Tidbits in Time Almanac

Today’s News in History

“Tidbits in Time” is from contributor E. Adrian Van Zelfden, Keeper of Days.

September 25, 1789
The Bill of Rights was passed by the U.S. Congress and sent to the States for ratification. Of the original seventeen proposals, only ten were passed. For the 150 years, hardly any court cases involved these ten amendments. But since then, there has been an explosion of legislation and litigation. The Tenth Amendment gets mostly short-shrift by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Ninth Amendment has become so stretched out of shape as to be unrecognizable.

Listen to Today’s 4 min. History

September Day-by-Day

September 1, 2022 The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts on Amazon. It is a fantasy television series based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Silmarillion. The series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I hope this is just as good.

September 2, 490 BC According to legend, Phidippides ran 26.22 miles from Marathon to Athens, with a single-word message (“nenikikamen” – we have won) telling that the battle between the Greeks against the Persians had gone well. He collapsed and died on the spot because of exhaustion.

September 3, 2003 Virginia Inman Postrel gave a presentation on the Substance of Style for C-Span Book TV. She was relating some of the content of her book on that topic. She is also the author of the Power of Glamour, which I think is her best book.

September 4, 1425 Johann Peter Schoeffer was born in Gernshein, Germany (the exact date is uncertain). The father of his wife, Johann Fust, financed Gutenberg and the development of the printing press. Gutenberg went bankrupt, and Schoeffer took over from there, printing from movable type. Schoeffer built the first and largest printing enterprise in Europe.

September 5, 1847 Jesse Woodson James was born New Kearney, Missouri. During the War Between the States, Jesse and his brother Frank, became pro-confederate guerrillas, operating in Missouri and Kansas. After the war, the brothers robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains. Unlike the legendary Robin Hood, the James brothers were not sharing their money that they got from the rich to give to the poor. Jesse became a celebrity, and his life and exploits have been dramatized many times.

September 6, 1893 Claire Lee Chennault was born in Commerce, Texas. He flew in World War I. And he led the Flying Tigers in China against the Japanese during WW II as an eventual Three-Star General. He recruited 300 American pilots and ground crew, posing as “tourists.” Under the leadership of General Chennault they developed into a crack fighting unit, continually going against superior Japanese forces. They became the symbol of American military might in China.

September 7, 1936 Charles Hardin (Buddy) Holley (Holly) was born in Lubbock, Texas. He had 25 big hit songs before he died at age 22 in a Beechcraft Bonanza plane crash, shortly after takeoff in inclement weather. Actor Gary Busey portrayed him in the movie, “The Buddy Holly Story.” Paul McCartney was a fan, and produced a ten-part video documentary of Buddy Holly’s life. Some of the most popular hit songs of Buddy Holly are “Peggy Sue,” “It’s So Easy,” “Maybe Baby,” “That Will be the Day,” and “True Love Ways.”

September 8, 1943 Alvy Ray Smith was born in Mineral Wells, Texas. He cofounded two successful startups, Pixar (sold to Disney) and Altamira (sold to Microsoft). He has won too many awards to list. He had a notable dispute with Steve Jobs. He is a digital genius and an artist who has been in the forefront of the computer revolution.

September 9, 1942 The day the Japanese bombed Oregon. A Japanese submarine, carrying a Yokosuki E14Y bomber, broke the surface of the ocean near the coast of the U.S. The crew unfolded the plane and launched it with two incendiary bombs aboard, hoping to start a devastating forest fire. Despite the success of the bomb drop, the rainy, foggy, and misty Pacific Northwest prevented the fire from spreading, causing mission failure. The Japanese did not try again.

September 10, 2008 The first proton beams were accelerated at the Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border. This was done to try to find the Higgs boson, despite the possibility that microscopic black holes or strangelets might be produced, ending the existence of the earth. Nine days after it was powered up, there was a little explosion which delayed further use for more than a year. The device is able to push a particle to 99.9999991% of the speed of light. The scientists and engineers have recently discovered 3 brand new quarks.

September 11, 2001 In connection with the Twin Towers attack, singer Toby Keith has a tune, Courtesy of the Red White and Blue, readily adapted as an Airpower song.

