Hello and a very Happy Friday to you where ever you are! Well Autumn arrived here and before it had chance to draw breath, it would seem that Winter is trying to push it out-of-the-way and get settled in. It’s very cold here. I went shopping today and was dithering inside the shop. I even asked the lady on the till if they’d had something go wrong with their heating system. She said no, and told me that she too was freezing cold. It was good to know … it confirmed that it wasn’t me having a ‘moment’. 😉
Anyhoo … you haven’t come to hear about the weather in the UK, you’ve come to gain that expensive edumacation that your parents pay for … oh, wait! No … I forgot to send the invoices out. You’re getting this for free. Darn and Dash it! I need someone to take care of the books. Application forms are available from my secretary. Please apply asap.
On This Day in History
1619 – René Descartes has the dreams that inspire his Meditations on First Philosophy. Meditations on First Philosophy (subtitled ‘In which the existence of God and the immortality of the soul are demonstrated’) is a philosophical treatise written by René Descartes first published in Latin in 1641.
1775 – The United States Marine Corps was founded.
1847 – The passenger ship Stephen Whitney is wrecked in thick fog off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 92 of the 110 on board. The disaster results in the construction the Fastnet Rock lighthouse.
Fastnet Rock (Irish: An Charraig Aonair, meaning Rock of Solitude or Lonesome Rock) is a small clay-slate island with quartz veins and the most southerly point of Ireland, 6.5 km southwest of Cape Clear Island (Oileán Chléire) in County Cork, which is itself 13 km (8 miles) from the mainland. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean 11.3 km south of mainland County Cork, at latitude 51.37°N. It rises to about 30 m above low water mark. Study of the documentary record suggests that the name is from Old Norse Hvastann-ey ‘sharp tooth island’.
Divided into Fastnet Rock proper and the much smaller Little Fastnet to the south by a 10 m (30 ft) wide channel, it also had the nickname ‘Ireland’s Teardrop’ as it was the last part of the country seen by Irish emigrants to the United States in the 19th century as they sailed past it.
1865 – Major Henry Wirz, the superintendent of a prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia, is hanged, becoming the only American Civil War soldier executed for war crimes.
1871 – Henry Morton Stanley locates missing explorer and missionary, Dr. David Livingstone in Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika saying those well-known, world famous words; “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
1918 – The Western Union Cable Office in North Sydney, NS received a top-secret coded message from Europe (that would be sent to Ottawa, ON and Washington, DC) that said on November 11, 1918 all fighting would cease on land, sea and in the air, which marked the end of the First World War on the Western Front.
1924 – Dion O’Banion, leader of the North Side Gang is assassinated in his flower shop by members of Johnny Torrio’s gang, sparking the bloody gang war of the 1920s in Chicago. Charles Dean O’Banion (8 July 1892 – 10 November 1924) was an Irish-American mobster who was the main rival of Johnny Torrio and Al Capone during the brutal Chicago bootlegging wars of the 1920s. O’Banion never went by “Dion”.
With the advent of Prohibition in 1920, O’Banion started a bootlegging operation. He made arrangements for beer suppliers in Canada to start shipments immediately, and also struck deals with whiskey and gin distributors. O’Banion pioneered Chicago’s first liquor hijacking on December 19, 1921. He and the “lads of Kilgubbin” quickly eliminated all their competition. The O’Banion mob, known as the North Side Gang, now ruled the North Side and the Gold Coast, the wealthy area of Chicago situated on the northern lakefront. As O’Banion’s name grew in the underworld, he attracted more followers, including Samuel “Nails” Morton, Louis “Three Gun” Alterie, and “Handsome” Dan McCarthy.
At the height of his power, O’Banion was supposedly making about $1 million a year on booze. During one famous caper, O’Banion and his men stole over $100,000 worth of Canadian whiskey from the West Side railroad yards. In another famous robbery, O’Banion looted the padlocked Sibly Distillery and walked off with 1,750 barrels of bonded whiskey.
