ON THIS DAY: August 15, 2018

August 15th is

Chauvin Day *

Check (Your Pet’s) Chip Day *

National Relaxation Day *

Lemon Meringue Pie Day


MORE! Biddy Mason, Robert Bolt and Gertrude Shope, click



Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Feast Day: Assumption Day – Virgin Mary bodily taken up to Heaven upon her death

Australia – Brisbane: Royal Queensland Show 

Bangladesh – National Mourning Day

Bolivia – National Day

Canada – Yukon: Discovery Day

Congo Republic – Féte Nationale

Costa Rica – Mothers’ Day

Equatorial Guinea – Día de la Ley
Fundamental (Constitution Day)

India – Independence Day

Liechtenstein – National Day

Peru – Arequipa: Founding Day *

North Korea – Liberation Day

South Korea – Kwang Bok Jul (Independence)

Zimbabwe – Defense Forces Day


On This Day in HISTORY

927 – The Saracens capture and destroy Taranto, a coastal city in Southern Italy

1057 – Macbeth, King of Scotland, is killed during the Battle of Lumphanan by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Malcolm III)

1250 – Matteo I Visconti born, key figure of the Ghibellines (Holy Roman Emperor supporters) in their struggle for dominance in Milan against the Guelphs (supporters of the Pope)

1281 – The Mongolian fleet of Kublai Khan is destroyed by a “divine wind” in the Battle of Kōan against the Japanese

1519 – Ciudad de Panamá is founded by Pedro Arias de Ávila in what is now Panama

1540 – Founding of Arequipa * Peru, by the Spaniard Garcí Manuel de Carbajal

1717 – ‘Blind Jack’ Metcalf born, the first professional road builder and civil engineer in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. John Metcalf became blind at the age of six because he contracted smallpox. He was given fiddle lessons to prepare him to earn a living, and by age 15, was working at the Queen’s Head, a prosperous tavern in Harrogate, but he soon branched out into horse trading to supplement his income, and knew the surrounding countryside so well that he was hired by visitors as a guide. He also began working as a carrier, carting dry goods, then fish, and expanding to stones for construction. His fiddling helped him make valuable connections. In 1765, when Parliament passed an act authorising the creation of turnpike trusts to build new toll-funded roads, he used his experience as a carrier to win a contract, as there were few people with any practical road-building knowledge in his area.  He built a road with good drainage, which led to a number of other contracts, and he was regarded as a master road builder.

1725 – Ferdinando Bertoni born, Italian composer, organist at San Marco in Venice

1769 – Napoleon Bonaparte born in Corsica, future self-crowned Emperor of France

1771 – Sir Walter Scott born, Scottish novelist, poet, biographer and historian; (novels) Ivanhoe, and Waverly; (poem) “The Lady of the Lake”

1790? – Nicolas Chauvin * may have been a French soldier, so blindly devoted to his idol Napoleon and all things French that the word chauvinism was coined from his name, originally meaning over-zealously patriotic and disdainful of all other nations. Now it is used to describe anyone who insists on the superiority of whatever they espouse by disparaging its opposite. Since there is no birth record for him, he may be apocryphal, so Napoleon’s birthday was chosen as the date for Chauvin Day * to remind us that anything taken to extremes becomes ridiculous

1796 – John Torrey born, first professional botanist in America, chemist and physician; co-founder of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, now the NY Academy of Science; appointed botanist to New York state (1836-1843); noted for Flora of the Northern and Middle States, and for studies of the flora of New York, the Mexican Boundary, the Pacific railroad surveys, as well as his uncompleted Flora of North America


1818 – Bridget “Biddy” Mason born as a slave, separated from her parents, given as a wedding gift to Robert Smith and his bride; she bore three children whose likely father was Robert Smith. When Smith converted to Mormonism, he moved his entire household West, ending in the free state of California, where Biddy Mason filed a petition for her freedom in Los Angeles County Court, but was not allowed testify on her own behalf; when Smith failed to appear, she, her three daughters and 13 other slaves were granted their freedom, a landmark decision in California law. While she had no formal education, she had been trained by other slave women as a midwife, and found work in Los Angeles delivering babies. She saved enough to buy a house and land, one of the first black women to own property in Los Angeles, then successfully bought and sold property during the land boom, amassing a substantial profit, a great deal of which she used to start a daycare center, a shelter and soup kitchen for the poor, and giving much of the money to build the Los Angeles First AME Church

