Day in History 23 May – John D. Rockefeller

On this day in 1937, oil magnate, investor, philanthropist, founder of the Standard Oil Company, the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, John Davison Rockefeller died of arteriosclerosis at the Casements, his home in Ormond Beach, Florida at the age of 97.  Born on 8 July 1839 in Richford, New York.  He rose from his first job as an assistant bookkeeper to become perhaps the richest person who ever lived.  Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy.  In 1911, the Supreme Court of the United States found Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.  As a result of the ruling Standard Oil was broken up into 34 new companies which included: Continental Oil, which became Conoco, now part of ConocoPhillips; Standard of Indiana, which became Amoco, now part of BP; Standard of California, which became Chevron; Standard of New Jersey, which became Esso (and later, Exxon), now part of ExxonMobil; Standard of New York, which became Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil; and Standard of Ohio, which became Sohio, now part of BP.  Rockefeller married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman (1864-1915 her death).  The Rockefeller wealth, distributed through the foundations and trusts, continued to fund family philanthropic, commercial, and political aspirations throughout the 20th century.  Grandson David Rockefeller was a leading New York banker, serving for over 20 years as CEO of Chase Manhattan (now part of JPMorgan Chase).  Another grandson, Nelson A. Rockefeller, was Republican governor of New York and the 41st Vice President of the United States.  A third grandson, Winthrop Rockefeller, served as Republican Governor of Arkansas. Great-grandson, John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV is currently a Democratic Senator from West Virginia and a former governor of West Virginia, and another, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, served ten years as Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas.  The Final Footprint – Rockefeller is interred next to his wife in the Rockefeller estate in Lake View Cemetery (known locally as Cleveland’s outdoor museum) in Cleveland, Ohio.   The estate is marked by the Rockefeller Obelisk.  His grave is marked by an individual upright stone marker.  Other notable Final Footprints at Lake View include; 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield; member of The Untouchables, Eliot Ness and writer, producer, narrator Rod Serling.

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Day in History 22 May – Alessandro Manzoni – Victor Hugo – Langston Hughes – Cecil Day-Lewis

alessandromanzoniOn this day in 1873, poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni died at the age of 88 of cerebral meningitis, a complication from a fall he took on 6 January while getting out of San Fedele church in Milan.  Born Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni  in Milan on 7 March 1785.  Perhaps best known for the novel The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) (1827), generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature.  The novel is also a symbol of the Italian Risorgimento, both for its patriotic message and because it was a fundamental milestone in the development of the modern, unified Italian language.  Manzoni married twice; Henriette Blondel and Teresa Borri.  The Final Footprint – Manzoni’s funeral was celebrated in the church of San Marco with almost royal pomp.  His remains, after lying in state for some days, were followed to the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan by a vast cortege, including the royal princes and all the great officers of state.  But his noblest monument was Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, written to honour his memory.  Verdi apparently was so stunned by Manzoni’s death that he was unable to attend the funeral, instead paying a solitary visit to the writer’s grave soon after. As a tribute, Verdi conceived the idea of writing a requiem mass for the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death.  Verdi hand-picked his soloists and rehearsed a 100-piece orchestra and 120-voice for the premiere performance in Milan, on today’s date in 1874.  In his letter to the mezzo Maria Waldmann, inviting her to participate in the premiere, Verdi wrote: “You would gain neither reputation nor money from it, but since this is something that will make history, certainly not because of the merit of the music, but because of the man to whom it is dedicated, I think it would be fine if, one, day, history would say: ‘On 22 May there was a great Requiem Mass for the anniversary of Manzoni’s death…”   Other notable final footprints at Cimitero Monumetale di Milano include; pianist Vladimir Horowitz, opera composer Amilcare Ponchielli, poet Salvatore Quasimodo, conductor and cellist Arturo Toscanini and Giuseppe Verdi.

 

Victor_Hugo_circa_1880On this day in 1885, poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France, Victor Hugo died in Paris at the age of 83.  Born Victor-Marie Hugo on 26 February 1802 in Besançon in the region of Franche-Comté.  He was revered as a towering figure in literature and as a statesman who shaped the Third Republic and democracy in France.  Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).  In France, Hugo is best known for his poetry, particularly Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles, as well as for his novels.  Hugo married Adèle Foucher (1822-1868 her death).  Hugo had a great impact on the music world through the inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th century.  Among the many operas based on his works are; Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851) and Ernani (1844), and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (1876).  It was during the production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, that Hugo met one of the performers, Juliette Drouet.  She would leave her theatrical career to devote her life to Hugo as his lover, secretary and travelling companion.  As I type this from my library, Hugo’s books, Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are within arms reach.  Two of my favorite books.  The Final Footprint – Hugo is entombed in the Panthéon in Paris.  His death generated intense national mourning and prompted the French government to dedicate the Panthéon as an homage to the great men, and eventually great women, of France.  More than two million people joined his funeral procession in Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Panthéon.

