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Archive for March 22nd, 2008

I write mostly about World War II but, on occasion, I simply have to take detours.  Today is one of those days.  March 22nd marks the birthday of Leonard Marx, better known as Chico, one of the Marx Brothers.  Chico (shown on the far right in the photo) was born in 1887 and, along with his brothers, formed what is probably the most famous comedic family in history.

Beginning as vaudeville actors, they eventually became fixtures in movies.  Chico was an extremely talented piano player and was known for his unorthodox playing style, including “shooting” the keys pistol-style.  His characters were typically Italian and featured an overdone Italian accent.  As a group, they drove directors crazy, rarely rehearsing their lines and simply ad-libbing most of their material.  They were true comic geniuses. 

I love Marx Brothers movies and have watched nearly all of them, but my favorite is probably “Animal Crackers”.  In it, Chico plays Signor Emmanuel Ravelli.  He plays the piano (it’s a couple minutes into this clip), he helps Captain Spaulding solve the “stolen oil painting mystery“, and he is a total hoot.

Happy Birthday, Chico Marx!!

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On this day way back in 1622, a well-coordinated surprise attack by Algonquian Indians outside of the settlement of Jamestown left 347 men, women and children dead – almost a third of the entire population of the Virginina colonies.  So let’s see…  Jamestown was founded in 1607, so that it means it took just 15 years to make mortal enemies worthy enough of a massacre.

 One colonist amoung hundreds recognized who was at fault in their dealings with the Indians.

There is scarce any man amongst us that doth soe much as afforde them a good thought in his hart, and most men with their mouthes give them nothing but maledictions and bitter execrations… If there bee wronge on any side, it is on ours who are not soe charitable to them as Christians ought to bee.

Outrage was the expected result of such a tragedy.  But interestingly, it was welcomed outrage.  Back in England, John Smith called it “good for the plantation because now we have just cause to destroy them by all means possible.”  That they did.  The population of the Algonquians went from around 24,000 in 1607 to just 2,000 in 1669.

Recommended reading: American Colonies

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