May 14: ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
ON THIS DAY IN 1937, a Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorial said, “It is difficult to understand the arrest in Philadelphia of Owen Wister, the novelist, and two national officers of the Defenders, Inc., on charges of violating the State Solicitation Act. Coming as they did on the eve of the mass meeting there under the sponsorship of the Defenders at which four Democratic United States senators attacked President Roosevelt’s Supreme Court enlargement plan, the whole incident has a distinctly political tinge. Those at the meeting openly charged that it was an attempt of state officials sympathetic with the Roosevelt administration to try to block the gathering. A young assistant in the State Attorney General’s office was quick to absolve his chief of any blame in the incident and to accept full responsibility, saying he acted on the complaint of another organization of similar name. At any rate the meeting went on and later the charges against the prisoners, based on their trying to raise money to pay the expenses of the rally, have been dropped. If this was an attempt to suppress free speech, those responsible for it should have learned a lesson. There is no place for this sort of thing in the United States.”
ON THIS DAY IN 1942, the Eagle reported, “WASHINGTON (U.P.) — Petroleum Coordinator Harold L. Ickes said today that so far as the oil supply problem is concerned it will not be necessary to extend the gasoline sales curtailment area to other sections of the country. However, Ickes told a press conference that action to extend rationing areas conceivably could be ordered by other government agencies to conserve rubber or curtail unnecessary travel. The curtailment area now includes 17 eastern states (with the exception of certain counties) and the states of Oregon and Washington. Individual rationing will begin in the east tomorrow and in Oregon and Washington on June 1 … Prior to Ickes’ statements, Price Administrator Leon Henderson announced that motorists on trips when gasoline rationing starts tomorrow could obtain supplementary supplies to carry them home. He also said additional gasoline would be made available for persons who take small children to school.”
ON THIS DAY IN 1945, the Eagle reported, “Mayor LaGuardia’s failure to list a single Brooklynite for mayor among 11 personally selected individuals who would have his support in case any one of them was nominated ‘on the proper ticket’ to succeed him in office today aroused open resentment in Brooklyn political ranks. The mayor’s apparent slight to Brooklyn’s mayoralty timber promptly drew the fire of John R. Crews, Kings County Republican leader, who has been on record as favoring the nomination of a coalition candidate as the mayor’s successor. ‘It is a sad commentary,’ Mr. Crews declared, ‘that among Brooklyn’s 3,000,000 residents — any number of whom are recognized as some of the ablest business and professional men in the country — the mayor could not find one to include on his list. I could name 20 at once without any difficulty.’”
ON THIS DAY IN 1948, the Eagle reported, “TEL AVIV (U.P.) — A new Jewish state was proclaimed in Palestine today as Britain’s 30-year rule of the Holy Land ended. The Jewish dream of nearly 2,000 years — a state of their own — came true at 4 p.m. (10 a.m. Brooklyn time) as the provisional government broadcast to the world that a new Jewish republic called Israel had been born and would be defended against all enemies … Great Britain’s 30-year rule over Palestine ended at 10:08 a.m. today when High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham, symbol of British authority, stepped off Palestine soil to board the British cruiser Euryalus in Haifa Harbor. Cunningham’s act in leaving Palestine soil severed all connections between the British government and Palestine, even though Britain will not lay down her mandate officially until one minute after midnight tonight (6:01 p.m. Brooklyn time). Cunningham hauled down his personal flag in Jerusalem early this morning and flew to Haifa, where he landed at 9:30 a.m. Only 38 minutes elapsed from the time he landed until the time he left Palestine.”
NOTABLE PEOPLE BORN ON THIS DAY include Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who was born in 1942; “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, who was born in 1944; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer David Byrne (Talking Heads), who was born in 1952; Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who was born in 1952; “Reservoir Dogs” star Tim Roth, who was born in 1961;
former N.Y. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who was born in 1961; Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille, who was born in Brooklyn in 1962; two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, who was born in 1969; Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola, who was born in 1971; “Joan of Arcadia” star Amber Tamblyn, who was born in 1983; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who was born in 1984; and three-time Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski, who was born in 1989.
THE GIFT OF LIFE: The smallpox vaccine was discovered on this day in 1796. Edward Jenner, a physician in rural England, heard reports of dairy farmers who apparently became immune to smallpox as a result of exposure to cowpox, a related but milder disease. After two decades of studying the phenomenon, Jenner injected cowpox into a healthy 8-year-old boy, who subsequently developed cowpox. Six weeks later, Jenner inoculated the boy with smallpox. He remained healthy. Jenner called this new procedure vaccination, from vaccinia, another term for cowpox. Within 18 months, 12,000 people in England had been vaccinated and the number of smallpox deaths dropped by two-thirds.
BANNER DAY: “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was first performed in public on this day in 1897. John Philip Sousa’s march debuted during the unveiling of a statue of George Washington in Philadelphia.
Special thanks to “Chase’s Calendar of Events” and Brooklyn Public Library.
“Even in high school I was very interested in history — why people do the things they do. As a kid I spent a lot of time trying to relate the past to the present.”
— “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, who was born on this day in 1944
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