new pro-Soviet government […]. The ultimatum and subsequent incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union stemmed from the division of Eastern Europe into the German and Russian spheres of influence in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Lithuania, along with Latvia and Estonia, fell into the Russian sphere. Despite the threat to the independence, Lithuanian authorities did little to plan for contingencies and were unprepared for the ultimatum. With Soviet troops already stationed in the country according to the Mutual Assistance Treaty, it was impossible to mount effective military resistance. On June 15, Lithuania unconditionally accepted the ultimatum and lost its independence.
The first mass transport of prisoners by Nazi Germany to Auschwitz Concentration Camp was organized in occupied Poland on June 14, 1940, during World War II. The transport departed from the southern Polish city of Tarnów and, consisted of 728 Poles and 20 Polish Jews. They were dubbed ‘political prisoners’ and members of the Polish resistance. Most were Catholics, since the mass deportations of Jews had not yet begun. All were sent to Auschwitz by the German Security Police. They were transported there from a regular prison in Tarnów where they had been incarcerated as enemies of the Nazi regime. Numbers were tattooed on the prisoners’ arms in the order of their arrival […]. These inmates were assigned the numbers 31 through 758, with numbers 1 through 30 having been reserved for a group of German criminals who were brought to Auschwitz from Sachsenhausen on May 20 and became the first Auschwitz kapos.
Fifty years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was Night of the Living Dead, starring Judith O’Dea (her best known role), Duane Jones (his best known role), Karl Hardman (one of the producers of the film), Marilyn Eastman (business partner of Karl Hardman and, make-up and prop artist of the film), Judith Ridley (Karl Hardman & Marilyn Eastman’s receptionist and, eventually, producer Russell Streiner‘s wife), Ronald ‘Keith Wayne‘ Hartman (the only role he ever had) and Kyra Schon (the zombie kid and Karl Hardman’s daughter). The Zombie Family that plays together, stays together, I guess.
It was directed, edited and co-written (with John Russo) by George A. Romero, considered to be the ‘Father of the Zombie Film’. He was also known for The Crazies, Monkey Shines, directed Creepshow and, created and executive-produced the television show Tales from the Darkside.
Duane Jones is, now, an actual character in The Walking Dead graphic novel/comic.
The original movie is slated to be re-released this month in certain cinemas on the 24th & 25th in celebration of its 50th anniversary. It’s a shame that George Romero passed away in July of last year:
It’s Flick Friday! Ten years ago, today, the #1 movie was Burn After Reading, a black comedy from the Coen Brothers that brought us hits like Fargo and The Big Lebowski. I’ve never seen this movie, or The Big Lebowski for that matter but, I have seen Fargo, which was an absolute trip. At least the brothers aren’t as gory as Tarentino. ~Victoria
It’s Flick Friday! The 1# movie fifteen years ago, today, was Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. The list of cameos is interesting.
I haven’t the first clue… But, I will say that the trailer offered a nice view of an older Leif Garrett and Barry Williams. Bonaduce? I’ve seen enough of him, already. Ditto Alyssa Milano. ~Victoria
It’s Flick Friday! The #1 movie twenty years ago, today, was There’s Something About Mary.
Honestly, I’ve never seen this movie. ~Victoria
It’s Flick Friday! The number one movie 35 years ago, today, is National Lampoon’s Vacation!
[I saw this movie in the summer before beginning my senior year of high school. It is a very different movie from the sequels as there was nudity. It wasn’t considered a ‘family friendly’ movie back then. It was very risqué. It is the only movie of the series with an ‘R‘ rating. The movies afterwards were toned down. And, it’s a little embarrassing, too. My mother’s maiden name is Griswold. I kept my mouth shut in school but, boy did my cousins take some ribbing. And, yes. We are just that weird. LOL! ~Victoria]