John’s Believe It Or Not… April 5th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Wondrous Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1958 – Ripple Rock, shipping hazard in Seymour Narrows, BC, is blown up, in the world’s largest non-nuclear explosion to date. (Ripple Rock was blown up with 1.2 tonnes of Nitramex, in the world’s largest non-nuclear explosion to date; the reef was a shipping hazard just below the surface of Seymour Narrows near Campbell River, British Columbia, that had sunk or damaged 119 vessels and caused the death of over 100 people. Captain George Vancouver called the narrows “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.” The site of Ripple Rock was in the narrow channel between Vancouver Island and the mainland.)

Photo showing the explosion.

* 1614 Pocahontas marries John Rolfe. (Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Indian confederacy, marries English tobacco planter John Rolfe in Jamestown, Virginia. The marriage ensured peace between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan Indians for several years. In May 1607, about 100 English colonists settled along the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. The settlers fared badly because of famine, disease, and Indian attacks, but were aided by 27-year-old English adventurer John Smith, who directed survival efforts and mapped the area. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Smith and two colonists were captured by Powhatan warriors. At the time, the Powhatan confederacy consisted of around 30 Tidewater-area tribes led by Chief Wahunsonacock, known as Chief Powhatan to the English. Smith’s companions were killed, but he was spared and released, (according to a 1624 account by Smith) because of the dramatic intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s 13-year-old daughter. Her real name was Matoaka, and Pocahontas was a pet name that has been translated variously as “playful one” and “my favourite daughter.”)

Painting of the wedding ceremony.

* 1992 Abortion rights advocates march on Washington. (A march and rally in support of abortion rights for women drew several hundred thousand people to demonstrations in Washington, D.C. One of the largest protest marches in the nation’s capital, the pro-choice rally came as the U.S. Supreme Court was about to consider the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania state law that limited access to abortions. Many abortion rights advocates feared that the high court, with its conservative majority, might endorse the Pennsylvania law or even overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that women, as part of their constitutional right to privacy, could terminate a pregnancy during the first two trimesters. Only during the last trimester, when the fetus can survive outside the womb, would states be permitted to regulate abortion in a healthy pregnancy. The historic and controversial ruling, essentially reversing a century of anti-abortion legislation in America, was the result of a call by many American women for control over their own reproductive processes.)

Picture of the frontline of the demonstrators

* 1951 Rosenbergs sentenced to death for spying. (The climax of the most sensational spy trial in American history is reached when a federal judge sentences Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death for their roles in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. Although the couple proclaimed their innocence, they died in the electric chair in June 1953. The Rosenbergs were convicted of playing a central role in a spy ring that passed secret data concerning the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union during and immediately after World War II. Their part in the espionage came to light when British physicist Klaus Fuchs was arrested in Great Britain in early 1950. Under questioning, Fuchs admitted that he stole secret documents while he was working on the Manhattan Project—the top-secret U.S. program to build an atomic bomb during World War II. He implicated Harry Gold as a courier who delivered the documents to Soviet agents. Gold was arrested a short time later and informed on David Greenglass, who then pointed the finger at his sister and brother-in-law, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Julius was arrested in July and Ethel in August 1950. After a brief trial in March 1951, the Rosenbergs were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. At their sentencing hearing in April, Federal Judge Irving R. Kaufman described their crime as “worse than murder” and charged, “By your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.” He sentenced them to death.)

Rosenbergs pictured in a car on their way to the trial.

* 1955 Winston Churchill resigns. (Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, retires as prime minister of Great Britain. After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill returned to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that Britain would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a resolute resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis. After a postwar Labor Party victory in 1945, he became the leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. In 1953, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. After his retirement as prime minister, he remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.)

Photo of Churchill on the day he resigned.
Winston Churchill…5th June 1941: Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) pins his flag into his lapel after he had bought one in aid of Red Cross Day in London. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Look who was born on this date!

head shot of Washington* Booker T. Washington in 1856. (American Education Pioneer:  Between 1890 and 1915, he was the dominant leader in the African-American community. He was one of the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants.)

 

 

Head shot of Tracy* Spencer Tracy in 1900. (American Actor:  Spencer Tracey was an actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, famed for his naturalistic style of acting. He was nominated for 9 Oscars, winning 2 of them. He is also famed for the 9 film partnership with the actress Katherine Hepburn.Tracey’s career began in theatre, before moving to Hollywood. Tracey came to prominence after joining the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in the 1930s, winning back-to-back Oscars for “Captains Courageous” (1937) and “Boys Town” (1938). In 1942 he first teamed up with Katherine Hepburn in “Woman of the Year”, a relationship that bled into real life and would last until his death. Although married, Tracy never divorced his wife. Tracey’s later films included “Father of the Bride” (1950) and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, which 17 days after completing he died, of a heart attack.)

Head shot of Bette Davis* Bette Davis in 1908. (She was an American actress of film, television, and theatre. Regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, she was noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic, sardonic characters and was reputed for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical and period films and occasional comedies, although her greatest successes were her roles in romantic dramas.)

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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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