In 1921, O’Banion married Viola Kaniff and bought an interest in William Schofield’s Flower Shop on North State Street. He needed a legitimate front for his criminal operations; in addition, he was fond of flowers and was an excellent arranger. Schofield’s became the florist of choice for mob funerals. Schofield’s happened to be across the street from Holy Name Cathedral, where he and Weiss attended Mass. The rooms above Schofield’s were used as the headquarters for the North Side Gang.
In May, 1924, O’Banion learned that the police were planning to raid the brewery on a particular night. Before the raid, O’Banion approached Torrio and told him he wanted to sell his share in the brewery, claiming that the Gennas scared him and he wanted to leave the rackets. Torrio agreed to buy O’Banion’s share and gave him half a million dollars. On the night of O’Banion’s last shipment, the police swept into the brewery. O’Banion, Torrio, and numerous South Side gangsters were arrested. O’Banion got off easily because, unlike Torrio, he had no previous prohibition related arrests. Torrio had to bail out himself and six associates, plus face later court charges with the possibility of jail time. O’Banion also refused to return the money Torrio had given him in the deal.
Torrio soon realized he had been double-crossed. He had lost the brewery and $500,000 in cash, been indicted, and been humiliated. Following this incident, Torrio finally agreed to the Gennas’ demand to kill O’Banion.
Heretofore, Mike Merlo and the Unione Siciliane had refused to sanction a hit on O’Banion. However, Merlo had terminal cancer and died on November 8, 1924. With Merlo gone, the Gennas and South Siders were free to move on O’Banion.
Using the Merlo funeral as a cover story, over the next few days the Unione national director from New York City, Frankie Yale, and other gangsters visited Schofield’s, O’Banion’s flower shop, to discuss floral arrangements. However, the real purpose of these visits was to memorize the store layout for the hit on O’Banion.
On the morning of November 10, 1924, O’Banion was clipping chrysanthemums in Schofield’s back room. Yale entered the shop with Torrio/Capone gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi. When O’Banion attempted to greet Yale with a handshake, Yale clasped O’Banion’s hand in a death grip. At the same time, Scalise and Anselmi fired two bullets into O’Banion’s chest, two in his cheeks, and two in his throat. Dean O’Banion died instantly.
Since O’Banion was a major crime figure, the Catholic Church denied him burial on consecrated ground; however, the Lord’s Prayer and three Hail Mary’s were recited in his honor by a priest O’Banion had known from his youth. Despite this restriction, O’Banion received a lavish funeral, much larger than the Merlo funeral the day before. O’Banion was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. Due to the opposition from church officials, O’Banion was originally interred in unconsecrated ground. However, his family was eventually allowed to re-bury him on consecrated ground elsewhere in the cemetery.
The O’Banion killing would spark a brutal five-year gang war between the North Side Gang and the Chicago Outfit that culminated in the killing of seven North Side gang members in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.
1938 – Kate Smith first sang Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on network radio.
1940 – Walt Disney begins serving as an informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI; his job is to report back information on Hollywood subversives.
1942 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, discussing the recent British Commonwealth victory over Rommel at El Alamein, Egypt, said “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
1951 – Direct-dial coast-to-coast telephone service begins in the United States.
1958 – The Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by New York diamond merchant Harry Winston.
1969 – National Educational Television (the predecessor to the Public Broadcasting Service) in the United States debuts the children’s television program Sesame Street.
1970 – Vietnam War: Vietnamization – For the first time in five years, an entire week ends with no reports of American combat fatalities in Southeast Asia.
1972 – Southern Airways Flight 49 from Birmingham, Alabama is hijacked and, at one point, is threatened with crashing into the nuclear installation at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After two days, the plane lands in Havana, Cuba, where the hijackers are jailed by Fidel Castro.
1995 – In Nigeria, playwright and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight others from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop) are hanged by government forces.
BBC News complete with Video Footage
1997 – WorldCom and MCI Communications announce a $37 billion merger (the largest merger in US history at the time). MCI, Inc. is an American telecommunications company that is headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia.
1997 – British au pair freed after appeal. British au pair Louise Woodward was freed from jail in the United States after her conviction for murdering a baby was reduced to manslaughter.
