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Today in History with a Twist: October 8, 2013

Fire!  1871 - Four major fires break out on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Holland, Michigan, and Manistee, Michigan.  The other fires are greatly overshadowed by the Great Chicago Fire but the Peshtigo Fire was much deadlier.  At least 1,500 people, and possibly as many as 2,500, died in the Peshtigo Fire; Several hundred died in the Chicago Fire.  The primary cause of the great fires was the extra dry summer.  Forest Fires had been burning throughout the summer and when a cold front moved in the resulting winds spread and gave more life to the existing fires.  In Chicago, the fire started in a small barn and quickly spread through the wooden buildings of the city. - Chicago had the best story.

     After all that we celebrate National Fluffernutter Day!  A Fluffernutter is a yummy sandwich made with bread, peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff.  It is now a classic American treat enjoyed in school cafeterias, college dorms, and local diners nationwide.  Marshmallow candy can be traced back to ancient Egypt when people first began to harvest the marshmallow plant (Althaea officinalis).  During the 19th century, French pharmacists extracted the juice from marshmallow plants and heated it with egg whites and sugar, creating a marshmallow cream.  Then, in 1917, Archibald Query of Somerville, Massachusetts created the special formula for the marshmallow fluff we know and love today.  The city of Somerville celebrates with the famous "What the Fluff" festival every year! (Punchbowl.com)

     1480 - Grand Duke Ivan III of Russia decided that he was no longer going to pay the annual tribute to the Great Horde that they had been paying for over 200 years.  Ahmat Khan, Khan of the Great Horde, sent an army to collect the tribute.  After a four day battle the two sides found themselves in a standoff on the Ugra river.  After several weeks both armies began to withdraw, however the retreat of the Tataro-Mongols led to the eventual disintegration of the Horde. - Kind of like that old saying from the 60's, what if they gave a war and nobody showed up?

     1856 - The Second Opium War between several western powers and China begins with the Arrow Incident on the Pearl River.  The Arrow was a Chinese owned and crewed ship that was taken by Chinese government forces on suspicion of piracy and smuggling.  The ship had previously been British owned and the was used as a pretext to raise tensions between the two countries. - and you think the Tonkin Gulf incident was dicey - The real cause of the war was the Europeans trying to force China to open markets. - Forced free market.

     1918 - In the Argonne Forest in France, United States Corporal Alvin C. York kills 28 German soldiers and captures 132.  This action would win him the Medal of Honor. - Not bad for a pacifist.

     1944 - In the World War II Battle of Crucifix Hill occurs on Crucifix Hill, just outside of Aachen, Capt. Bobbie Brown receives a Medal of Honor for his heroics in this battle. - Ironic place to fight a battle.

     1969 - The opening rally of the Days of Rage occurs, organized by the Weather Underground in Chicago, Illinois. - Brings back memories.

      1956 - New York Yankees's Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series; one of only 21 perfect games in MLB history. - Show off!

     1982 - Cats opens on Broadway and runs for nearly 18 years before closing on September 10, 2000. - Still running at my house.

Today we celebrate the birthdays of:

     1917 - Walter Lord - Author (d. 2002) - Wrote several non-fiction historical documentary books, eleven of which made the best seller list. Became a recognized expert on the Titanic disaster and was an adviser on James Cameron's movie. - Tied his star to sinking ship.

     1943 - R. L. Stine - Author, screenwriter, and producer - Specializing in scaring the hell out of kids.

To learn more about the above topics check out the following books from the Library's collection:


The Great Chicago Fire by Robert Cromie
Amazon Says: Now in paperback, The Great Chicago Fire presents a complete narrative history of the 1871 fire that destroyed 73,000 miles of streets and 17,500 buildings, and which left 100 more...
Amazon Says: Now in paperback, The Great Chicago Fire presents a complete narrative history of the 1871 fire that destroyed 73,000 miles of streets and 17,500 buildings, and which left 100,000 people homeless. More than 150 photographs and illustrations help tell the inspiring story of a heroic American city. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Paperback, as pictured (please see my image); "PB/CB" written on bottom outside edge of pages; measures about 7" x 7" (ck) more...
Amazon Says: Paperback, as pictured (please see my image); "PB/CB" written on bottom outside edge of pages; measures about 7" x 7" (ck) less...
Amazon

Volga River by Tim McNeese
Amazon Says: This 2,300 mile river has played an incalculable role in the life of the Russian people. more...
Amazon Says: This 2,300 mile river has played an incalculable role in the life of the Russian people. less...
Amazon

