John’s Believe It Or Not… July 11th

In 1533 Pope excommunicates England’s King Henry VIII. In 2010 Barefoot Bandit is captured in the Bahamas. In 1656 First Quaker colonists land at Boston. In 1979 Skylab crashes to Earth. In 1960 The Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop” leads a novelty-song outbreak.

John Fioravanti is standing in front of the blackboard in his classroom.

It’s Tuesday Already! Did you know…

*  1533 Pope excommunicates England’s King Henry VIII. (England’s King Henry VIII had reigned since 1509 at the age of eighteen. Loyal to Catholicism he suppressed Protestantism with his standard brutality – while making his court a center of Renaissance erudition. By the time he had turned forty-two he had come into conflict with Pope Clement regarding marriage. His queen, Catherine of Aragon, had not given him a son who had survived, and Henry, who was accustomed to having mistresses was smitten by Catherine’s unusually intelligent and fascinating lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn. Henry wanted his twenty-four years of marriage to Catherine annulled. Pope Clement refused to annul the marriage, and Henry responded by assuming supremacy in his realm over religious matters.

Henry believed he was competent enough in theology to head the Church of England and he made himself the “Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England.” In 1533 Henry declared his marriage to Catherine invalid and he married Anne on the judgment of the clergy in England.

Henry stayed with Catholic doctrine and ceremony. In 1534, the Parliament of England accommodated him with the Treasons Act, which made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse to acknowledge the King as head of the Church of England. His old friend Thomas More, another of Europe’s famous humanist scholars, refused to sign the document that made Henry head of the Church of England, and Henry had More beheaded.

Clement died in September 1534 and was succeeded by Paul III, and Paul used his power of excommunication against Henry, followed by his rescinding Henry’s title as “Defender of the Faith.” England’s parliament declared that title still valid. Pope Paul had to watch – powerless – as Henry “nationalized” all Roman Church property in England into his personal ownership and sold off these properties to the highest bidders among the aristocracy and the gentry. Roman priests in England were dismissed unless they swore an oath of conformity to Henry’s new Church. Those who would not were dispossessed of their positions and livelihood, or if they made too much political noise they executed as “recusants” – dissidents.)

Henry with Charles V (right) and Pope Leo X (centre), c. 1520
Henry with Charles V (right) and Pope Leo X (center), c. 1520 (Wikipedia)

* 2010 Barefoot Bandit is captured in the Bahamas. (On this day in 2010, after a two-year manhunt, 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore of Washington state is arrested following a high-speed boat chase in the Bahamas. Harris-Moore was suspected of stealing an airplane in Indiana and crash-landing it in the Bahamas the week before. Nicknamed the “Barefoot Bandit” for going shoeless during some of his alleged crimes, the teen was a suspect in scores of other burglaries in the United States and Canada, where he was accused of swiping everything from potato chips to credit cards, small planes, boats, and cars. During his time as a fugitive, Harris-Moore gained a cult-like following online, with fans viewing him as a folk hero and praising his brazenness and his uncanny ability to elude law-enforcement officials.

Growing up on Camano Island, Washington, Harris-Moore had a difficult, impoverished childhood. He reportedly stole food from neighbors, had a turbulent relationship with his mother (his father spent time in jail and is believed to have been largely absent from the family) and was often in trouble at school before dropping out in the 10th grade. His first criminal conviction was at age 12, for possession of stolen property.

In April 2008, Harris-Moore escaped from a Renton, Washington, juvenile halfway house, where he was serving time for burglarizing homes. Over the next two years, he continued his crime spree, breaking into a long string of private residences and businesses, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, while camping in the woods and unoccupied homes. The teen, who learned to fly without any formal training, became a suspect in the theft of at least five small planes, all of which he managed to pilot and safely crash-land.

In early July 2010, Harris-Moore commandeered an aircraft in Bloomington, Indiana, and flew it to the Bahamas, where he crash-landed on Great Abaco Island. He allegedly went on to commit a series of break-ins throughout the Bahamas, before being nabbed in a stolen boat by Bahamian police in the early hours of July 11.

Harris-Moore eventually pleaded guilty to seven federal charges, including two airplane thefts and a bank robbery, as well as more than 30 state charges in Washington, including burglary and identity theft. In December 2011, he was sentenced in state court to seven years in prison. In January 2012, a federal judge in Seattle sentenced Harris-Moore to six-and-a-half years behind bars, to run concurrently with his state time.)

"Barefoot Bandit," is escorted handcuffed by Bahamian authorities to the court building in Nassau, Tuesday July 13, 2010.
“Barefoot Bandit,” is escorted handcuffed by Bahamian authorities to the court building in Nassau, Tuesday, July 13, 2010. (

* 1656 First Quaker colonists land at Boston. (Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, two Englishwomen, become the first Quakers to immigrate to the American colonies when the ship carrying them lands at Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The pair came from Barbados, where Quakers had established a center for missionary work.

The Religious Society of Friends, whose members are commonly known as Quakers, was a Christian movement founded by George Fox in England during the early 1650s. Quakers opposed central church authority, preferring to seek spiritual insight and consensus through egalitarian Quaker meetings. They advocated sexual equality and became some of the most outspoken opponents of slavery in early America.

Shortly after arriving in Massachusetts, Austin and Fisher, whose liberal teachings enraged the Puritan colonial government, were arrested and jailed. After five years in prison, they were deported back to Barbados. In October 1656, the Massachusetts colonial government enacted their first ban on Quakers, and in 1658 it ordered Quakers banished from the colony “under penalty of death.” Quakers found solace in Rhode Island and other colonies, and Massachusetts’ anti-Quaker laws were later repealed.