Hugo left five sentences as his last will, to be officially published:

Je donne cinquante mille francs aux pauvres. Je veux être enterré dans leur corbillard.
Je refuse l’oraison de toutes les Églises. Je demande une prière à toutes les âmes.
Je crois en Dieu.

“I leave 50,000 francs to the poor. I want to be buried in their hearse.
I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches. I beg a prayer to all souls.
I believe in God.”

Other notable Final Footprints at the Panthéon include: Louis Braille, Pierre and Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, André Malraux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Émile Zola.

 

Langston_Hughes_by_Carl_Van_Vechten_1936On this day in 1967,  poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist, one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry, one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes died from complications after abdominal surgery, related to prostate cancer, in New York City, at the age of 65.  First published in The Crisis in 1921, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, which became Hughes’s signature poem, was collected in his first book of poetry The Weary Blues (1926).  Hughes’s first and last published poems appeared in The Crisis.  More of his poems were published in The Crisis than in any other journal.  Hughes never married.  Langston_Hughes_IntermentThe Final Footprint – Hughes was cremated and his cremains are interred beneath a floor medallion in the middle of the foyer in the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.  It is the entrance to an auditorium named for him.  The design on the floor is an African cosmogram titled Rivers.  The title is taken from, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”.  Within the center of the cosmogram is the line: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”.   The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University holds the Langston Hughes papers (1862–1980) and the Langston Hughes collection (1924–1969) containing letters, manuscripts, personal items, photographs, clippings, artworks, and objects that document the life of Hughes.  The Langston Hughes Memorial Library on the campus of Lincoln University, as well as at the James Weldon Johnson Collection within the Yale University also hold archives of Hughes’ work.

 

cecildaylewisOn this day in 1972, poet, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972, father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Cecil Day-Lewis died from pancreatic cancer, aged 68, at Lemmons, the Hertfordshire home of Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard, where he and his family were staying.  Born in Ballintubbert, Athy/Stradbally border, County Laois (formerly known as Queen’s County), Ireland.  Day-Lewis also wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake. He married twice; Constance Mary King (1928–1951 divorce) and Jill Balcon (1951–1972 his death). Cecil_Day_Lewis_headstone,_geographThe Final Footprint –  Day-Lewis was a great admirer of Thomas Hardy, and had arranged to be buried as close as possible to the author’s grave in Stinsford churchyard, Dorset, south west England.

His epitaph, taken from his poem Is it Far to Go?, reads:

Shall I be gone long?
For ever and a day.
To whom there belong?
Ask the stone to say.
Ask my song.

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Day in History 21 May – Henry VI – Lash LaRue

