John’s Believe It Or Not… April 6th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1968 – Pierre Trudeau is chosen Liberal Party Leader on the fourth ballot, replacing Lester Pearson. (The convention was held following the announced retirement of Lester B. Pearson, who was a much-respected party leader and Prime Minister of Canada, but who had failed to win a majority government in two attempts. Eight high-profile cabinet ministers entered the race, but by the time the convention began on April 3 the charismatic Trudeau had emerged as the front-runner. He was strongly opposed by the party’s right wing, but this faction was divided between former Minister of Trade and Commerce Robert Winters and Minister of Transport Paul Hellyer and failed to mount a united opposition. Trudeau won the leadership with the support of 51% delegates on the fourth ballot of the convention.)

Portrait of Pierre Elliot Trudeau
Prime Minister 1968 – 1984

* 1896 First modern Olympic Games. (On April 6, 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from 13 nations to the international competition. In Athens, 280 participants from 13 nations competed in 43 events, covering track-and-field, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, shooting, and tennis. All the competitors were men, and a few of the entrants were tourists who stumbled upon the Games and were allowed to sign up. The track-and-field events were held at the Panathenaic Stadium, which was originally built in 330 B.C. and restored for the 1896 Games. Americans won nine out of 12 of these events. The 1896 Olympics also featured the first marathon competition, which followed the 25-mile route run by a Greek soldier who brought news of a victory over the Persians from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. In 1924, the marathon was standardised at 26 miles and 385 yards. Appropriately, a Greek, Spyridon Louis, won the first marathon at the 1896 Athens Games.)

photograph of The Panathenian Stadium filled with spectators
Photograph of The Panathenian Stadium filled with spectators

* 1950 Train falls off bridge in Brazil. (A train drops off a bridge in Tanga, Brazil, killing 110 people on this day in 1950. Twenty-two cars made up the Leopoldina Railways train that departed Rio de Janeiro for Victoria, Espirito Santo. The passenger cars were filled with people vacationing over the Easter holidays. The train left after midnight and had gone almost 60 miles when it approached the bridge over the Indios River at about 1:30 a.m. The river, swollen from days of torrential rains in the area, had undermined the bridge’s foundation, but there was no warning system to stop the train from attempting to cross the bridge. As it was about halfway across, the locomotive and five cars–two carrying only baggage–plunged into the river. The remaining 17 cars somehow managed to stay on the tracks despite the connected cars being dragged into the river.)

* 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey released. (Originally entitled A Journey Beyond the Stars, Kubrick’s film was released in April 1968 as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Jumping seamlessly from Africa in the Pleistocene Era to a space-shuttle cabin some 4 million years later, the film clocked in at around three hours and contained less than 40 minutes of dialogue. Stretches of absolute silence or of the sound of human breathing (mimicking the external and internal experience of being inside a space suit) were interspersed with grand orchestral scores, including work by both Richard and Johann Strauss. Kubrick intended 2001 to be a primarily visual–rather than verbal–experience and the scarcity of dialogue and languid pacing only enhanced the impact of the film’s impressive visual effects.)

Shot of the interior of the space ship.

* 1830 Mormon Church established. (In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organises the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers. Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ–later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–in Fayette Township. The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticised for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois. Two years later, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah’s Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, “This is the place,” and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them and settle there.)

Painting showing Smith reading from the Book of Mormon to followers.

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of Raphael* Raphael [Raphael Sanzio] in 1483. (Italian painter and architect:  As a master artist of the High Renaissance, Raphael is best known for his “Madonnas” and for his large body of work in the Vatican in Rome, including one of his best-known works ‘The School of Athens’. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci he is one of the ‘trinity’ of great masters of that period. His work falls into three periods or styles: his early years in Umbria, his four years (1504–1508) in Florence, and his final twelve years in Rome.)

Head shot of Williams* Billy Dee Williams in 1937. (American Actor: Known for playing the character Lando Calrissian in the movies “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”.)




Head shot of Haggard* Merle Haggard in 1937. (American Country Music Singer and Songwriter: Haggard is an American country music star of the sixties, seventies and eighties, although he has continued to release albums into the 2000’s. He has had 38 No. 1 hits (including a streak of 26 Number One country singles in the 1960s). Some of Haggard’s most popular songs include “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” “Mama Tried,” “Branded Man,” and “Okie From Muskogee”. He has released 70 albums and 600 songs, 250 of which he has written himself. Haggard was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1977, and into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.)

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 (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

5 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… April 6th”

  1. My parents talk highly of Pierre Trudeau, and who would have thought (they say) that his son would one day rise to the same position of PM?! I enjoyed reading about the former leader of our country in this post, John.

    Liked by 1 person

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