St. Patrick and His Day

St. Patrick is considered the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he was born in Britain. He was born near the end of the 4th Century to wealthy parents and was abducted by Irish Raiders and held in captivity in Ireland for 6 years. During this captivity he became a devote Christian.

He is believed to have died on March 17, 460 AD and it is on this day that the Irish and those once a year Irish celebrate St. Patrick Day.

St. Patrick is credited as banishing all snakes from the Ireland. However there weren’t any snakes on the island so he couldn’t have banished any. He was a converted Christian and helped transform the island from their pagan beliefs to Christianity.

St. Patrick Day has a celebrated history of parades. The first St. Patrick Day parade was not in Ireland, but in New York City. On March 17, 1762 Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city.

Leprechauns and St. Patrick are classic symbols of Ireland. Now a natural combination. Leprechauns have their origins from old Celtic folklore and were cranky souls known for their trickery to protect their much-fabled treasure. It wasn’t until Walt Disney and the film Darby O’Gill & the Little People which introduced a cheerful, friendly leprechaun, that they became a part of the Irish celebration.

Many of us will have Corn Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick day, but this too is a fairly recent invention. Cabbage has long been a Irish food, it was usually served with bacon. That was until around the beginning of the 20th century when immigrants in New York City substituted corned beef to save money. This idea came from their Jewish neighbors.

The Six Three Stooges

The Three Stooges began in vaudeville in 1922. Moe joined Ted Healy, one of the highest paid vaudeville performers as a stooge. A stooge is a planted audience member who is invited on stage. Shemp joined his brother Moe shortly afterward with Larry joining in 1928. The name Three Stooges weren’t used formally until the group parted ways with Healy in the early 1930. By this time Shemp has left and Curly, Moe and Shemp’s brother, had taken his place.

There were six different people that were the Three Stooges between 1922 and 1970 when Larry had a stroke ending his acting career and the Three Stooges.

Moe Howard was the leader of the Three Stooges. He was born Moses Harry Horwitz on June 19, 1897 and died May 4, 1975.

Shemp Howard
Moe’s older brother, Samuel Horwitz born March 11, 1895, was one of the original stooges of Ted Healy. Shortly after they arrived in Hollywood he left the stooges, partly because of his dislike of Healy’s abrasiveness and drunken bouts of anger, to pursue a solo career. When Curly suffered a stroke in 1947 he returned to the Stooges remaining one until his death on November 22, 1955.

Larry Fine
It was Larry who turned the Stooges into the Three Stooges when he was hired by Ted Healy. Larry Fine was born Louis Feinberg in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 5, 1902 and died on January 24, 1975.

Curly Howard
Jerome Lester Horwitz, the younger brother of Shemp and Moe was born on October 22, 1903. He took Shemp’s place in the act when he left beginning in 1932. Curly suffered a stroke in 1946 that required him leave the act. He would appear once more with his two brothers and Larry in the 1947, Hold That Lion!. This was also the Stooges 100th short. He would die on January 18, 1952.

Joe Besser
When Shemp died there was a short search for his replacement and that role went to Joe Besser. Joe Besser was born August 12, 1907 and appeared in 17 shorts as a Stooge. Before becoming a Stooge he worked with Abbott and Costello in their TV series. He played his same whinny character. One that wasn’t a big success with the Stooges. After about two years as a Stooge he left to tend to his sick wife. Besser died on March 1, 1988.

Joe (Curly-Joe) DeRita
Born Joseph Wardell on July 12, 1909, Joe DeRita became the sixth and final Stooge in 1959. By this time TV was discovering the Three Stooges. Joe DeRita resembled Curly and he shaved his head for the role. He remained with the act until Larry suffered his stroke in 1970. DeRita died on July 3, 1993 as the Last Stooge.

Bell’s Telephone

The telegraph was invented by Samuel Morse in 1835 and it was Alexander Graham Bell’s intention to improve on the telegraph that lead to his invention of the telephone. It was on March 10, 1876 when Bell in one room and his assistant Thomas Watson in another he shouted the words, “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you” into the transmitter. Watson was able to hear what was said and reported back to Bell the exact words. With this the first working telephone was born.