BBC New complete with video footage
Born on this Day
1683 – George II of Great Britain (d. 1760)
1728 – Oliver Goldsmith, English playwright (d. 1774)
1925 – Richard Burton, Welsh actor (d. 1984)
1932 – Roy Scheider, American actor (d. 2008) best known for his role as police chief Martin Brody in the 1975 blockbuster Jaws
1940 – Screaming Lord Sutch, English musician and politician (d. 1999) was famed for founding the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Despite his seemingly light-hearted antics, Screaming Lord Sutch in reality suffered from periods of depression and committed suicide by hanging on June 16, 1999, following the death of his mother the previous year.
1944 – Sir Tim Rice, English lyricist
1956 – Sinbad, American actor
1963 – Hugh Bonneville, English actor
Thought for the Day
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – in 1918, the Guns fell silent across the Western Front. 99 years ago, tomorrow, at precisely 11am, on the 11th of November 1918, ended what was then called the “War to end all Wars.”.
During the four months to November 1918 Allied troops launched a sequence of successful offensives against the Germans, forcing them to retreat and surrender.
In a railway carriage in France’s Compiegne Forest, during the early hours of November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed and six hours later the ‘War to end all Wars’ was finally over.
The statistics of the war, which lasted from 1914 to 1918 and surpassed all previous wars in the enormity of its destruction, are mind-boggling: 65 million men mobilized by the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) and the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Belgium, Russia, Italy and the United States).
An estimated 10 million killed and 20 million wounded on the battlefield.
It was, as I’ve said, the war to end all wars, and, of course, it did nothing of the kind.
Our World is still ‘at war’. As we sit here, right now, reading this, there are guns being fired, families living in fear, men and women being put into unenviable positions of trying to stay alive, and men and women losing their lives, in a war, somewhere in this World of ours.
Will there ever be an end to war? I would love to think so. But in reality, I fear there won’t. For we don’t seem to know at what point we should stand up to evil.
How can you distinguish good and evil from nationalistic ranting and posturing? Those questions and all the associated questions remain with us. All are unresolved and perhaps will never be resolved.
Did The Great War teach us nothing? Does it not now stand as a great warning? In the days of mass terrorism and nuclear proliferation, shouldn’t the Great War, and all wars since, be a reminder of what can happen when two causes collide, each armed with technologies of mass destruction and each driven by a blind faith in its own righteousness?
Until we understand fully that violence begets violence and move beyond justifying war, beyond nationalism, beyond belief of what we ‘think’ may be, beyond blind belief of ‘jingoism’ and the self-righteousness of ‘my faith is the only right path’, until we learn to treat all, even the stranger, as a brother and sister, as someone we are related to, we will not stop war. We HAVE to believe it’s possible; and we have to work, tirelessly, to prevent the seeds of war from flourishing.
Will the 21st Century be the century in which we finally choose between human and ecological suicide and peace? I hope so, for all our sakes. For what would happen, if another country, practising another faith and another way of life, invaded our own country demanding that we do things their way, and killing anyone who disagreed?
Today, I am wearing my Poppy with the greatest degree of pride that is possible. I wear it to show that I remember all those men and women who have lost their lives in the name of war. I wear it to say ‘thank you’ to them, in the only way I know how.
I wear it, and each time I touch it, or look down at it, I am aware of the lump in my throat, signalling the holding back of tears which spring all too readily to my eyes, for the loss of not one, not one hundred, not one thousand … but thousands upon thousands of people who didn’t choose to die. But did.
Tomorrow (11th day of the 11th month) is not only a chance to remember those brave men and women who were victims of conflict past, but also victims of current wars.
I have chosen to place a song here which is normally associated with Great Britain, but I feel that now, more than ever, a strong bond holds us all together, and I feel that the true meaning of the song can be shared by us all.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
To those who gave everything so that we may be
free to live in peace.
We shall remember them.
Thank you so much for visiting and having a coffee moment or two with me. I so enjoy your company.
May your day be peaceful, bright and calm. May joy reach you and love find you. And, where ever you go … may your God go with you.