MORE PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

August 14 in history:

According to some aviation experts, the first official airplane flight in America happened on this day in 1901 in Connecticut.  Gustave Whitehead claimed that he flew a plane half-a-mile and reached an altitude of 50 feet.  That was more than two years before the Wright Brothers achieved their famous flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.  In 2013, the governor of Connecticut signed a law officially declaring that Whitehead’s August 14th flight was the first powered airplane flight in the U.S.

On August 14th, 1893, the world’s first automobile license plates reportedly were issued in Paris.

August 14th is the birthday of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” star Steve Martin (1945).

Oh, did I forget to mention trains?  Crosby, Stills, and Nash had a famous song about a train in Morocco called the “Marrakesh Express.” Singer and musician David Crosby was born on this date in 1941.

Many electric trains in the northern U.S. stopped working on August 14th, 2003, when a control room problem in Ohio led to the largest blackout ever in North America. More than 50 million people were left without power in eight states and much of eastern Canada.

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COLD WAR / HOT AIR

August 13 in history:

berlin-wall-built-2

On August 13th, 1889, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin received a patent for a “navigable balloon,” which would later become known as a blimp or a “zeppelin.”

Germany was divided into East and West by 1961, and on August 13th of that year, work began on a physical barrier to separate East and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until the border between the two halves of the city was opened in 1989.

East Berlin and the Cold War figured into the plot of the 1966 movie “Torn Curtain,” the 50th film directed by “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, born on this date in 1899.  Hitchcock’s 51st movie was another Cold War thriller called “Topaz,” set partly in Communist Cuba.  That movie featured a cameo appearance, through archival footage, of Cuban premier Fidel Castro, born August 13th, 1926.

In Hitchcock’s film “North By Northwest,” Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy who doesn’t really exist.  The phony spy was invented to keep a female agent’s cover from being blown.  The cover of real-life CIA agent Valerie Plame was blown by a newspaper columnist in a public scandal during the George W. Bush administration.  Plame was born on August 13th, 1963.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

August 12 in history:

The U.S flag was raised over Iolani Palace in Honolulu on August 12th, 1898, marking America’s official annexation of Hawaii.  The last monarch to reign over Hawaii from the palace was Queen Lili’uokalani.

August 12th is marked as the day in 30 B.C. when Egyptian Queen Cleopatra the 7th died, apparently committing suicide by allowing a snake to bite her.

Director Cecil B. DeMille, born on this date in 1881, made a movie about Cleopatra in 1934, starring Claudette Colbert. “Cleopatra” was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards the following year.

Actor John Cazale only made five movies in his brief career, but they were all nominated for best picture Oscars: the first two “Godfather” films, “The Conversation”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Deer Hunter”. Cazale died of cancer at age 42.  He was born August 12th, 1935.

CALIFORNY IS THE PLACE YOU OUGHTA BE

August 11 in history:

Events and people from California stand out on August 11th in history…

On this date in 1934, the first civilian inmates arrived at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

The Watts riots in Los Angeles began on August 11th, 1965, when violence occurred after police tried to arrest an African-American man in the Watts neighborhood for drunk driving.  The riots lasted nearly a week, with 34 people being killed and more than a thousand others injured.

The movie “American Graffiti” opened on this date in 1973.  George Lucas’s film takes place during a single night near the end of summer in a small California town.

And California native Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, was born on August 11th, 1950.

A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

August 10 in history:

On August 10th, 1792, King Louis the 16th of France was sent to prison, and a royal art collection at the Louvre Palace in Paris was confiscated by the government.  The Louvre reopened as a museum exactly one year later.

On this date in 1846, the U.S. government established the Smithsonian Institution as a museum and research organization.  The original half-million dollar sum used to establish the Institution came from the estate of British scientist James Smithson.

Herbert Hoover became the fourth U.S. president to have his own official museum and library, when the Hoover Library was dedicated on August 10th, 1962 at West Branch, Iowa.  That was Hoover’s 88th birthday.

SPORTS SUPERSTARS

August 9 in history:

To the discomfort of host Adolf Hitler, American Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, becoming the first U.S. athlete to win that many golds in one year.  Owens earned his fourth gold medal in a relay on August 9th.

To the discomfort and dismay of many Canadian hockey fans, Wayne Gretzky was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9th, 1988.

This is the birthday of several athletes who have entered the Hall of Fame for their respective sports:  basketball star Bob Cousy (1928), tennis pro Rod Laver (1938), Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (1967), and second-generation hockey star Brett Hull (1964).

Whitney Houston was born on this day in 1963.  At the peak of her singing career, Houston performed the national anthem at the Super Bowl in January, 1991, shortly after the start of the Persian Gulf War.  Her rendition of the anthem became a Top 40 hit.  The Super Bowl performance was controversial because, although Houston reportedly did sing live at a microphone, a pre-recorded version was played in the stadium and on TV in order to avoid any mistakes.

LIGHTS ON IN CHICAGO, LIGHTS OUT IN WASHINGTON

August 8 in history:

August 8th of 1988 (8/8/88) marked the end of an era at Wrigley Field in Chicago:  the era of daytime-only baseball games at the park.  The Cubs played a night game on their home field for the first time, against the Philadelphia Phillies.  They couldn’t finish the game, because it was rained out in the 4th inning.

The Nixon era at the White House ended on August 8th, 1974, when Richard Nixon became the first president to resign before the end of his term.  Nixon made the announcement on nationwide TV that night, less than two years after carrying 49 states in the 1972 election. Nixon’s resignation speech came exactly six years after the night in 1968 when he accepted the Republican Party nomination for president for the second time.

The Watergate scandal leading to Nixon’s resignation was the subject of the film “All the President’s Men.”  Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman starred in the movie as Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  Hoffman, also known for “The Graduate,” “Tootsie,” and “Rain Man”, was born August 8th, 1937.

One of Dustin Hoffman’s most famous movie lines is “I’m walking here!,” shouted by the character Ratso Rizzo while crossing a street in the 1969 film “Midnight Cowboy.”  On August 8th of 1969, the Beatles took their famous walk across Abbey Road in London, immortalized on the cover of the “Abbey Road” album.  Photographer Iain Macmillan took six photos of the band walking — three where they face right, and three facing left.