Henry_VI_from_NPG_(2)On this day in 1471, King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453, Henry VI died in the Wakefield Tower of the Tower of London at the age of 49 of unknown cause.  Born on 6 December 1421 at Windsor Castle.  Henry was the only child and heir of King Henry V.  He succeeded to the throne as King of England on his father’s death on 31 August 1422 at the age of nine months: the youngest person ever to succeed to the English throne.  Two months later, on 21 October 1422, he became titular King of France upon his grandfather Charles VI‘s death in accordance with the Treaty of Troyes of 1420.  His mother, Catherine of Valois, was then 20 years old.  As Charles VI’s daughter, she was viewed with considerable suspicion by English nobles and prevented from playing a full role in her son’s upbringing.  Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the dynastic wars, such as the Wars of the Roses, which commenced during his reign.  His periods of insanity and his inherent benevolence eventually required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom, which contributed to his own downfall, the collapse of the House of Lancaster, and the rise of the House of York.  After a violent struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York, during which the Duke of York was killed by Margaret’s forces on 30 December 1460, Henry was deposed and imprisoned on 4 March 1461 by the Duke of York’s son, Edward of York, who became king, as Edward IV.  By this point, Henry was suffering such a bout of madness that he was apparently laughing and singing while the Second Battle of St Albans raged, which secured his release.  But Edward was still able to take the throne, though he failed to capture Henry and his queen, who fled to Scotland.  During the first period of Edward IV’s reign, Lancastrian resistance continued mainly under the leadership of Queen Margaret and the few nobles still loyal to her in the northern counties of England and Wales.  Henry, who had been safely hidden by Lancastrian allies in Scotland, Northumberland and Yorkshire was captured by King Edward in 1465 and subsequently held captive in the Tower of London.  Queen Margaret, exiled in Scotland and later in France, was determined to win back the throne on behalf of her husband and son.  By herself, there was little she could do. However, eventually Edward IV had a falling-out with two of his main supporters: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and his own younger brother George, Duke of Clarence.  At the urging of King Louis XI of France they formed a secret alliance with Margaret.  After marrying his daughter to Henry and Margaret’s son, Edward of Westminster, Warwick returned to England, forced Edward IV into exile, and restored Henry VI to the throne on 30 October 1470.  However, by this time, years in hiding followed by years in captivity had taken their toll on Henry.  Warwick and Clarence effectively ruled in his name.  Henry’s return to the throne lasted less than six months. Warwick soon overreached himself by declaring war on Burgundy, whose ruler responded by giving Edward IV the assistance he needed to win back his throne by force.  Edward IV returned to England in early 1471, after which he was reconciled with Clarence and killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet.  The Yorkists won a final decisive victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May 1471, where Henry’s son Edward was killed.  Henry may have been murdered upon the orders of Edward IV.  The Final Footprint – Henry VI was originally buried in Chertsey Abbey; then, in 1485, his body was moved to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, by Richard III.  In 1590 William Shakespeare wrote a trilogy of plays about the life of Henry VI: Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, and Henry VI, Part 3.  His dead body and his ghost also appear in Richard III.  Shakespeare’s portrayal of Henry is notable in that it does not mention the King’s madness.  This is considered to have been a politically-advisable move so as to not risk offending Elizabeth I whose family was descended from Henry’s Lancastrian family.  Instead Henry is portrayed as a pious and peaceful man ill-suited to the crown.  He spends most of his time in contemplation of the Bible and expressing his wish to be anyone other than a king.  Shakespeare’s Henry is weak-willed and easily influenced allowing his policies to be led by Margaret and her allies, and being unable to defend himself against York’s claim to the throne.  Other notable final footprints at St. George’s Chapel include:  Edward IV, King of England, in 1483; Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, in 1910; Jane Seymour, Queen of England, in 1537; Henry VIII, King of England and Ireland, in 1547; Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, in 1649; George III, King of the United Kingdom, in 1820; George IV, King of the United Kingdom, in 1830; William IV, King of the United Kingdom, in 1837; George V, King of Hanover, in 1878; George V, King of the United Kingdom, in 1936.

 

lashlarueOn this day in 1996, western motion picture star Lash LaRue died of emphysema at St Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank, California at the age of 74.  Born Alfred LaRue on 14 June 1921 in Gretna in suburban Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, Louisiana, of Cajun ancestry.  Known for his exceptional skill with a bull whip which he used to bring down the bad guys in his movies; thus his nickname, Lash.  LaRue taught Harrison Ford how to use a whip for the Indiana Jones movies.  The Final Footprint – LaRue was cremated at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.  Interesting cultural reference:  In Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction, the character Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel)  refers to Vincent Vega (John Travolta) as Lash LaRue and asks if he can keep his spurs from jingling and jangling.

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Day in History 20 May – Christopher Columbus

Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo.

On this day in 1506, explorer, colonizer, and navigator, Cristóbal Colón, Cristoforo Colombo, Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid, a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain at the age of 55.  Born Cristoforo Colombo sometime between  25 August and 31 October 1451 in Genoa, Republic of Genoa, in present day Italy.  The name Christopher Columbus is the Anglicisation of the Latin Christophorus Columbus.  In Spanish, it is Cristóbal Colón.  Columbus’s proposal to reach the East Indies by sailing westward, thereby opening new trade routes, appealed to the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, amid emerging western imperialism and economic competition.  During his first voyage in 1492 (in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue), Columbus landed in the Bahamas archipelago, not Japan as he had intended.  He made a total of four voyages, visiting the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.  Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas.  His voyages were preceded by a Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson, some five centuries earlier.  But it was Columbus’s voyages that led to lasting European contact with America and the resulting historical development of the Western world.  Conventional wisdom has it that Columbus never admitted that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, and at his death, he was still convinced that his journeys had been along the east coast of Asia.  Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for “Indians”).  See the comment below for additional perspective.

