The Spitfire Helps Britain Win WWII

In January 1933, Adolph Hitler assumed power in Germany. After some political shenanigans, he was named Chancellor (a position analogous to Prime Minister) by the aging president and WWI hero Paul von Hindenburg. When Hindenburg died, at the age of 86 in 1934, Hitler immediately moved to secure almost unlimited political power through his use of terror, manipulations, and false promises.

Hitler was vocal about ignoring the stipulations put on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, which ended WWI and prohibited Germany from rebuilding its military. In particular, Hitler declared that since Germany was a sovereign nation it had the right to modernize its military, and by God, no mere treaty was going to make him give up that right.

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“OK” Enters The Language

Like all words which began life as slang, etymologists aren’t sure exactly how “OK” came to be added to the language. One leading contender dates back to Martin Van Buren (1782-1862,) our eighth president.

Van Buren was born into a Dutch-speaking household in Old Kinderhook, NY. Kinderhook, located roughly about 20 miles south of Albany, is Dutch for “children’s corner,” and was named by explorer Henry Hudson, who first discovered it in 1609.

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A Brief History of Mirrors

According to mythology, the first person to actually see an image of himself was the Greek hunter, Narcissus. Narcissus was widely known for being one of the handsomest lads in the kingdom, and caught the attention of many an amorous maid, including an ardent wood spirit named, Echo. Echo pursued Narcissus, but he had seen a himself in a still pond, and fell in love with his own reflection. The long and short of the story is that Narcissus refused to leave his reflection even to eat, so starved to death. Grief-stricken Echo pined away until only her voice remained.

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“Uncle Wiggly Wings” Drops Candy to Berlin’s Children

WWII was over. Germany was divided into four spheres of influence each controlled by one of the four victors: The US, France, the UK, and Russia, with Russia controlling the eastern sector. Further, the city of Berlin, which was located in the Russian-controlled east, was also divided into four parts.

By 1948, it was apparent that the Western Powers (Great Britain, France, and US) plan to rebuild Germany differed substantially from those of the Soviet Union, and because of that, Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin wanted the allies out of Berlin. To accomplish that, in April, Stalin ordered all American military personnel maintaining communications equipment out of Soviet controlled Berlin. Then, train service was discontinued, and finally, in late June, all land and water access to West Berlin was cut off by the Soviets. There were to be no more supplies from the West.

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Halloween 2017: The Monkey’s Paw

In this year’s Halloween visit to old radio, we present a story from a Canadian horror series series called, Nightfall. This story, from July 1980, is called The Monkey’s Paw, the classic tale of an enchanted paw which grants the holder three wishes — but at a horrific price.

To hear the others:

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A Short History of Halloween

Happy Halloween

What we know as Halloween began more than 3,000 years ago as the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (Gaelic for November and pronounced “sah-win.”) It was a festival to celebrate the end of the harvest season, and used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for colder weather. It was also a time when they asked their Druid priests to pray for them and their familes as they faced the coming dark days of winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead were at their thinnest, and because the two worlds overlapped, the deceased could come back to life and cause all manner of havoc even causing harm such as spreading sickness or by damaging crops.

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George Washington Forms a Spy Network

In the eighteenth century, spying was considered an unsuitable job for a gentleman. Nonetheless, 21-year-old Nathan Hale volunteered to gather information behind British lines, perhaps because he hadn’t seen military action yet. He was fully aware of the danger; a spy was considered an enemy combatant and quickly executed.

In fact, his spy career lasted less than a week. On Sept 22, 1776, Nathan (“I regret that I have but one life to give to my country”) Hale was hanged by the British.

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Air Conditioning Makes Southern Mega-Cities Possible

Air conditioning has been around since Roman times, when the wealthy piped aqueduct water through pipes in their walls.

In 1902, a Cornell-trained mechanical engineer named Willis Carrier (1876-1950,) building on Michael Faraday’s discovery in 1820 that compressing and liquefying ammonia would chill air when the liquefied ammonia was allowed to evaporate, developed the first practical air conditioner.

Carrier’s invention controlled both air temperature and humidity, and was first installed at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Co. in Brooklyn, New York, where it made possible aligned four-color printing and stable paper dimensions

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Monster Earthquake Causes the Mississippi River to Flow Backwards

The steamboat New Orleans, first of its type to travel the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, set out from Pittsburgh on October 20, 1811, bound for New Orleans. Captain Nicholas Roosevelt had brought along his young wife, Lydia, their two year old daughter, and their Labrador, Tiger. Ten days after leaving Pittsburgh, they stopped in Lexington, where Lydia gave birth to a son. They stayed in Louisville, Kentucky long enough both for Lydia to recover and to wait until the river rose high enough to allow safe passage over the coral reef at the Falls of the Ohio. On the night of, December 15, the New Orleans was anchored near Owensboro, Kentucky, about 200 miles east of New Madrid (pronounced Mad’-rid,) Missouri. Tiger, insisted on staying in the cabin with them instead of sleeping on the deck as was usual.

That night was like most other nights on the Mississippi River. Crickets and other night insects could be heard, but aside than that, there was very little other activity. Flat-bottomed barges on their way downriver to New Orleans were moored as usual for the night, tied to trees on islands or along the banks of the Mississippi River. The whole area was quiet, as usual, but suddenly the earth began to shake with the greatest quake in American history, with an estimated Richter value of 8.1.

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London Hit by Killer Smog

Clear skies dawned over London on December 5, 1952. A wintry cold snap had gripped the British capital for weeks, and as Londoners awoke, coal fireplaces were stoked in homes and businesses across the city to take the chill from the early morning air. Because of economic necessity, most higher-grade hard coal was exported, so Londoners were forced to burn lower-grade coal high in sulfur. At this same time. London was hit by a thermal inversion, in which a layer of warm air settles over a layer of cooler air that lies near the ground. The warm air holds down the cool air and prevents pollutants from rising and scattering.

Later in the morning, the fog began to roll in. Londoners paid no attention, since fog was not unusual in a city famous for its cool, misty weather, however , within a few hours, the fog began to turn a sickly shade of yellowish brown as it mixed with thousands of tons of soot pumped into the air by London’s factory smokestacks, chimneys and automobiles. Adding to the toxic brew were the exhausts from the smoky, diesel-fueled buses which had recently replaced the city’s electric tram system.

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