Posts Tagged ‘1884’

So…it’s Valentine’s Day.  Card companies and flower companies and candy companies love this day for obvious reasons.  People that work at places that sell cards and flowers and candy probably love it a little less, just because of the manic shopping that takes place in the days leading up to (and especially the day of) the holiday.

In general, it’s a fun day with some treats and time spent with those we love.

But it’s not that way for everybody.  For some, Valentine’s Day conjures up pains or hurts that they’d rather not remember.  That was certainly the case for a young Theodore Roosevelt.

On February 14, 1884, the young man who would be President suffered the most grievous of losses.  It may not be the best source for this type of incident, but since I read about it in Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn, it’s the source I’m using.

“The blow of a lifetime came early, on Valentine’s Day 1884, perhaps the best-known single day of trauma in the formative period of a future president.  In the morning, Teddy’s mother died of typhoid fever at the family house on Fifty-seventh Street; she was forty-six.  A few hours later, the suddenly orphaned Roosevelt lost his bride in the same house, to Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment, which had been masked by her pregnancy.  He scrawled a big, shaky X on a diary page and wrote a single sentence: ‘The light has gone out of my life.'”

The young man, in his mid-twenties and a budding politician, chucked it all and headed west, where friends and family and politics wouldn’t be around, and where the Badlands and open country could maybe concoct an elixir to clear the head of a man crushed by loss.  It would be two years before he returned to Manhattan.

Recommended Reading: The Big Burn

Read Full Post »

Ok, this is a little off the beaten path, but it’s May Day, so that’s reason to celebrate.  I don’t know all the traditions surrounding it, but here’s what I do know.  You’re supposed to make May Baskets and fill them with treats, candies, and non-mousetrap surprises.  Then go to the homes of friends, family, boyfriends, and girlfriends.  Set a Basket on the front step, ring the doorbell (or knock if the recipient still lives in the 70’s), and run like crazy.  The person getting the basket is supposed to try to catch you and, doing so, give you a kiss.

Yeah, it was probably less fun when you were 6 years old and mom made you give one to little Susie down the street.  But when you were 16 and Susie was now a babe, you suddenly seemed to run a little slower than in your “younger” days.

I didn’t really know how May Day got started, so I did a wee bit of research.  According to some sites, it began on May 1, 1884, when the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions stipulated that a legal work day comprised 8 hours.  It may be true, it may not be, but it sounds good.  And who cares anyways, because it’s all about the candy.  My favorites are Butterfingers, Heath Bars, and Cadbury Cream Eggs, so if I’m getting a May Day Basket from you…

Recommended Activity: Make a May Basket for someone (or somefew) and hand them out, but be sure you have your sneakers on.  Or just give them to yourself…it’s more delicious that way, plus that whole kissing thing…

Read Full Post »

April 4, 1884 – This day marks the birth of Isoroku Takano, better known by his adopted name – Yamamoto.  He is, of course, most recognized as the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.  But this soldier, who dedicated nearly his entire life to military service, is something of a paradox.

He graduated from Japan’s Naval Academy and he fought in the war with Russia in the early 1900’s.  And over the years, he rose through the ranks to become a full Admiral in the Japanese Navy.

But Yamamoto was not a man of war at all.  In fact, he was very much opposed to war, particularly war against the United States.  In 1919, Isoroku enrolled at Harvard University and studied there until 1921.  But he also spent a lot of time observing the American culture, watching the people, and learning the business of American business.  He became convinced that any future war with the U.S., given its incredible manufacturing capacity and ingenuity, would be a futile endeavor.

These lessons, as much as his classroom time, would shape his military worldview.  Upon returning to Japan, he opposed the war in Manchuria, he opposed the signing of the Tripartite Pact, and most of all, he opposed war with the U.S., all of which served to make him extremely unpopular with his peers.  He would famously say that a war with America could be sustained successfully for about six months, but after that, things would become precarious.

When the actions of his superiors made war with America inevitable, Yamamoto devised a “strike hard and fast” strategy, seeking to destroy the better part of the American fleet before it could deploy to fight, hence the Pearl Harbor operation.  The results were, as we all know, very successful…but not good enough.  The Admiral’s words about a “six-month victory spree” were eerily prophetic.

It is somewhat ironic that Yamamoto, a man of the ocean, would meet his end in the belly of an airplane…a topic that we’ll look at in just a couple weeks.

Recommended Reading: The Reluctant Admiral – Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy

Read Full Post »