Tomb in Seville Cathedral. The remains are borne by kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre.

The Final Footprint – A voyager in life, perhaps it is fitting that he became a voyager in death.  Columbus was first interred at Valladolid, then at the monastery of La Cartuja in Seville (southern Spain) by the will of his son Diego, who had been governor of Hispaniola.  In 1542 the remains were transferred to Colonial Santo Domingo, in the present-day Dominican Republic.  In 1795, when France took over the entire island of Hispaniola, Columbus’ remains were moved to Havana, Cuba.  After Cuba became independent following the Spanish-American War in 1898, the remains were moved back to Spain, to the Cathedral of Seville, where they were placed on an elaborate catafalque.  However, a lead box bearing an inscription identifying “Don Christopher Columbus” and containing bone fragments and a bullet was discovered at The Columbus Lighthouse in Santo Domingo in 1877.  To lay to rest claims that the wrong relics had been moved to Havana and that Columbus’ remains had been left buried in the cathedral at Santo Domingo, DNA samples of the corpse resting in Seville were taken in June 2003 (History Today August 2003) as well as other DNA samples from the remains of his brother Diego and younger son Fernando Colón.  Initial observations suggested that the bones did not appear to belong to somebody with the physique or age at death associated with Columbus.  DNA extraction proved difficult; only short fragments of mitochondrial DNA could be isolated.  The mtDNA fragments matched corresponding DNA from Columbus’s brother, giving support that both individuals had shared the same mother.  Such evidence, together with anthropologic and historic analyses led the researchers to conclude that the remains found in Seville belonged to Columbus.  The authorities in Santo Domingo have never allowed the remains there to be exhumed, so it is unknown if any of those remains could be from Columbus’ body as well.  The location of the Dominican remains is in “The Columbus Lighthouse” (Faro a Colón), in Santo Domingo.

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Day in History 19 May – Anne Boleyn – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Anneboleyn2On this day in 1536, second wife of King Henry VIII and Marquess of Pembroke, Queen of England, Anne Boleyn was executed by beheading for high treason, adultery, incest and witchcraft, at the Tower of London.  She was somewhere between 28 and 35 years old.  Born in Norfolk at the Boleyn home at Blickling between 1501 and 1507.  Henry’s marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation.  Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Claude of France.  She returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans ended in failure and she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon.  In February/March 1526, Henry VIII began his pursuit of Anne.  She resisted his attempts to seduce her, refusing to become his mistress – which her sister Mary had been.  It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry’s desires to annul his marriage to Queen Catherine so he would be free to marry Anne.  When it became clear that Pope Clement VII would not annul the marriage, the breaking of the power of the Catholic Church in England began.  In 1532, Henry granted her the Marquessate of Pembroke.  Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533.  On 23 May 1533, Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine’s marriage null and void; five days later, he declared Henry and Anne’s marriage to be good and valid.  Shortly afterwards, the Pope decreed sentences of excommunication against Henry and Cranmer.  As a result of this marriage and these excommunications, the first break between the Church of England and Rome took place and the Church of England was brought under the King’s control.  Anne was crowned Queen of England on 1 June 1533.  On 7 September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, whose gender disappointed Henry.  He was not entirely discouraged, for he said that a son would surely follow and professed to love Elizabeth.  Three miscarriages followed, and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour.  Henry had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536.  On 2 May she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury of peers – which included Henry Percy, her former betrothed, and her own uncle, Thomas Howard – and found guilty on 15 May.  She was beheaded four days later.  Modern historians view the charges against her as unconvincing.  Henry commuted Anne’s sentence from burning to beheading, and rather than have a queen beheaded with the common axe, he brought an expert swordsman from Saint-Omer in France, to perform the execution.  Shortly before dawn, she heard mass and swore on the eternal salvation of her soul, upon the Holy Sacraments, that she had never been unfaithful to the king.  She ritually repeated this oath both immediately before and after receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist.  She wore a red petticoat under a loose, dark grey gown of damask trimmed in fur and a mantle of ermine.  Accompanied by two female attendants, Anne made her final walk from the Queen’s House to the scaffold.  Anne climbed the scaffold and made a short speech to the crowd:

Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

In a 1,318 line poem, written in French, two weeks after Anne’s death, Lancelot de Carle provides a moving account of her last words and their effect on the crowd:

She gracefully addressed the people from the scaffold with a voice somewhat overcome by weakness, but which gathered strength as she went on. She begged her hearers to forgive her if she had not used them all with becoming gentleness, and asked for their prayers. It was needless, she said, to relate why she was there, but she prayed the Judge of all the world to have compassion on those who had condemned her, and she begged them to pray for the King, in whom she had always found great kindness, fear of God, and love of his subjects. The spectators could not refrain from tears.