The Chinese Opium Wars by Jack Beeching
Amazon Says: An enlightening account of a notorious period in nineteenth-century imperialism, when an effort by the Chinese government to stamp out the country's profitable opium trade res more...
Amazon Says: An enlightening account of a notorious period in nineteenth-century imperialism, when an effort by the Chinese government to stamp out the country's profitable opium trade resulted in a series of conflicts known as the Opium Wars. Index; illustrations and map. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: " Alvin C. York went out on a routine patrol an ordinary, unknown American doughboy of the First World War. He came back from no-man's-land a hero. In a brief encounter on Oct more...
Amazon Says: " Alvin C. York went out on a routine patrol an ordinary, unknown American doughboy of the First World War. He came back from no-man's-land a hero. In a brief encounter on October 8, 1918, during the Argonne offensive, York had killed 25 German soldiers and, almost singlehandedly, effected the capture of 132 others. Returning to the United States the following spring, he received a tumultuous public welcome and a flood of offers from businessmen eager to capitalize on his acclaimed feat. But York, true to his character, went quietly back to his home in the Tennessee mountains, where he spent the remainder of his life working to bring schools and other services to those remote valleys where his neighbors lived. In this definitive biography, David D. Lee has firmly established the simple facts of Alvin York's life, distinguishing them from the myths which have grown up around the man. He has reexamined the sometimes conflicting accounts of the famous exploit, finding in his research a hitherto unknown report of the skirmish from German military archives. Lee goes beyond that single wartime episode, however, to consider its consequences on York's later life -- his efforts, not always successful, to better his mountain community; his involvement in making a motion picture of his life; his difficulties with money and taxes. But Sergeant York is better known as a symbol than as an individual, and in this study Lee connects the man and his life to an American heroic ideal. With his rural background, his refusal to take commercial advantage of his fame, and his simple piety, Alvin York exemplified the traditional values of an agrarian America that was in his own day already receding into the past. He claimed a special place in the hearts of his countrymen, Lee concludes, because his life seemed to show that the virtues of the common man continued to be a vital part of American society. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: The Congressional Medal of Honor is Americas highest military award. In this remarkable work, the first of its kind, acclaimed 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace looks at the li more...
Amazon Says: The Congressional Medal of Honor is Americas highest military award. In this remarkable work, the first of its kind, acclaimed 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace looks at the lives of the recipients of the medal and explores what it is that drove them to go so far above and beyond the call of duty. Wallace examines not only their extraordinary feats in battle (plunging into heavy fire, throwing themselves on live grenades, attacking enemy regiments single-handed), but also their lives before and after. Throughout the book, and particularly in his moving introduction, he meditates on the meaning of courage and shows what we can learn from the lives of those who perform amazing acts of selflessness and bravery. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Stephen Mo Hanan created the role of Gus the Theatre Cat, including the completely new Growltiger sequence that was especially created for his unique talents, in the origina more...
Amazon Says: Stephen Mo Hanan created the role of Gus the Theatre Cat, including the completely new Growltiger sequence that was especially created for his unique talents, in the original New York production of what became the longest-running show in Broadway history, Cats. Hanan kept a diary of every day's work from the first rehearsal through opening. Appearing in print for the first time, this is an unparalleled insider view of how a big Broadway show is put together, written in a lively, articulate, and engaging style. Not only does it offer fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses, it's also a great educational study for actors and directors. Hanan explores the fine nuances of his role, keenly observes Trevor Nunn's directorial methods, and develops strong artistic and emotional bonds with fellow cast members as they journey together to a historic opening night. less...
Amazon

A Time to Stand by Walter Lord
Amazon Says: On the morning of March 6, 1836, in an old abandoned mission called the Alamo, a small Texas garrison fought to the death rather than yield to an overwhelming army of Mexicans more...
Amazon Says: On the morning of March 6, 1836, in an old abandoned mission called the Alamo, a small Texas garrison fought to the death rather than yield to an overwhelming army of Mexicans. Through the years the garrison’s heroic stand has become so clothed in folklore and romance that the truth has nearly been lost. In A Time to Stand Walter Lord rediscovers and recreates the whole fascinating story. From contemporary documents, diaries, and letters, he has mined a wealth of fresh information that throws intriguing sidelights on the epic of the Alamo. What were the defenders like? Why did they take their stand? Did any escape? Did Davy Crockett surrender?The cast of characters includes not only famous figures like Jim Bowie but unknown, unsung men: John Purdy Reynolds, the wandering Pennsylvania surgeon; George Kimball, the industrious New York hatter, Micajah Autry of Tennessee, who was a far better poet than a businessman. And then there are the Mexicans: the fabulous Santa Anna; the smooth Colonel Almonte; the forlorn private Juan Basquez, who only wanted to stay home and make shoes. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Dim the lights. Lock the doors. Pull down the shades -- and BEWARE! It′s time to read R.L. Stine′s favorite scary stories, plus two new tales of his own! R.L. Stine has g more...
Amazon Says: Dim the lights. Lock the doors. Pull down the shades -- and BEWARE! It′s time to read R.L. Stine′s favorite scary stories, plus two new tales of his own! R.L. Stine has gathered a selection of all things scary. Short stories, tales old and new, comics, and poems. It′s a spine-tingling collection of work by dozens of writers and artists who are famous for hair-raising fun. Discover a ghastly secret in a retelling of the classic story "The Judge′s House," by Bram Stoker. Peek into a Christmas stocking that holds a shocking surprise in a Vault of Horror comic, "A Sock for Christmas." Meet an ice cream man who will chill your blood in "Mister Ice Cold" by Gahan Wilson. But first, visit an evil carnival in "The Black Ferris," by Ray Bradbury. R.L. Stine says that this story changed his life! Find out why in his introduction. Be sure to read all the introductions -- because R.L. reveals why he picked these stories for you, why he finds them the creepiest ... the funniest ... the scariest! less...
Amazon
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