Random anniversaries (that are interesting)


As a kid, I’d learned that that was how FDR contracted polio–by swimming. So I figured it was some kind of water-based disease. How does it work, then?


I hear it’s like magnets (j/k). It’s fecal-to-mouth and could be waterborne for a short while, but chlorine killed it.


Polio sucks.

My wife’s father contracted polio. He was born in… 1920 I think? Maybe 1922. At any rate, he was perfectly healthy until he caught polio when he was 18. He worked in an icehouse the summer of that year and the nominal explanation was that he got it from his job (they said it was “lowered resistances” led to him getting it or some such). He lost the use of both legs. When he first got it, the doctors said he’d never walk again. Nevertheless, his mother massaged and exercised his legs every day for a year (he was entering college but he took a year off school). After a year of convalescence he re-entered college and was able to walk with a pair of crutches.

He eventually went on to graduate from college, then from UVA law school (with a stint at UVA where he briefly tutored FDR’s son who was flunking out of law school - so he met FDR once person-to-person), married, fathered 3 children, and was a partner in a successful law firm in Arlington VA.

He never did really regain a lot of movement in his legs - he ended up wearing braces every day (and using the crutches to get around). As a result of using those crutches he developed an amazing upper body and arm strength.Even after all this he was the consummate Southern Gentleman - always pleasant, always polite, and a pleasure to be around. He passed in 1989, having accomplished quite a lot with his life. I met him in 1978 and knew him until his death, and he was an awesome man.

Driving with him was always an adventure though - he used a standard car, no hand controls or any custom additions to account for his abilities, and he would use his arm to drag his leg to the accelerator or brake. So there was always the question as to whether he’d be able to stop in time! Plus he drove a Lincoln Town Car so you felt like you were riding in a yacht whenever you rode with him. As far as I know, though, he never had an auto accident!

So when my wife and I hear about anti-vaxers and people who don’t want to immunize themselves against stuff that’s cured, we rage against their stupidity.


Amen to that.



With Ford being in the news for its decision to get (mostly) out of the non-SUV automobile business, it’s worth noting that 100 years ago today General Motors, on its way to becoming the world’s largest automobile company, acquired the Chevrolet Motor Company.


Well, not the band - the actual Haymarket Riot occurred on May 4, 1886


And as long as I’m doing music-reference history - May 4 1970 at Kent State:



Morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence were all cured on this date in 1886, when Coca Cola first went on sale at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.


It’s Mother’s Day! The US version was created back in 1908 by Anna Jarvis and was made an official holiday in 1914. (Sadly, Jarvis later fought against the holiday because of all the commercialization around it.) Commercialized or not, celebrating moms is a worthwhile goal!


Today is the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid.


Roosevelt Field Mall is located in East Garden City, Long Island. It’s called that because the shopping mall is built on what once was an airfield. And in the mall, you can see this sign:



If you think today’s politics are characterized by a lack of civility, consider that on this day in 1856, Southern Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Northern Senator Charles Sumner as he sat at his Senate desk. The issue was the expansion of slavery to the territories and the incident was one of the flash points on the road to the Civil War.


May 24, 1941: The Battle of the Denmark Strait. The German battleship Bismarck sank the pride of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood and damaged the new British battleship HMS Prince of Wales. A 15" shell from Bismarck’s main battery penetrated Hood’s armor and exploded a magazine. The ship broke in two and sank almost instantly, taking to their deaths all but three of her 1,500-man crew. Three days later, the Royal Navy tracked down Bismarck and sank her. Out of her crew of over 2,200, only 114 men survived.


May 24, 1844: Samuel Morse launches the Internet:


A little personal history today. 41 years ago today I took my last law school exam. I celebrated by attending the Boston opening of a certain film that seems to continue to be the subject of some discussion around these parts.


Was it Saturday Night Fever ? :)


This would be a perfect post to “like”, so in lieu of that…you go girl!


June 4, 1942: The Battle of Midway. SBD “Dauntless” Dive Bombers from the American carriers Enterprise, Yorktown and Hornet destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser at the cost of one carrier, the Yorktown. The defeat marked the end of Japanese offensive operations in the Pacific. A few months later, the Americans would begin their long, grueling offensive campaign at Guadalcanal.

The SBD pictured below is part of the battle exhibit at Chicago’s Midway Airport. This particular plane was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan (there were several there as a result of training accidents) and restored to match one that flew from the Enterprise.