September 12, 1846 Playwright Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a poet, eloped; after a ferocious courtship in which they wrote 574 letters back and forth in just 20 months. It was one of the most fantastic of courtships between two literary people. The father of Barrett was opposed to her marrying anybody, so she and Robert eloped, relocating to Florence, Italy. And her father never spoke to her again, nor did she ever speak to her father again.

September 13, 1938 Judith Perlman Martin was born in Washington, D.C. A former journalist covering social events, then a theater and film citric. She repositioned herself in 1978 as a columnist giving advice on etiquette. Referring to herself in the third person, as “Miss Manners,” she publishes a column three times per week in more than 200 newspapers. She has written 20 books on etiquette.

September 14, 1959 The Soviet Union was the first country to the moon when they crashed their Luna 2 probe onto the surface. While they started the space race far ahead of the U.S., the Russians were never able to land a person on the moon, nor was any other nation except for the United States.

September 15, 1919 Angelo Fausto Coppi was born in Castellania, Italy He became the best Italian cyclist of all time, consistently winning in climbing, sprinting, and time trials. He came to be called the Champion of Champions. My wife and I bought a Coppi racing bike in 1974, and it was the most elegant, light, and beautiful machine of the type that I have ever seen. We enjoyed it for many years before parting with it in a garage sale.

September 16, 1875 James Cash Penney was born in Hamilton, Missouri. In 1898 he began working for a small chain called Golden Rule Stores. Four years later he bought a one-third share, and in 1907 he bought out his partners. In 1940 he briefly mentored Sam Walton. His stores survived the Great Depression. They fell on hard times again recently. In May 2020, JCPenney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and in September 2020, Brookfield Asset Management and Simon Property Group agreed to purchase the company for around $800 million in cash and debt. The deal was later approved by the U.S. bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas.

September 17, 1944 Operation Market Garden began. Occurring during World War II, this was the largest drop of paratroopers ever. The airborne operation was planned and undertaken by the First Allied Airborne Army with the land operation by the British Second Army. The operation succeeded in liberating the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen along with many towns, and limited V-2 rocket launching sites. However, it failed in its objective to secure a bridgehead over the Rhine River, with the advance being halted at the banks of the river.

September 18, 1793 President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol building. It was designed as a much smaller building than the one we know because the senators and representatives had no offices, they simply worked at their desks on the floor of the House or Senate, and the public area under the dome was a flea market, where people sold everything from silk to light machinery. Wings were later extended, and then a larger dome was installed in proportion to the wings. The building as we know it was finished in the middle of the Civil War. Some people opposed spending money on a construction project in the middle of a war, but Abraham Lincoln thought the Capitol was a symbol that the Union would be preserved.

September 19, 1991 A maybe 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in a glacier in the Alps, between Austria and Italy, the most ancient human being ever found completely intact. He was between 25 and 35 years old, about five feet, two inches tall. His hair was cut; he had several tattoos. He wore a fur robe, whipstitched in a mosaic pattern, a woven grass cape, and size 6 shoes. He carried a copper axe and a fur quiver for his arrows, which had sharp flint points and feathers to make the arrows spin in flight, and several mushrooms strung on leather cord, a mushroom known to fight infections. The mushrooms did not do him much good because he had an arrowhead in his back. He was apparently murdered.

September 20, 1920 Joseph Ward (Jay) Cohen, Jr. was born in San Francisco, California. He produced Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, and others. He also designed the Cap’n Crunch character.

September 21, 1866 Novelist Herbert George (H.G.) Wells was born in Bromley, England 1866. In his late 20s, he got a respiratory disease and thought he was going to die. So he left his wife, ran away with another woman, and began writing furiously. In about five years, he had written all of the novels for which he is remembered: The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). Then he went on living and writing more science fiction and also a history of the world. H.G. Wells said, “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