Bell’s experiments with the telegraph was an attempt to transmit multiple messages over the same wire at the same time. He felt that this could be done if each signal would have its own different pitch.

On February 14, 1876, both Bell and Elisha Gray, with his Western Electric Manufacturing Company, submitted their patient to the United States Patient Office in Washington DC. Bell’s paperwork with application fee was completed first, Gray’s caveat was entered first, but his filing fee was entered after Bell’s. On March 7, 1876, three days before the successful experiment, Bell received Patent Number 174,465.

Gray would file lawsuits challenging Bell’s patent. He would lose them all, mainly because it was determined that because he failed to take actions to complete his caveat until others had demonstrated a working unit. Gray still wasn’t left in the dark since he did receive a patent for the telautograph, a way to transmit handwriting through telegraph systems. It can be called the first fax machine.

The Bell Telephone Company was created in 1877 and by 1886, ten years after the first voice transmission over 150,000 people in the United States owned telephones.

There really isn’t a sole inventor of the telephone. Bell’s ideas closely resembled Gray’s. The telephone’s transmitter was greatly improved when Edison’s carbon microphone was introduced. Not to mention that the entire idea of the telephone is really just an improvement and enhancement of Morse’s telegraph.

From Julian to Gregorian

By the middle of the 16th century the Calendar used by the Christian Religious leaders, the Julian Calendar designed and adopted during the reign of Julius Ceasar in 45 BC, was off by around 10 days.

This was causing confusion on when Easter, as adopted by the First Council of Nicaea in 325, would be. Pope Gregory decided that calendar reform was needed. The outcome of this reform was our current calendar, also called the Gregorian Calendar.

Part of the reform was to add these 10 days to the calendar. This action was adopted on February 24, 1582. Later in the year on October 5th, five Catholic counties adopted the calendar. The day after October 5th was October 14th in these countries.

When a county added these days to the calendar it caused for these days to be skipped. England, for example, didn’t adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1754. At that time another day needed to be added to the Calendar. September 2, 1752 was the last day that England observed the Julian Calendar with the next day being September 14th.

Adoption was slow, in fact as late as the 20th Century some countries were still on the Julian Calendar, including Russia, who changed in 1918, Greece in 1923 and Turkey in 1926.

Another change came in what was the beginning of the year. The Julian Calendar called March 1st as the first day of the year, while the Gregorian Calendar it became January 1st.

George Washington

George Washington was the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. He was born on the family’s Pope’s Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

When Washington took the oath of office on April 30, 1789 only 11 of the original colonies had ratified the Constitution. While he served as President 5 more states joined the union. North Carolina – November 21, 1789, Rhode Island – May 29, 1790, Vermont – May 4, 1791, Kentucky – June 1, 1792 and Tennessee – June 1, 1796.

Understandingly George Washington appointed more Justices to the Supreme Court than any President. 13 men, 2 did decline, were appointed by Washington.

Washington College, a small Liberal Arts college located in Chestertown Maryland, is the only college that George Washington agreed to allow use of his name. He gave 50 Guineas upon its founding in 1782 and was a member of the Board of Visitors and Governors, the only college board on which he sat.

The Washington Monument in Washington County, Maryland, 4 miles from the town of Boonsboro was first monument to George Washington to be completed. It was completed in 1827 and was formally dedicated on July 4th of that year. The Appalachian Trail passes the base of the monument.

Congressman Henry Lee eulogized Washington with the words; “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life.”

Presidential Births

President’s Day is celebrated in the United States on the 3rd Monday in February. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two men considered to be great presidents, was born in this month. Each at one time had the anniversary of their births celebrated as a national holiday before those two holidays were combined into one. They are not the only Presidents who celebrated their birthday in February. Ronald Reagan, February 6, and William Harrison, February 9, were born in this month.

With four presidential births one may think that February could be the month with the most.  It is not. That honor goes to October, which has six. Jimmy Carter – October 1, Rutherford Hayes – October 4, Chester Arthur – October 14, Theodore Roosevelt – October 27 and John Adams – October 30.