Lancelot de Carle, a secretary to the French Ambassador, Antoine de Castelnau, was in London in May 1536, and was an eyewitness to her trial and execution.  The poem, Épistre Contenant le Procès Criminel Faict à l’Encontre de la Royne Anne Boullant d’Angleterre, (A Letter Containing the Criminal Charges Laid Against Queen Anne Boleyn of England), provides a detailed account of Anne’s early life and the circumstances relating to her arrest, trial and execution.  It is thought that Anne avoided criticising Henry to save Elizabeth and her family from further consequences, but even under such extreme pressure Anne did not confess guilt, in fact subtly implying her innocence, in her appeal to historians who “will meddle of my cause”.  The ermine mantle was removed and Anne lifted off her headdress, tucking her hair under a coif.  After a brief farewell to her weeping ladies and a request for prayers, she kneeled down and one of her ladies tied a blindfold over her eyes.  She knelt upright, in the French style of executions.  Her final prayer consisted of her repeating continually, “Jesu receive my soul; O Lord God have pity on my soul.”  The Final Footprint – The execution consisted of a single stroke.  She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.  Her skeleton was identified during renovations of the chapel in 1876 and Anne’s resting place is now marked in the marble floor.  Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation.  Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. As a result, she has retained her hold on the popular imagination.  Anne has been called “the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had”, since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.  Many legends and fantastic stories about Anne Boleyn have survived over the centuries.  One is that she was secretly buried in Salle Church in Norfolk under a black slab near the tombs of her Boleyn ancestors.  Her body was said to have rested in an Essex church on its journey to Norfolk.  Another is that her heart, at her request, was buried in Erwarton (Arwarton) Church, Suffolk by her uncle Sir Philip Parker.  In 18th-century Sicily, the peasants of the village of Nicolosi believed that Anne Boleyn, for having made Henry VIII a heretic, was condemned to burn for eternity inside Mount Etna.  This legend was often told for the benefit of foreign travelers.  A number of people have claimed to have seen Anne’s ghost at Hever Castle, Blickling Hall, Salle Church, Tower of London, and Marwell Hall.  The most famous account of her reputed sighting has been described by paranormal researcher Hans Holzer.  In 1864, Major General J.D. Dundas of the 60th Rifles regiment was quartered in the Tower of London.  As he was looking out the window of his quarters, he noticed a guard below in the courtyard, in front of the lodgings where Anne had been imprisoned, behaving strangely.  He appeared to challenge something, which to the General “looked like a whitish, female figure sliding towards the soldier”.  The guard charged through the form with his bayonet, then fainted.  Only the General’s testimony and corroboration at the court-martial saved the guard from a lengthy prison sentence for having fainted while on duty.  In 1960, Canon W. S. Pakenham-Walsh, vicar of Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, reported having conversations with Anne.  Other notable final footprints at the Chapel include:  Lady Jane Grey, William Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings; Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty; Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII; Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford; and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

jackieWhitehouseportraitjackie_curvecorrectedOn this day in 1994, wife of the 35th President of the United States, First Lady of the United States, fashion icon, editor, Jackie, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died in her sleep from cancer at her apartment in New York City at the age of 64.  Born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on 28 July 1929 in Southampton, New York.  She is remembered for her contributions to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, her style, elegance and grace.