September 22, 1995 The Unabombers Manifesto was published by The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Unabomber had murdered and injured several people around the country with homemade bombs, including some that he sent through the mail. He promised that he would stop the bombings if his manifesto could be published in a major publication. The manifesto was a 35,000-word broadside against technology. The first line read, “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” There was a lot of controversy about the decision to publish it, but the FBI hoped that it might produce some leads. And in fact, a man named David Kaczynski happened to read it, and he was horrified to recognize it as the work of his brother, Ted. David, the brother, contacted authorities and turned his brother, Ted Kaczynski, in to the FBI. Ted Kaczynski was at the time of his arrest a 55-year-old former Berkeley math professor. He had attended Harvard, and he had spent 26 years living in a rural cabin in Lincoln, Montana. Ted Kaczynski pled guilty to all charges and is now serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

September 23, 1800 William Holmes McGuffey, was born near Claysville, Pennsylvania. He was a writer who had one of the worst publishing deals in history. He wrote and edited a series of schoolbooks called “McGuffey’s Readers,” used in schools for 50 years. The books sold more than 125 million copies, but McGuffey was paid only $1,000.

September 24, 1854 Hans P. N. Gammel immigrated to Texas, settling in Austin. He built a shelf between two chinaberry trees, and he bought books for five cents and resold them for a dime. He read most of the books in his spare time, and he learned the English language thereby. His became one of the first bookstores west of the Mississippi, and it carried a large assortment of various literature. His most important accomplishment occurred because of fire at the State Capitol building where he gathered wet papers from the debris. He reconstituted and reprinted them as Gammel’s Laws of Texas, a 10-Volume Set.

September 25, 1922 WOAI-San Antonio began radio broadcasting. It started at an initial power of 500 watts. It increased to 5,000 watts in 1925. Then it later became a clear channel at 50,000 watts. It was one of the first stations to employ a local news staff. It was acquired by Clear Channel Communications in 2014. Clear Channel eventually went on to own 1,300 radio stations around the world..

September 26, 1898 Composer Jacob Gershwine, who went by the name, George Gershwin, was born in Brooklyn, New York. He made his name as a composer with the piece Rhapsody in Blue (1924), which he was forced to write on short order because his friend Paul Whiteman wanted to put on a jazz concert and decided to advertise that the concert would include a new piece by the young George Gershwin. Gershwin only learned about the concert when he saw the newspaper advertisement, and he suddenly had only six weeks to produce something. He came up with the main theme while playing piano for friends at a party. Gershwin had finished all the orchestra parts, but he had left the piano part blank, so that he could improvise on stage. In the middle of the concert, the ventilation system broke down, and people were getting restless. Several people had gotten up to leave when Rhapsody in Blue was announced, and Gershwin came out on stage to play the piano with the orchestra. When the opening clarinet part was played, the people who had been getting ready to leave went back to their seats. Rhapsody in Blue soon became one of the most famous and popular pieces of serious music ever composed by an American.

September 27, 1777 Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the Capital of the country for one day. During the American War for Independence, the Continental Congress had to flee the previous Capital, Philadelphia, after it was captured by the British army. fter meeting for only one day, they had to pack up and move again to York, Pennsylvania.

September 28, 2022 See You At The Pole (SYATP). Begun in 1990, students meet at their school flagpole, before school to pray. This is totally voluntary, totally student-initiated, totally student-organized, and totally student-led. This is a fully legal exercise of free speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The list of supporting ministries is truly lengthy and diverse.

September 29, 1902 Jasper Maskelyne was a stage musician. He figured prominently during World War II, helping the Allies deceive the Nazi Army. He camouflaged a machine gun position in plain sight and created the illusion of the German warship, Graf Spee, on the Thames, using mirrors and a model. He turned off all the lights at the Suez Canal, and he lit up the nearby desert, foiling a German night bombing.

September 30, 1943 The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) was founded in Kings Point, New York. Unlike West Point, Annapolis, or the Air Force Academy, which are military and under the Department of Defense, USMMA is under the Department of Transportation, albeit with full military training. One reason for its importance is because 95% of world trade moves by sea-going vessels. Midshipmen have the option upon graduation to take officer commissions in the Navy, Army, or Air Force. They also can choose instead to serve as licensed officers on US-flagged merchant vessels. Graduates have served in every war and conflict since World War II. Some distinguished graduates include computer management guru John Diebold, author Robert Kiyosaki, and astronauts Elliott See and Mark Kelly.