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: