John’s Believe It Or Not… July 13th

In 1953 – Shakespeare’s Richard the Third opens the first season of the Stratford Festival in a tent. In 1985 Live Aid concert. In 1793 Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat. In 1798 Wordsworth visits Tintern Abbey. In 1930 First World Cup.

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

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1953 – Shakespeare’s Richard the Third opens the first season of the Stratford Festival in a tent. (A committee of prominent Stratford citizens was formed in the meantime, which soon developed into the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada Foundation.
At the advice of leading Canadian director Dora Mavor Moore, Patterson contacted world-renowned director Tyrone Guthrie at his home in Ireland and interested him in the idea. Intrigued, Guthrie came to Canada in July 1952 to check things out. Rather than a committee “mainly of artistic and excitable elderly ladies of both sexes, with a sprinkling of Business Men to restrain the Artistic People from spending money… ”, he was surprised to find a committee of mainly young business and professional men and women, many of whom had no link with the artistic community. Guthrie was impressed that he would be given a free hand to develop all aspects of the theater.

This gave Guthrie the opportunity to fulfill his dream of building a thrust stage that would emulate one of the key features of Shakespeare’s theater. At Guthrie’s suggestion, designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch and leading actor Alec Guinness were signed on, and subsequently leading actress Irene Worth – all at the height of their careers. Their eager participation in the risky venture gave much support to the professional status of the new theater. Other than two other actors brought from Britain, the rest of the cast and crew were Canadians, chosen in auditions held across the country.

Credit is due to those Stratford citizens who stuck with the project through its highs and lows, especially contractor Oliver Gaffney, whose firm, Gaffney Construction, proceeded to complete the foundation and the stage of the theater without any guarantee that they would ever be paid. About two months before the July 13, 1953 opening, the whole project was almost called off, but it was decided to proceed on faith. In the end, the first season was so successful that it was extended from four weeks to six and had a deficit of only $4,000, despite exceeding the original budget of $150,000 by $60,000. Every performance was sold out, and some were oversold,
requiring extra chairs to be placed in the aisles and along the edge of the stage.

The Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario today.
The Festival Theatre in Stratford,
Ontario today.(

* 1985 Live Aid concert. (On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially open Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans. Continued at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and at other arenas around the world, the 16-hour “superconcert” was globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations. In a triumph of technology and good will, the event raised more than $125 million in famine relief for Africa.

Live Aid was the brainchild of Bob Geldof, the singer of an Irish rock group called the Boomtown Rats. In 1984, Geldof traveled to Ethiopia after hearing news reports of a horrific famine that had killed hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians and threatened to kill millions more. After returning to London, he called Britain’s and Ireland’s top pop artists together to record a single to benefit Ethiopian famine relief. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Geldof and Ultravox singer Midge Ure and performed by “Band Aid,” an ensemble that featured Culture Club, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, U2, Wham!, and others. It was the best-selling single in Britain to that date and raised more than $10 million.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was also a No. 1 hit in the United States and inspired U.S. pop artists to come together and perform “We Are the World,” a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie. “USA for Africa,” as the U.S. ensemble was known, featured Jackson, Ritchie, Geldof, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, and many others. The single went to the top of the charts and eventually raised $44 million.

With the crisis continuing in Ethiopia, and the neighboring Sudan also stricken with famine, Geldof proposed Live Aid, an ambitious global charity concert aimed at raising more funds and increasing awareness of the plight of many Africans. Organized in just 10 weeks, Live Aid was staged on Saturday, July 13, 1985. More than 75 acts performed, including Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, Sade, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran, U2, the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. The majority of these artists performed at either Wembley Stadium in London, where a crowd of 70,000 turned out, or at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, where 100,000 watched. Thirteen satellites beamed a live television broadcast of the event to more than one billion viewers in 110 countries. More than 40 of these nations held telethons for African famine relief during the broadcast.)

72,000 people watched live at Wembley
72,000 people watched live at Wembley. (Daily Mail)

* 1793 Charlotte Corday assassinates Marat. (Jean Paul Marat, one of the most outspoken leaders of the French Revolution, is stabbed to death in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a Royalist sympathizer.

Originally a doctor, Marat founded the journal L’Ami du Peuple in 1789, and its fiery criticism of those in power was a contributing factor to the bloody turn of the Revolution in 1792. With the arrest of the king in August of that year, Marat was elected as a deputy of Paris to the Convention. In France’s revolutionary legislature, Marat opposed the Girondists–a faction made up of moderate republicans who advocated a constitutional government and continental war.

By 1793, Charlotte Corday, the daughter of an impoverished aristocrat and an ally of the Girondists in Normandy, came to regard Marat as the unholy enemy of France and plotted his assassination. Leaving her native Caen for Paris, she had planned to kill Marat at the Bastille Day parade on July 14 but was forced to seek him out in his home when the festivities were canceled. On July 13, she gained an audience with Marat by promising to betray the Caen Girondists. Marat, who had a persistent skin disease, was working as usual in his bath when Corday pulled a knife from her bodice and stabbed him in his chest. He died almost immediately, and Corday waited calmly for the police to come and arrest her. She was guillotined four days later.)

The Death of Marat by David, (1793)
The Death of Marat by David, (1793) (Wikipedia)

* 1798 Wordsworth visits Tintern Abbey. (While on a walking tour, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visit a ruined church called Tintern Abbey.

The ruins inspired Wordsworth’s poem “Tintern Abbey,” in which Wordsworth articulated some of the fundamental themes of Romantic poetry, including the restorative power of nature. The poem appeared in Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems in 1798, which Wordsworth collaborated on with his friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The book, which also included Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, sold out within two years. The book’s second edition included an important preface that articulated the Romantic Manifesto.

Wordsworth was born near England’s Lake District in 1770. He lost his mother when he was eight, and his father died five years later. Wordsworth attended Cambridge, then traveled in Europe, taking long walking tours with friends through the mountains. During his 20s, Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy and became close friends with Coleridge.

In 1802, after years of living on a modest income, Wordsworth came into a long-delayed inheritance from his father and was able to live comfortably with his sister. He married their longtime neighbor Mary Hutchinson and had five children. The poet’s stature grew steadily, although most of his major work was written by 1807. In 1843, he was named poet laureate of England, and he died in 1850, at the age of 80.)

Ruins of Tintern Abbey, a former church in Wales
Ruins of Tintern Abbey, a former church in Wales. (2011 AP English)

* 1930 First World Cup. (On July 13, 1930, France defeats Mexico 4-1 and the United States defeats Belgium 3-0 in the first-ever World Cup football matches, played simultaneously in host city Montevideo, Uruguay. The World Cup has since become the world’s most watched sporting event.

After football (soccer, to Americans) was dropped from the program for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, FIFA President Jules Rimet helped to organize an international tournament in 1930. Much to the dismay of European footballers, Uruguay, winner of back-to-back gold medals at the 1924 Paris Olympics and 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, was chosen to host the inaugural World Cup.

Due to depression in Europe, many European players, afraid their day jobs would not exist when they returned, were either unable or unwilling to attend the tournament. As a result, some of the most accomplished European teams, including three-time Olympic gold medalist England and football enthusiasts Italy, Spain, Germany, and Holland did not make an appearance at the first World Cup. However, when Uruguay agreed to help pay traveling expenses, Rimet was able to convince Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia to make the trip. In Romania, King Carol selected the team members himself, gave them a three-month vacation from their jobs and guaranteed the players would be employed when they returned.

Going into the tournament, Uruguay and Argentina were the overwhelming favorites, while France and the United States also fielded competitive sides. In the first round, France’s Lucien Laurent scored the first-ever World Cup goal. In its second game, France lost to Argentina 1-0 amid controversy over the referees ending the game six minutes early. Once the problem was discovered, the referees had to bring the Argentine players back onto the field to play the final minutes. After beating Belgium, the United States beat Paraguay to set up a semi-final match with Argentina, which they lost 6-1. Still, the semi-final placement was the best U.S. World Cup finish to date.

In the first World Cup final, held on July 30, 1930, 93,000 spectators looked on as Uruguay defeated Argentina 4–2 in a rematch of the 1928 Olympic gold medal game. Uruguay went on to win its second World Cup in 1950 with a 2-1 win over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.)

1930 World Cup Stadium
1930 World Cup Stadium (Arsenal Arsenal)

Today’s Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* Stratford Festival Of Canada       


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.

22 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 13th”

  1. Shakespeare, woohoo 🙂 I light up at any mention of him. Or Robert Frost. Or.. okay, I have a lot of faves in the writing world 😉 I am fascinated by the Live Aid concert. I was too young to know about it (just a wee kid at the time) so it’s great to learn all about the event. What a great fundraiser – the ultimate kind!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right – it was a very special event with two separate Live Aid concerts held the same day – one in the States and this one in the UK. I was in my 12th year of teaching at the time! Being born in 1951, I have been blessed to see many wondrous things – and some pretty awful things too. But I’m most grateful to have lived through the 60s. There has not been a decade since that can match it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My dad likes 60s and 70s music so I know a lot of it, having listened to it growing up. He is not so impressed with a lot of music nowadays, although he seems to like the electronic genre – which surprises me!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. When I was a kid, music was important to me – I knew the lyrics of my favorite songs, etc. Once we moved into the 70s and beyond, I lost that keen interest. People mention artists/bands of the 80s and later, and I draw a blank. I’m not crazy about the electronic genre – is that the computer based music?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yes, electronic is based in digital sounds mainly and it’s usually played at nightclubs. He likes some songs that kids in their 20s dance to ~ I think it’s so unexpected! I’m laughing now as my dad’s so cute 🙂 I say stick with the music you like. I don’t judge, not when it comes to music preference or anything else

              Liked by 1 person

              1. The electronic genre seems to have a good dance beat to it – reminiscent of the Disco music. So I like some of it too. I agree, music, like food, is a matter of taste. The way I look at it, either we have music in common or we don’t – no big deal. I like ‘groovin’ to the sounds of the 60s, the Disco of the 70s, and Michael Jackson’s music of the 80s and beyond. His death was a terrible tragedy.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember a funny line fro the recording session of We Are the World. Michael Jackson told all the artists to check their egos at the door. Those who felt they could not would be given a ride home by Stevie Wonder.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Live Aid was such a bright moment in history. Do They Know It’s Christmas? and We Are the World are also songs that I never tire of listening to. Despite being a talented musician, when I think of Bob Geldof, I always think of him foremost for what he did in organizing Live Aid.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This was mostly a good day in history – very uplifting this time. I particularly loved the Stratford Theatre history. As you already know, I had the pleasure of attending, driving up with a beau from NYC. Stunning performances all, but Merchant of Venice enchanted me particularly.

    Reading about Live Aid (etc.) left me hopeful that the world is not, in fact, “going to hell in a hand-basket,” despite what we all read too much of in the popular press. Artists are amazingly mobilizing human beings, aren’t they?
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


    1. You’re right – often not enough good news or positive stories. We don’t go to Stratford much because Anne gets little out of it with her profound hearing loss. So we go to musicals and she wears earphones connected to the microphones of the actors and the orchestra. Even if she hears voices, she can’t distinguish the words.

      I’m often moved by the generosity of celebrities and their willingness to speak out about issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Madelyn! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, John. Sorry to hear about Anne’s trouble hearing – Shakespeare clearly would not be the choice for her. So nice that she can still enjoy musicals and that you go to see them.

        I was thinking more about the fund raising efforts, but I, too, admire them for using their visibility to help keep politics clean(er)!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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