Monday, October 14, 2013

On This Date

Every once in a while, not nearly often enough, I look over a list of past events that occurred on that particular day.  October 14 has been a particularly eventful one down the years. 

Pope Callistus I
In 222, Pope Callistus I (link) was killed by a mob in Rome and was later recognized as a saint.  Years ago on Chicago's near west side I often parked near St Callistus Church when I worked at the University of Illinois and Westside VA hospitals, and I fondly remember returning to my car on Bowler Street in the early evenings surrounded by the wonderful smells of fresh Italian cooking.  My father grew up nearby on Polk Street and had been an altar boy at St. Callistus many years before, although he attended the public school because his family could not afford the tuition at the Church school.  St Callistus Church and School eventually closed and the buildings are now the home of the private Chicago Hope Academy (link).

In 1066 on the coast of southern England there was a rather small military engagement near the slumbering village of Hastings.  That fight turned out to be one of the critical inflection points in Western history, and because of that 1066 was one of just a handful of dates (476, 732, and 1453 were some others) I was required to memorize in my high school Western civilization class by the remarkable Mr. Thallemer.

In 1322 the forces of Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeated the English and forced the king to accept Scotland's independence.  I think we saw this scene at the very end of the Mel Gibson movie about William Wallace.  While on the subject of Scotland, a few years later in 1586 just down the road, relatively speaking, Mary, Queen of Scots, finally went on trial for alleged conspiracy against her cousin The Virgin Queen; Mary had already been imprisoned for almost 19 years, and it all did not end well. 

In 1582 there was no October the 14th at all, as one of many dates skipped over that year in the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar so as to better align the calendar with the actual seasons.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was born on this day in 1644.  His collection of accumulated wisdom, Fruits of Solitude (link), was republished in 1906 as the fourth volume, and has become the rarest, of the still-running Lakeside Classics series of American narratives published by the Lakeside Press as its private series of Christmas gifts to friends of the RR Donnelley Company.  One Lakeside Classics volume has been published in December of every year since 1903, and I have copies of most of them. 

In 1912, while campaigning in Milwaukee, former president Theodore Roosevelt was shot and wounded by a mentally disturbed saloon keeper.  With the fresh wound and the bullet still in him, Roosevelt finished his scheduled speech.  He was later transported to Chicago and came to be cared for by the renowned physician Dr. John B. Murphy at Mercy Hospital, the first one in the city of Chicago, and one with which I was associated for many years.  There was a small display case there with some memorabilia from that most famous patient.
Three famous movie stars passed away on October 14.  Errol Flynn, a favorite of mine and the subject of a prior post (link), died on this day in 1959 from a sudden heart attack at the young age of 50 while traveling in Vancouver, away from his home in Jamaica.  Also on this day in 1977 Bing Crosby passed away from the same cause; the circumstances of his death and the story of his remarkable life were so widely recounted in the ensuing days that among other things I still remember to this day that he was stricken while golfing in Spain, of all places.  And in 1986 Keenan Wynn passed away, having previously uttered in Dr Strangelove one of movies' most memorable lines of social commentary:  "you’ll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."

In 1962 on this date began the Cuban missile crisis, during which I often found myself as a young student in grammar school safety drills either huddled under my classroom desk or sitting on the school basement floor with my head resting on my knees with the rest of the kids all squeezed together like sardines.  As if any of that would have done a whit of good if a nuclear bomb had landed on Chicago.

And last but perhaps not least, this day looms large in Chicago Cubs history.  In 1908, 105 years ago this very day, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers to win their last World Series to date.  And perhaps just coincidentally, also on October 14, ten years ago today in game six of the 2003 playoff series to determine the winner of the National League pennant, the Cubs were within 5 outs of going to the World Series when the now infamous Bartman ball incident occurred.  The Cubs were leading 3-0 at that point but went on to lose the game and the playoff series to the Florida Marlins.  A World Series appearance that year was not to be. 
R. Balsamo

No comments:

Post a Comment