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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In 1812, the United States was a bit more than a generation old, having finally wrested itself from control of Great Britain in 1782. Meanwhile, Great Britain was again at war with France (in fact, they’d spent at least 226 full years between 1066 and 1812 at war with France,) but since the outbreak of the War of 1812, Britain had instituted a naval blockade to choke off neutral trade to France, an act which President Madison considered a violation of international law. Further, to man the blockade, Britain forcibly impressed* American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy. This enraged the American public, as did British political support for a creating a large, “neutral” Native American state that would cover much of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan by allying themselves with the Indian Confederacy, under Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Many warriors, left their tribes to follow Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee medicine man, who had a vision of purifying his society by expelling the “children of the Evil Spirit”, that is, the American settlers.
* Kidnapping sailors to fight as part of the crew of the enemy. Generally applied to the Royal Navy
When a deranged loon attempted to shoot Republicans at a baseball practice a couple of weeks ago and seriously wounding Steve Scalise of Louisiana, several of his Congressional colleagues shocked the public by declaring that they would now arm themselves under certain situations. This prompted the usual drivel from the usual parties about how the once-mighty Senate and House have devolved into the Wild West.
In fact, weapons in Congress is nothing new. During the decades leading up to the Civil War, it was normal for senators and house members to carry guns, knives, and/or canes, just in case they needed to take care of unpleasant people, generally meaning anyone expressing a different political philosophy. For example, during a debate in 1850, Senator Henry Foote of Mississippi pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. That problem was resolved without incident when someone slapped the gun from Foote’s hand.
Sunol, CA is a sleepy little town of around 1000 residents about 25 miles due north of San Jose. It boasts fine weather, steam train rides, and bed races, but its main claim to fame is that it once had a canine mayor (a “dogmocracy,” according to one newspaper reporter.)
The story begins in a local bar one night in 1981. Two men were playfully arguing about which one of them would be the better mayoral candidate. A third man chimed in that his dog, “Bosco,” a black Lab/Rottweiler mix, could beat them both.