John’s Believe It Or Not… May 17th

In 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth start the first royal visit to Canada. In 1965 the FBI Laboratory weighs in on the “dirty” lyrics of “Louie Louie”. In 1973 Televised Watergate hearings begin. In 1970 Heyerdahl sails papyrus boat. In 2000 Final episode of Beverly Hills 90210 airs.

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John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s Wednesday Hump Day! Did you know…

* 1939 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth start first royal visit by a reigning monarch. (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth disembark at Wolfe’s Cove (at Quebec City) from the CP ship Empress of Australia to start a month-long royal visit to Canada; the first by a reigning British monarch; addresses citizens of Québec in fluent French; two days later, on May 19 he will give royal assent to several Bills in the Senate. The tour is designed to repair and enhance British-Canadian relations, as war clouds again gather in Europe.)

King George and the Queen meet PM Mackenzie King at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Diplomat Magazi
King George and the Queen meet PM Mackenzie King at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Diplomat Magazine)

* 1965 The FBI Laboratory weighs in on the “dirty” lyrics of “Louie Louie”. (Based on the outcry from parents who bought into what may have started as an idle rumor, the FBI launched a formal investigation in 1964 into the supposedly pornographic lyrics of the song “Louie, Louie.” That investigation finally neared its conclusion on this day in 1965, when the FBI Laboratory declared the lyrics of “Louie Louie” to be officially unintelligible. No one will ever know who started the rumor that “Louie Louie” was dirty. As written by Richard Berry in 1955, the lyrics revolve around a sailor from the Caribbean lamenting to a bartender named Louie about missing his far-away love. As recorded in crummy conditions and in a single take by the Kingsmen in 1963, lyrics like “A fine little girl, she wait for me…” came out sounding like “A phlg mlmrl hlurl, duh vvvr me” Perhaps it was some clever middle-schooler who started the rumor by trying to convince a classmate that those lyrics contained some words that are as unprintable today as they were back in 1963. Whatever the case, the story spread like wildfire, until the United States Department of Justice began receiving letters like the one addressed to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and dated January 30, 1964. “Who do you turn to when your teen age daughter buys and brings home pornographic or obscene materials being sold…in every City, Village, and Record shop in this Nation?” that letter began, before going on to make the specific assertion that the lyrics of “Louie Louie” were “so filthy that I can-not enclose them in this letter.” Over the course of the next two years, the FBI gathered many versions of the putative lyrics to Louie Louie. They interviewed the man who wrote the song and officials of the record label that released the Kingsmen’s smash-hit single. They turned the record over to the audio experts in the FBI laboratory, who played and re-played “Louie Louie” at 78 rpm, 45 rpm, 33 1/3 rpm and even slower speeds in an effort to determine whether it was pornographic and, therefore, whether its sale was a violation of the federal Interstate Transportation of Obscene Material law. “Unintelligible at any speed” was the conclusion the FBI Laboratory relayed to the investigators in charge on this day in 1965, not quite exonerating “Louie Louie,” but also not damning the tune that would go on to become one of the most-covered songs in rock-and-roll history.)

Album jacket picturing the Kingsmen
(Amazon.com) CLICK ON IMAGE TO ACCESS “LOUIE LOUIE” ON YOUTUBE

* 1973 Televised Watergate hearings begin. (In Washington, D.C., the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, begins televised hearings on the escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor. On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. One of the suspects, James W. McCord Jr., was revealed to be the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee. Two other men with White House ties were later implicated in the break-in: E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, and G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President. Journalists and the Select Committee discovered a higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude erupted. In May 1973, the special Senate committee began televised proceedings on the Watergate affair. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors. In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes–official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff–was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted. Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.)

FILE - In this March 15, 1973, file photo President Nixon tells a White House news conference that he will not allow his legal counsel, John Dean, to testify on Capitol Hill in the Watergate investigation and challenged the Senate to test him in the Supreme Court. A feisty Nixon defended his shredded legacy and Watergate-era actions in grand jury testimony that he thought would never come out. On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, it did. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
FILE – In this March 15, 1973, file photo President Nixon tells a White House news conference that he will not allow his legal counsel, John Dean, to testify on Capitol Hill in the Watergate investigation and challenged the Senate to test him in the Supreme Court. A feisty Nixon defended his shredded legacy and Watergate-era actions in grand jury testimony that he thought would never come out. On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, it did. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)

* 1970 Heyerdahl sails papyrus boat. (On May 17, 1970, Norwegian ethnologist Thor Heyerdahl and a multinational crew set out from Morocco across the Atlantic Ocean in Ra II, a papyrus sailing craft modeled after ancient Egyptian sailing vessels. Heyerdahl was attempting to prove his theory that Mediterranean civilizations sailed to America in ancient times and exchanged cultures with the people of Central and South America. The Ra II crossed the 4,000 miles of ocean to Barbados in 57 days. Heyerdahl became interested in the possibility of cultural contact between early peoples of Africa and Central and South America. Certain cultural similarities, such as the shared importance of pyramid building in ancient Egyptian and Mexican civilizations, perhaps suggested a link. To test the feasibility of ancient transatlantic travel, Heyerdahl built a 45-foot-long copy of an ancient Egyptian papyrus vessel in 1969, with the aid of traditional boat builders from Lake Chad in Central Africa. Constructed at the foot of the Pyramids and named after the sun god Ra, it was later transported to Safi in Morocco, from where it set sail for the Caribbean on May 24, 1969. Defects in design and other problems caused it to founder in July, 600 miles short of its goal. It had sailed 3,000 miles. Undaunted, Heyerdahl constructed a second papyrus craft, the Ra II, with the aid of Aymara Indian boatbuilders from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. With a multinational crew of seven, the Ra II set sale from Safi on May 17, 1970. After a voyage of 57 days and 4,000 miles, the ship arrived in Barbados. The story of this voyage is recorded in the book The Ra Expeditions (1971) and in a documentary film.)

May 17, 1970: Thor Heyerdahl's Ra II Sails From Morocco To Cross The Atlantic
(History and Headlines)

* 2000 Final episode of Beverly Hills 90210 airs. (Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) and David Silver (Brian Austin Green) finally say their vows, and on-and-off couple Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) reunites, as the curtain closes on the teen drama series Beverly Hills, 90210 after 10 seasons. The final episode of the show, which premiered on October 4, 1990, on the Fox Television network, airs on this day in 2000. Beverly Hills, 90210 was created by Darren Star and produced by Aaron Spelling, known for his roster of hit TV shows, including The Mod Squad, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Starsky and Hutch and T.J. Hooker, among many others. At the outset, the show focused mostly on the culture shock that twin siblings Brandon and Brenda (Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty) experience when they move with their parents from Minneapolis to swanky Beverly Hills. The first few seasons of the series followed the Walsh twins and their classmates—notably played by Garth, Perry, Spelling, Green, Gabrielle Carteris, and Ian Ziering—through their time at West Beverly Hills High School (the fact that many of the actors were noticeably older than high school age was well noted in press coverage of the show). The third season saw many of them go off to college at California University, and by the eighth season the gang (much changed after many cast departures and additions) was making their way into adult life.)

Cast of Beverly Hills 90210
(ABC News – Go.com)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport http://www.onthisday.com/

* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

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.

8 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… May 17th”

  1. Wow! I had no idea that Louie Louie evoked such fury. That was an amazing read, John. I, unfortunately, remember the Watergate hearings…which I wish I could forget. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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