Jackie married John F. Kennedy on 12 September 1953.  They had four children; Arabella (23 August 1956 – 23 August 1956), Caroline Bouvier (27 November 1957 – ), John Fitzgerald Jr. (25 November 1960 – 16 July 1999), and Patrick Bouvier (7 August 1963 – 9 August 1963).  Jackie proved to be a very popular First Lady.  When the Kennedys visited France, Jackie so impressed the public that President Kennedy remarked; “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris — and I have enjoyed it!”  Jackie’s steadiness and courage during and after JFK’s assassination and funeral won her admiration around the world.   Lady Jeanne Campbell reported back to The London Evening Standard: “Jacqueline Kennedy has given the American people… one thing they have always lacked: Majesty.”  During an interview with Theodore H. White of Life magazine she compared the Kennedy years in the White House to King Arthur’s mythical Camelot, commenting that the President often played the title song of Lerner and Loewe‘s musical recording before retiring to bed.  She also quoted Queen Guinevere from the musical, trying to express how the loss felt.  Following Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination on 6 June 1968, Jackie apparently began to fear for the safety of her children.  Perhaps this was a factor in her decision to marry Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis; seeking the privacy and protection his vast wealth provided.  They married on 20 October 1968 on his private island Skorpios in the Ionian Sea.  The Final Footprint – Jackie is interred next to JFK in Arlington National Cemetery.  Her grave is marked by a flat granite engraved marker that matches her husband’s.  Jackie’s legacy has been memorialized in various aspects of American culture and she is frequently alluded to and depicted in various forms of popular culture, including books, films, television series, cartoon series, video games and music.  Other notable Final Footprints at Arlington include; Space Shuttle Challenger, Space Shuttle Columbia, Medgar Evers, JFK, RFK, Edward Kennedy, Malcolm Kilduff, Jr., Lee Marvin, and Audie Murphy.

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Day in History 18 May – Mt. Saint Helens

On this day in 1980, Mt. Saint Helens erupted killing 57 people including, USGS volcanologist David A. JohnstonReid Blackburn, a National Geographic photographer. and innskeeper Harry R. Truman.  Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano located in Skamania County, Washington, 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon.  The catastrophic eruption produced an eruption column that reached 80,000 feet into the atmosphere and volcanic mudslides that reached the Columbia River, nearly 50 miles away; deposited ash in 11 U. S. states and parts of Canada; destroyed 4 billion board feet of timber, 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway.  The Final Footprint – The Johnston Ridge Observatory was built near the site of Johnston’s camp on that morning and is named in his honour.  A memorial located at the observatory lists the names of the 57 people believed to have been killed by the eruption.

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Day in History 17 May – Seabiscuit – Donna Summer – Guy Clark

On this day in 1947, champion Thoroughbred racehorse, Seabiscuit died in his stall at Ridgewood Ranch near Willits, California at the age of 13.  Foaled 23 May 1933 from the mare Swing On and sired by Hard Tack, a son of Man o’ War.  Seabiscuit was named for his father, as hardtack or “sea biscuit” is the name for a type of cracker eaten by sailors.   The bay colt grew up on Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky.  Seabiscuit became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression.  In the “Match of the Century” on 1 November 1938, Seabiscuit ran against Triple Crown winner War Admiral in a match race.  Seabiscuit won by four clear lengths.  He was named the 1938 Horse of the Year and at the time of his retirement, he was racing’s all-time leading money winner.  Seabiscuit became the subject of a 1949 film, The Story of Seabiscuit; a 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand; and a 2003 film, Seabiscuit starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  The Final Footprint – Seabiscuit was interred at an undisclosed location at Ridgewood Ranch.  Bronze statues of Seasbiscuit have been erected in his honour at Ridgewood Ranch and at Santa Anita Park, a racetrack in Arcadia, California.

 

 

 

 

Donna_Summer_1977On this day in 2012, singer, songwriter, and painter, “Queen of Disco”, Donna Summer died at her home in Naples, Florida from lung cancer at the age of 63.  Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on 31 December 1948 in Boston.  Summer gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s.  A five-time Grammy Award winner, she was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the United States Billboard album chart and charted four number-one singles in the United States within a 12-month period.  Summer has reportedly sold over 140 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.  A partial list of hit songs she sung include; “Love to Love You Baby”, “I Feel Love”, “Last Dance”, “MacArthur Park”, “Heaven Knows”, “Hot Stuff”, “Bad Girls”, “Dim All the Lights”, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” (duet with Barbra Streisand), and “On the Radio”.  “Last Dance” won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song on the “Thank God It’s Friday” movie soundtrack.  At the time of her death, Summer was married to Brooklyn Dreams singer Bruce Sudano.  The Final Footprint – Summer’s funeral service was held in Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee on the afternoon of 23 May 2012.  Summer is interred in the Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens cemetery in Nashville.  In 2013, Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Guy Clark
Guy Clark at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival.jpg

Clark at the 2009 Newport Folk Festival
 
 
 
 
 

On this day in 2012, singer and songwriter Guy Clark died in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 74 from lymphoma.  Born Guy Charles Clark on November 6, 1941 in Monahans, Texas.  He released more than twenty albums, and his songs have been recorded by other artists including Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Lyle Lovett, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, and Rodney Crowell. He won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album: My Favorite Picture of You.

