December 22 in history:
An airline passenger who became known as the “shoe bomber” tried to light an explosive in his shoe during a flight from Paris to Miami on December 22nd, 2001. Other passengers subdued suspect Richard Reid, and the flight was diverted to Boston. Reid, who claimed to belong to Al-Qaeda, was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing plot, which came three months after the September 11th attacks in the U.S. Because of this incident, airport security workers in the U.S. began requiring passengers to take off their shoes for screening before boarding a commercial plane.
A passenger on a New York subway train shot and wounded four young men who surrounded him on December 22nd, 1984. One was left paralyzed by the shooting. Bernhard Goetz admitted to firing at the men, claiming self-defense because they tried to rob him. The men claimed they were panhandling. Some have considered the shooting to be racially motivated, because Goetz was white and the men he shot were black. Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder and assault, and spent eight months behind bars for illegal gun possession. He became known in the New York media as the “subway vigilante.”
Singer Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees and his wife were two of the passengers who survived a deadly train derailment in London in 1967 which killed 49 people. Gibb and his twin brother, Maurice, were born on December 22nd, 1949. The twins and their brother Barry became a very successful recording act, best known for hits such as “Jive Talkin’” and the soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever.
Barbara Billingsley’s career was revived when she played a jive-speaking passenger in the disaster-movie spoof Airplane! Before that, Billingsley was mainly known as TV mom June Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver.” She was born December 22nd, 1915.
October 4 in history:
Paul the 6th became the first reigning pope to visit the U.S. on this date in 1965. During a one-day trip to New York, the pope spoke at the United Nations and attended an outdoor mass at Yankee Stadium.
Fourteen years later, Pope John Paul the 2nd spent an entire week in America. On October 4th of 1979, he conducted a large outdoor service at the Living History Farms, near Des Moines, Ia. The crowd of 300-thousand was said to be the largest single gathering in Iowa history.
Iowa’s neighbor to the northwest, South Dakota, may be most famous for the presidential scuptures on Mount Rushmore. On this date in 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum began work on the faces of four presidents…Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
The supercarrier USS Theodore Roosevelt launched the first air strikes against Afghanistan in “Operation Enduring Freedom” on this date in 2001, three weeks after the September 11 attacks on America.
And a boy named Theodore Cleaver was introduced to TV audiences on October 4th, 1957. Theodore was better known as “Beaver”…the main character in “Leave It to Beaver.”