1824 – Marquis de Lafayette arrives in NY to begin an American tour

1841 – Julia Tutwiler born, American educator and social reformer; advocate for prison reform, Livingston Normal College president; Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame inductee

1843 – Tivoli Gardens, now one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, opens in Copenhagen, Denmark

1848 – M. Waldo Hanchett, American dentifrice manufacturer, patents the dental chair

1858 – Edith Nesbit born, British author, poet and political activist, publishes children’s books under the name E. Nesbit, co-founder of the Fabian Society


1877 – Thomas Edison writes the president of the Telegraph Company suggesting that “hello” would be a more appropriate greeting than “ahoy” when answering the telephone

1881 – Zaccheus R. Mahabane born, South African Methodist minister and activist; President of the African National Congress (1924-1927 and 1937-1940); President of the South African Native National Council of Cape Province (1919 – 1923)

1882 – Marion Eugenié Bauer born, American composer, teacher and author; composed piano, orchestral and vocal pieces; associated with New York University and Juilliard; editor of the Musical Leader, author of Twentieth Century Music 

1885 – Edna Ferber born, American novelist and playwright; 1925 Pulitzer Prize for So Big; novels Giant, Showboat, Saratoga Trunk: also co-author with George S. Kaufman of plays Dinner at Eight, Stage Door

1890 – Jacques-François Ibert born, French orchestral composer; briefly administrator of the Paris Opera (1955), but resigned because of ill health

1896 – Gerty Radnitz Cori born, Jewish Czech-American biochemist; she was one of the few women in medical school in Prague in 1917, where she met Carl F. Cori; they were married upon graduation in 1920, and emigrated to America in 1922. They collaborated on medical research, and published their findings as co-authors at Carl’s insistence, in spite of attempts by the institutions who hired him to discourage the practice; Gerty Cori became the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1947), shared with her husband and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay (who did related work on the role of the pituitary gland), for their discovery of the mechanism by which glucogen is broken down in muscle tissue into lactic acid, then resynthesized in the body and stored as a source of energy (known as the Cori cycle). They also identified the important catalyzing compound, the Cori ester. She died in 1957, after a ten-year struggle with myelosclerosis, a rare form of bone cancer, still active in research until the end. In 2004, both Carl and Gery Cori were honored posthumously by the American Chemical Society for their achievements in carbohydrate metabolism

1904 – Bill Baird born, American puppeteer

1912 – Julia Child born, American author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1914 – The Panama Canal officially opens to commercial traffic.  SS Ancon is the first ship to pass through the canals

1920 – Polish-Soviet War: During the Battle of Warsaw, the day of the ‘miracle on the Vistula’ when several Polish soldiers report seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary, and a surprise Polish counter-offensive on the Red Army’s flank, while it is engaged in attacking the city, soundly defeats the Soviets, and keeps Poland independent

1920 – Judy Cassab born as Judit Kaszab in Austria; artist who emigrated to Australia in 1950; first woman to win the Archibald Prize twice, in 1960 and 1967; appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988

Mother holding child 1995 – Judy Cassab

1924 – Robert Bolt born, English dramatist, A Man for All Seasons, and radio play author; Academy-award-winner for Doctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons screenplays

1925 – Gertrude Shope born in South Africa but raised in Zimbabwe; South African politician and activist; became a member of the Government of National Unity Parliament in 1994. She was a teacher in Natal and Soweto, who joined the African National Congress in 1954, then resigned her position as part of the boycott of the Bantu Education Act, which reinforced apartheid by insuring an inferior education for black children. Was active in the Federation of South African Women, but Shope had to join her husband in exile (1966-1990), and they travelled to lobby for support of the ANC. She also worked for the World Federation of Trade Unions during their exile. Shope was elected in 1991 as president of the ANC’s Women’s League, serving until 1993, and also worked with Albertina Sisulu on convening the ANC’s Internal Leadership Corps Task Force (1990-1991)

