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Almanac – January 07

1943 – Nikola Tesla died. Serbian  inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system.

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1948 – Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Thomas Mantell crashed and died while in pursuit of a supposed UFO.
Historian David Michael Jacobs argues the Mantell case marked a sharp shift in both public and governmental perceptions of UFOs. Previously, mass media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell’s death, however, Jacobs notes “the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well.”

The cause of Mantell’s crash remains officially listed as undetermined by the Air Force.

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2001 – James Carr died.  American Rhythm & Blues and soul singer, who first made the R&B charts in 1966 with “You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up”, followed by his most famous song “The Dark End of the Street”, written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman. He died from lung cancer in a Memphis nursing home, aged 58.

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Almanac – January 06

1066 – Harold Godwinson  crowned King of England.  He reigned  until his death at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October of that same year, fighting the Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest of England.

Harold is the first of only three kings of England to have died in warfare; the other two were Richard I and Richard III.

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1883 – Khalil Gibran born. Lebanese artist, poet, and writer.  He is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose.

The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, gaining popularity in the 1930s and again especially in the 1960s counterculture.  Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu (in modern Pinyin, Laozi), the Chinese founder of Taoism.

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1937 – Doris Troy born. American R&B singer, known to her many fans as “Mama Soul“.  

“She was a rarity in the early sixties – a singer who wrote her own material. She was always at the cutting edge. One of the earliest Soul divas, on Atlantic before Aretha, and recording with Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff years before the heady days of the Philadelphia sound.”Ian Levine

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1993 – Dizzy Gillespie died. merican jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer and occasional singer.

During the 1964 United States presidential campaign he put himself forward as an independent write-in candidate. He promised that if he were elected, the White House would be renamed “The Blues House,” and a cabinet composed of Duke Ellington (Secretary of State), Miles Davis (Director of the CIA), Max Roach (Secretary of Defense), Charles Mingus (Secretary of Peace), Ray Charles (Librarian of Congress), Louis Armstrong (Secretary of Agriculture), Mary Lou Williams (Ambassador to the Vatican), Thelonious Monk (Travelling Ambassador) and Malcolm X (Attorney General).

America, what a chance you missed.

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Almanac – October 07

1763George III of Great Britain issued a British Royal Proclamation closing aboriginal lands in North America north and west of Alleghenies to white settlements.

Wonder how that worked out ?

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1849 – Edgar Allan Poe, American writer and poet died. On October 3, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, “in great distress, and … in need of immediate assistance”, according to the man who found him.  He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died at 5 a.m. on Sunday, October 7. Poe was never coherent enough to explain how he came to be in this condition, though theories include suicide, murder, cholera, rabies, syphilis and influenza.

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1879 – Joe Hill born. Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the “Wobblies”).  Hill, as an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular song writer and cartoonist for the radical union. His most famous songs include “The Preacher and the Slave”, “The Tramp”, “There is Power in a Union”, “The Rebel Girl”, and “Casey Jones—the Union Scab”, which generally express the harsh, combative life of itinerant workers, and the perceived necessity of organizing to improve conditions for working people.

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1944 – Uprising at Birkenau concentration camp. Jewish Sonderkommandos (those inmates kept separate from the main camp and put to work in the gas chambers and crematoria) of Birkenau Kommando III staged an uprising. They attacked the SS with makeshift weapons: stones, axes, hammers, other work tools and homemade grenades. They caught the SS guards by surprise, overpowered them and blew up  Crematorium IV, using explosives smuggled in from a weapons factory by female inmates. At this stage they were joined by the Birkenau Kommando I of  Crematorium II, which also overpowered their guards and broke out of the compound. Hundreds of prisoners escaped, but were all soon captured and, along with an additional group who participated in the revolt, executed.

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1959 – Soviet probe Luna 3 transmited the first ever photographs of the far side of the Moon.