In the mid-18th century, John Woolman, an abolitionist Quaker, traveled the American colonies, preaching and advancing the anti-slavery cause. He organized boycotts of products made by slave labor and was responsible for convincing many Quaker communities to publicly denounce slavery. Another of many important abolitionist Quakers was Lucretia Mott, who worked on the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, helping lead fugitive slaves to freedom in the Northern states and Canada. In later years, Mott was a leader in the movement for women’s rights.)

This 19th-century engraving depicts an artist's illustration of what life was like for Quakers in the last half of 17th-century Boston.
This 19th-century engraving depicts an artist’s illustration of what life was like for Quakers in the last half of 17th-century Boston. (

* 1979 Skylab crashes to Earth. (Parts of Skylab, America’s first space station, come crashing down on Australia and into the Indian Ocean five years after the last manned Skylab mission ended. No one was injured.

Launched in 1973, Skylab was the world’s first successful space station. The first manned Skylab mission came two years after the Soviet Union launched Salyut 1, the world’s first space station, into orbit around the earth. However, unlike the ill-fated Salyut, which was plagued with problems, the American space station was a great success, safely housing three separate three-man crews for extended periods of time.

Originally the spent third stage of a Saturn 5 moon rocket, the cylindrical space station was 118 feet tall, weighed 77 tons, and carried the most varied assortment of experimental equipment ever assembled in a single spacecraft to that date. The crews of Skylab spent more than 700 hours observing the sun and brought home more than 175,000 solar pictures. They also provided important information about the biological effects of living in space for prolonged periods of time.

Five years after the last Skylab mission, the space station’s orbit began to deteriorate–earlier than was anticipated–because of unexpectedly high sunspot activity. On July 11, 1979, Skylab made a spectacular return to Earth, breaking up in the atmosphere and showering burning debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia.)

Skylab floats above Earth in February 1974.
Skylab floats above Earth in February 1974. (

* 1960 The Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop” leads a novelty-song outbreak. (Novelty songs have been around for centuries, slipping in and out of popular fashion. But never in modern musical history were novelty songs quite so popular as they were in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It began in 1958 with David Seville’s “Witch Doctor,” which inspired “Purple People Eater” and led directly to “The Chipmunk Song.” It reached its peak two years later with an outbreak of silliness led by the Hollywood Argyles, a one-hit wonder whose “Alley Oop” topped the Billboard pop chart on this day in 1960.

Alley Oop, for those too young to remember, was the name of a time-traveling caveman whose exploits were chronicled in a long-running comic strip of the same name created in 1932 by cartoonist V.T. Hamlin. At a time when Blondie and Beetle Bailey were often the best things going on a rainy Sunday afternoon, Alley Oop had a cultural currency that the children of today might have difficulty imagining. It was still strong enough in 1960 to make a #1 hit out of a novelty song that did little more than intersperse nostalgic references to dinosaur rides and bearcat stew with comments like “He sho is hip, ain’t he?” and set it to a doo-wop tune.

The Hollywood Argyles actually consisted of a singer named Gary Paxton fronting a group of hired studio musicians paid $25 each for their efforts. Because Paxton was contractually forbidden by an existing recording contract from recording elsewhere under his real name, he released “Alley Oop” under the guise of a fictitious group that he named for the intersection of Los Angeles boulevards where the song was recorded. It was the one and only hit record for him or for the Hollywood Argyles.

It was not the only novelty song, however, to top the charts in 1960. In a year when Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker rocked almost as hard as the post-Army Elvis Presley, America’s appetite for light entertainment also made a #1 hit out of Brian Hyland’s timeless “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.”)

Record cover for the song Alley Oop.
(Wheel Horse Forum)

Today’s Sources:

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* Macrohistory And World Timeline

* You Tube


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.

11 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 11th”

  1. I was struck in particular by the part about the Barefoot Bandit. He really didn’t have a great childhood and I think that played a big role in why he turned out as he did. I’m not justifying his actions but do recognize that family plays a pivotal part in how a person adjusts – or is maladjusted – as he or she ages. You’ve got me thinking now.. and that’s a good thing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure a lot of criminals had a poor upbringing – or even horrific childhoods. You’re right, it doesn’t excuse any criminal behaviour. Gotcha thinking, eh? Excellent! Loved Wonder Woman, Christy! Great movie!


        1. I absolutely loved that movie! That scene where she crossed No-Man’s-Land alone was unbelievable! You could see that she was taking fire from about 5 German machine guns – that’s one tough shield! LOL! And I loved the end where she defeated Aries – Wow. My granddaughter was upset about Steve Trevor. I agree with your assessment of the movie – well done!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I never heard of the Barefoot Bandit. Quite a spree he had going on!

    I don’t think I ever heard the song Alley Oop, but I do remember Purple People Eater and Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. I think my favorite novelty song has to be Monster Mash (I still love that one today) although The Streak by Jim Stafford was pretty fun too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised they didn’t include the 60’s song “Ahab The Arab” – it was so stupid, it was funny. Right, Monster Mash was #1 for me too! Thanks for taking the time to stroll down memory lane with me today, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your segments underscore that religion is often at the heart of human sorrow. I’m so glad you finished today with Alley Opp–Perfect ending!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen, I couldn’t resist the Alley Oop story! I’m no expert on religious history but from my reading, it is rife with actions and teachings that divide families and divide people in general. It isn’t right by any yardstick. Thanks for sharing your insights today! Hugs!


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