Along with February the months of January, March, April and July have had 4 President born in them. November have 4 different days with Presidential births with November 2nd being the only day in the year in which two Presidents were born.  This gives November 5 Presidential birth, the month with the second most.

July 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is also the anniversary of the birth of Calvin Coolidge.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, every one of the months could claim a birth of a President. He was born on June 12. When Donald Trump became President June added another President with his birthday being June 14. September is the only other month with one Presidential birth with William Taft’s being on September 15.

Barack Obama’s birthday is on the 4th of August. August joins November as second with the most presidents born in this month with a total of 5. The others are Benjamin Harrison August 20, 1833, Herbert Hoover August 10, 1874, Lyndon B. Johnson August 27, 1908 and Bill Clinton August 19, 1946.

Stories About Some of Our Favorite Christmas Songs

When should Christmas music be started to played for the Holidays? One thought is after Halloween, another is as soon as the weather starts turning colder (living in Maryland this would be around Mid-October) but for most that time starts just after Thanksgiving.

We all know and love the following songs, but did you know that they also have interesting stories. Here are brief stories about six of our Christmas favorites. Oh, and for me I start playing them anytime after the first of October, sometimes even earlier.

White Christmas
Everyone knows that the song was introduced in the movie Holiday Inn, but many don’t know that it was a song about being stuck in sunny and warm LA and dreaming of a White Christmas. The original first verse is:
The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.

But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North…

This part is rarely performed with the song (The Carpenters version does) and was never recorded by Bing Crosby.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas
This Judy Garland song was written for and first introduced in the movie Meet me In St. Louis. The original intent for the song was to say that by next year things would be brighter. The original lines were;
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be out of sight

From now on
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away

At the request of Judy Garland it was changed to:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Then in 1957 when Frank Sinatra was recording his Christmas Album A Jolly Christmas he requested another change to the lyrics. Later in the song there was the line;
If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Sinatra wanted a more jolly song and asked for this to be changed. It was to:
If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

This sure makes for it to be a merrier, Merry Christmas song.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
he song was written in 1943 and recorded in that same year by Bing Crosby. Placing it in that time period it’s obvious that the song was about a soldier at war and his Christmas wish. If it wasn’t for White Christmas this would probably be considered Bing’s Christmas song. (Although his version of Silent Night sold more copies) The song remained on the charts for 7 weeks and well pass Christmas.

Silver Bells
The song was written by the prolific movie composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the movie The Lemon Drop Kid, staring Bob Hope. It was originally going to be Tinkle Bells, until Livingston’s wife told him that to millions of american women the word tinkle meant something else and not something that would generally go over good in a Christmas song. The word tinkle was replaced with silver. Now the next time you hear the song replace the word ‘silver’ with ‘tinkle’ and see if it doesn’t seem like a slightly different song.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman was written with one thought in mind. Just before it was written Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer had be a huge commercial hit and the team of Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wanted to write the next ‘Christmas Classic’. By the end of the winter they had put together two holiday songs to pitch to Gene Autry. Autry was sold and recorded Frosty for the next Christmas season.

And, the other Holiday song they pitched. It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the Easter song Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail.

A Christmas Song
In the hot heat in the summer of 1945, Mel Torme visited his friend Bob Wells. Earlier in the day Wells had written phases in a notebook in an effort to stay warm. A couple of these were; “Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.”\

Torme also in an effort to try to cool off, thought that maybe writing a winter song would help. They took these phrases and in 40 minutes much of the music and some of the lyrics of one of the most recorded Christmas song was completed.

JFK Assassination, A Conspiracy?

As the Presidential motorcade of John F. Kennedy passed the Texas School Book Depository Building on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm CTS, three shots came from the sixth floor, fatally wounding the President. Kennedy was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.

Fifty-five years later there are still those who feel that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was not the crime of a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, but was a conspiracy. A conspiracy with Oswald as only one of the participants, even as one of several gunmen.