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1992 – Death of Tevfik Esenç, last known speaker of Ubykh ( or Ubyx)  –  a language of the Northwestern Caucasian group, spoken by the Ubykh people (who originally lived along the eastern coast of the Black Sea before migrating en masse to Turkey in the 1860s).

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Almanac – October 05

1793 – Christianity is disestablished in France

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1910 – In a revolution in Portugal the monarchy is overthrown and a republic is declared

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1930 – British Airship R101 crashes in France en-route to India on its maiden voyage

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Almanac – September 26

1449 – An unusual battle took place near Little Cornard, Suffolk. In a marshy field on the Suffolk/Essex border, two Dragons engaged in an hour-long combat. One was black and lived on Kedington Hill, the other “reddish and spotted”, came from Ballingdon Hill.The Red & spotted Dragon won, after which both creatures returned to their respective hills “to the admiration of many beholding them”.

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1774 – Johnny Appleseed born (as Jonathan Chapman).  American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples.

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1888 – T. S. Eliot born. Publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and “arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century.” Although  born an American, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at age 25) and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927.
The poem that made his name, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—started in 1910 and published in Chicago in 1915—is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement, and was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935).

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1937 – Bessie Smith died. American blues singer, probably  the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists. She  was critically injured in a car accident while traveling along U.S. Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi, the day before.

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1950 – Blue Moon  over Britain. A pale blue Harvest Moon shone over places as far apart as Bristol, London, Bridlington and Scotland [which also had a Blue Sun that afternoon]. An RAF plane investigated and found a thin dust layer at 43,000 feet, with a layer of ice particles in cyrrhus cloud at 20,000 to 30,000 feet.The dust was probably from an American sandstorm a few days earlier.

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Almanac – September 25

1066 – Battle Of Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire. The equally important, in many ways more important – precursor to the Battle of Hastings and the  Norman invasion of England.

An English army under Harold Godwinson, elected King of England, defeated a Norwegian invasion force commanded by Harald III of Norway.

Three days later, the Normans landed on the south coast, and the remnants of the English force had the long march south to meet them. If they hadn’t had to deal with Stamford Bridge and a few hundred miles of forced marching, the outcome of the Battle of Hastings would probably have been quite different.

Interesting to speculate what might have happened if the Norwegians had won at Stamford Bridge, since it would effectively have left three armies in the field – the Norwegians in the north, the Normans in the south, and the remnants of the English army plus whatever back-up they could draw on from the further-flung counties. Whatever, history would tell quite a different story.

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Almanac – September 24

1534 – Guru Ram Das born. The fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism, one of his main contributions to Sikhism was organizing the structure of Sikh society. Additionally, he was the author of Laava, the four hymns of the Sikh Marriage Rites, and he was planner and creator of the township of Ramdaspur which became the Sikh holy city of Amritsar.

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1541 –  Paracelsus  (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) died.  German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist. He is also credited for giving zinc its name, calling it zincum, and is regarded as the first systematic botanist.

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1893 – Blind Lemon Jefferson born. American blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled “Father of the Texas Blues”.

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1930 – Angelo Muscat born. Maltese-born film and television character actor,  he appeared in 14 of the 17 episodes of the sixties cult television series The Prisoner, as the notably mute butler. Only 4 ft 3 in tall, he played an Oompa-Loompa in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and also appeared in the Beatles‘  Magical Mystery Tour and  Doctor Who.

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1993 – A Jehovah’s Witness buttonholed actor James Purefoy outside his London flat. They began a friendly conversation, but then   “I just said I thought it was odd that the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, and he punched me in the face.”

“At first I tried to laugh it off, but that just incensed him and he kept hitting me.”

Finally, Purefoy lifted his assailant into the air and threw him to the ground, shouting: “I hope Jehovah witnessed that !”

The actor came out of the theological discussion with a black eye and a slipped disc, causing him to have to pull out of Noel Coward’s  Present Laughter at the Globe Theatre.
The fate of the JW isn’t recorded.

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