Clark was born in Monahans, Texas, and eventually settled in Nashville, where he helped create the progressive country and outlaw country genres. His songs “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train” that helped launch his career were covered by numerous performers. The New York Times described him as “a king of the Texas troubadours”, declaring his body of work “was as indelible as that of anyone working in the Americana idiom in the last decades of the 20th century”

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Day in History 16 May – Sammy Davis, Jr.

On this day in 1990, entertainer, singer, dancer, actor, member of the Rat Pack, Sammy Davis, Jr. died in Beverly Hills from throat cancer at the age of 64.  Born Samuel George Davis, Jr. on 8 December 1925 in Harlem.  Davis converted to Judaism in 1955.  In 1959, he became a member of the famous “Rat Pack”, led by his friend Frank Sinatra, which included Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.  Davis dated actress Kim Novak before his first marriage.  He married three times:  Loray White (1958-1959 divorce), May Britt (1960-1968 divorce) and Altovise Gore (1970-1990 his death).  Davis was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his television performances.  He was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Final Footprint – Davis is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.  His grave is marked by a flat bronze individual marker with the inscription “THE ENTERTAINER” HE DID IT ALL and YOUR LOVING WIFE ALTOVISE AND FATHER OF TRACEY, MARK, JEFF, MANNY.  A nearby white marble statue has the name DAVIS engraved at the bottom.  Other notable Final Footprints at Forest Lawn Glendale include; L. Frank Baum, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Jean Harlow, Sam Cooke, Walt Disney, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Michael Jackson, Carole Lombard, Casey Stengel, Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, and Spencer Tracy.

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Day in History 15 May – Emily Dickinson – June Carter Cash

On this day in 1886, renowned poet, Emily Dickinson died at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts at the age of 55.  Born Emily Elizabeth Dickinson on 10 December 1830 in Amherst.  She led a mostly introverted and reclusive life and never married.  Fewer than a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime.  Those that were, were usually heavily edited to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time.  Dickinson’s poems were unique for that era as they featured short lines, no titles, slant rhyme and unconventional capitalization and punctuation.  After Dickinson’s death, her sister Lavinia, kept her promise and burned most of the poet’s correspondence.  Fortunatley though, Dickinson had left no instructions about the forty notebooks and loose sheets gathered in a locked chest.  The notebooks and loose sheets contained almost 1800 poems.  Lavinia recognized the poems’ worth and decided they must be published.  Today Dickinson is considered one of the most important poets and an important part of American culture.  One of my favorite poets.  Lately, my own poetry has been influenced by Dickinson.  Here is her poem Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (249);

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
 Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury
 
Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!
 
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
In thee!

 

The Final Footprint – Dickinson is interred in the Dickinseon family private estate in West Cemetery in Amherst.  Her grave is marked by an upright stone marker.

 

 

 

 

th-8On this day in 2003, singer, dancer, songwriter, actress, comedian, author, member of the Carter Family and wife of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash died in Nashville of complications following heart-valve replacement surgery, in the company of her family at the age of 73.  Born Valerie June Carter in Maces Spring, Virginia, to Maybelle Carter and Ezra Carter.  She played the guitar, banjo, harmonica, and autoharp, and acted in several films and television shows.  Of course my favorite song that she wrote is “Ring of Fire”.  Carter won five Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009.  Carter was married three times: Carl Smith (1952-1956); Edwin “Rip” Nix (1957-1966); then in 1968, Cash proposed to Carter during a live performance at the London Ice House in London, Ontario, Canada.  th-9They married on 1 March in Franklin, Kentucky, and remained married until her death, just four months before Cash died.  The Final Footprint – Johnny and June are buried together in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Other notable final footprints at Hendersonville Memory Gardens include:

  • Max Barnes (1936–2004), songwriter
  • “Mother” Maybelle Carter (1909–1978), musician, songwriter
  • Helen Carter (1927–1998), country singer and daughter of Maybelle Carter
  • Anita Carter (1933–1999), singer-musician and daughter of Maybelle Carter
  • Rosie Nix Adams (1958–2003), singer-songwriter and daughter of June Carter Cash
  • Ferlin Husky (1925–2011), country music singer
  • Merle Kilgore (1934–2005), country music singer-songwriter
  • Joe Maphis (1921–1986), country music master guitarist
  • Luther Perkins (1928–1968), country music guitarist for Johnny Cash
  • Sheb Wooley (1921–2003), actor and singer-songwriter