When I first started looking in the assassination nearly 40 years ago, I had many questions. The stories were out there. And there were doubts in my mind. Enough doubts that when Gerald Ford ran for President in 1976, who was a member of the Warren Commission, was a factor on my decision on who would get my vote. I felt then and still feel now that the report was incomplete.

Was there people who wanted him dead? Sure there was. He was working to bring an end to organized crime, wanted the removal of Fidel Castro from being the leader in Cuba, and he had just a year before stood his ground against the communist Soviet Union.

There’s even the thought that Oswald would have had to be lucky to fire three accurate shots from a bolt action rifle in approximately 8 seconds and there had to be a second gunman. And why two days later, on November 24th, did Jack Ruby murdered Oswald as he was being transferred from City Jail to County Jail. Why would Ruby do that? Luck and chance happens all of the time. Ruby may have just snapped that morning, perhaps due to an expression on Oswald”s face.

Now more than 40 years after I first started researching and reading about the assassination, the theories of conspiracy, my views have changed. At first I was pretty certain that there was a conspiracy and that even if Oswald had acted alone, others were involved. Today I believe that Oswald did act alone and he was the lone gunman and that several strange and unusual factors came together to make the impossible possible.

The Plymouth Pilgrims

"The Landing of the Pilgrims" (1877) by Henry A. Bacon
“The Landing of the Pilgrims” (1877) by Henry A. Bacon
During the first part of the 17th Century a group called the Separatists felt a need for a complete separation from the Church of England. They wanted to worship in a very simple manner without all of the ritual and symbols which were used in the Anglican Church. This group first went to Amsterdam and then in 1609 to Leiden, Holland. By the end of 1619 the Leiden Separatists asked King James for a Royal Charter, which would allow them to establish a colony in the New World. Although James refused to give them a Charter, he promised that he would not try to stop them from settling abroad.

It was originally intended for the entire Leiden congregation to move to America, but they decided to send only sixty or seventy of their most able members to establish the community with the others to follow at a later date.

Before leaving England, the Separatist leaders went to talk with Captain John Smith, who had been to the New World and had made some extensive surveys of the New England area. Captain Smith would have been willing to sail with them on the Mayflower as an adviser. However, the Pilgrim Fathers did not have the money to pay for his service. Instead, they purchased his book, which included a detailed map of the New England region.

The Mayflower made her final departure from Plymouth, England, on September 16, 1620, with 102 passengers aboard and a crew of about 30. Of this number only 41 were members of the Leiden church. The remainder of the passengers were hired men, paid servants, or “strangers” who wanted to make a new life in America.

The sea voyage lasted about two months before the Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod. For the next few weeks they explored the area as well as creating the Mayflower Compact. The Compact was an agreement signed by all the men on board agreeing to abide by laws that would be drawn up and agreed upon by all male members of the community.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on December 31, 1620. Of those who left England only 53 people were alive to celebrate the first “Thanksgiving”. Even though none of the women would die during the voyage to the New World only 4 of the 18 women survived into the first summer.

Leaving Daylight Saving Time

For those who don’t know the rhyme we spring ahead an hour in the spring and fall backward one hour, in the fall. Some people mistakenly call it Daylight Savings Time, but it is Daylight Saving Time. In 2007 with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that President George Bush signed into law in 2005, the new dates for Daylight Saving Time will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November.

Daylight Saving Time is not a modern idea. Benjamin Franklin first mentioned it in a letter to the Journal of Paris in 1784. He didn’t really say that the clocks should be changed, but that to take advantage of the extra daylight, one should arise from bed earlier.

It wasn’t put into practice until the German government put it in place in 1916 between April 30 and October 1. In the same year the United Kingdom adopted it from May 21 to October 1.

The U.S. Congress established it at the same time they formally adopted the Rail Road Time Zones in 1918, observing it for seven months in 1918 & 1919 It became so unpopular that the law for DST was repealed in 1919.

In 1942, during World War II, DST was reinstated in the U.S. although from the end of the war in 1945 until 1966, there wasn’t a Federal Law that addressed DST.

In 1966 DST was established and has been in place since, although the law gave states the capability to exempt themselves and a few, such as Arizona and Hawaii have. Many countries follow some sort of DST plan.