John’s Believe It Or Not… March 26th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Sublime Sunday! Did you know… there’s a rumour about Spring…

* 1885 – NW Rebellion begins as Gabriel Dumont ambushes Crozier’s NWMP force at Duck Lake. (Dumont served as Adjutant-General in charge of the Métis army of 300 men when Riel declared the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan at Batoche. Dumont was struck by a bullet that split his scalp but forced police to retreat to Prince Albert. The Battle of Duck Lake was an infantry skirmish 2.5 km outside Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, between North-West Mounted Police forces of the Government of Canada, and the Métis militia of Louis Riel’s newly established Provisional Government of Saskatchewan. The skirmish lasted approximately 30 minutes, after which Superintendent Leif Newry Fitzroy Crozier of the NWMP, his forces having endured fierce fire with twelve killed and eleven wounded, called for a general retreat. The battle is considered the initial engagement of the North-West Rebellion. Although Louis Riel proved to be victorious at Duck Lake, the general agreement among historians is that the battle was strategically a disappointment to his cause. The Metis resistance was organised to secure legal title to lands owned by the Metis before Saskatchewan was flooded with Canadian settlers.)

This contemporary illustration of the Battle of Duck Lake offers a romanticized depiction of the skirmish.
This contemporary illustration of the Battle of Duck Lake offers a romanticised depiction of the skirmish.

* 1921 – Schooner Bluenose launched, to win Halifax Herald International Fisherman’s Trophy. (Bluenose was a fishing and racing schooner built in 1921 in Nova Scotia, Canada. A celebrated racing ship and fishing vessel, Bluenose under the command of Angus Walters became a provincial icon for Nova Scotia and an important Canadian symbol in the 1930s, serving as a working vessel until she was wrecked in 1946. Nicknamed the “Queen of the North Atlantic,” she was later commemorated by a replica, Bluenose II, built in 1963. The name Bluenose originated as a nickname for Nova Scotians from as early as the late 18th century. Bluenose then defeated the American challenger Elsie, for the International Fishermen’s Trophy, returning it to Nova Scotia in October 1921. The following year, Bluenose defeated the American challenger Henry S. Ford, this time in American waters off Gloucester. Henry S. Ford had been constructed in 1921 based on a design intended to defeat Bluenose. This ship dominated international racing through 1938. Her image is imprinted on the back of the Canadian dime.)

Hand Coloured Photo of the Bluenose by Angus McAskill
Hand Coloured Photo of the Bluenose by Angus McAskill

* 1979 Israel-Egyptian peace agreement signed. (In a ceremony at the White House, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign a historic peace agreement, ending three decades of hostilities between Egypt and Israel and establishing diplomatic and commercial ties. Less than two years earlier, in an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Sadat travelled to Jerusalem, Israel, to seek a permanent peace settlement with Egypt’s Jewish neighbour after decades of conflict. Sadat’s visit, in which he met with Begin and spoke before Israel’s parliament, was met with outrage in most of the Arab world. Despite criticism from Egypt’s regional allies, Sadat continued to pursue peace with Begin, and in September 1978 the two leaders met again in the United States, where they negotiated an agreement with U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland. The Camp David Accords, the first peace agreement between the state of Israel and one of its Arab neighbours, laid the groundwork for diplomatic and commercial relations. Seven months later, a formal peace treaty was signed.)

Carter, Begin, and Sadat pictured shaking hands.

* 1953 Salk announces polio vaccine. (On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952–an epidemic year for polio–there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as “infant paralysis” because it mainly affects children, Dr Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time. Although children, and especially infants, were among the worst affected, adults were also often afflicted, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1921 was stricken with polio at the age of 39 and was left partially paralysed. Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims and was instrumental in raising funds for polio-related research and the treatment of polio patients.)

Time Magazine cover featuring picture of Dr Salk

* 1955 Black music gets whitewashed, as Georgia Gibbs hits the pop charts with “The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry)”. (For its time, the mid-1950s, the lyrical phrase “You got to roll with me, Henry” was considered risqué just as the very label “rock and roll” was understood to have a sexual connotation. The line comes from an Etta James record originally called “Roll With Me Henry” and later renamed “The Wallflower.” Already a smash hit on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart, it went on to become a pop hit in the spring of 1955, but not for Etta James. Re-recorded with “toned-down” lyrics by the white pop singer Georgia Gibbs, “Dance With Me Henry (Wallflower)” entered the pop charts on March 26, 1955, setting off a dubious trend known as “whitewashing.” In addition to replacing “Roll” with “Dance,” the lyrics of the Georgia Gibbs version omitted lines like “If you want romancin‘/You better learn some dancin,’” but its most important change was more subtle. Even in an era when radio audiences rarely saw the faces of the singers they listened to, the rhythmic and vocal style of the Georgia Gibbs record made it as obviously white as the Etta James record was black. And while many Americans might have preferred the Etta James version to the Georgia Gibbs cover had they heard the two in succession, they would rarely have the opportunity to do so. Pop radio was almost exclusively white radio in 1955 America, and middle-of-the-road artists like Nat “King” Cole and the Ink Spots were rare exceptions to this rule.)

Head shot of Georgia Gibbs
Georgia Gibbs
Etta James
Etta James

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of Robert Frost* Robert Frost in 1874. (Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, Frost was honoured frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.)

Head shot of Williams* Tennessee Williams in 1911. (Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III was an American playwright. Along with Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller he is considered among the three foremost playwrights in 20th-century American drama. After years of obscurity, he became suddenly famous with The Glass Menagerie (1944), closely reflecting his own unhappy family background. This heralded a string of successes, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and Sweet Bird of Youth (1959). His later work attempted a new style that did not appeal to audiences, and alcohol and drug dependence further inhibited his creative output. His drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often numbered on the short list of the finest American plays of the 20th century alongside Long Day’s Journey into Night and Death of a Salesman. Much of Williams’ most acclaimed work was adapted for the cinema. He also wrote short stories, poetry, essays and a volume of memoirs. In 1979, four years before his death, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.)

Nimoy in picture as Spock.* Leonard Nimoy in 1931. (Leonard Simon Nimoy was an American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer and songwriter. He was known for his role as Spock of the Star Trek franchise, a character he portrayed in television and film from a pilot episode shot in late 1964 to his final film performance released in 2013. In December 1964, he made his first appearance in the rejected Star Trek pilot “The Cage”, and went on to play the character of Spock until the end of the production run in early 1969, followed by eight feature films and guest slots in the various spin-off series. The character has had a significant cultural impact and garnered Nimoy three Emmy Award nominations; TV Guide named Spock one of the 50 greatest TV characters. After the original Star Trek series, Nimoy starred in Mission: Impossible for two seasons, hosted the documentary series In Search of…, narrated Civilization IV, and made several well-received stage appearances. He also had a recurring role in the science fiction series Fringe.)

 

 

 

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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