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Day in History 14 May – Rita Hayworth – Frank Sinatra

 

Rita_Hayworth-publicityOn this day in 1987, dancer and actress, beauty icon, Rita Hayworth died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 68 in New York City.  Born Margarita Carmen Cansino on 17 October 1918 in Brooklyn.  Hayworth achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era’s top stars.  Appearing first as Rita Cansino, she agreed to change her name to Rita Hayworth and her natural dark brown hair color to dark red to attract a greater range of roles.  Her appeal led to her being featured on the cover of Life magazine five times, beginning in 1940.  She appeared in a total of 61 films over 37 years.  Hayworth married five times, apparently none of them happily; Edward C. Judson (1937–1942 divorce), Orson Welles
(1943–1948 divorce), Prince Aly Khan (1949–1953 divorce), Dick Haymes (1953–1955 divorce), James Hill (1958–1961 divorce).  Rita_Hayworth's_graveThe Final Footprint – A funeral service was held on 19 May 1987, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.  Pallbearers included actors Ricardo Montalbán, Glenn Ford, Don Ameche, agent Budd Burton Moss, and the choreographer Hermes Pan.  She was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.  Her headstone includes the inscription: “To yesterday’s companionship and tomorrow’s reunion.”  Hayworth’s pin-up poster is portrayed in Stephen King‘s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (1982), and was later brought to the screen in the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994) directed by Frank Darabont (which itself features a video clip of Hayworth in Gilda, shown as a film the prisoners are watching).  Other notable final footprints at Holy Cross include; actor John Candy, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, John Ford, the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers Chick Hearn, Bela Lugosi, Al Martino, actress Audrey Meadows, Ricardo Montalbán, actor Chris Penn, singer Jo Stafford and Sharon Tate.

 

Frank_Sinatra_laughingOn this day in 1998, legendary and iconic singer and actor; Academy Award winner, Grammy Award winner, producer, director, conductor, member of the Rat Pack, Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, The Voice, Frankie, Frank Sinatra died at 10:50 P.M. on a Thursday at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife Barbara by his side, at the age of 82.  Born Francis Albert Sinatra on 12 December 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Oh my, where to begin.  This could take awhile.  Sinatra is perhaps my favorite entertainer.

Sinatra was the only child of Italian immigrants Natalie Della “Dolly” Garaventa and Antonino Martino “Marty” Sinatra and was raised Catholic.  His mother was from Northern Italy and his father was Sicilian.  He left high school without graduating.

Sinatra began his musical career in the swing era first with bandleader Harry James and then with bandleader Tommy Dorsey.  Sinatra became unhappy with his contract with Dorsey which awarded Dorsey one-third of Sinatra’s lifetime earnings from entertainment.  Dorsey let Sinatra out of his contract which sparked rumours of Sinatra’s involment with the Mafia.  A newspaper reported that Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana coerced Dorsey.  The incident was later fictionalized in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.  Sinatra went on to become a successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, becoming the idol of the “bobby soxers”.  His career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (for his performance as Private Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity (1953).  This incident was later fictionalized in The Godfather as well.  Sinatra received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his role as Frankie Machine in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), and he recevied critical acclaim for his performance as Captain Bennett Marco in The Manchurian Candidate.

Sinatra was an original member of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack along with, Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Sid Luft, Humphrey Bogart, Swifty Lazar, Nathaniel Benchley, David Niven, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen.  The 1960’s version of the Rat Pack included Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford.  Reportedly Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, Juliet Prowse, and Shirley MacLaine were often referred to as the “Rat Pack Mascots”.  This version of the Rat Pack did not use that term to describe themselves.  They referred to the group as The Summit or The Clan.

My favorite Sinatra albums include; In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice ‘n’ Easy, Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Sinatra at the Sands, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, and September of My Years.  Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997.  Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  Sinatra was married four times:  Nancy Barbato (1939-1951 divorce), Ava Gardner (1951-1957 divorce), Mia Farrow (1966-1968 divorce, and Barbara Blakeley Marx (1976-1998 his death).  The Final Footprint – Sinatra is interred in Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California.  His grave is marked with an individual engraved flat granite marker.  The inscription reads:  THE BEST IS YET TO COME and the term of endearment BELOVED HUSBAND AND FATHER.

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