1927 – John Cranko born in South Africa, dancer-choreographer with Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Ballet, director of the Stuttgart Ballet; opera stage director

1935 – Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in a plane crash in Alaska

1938 – Maxine Waters born, American Democratic politician; U.S. Representative from California since 1991, member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus; California State Assembly (1976-1990); outspoken opponent of the administrations of both Bushes and Donald Trump

1939 – The Hollywood premiere of The Wizard of Oz at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

1943 – Eileen Bell born, Northern Irish Alliance Party politician; Member of the Northern Irish Assembly (1998-2007), the second Speaker of the Assembly (2007); General Secretary of the Alliance Party (1986-1993); left politics in 2007, and became the Legislative Advisor and Vice President of Autism NI, a charitable organization which promotes collaboration between parents and professionals, and to support families of children with Autism

1945 – Khaleda Zia born, Bangladeshi politician; Leader of the Opposition (2008-2014); the first woman Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006; leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (1984-2018); found guilty of corruption in 2018 for embezzling funds from an orphanage trust she set up

1947 – India becomes independent of British rule, then is split into the two nations of India and Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah becomes first Governor-General of Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten remained as the transitional Governor-General of India, succeeded by Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, who was was the first and only Indian to serve as Governor-General (1948-1950). He was followed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, as India’s first president (1950-1962)

The Red Fort in Delhi: Independence Day ceremonies

1948 – The Republic of Korea is established south of the 38th parallel north

1951 – Ann Biderman born, American screenwriter and television producer; adapted screenplay for the English language version of Smilla’s Sense of Snow; creator and producer of the series Southland and Ray Donovan

1956 – Lorraine Desmarais born, French Canadian jazz pianist and composer

1957 – David Simons reaches 101,526 feet (30,942 meters) in Man High 2 balloon, and USAF Captain Joe Jordan reaches 103,389 feet (31,513 meters) in an F-104 jet fighter

1960 – Republic of the Congo becomes independent from France

1961 – East German workers begin construction on the Berlin Wall

1962 – Inês Pedrosa born, Portuguese author, journalist and playwright; director of the
Casa Fernando Pessoa cultural center

1962 – Vilja Toomast born, Estonian politician; member of the Estonian Riigikogu (legislature, 1992-2008), then served in the European Parliament (2009-2013)

1969 – Opening Day: Woodstock Music and Art Fair will draw over 400,000 people

1971 – Bahrain becomes independent from the UK

1973 – U.S. military stops bombing Cambodia

1979 – Led Zeppelin releases their album In Through the Out Door

1985 – Fourth-grader Sean Moeller founds National Relaxation Day *, saying in a Des Moines Register interview that cleaning and real work are not part of relaxation

1986 – U.S, Senate approves economic sanctions against South Africa

1994 – U.S. Social Security Administration becomes an independent agency, separating from Department of Health and Human Services

1995 – In South Carolina, Shannon Faulkner becomes the first female cadet to enroll at The Citadel; after death threats are made against her family, she drops out

2001 – Astronomers announced discovery of first solar system outside our own after discovery of two planets orbiting a star in the Big Dipper

2013 – The Smithsonian announces discovery of the olinguito, first new carnivoran species found in the Americas since 1978

2015 – The American Veterinary Medical Association launches Check the Chip Day * –


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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2 Responses to ON THIS DAY: August 15, 2018

  1. Malisha says:

    It’s so ironic that our military, priding itself on defending [our] freedom all over the world, even in countries where the word “freedom” is not defined in any way most English-Speaking people would understand as what we consider “freedom” to be, has a history of often failing to abide by the most fundamental principles of freedom at home. Death threats against a cadet in South Carolina succeeded at depriving her of her freedom while she was attempting to become a freedom-defender who could bear arms in some distant location to uphold some idea.
    For this, we have the word “irony.”

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Oh yes, but it was a Southern military school, the one of the ones steeped deepest in the “Noble Lost Cause” romanticism about the Slave-Holding South which is the mask for so much racism and sexism. For men who pride themselves on being “gentlemen” the irony is even thicker. Chivalry to the ladies ends abruptly when they step out of their “place.”

      No doubt she would have been no more welcome in an all-male military academy in the North, but there might not have been death threats against her family there. At least, so I would hope.

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