Milestones: Thursday, June 22, 2023
Lessons and tidbits from history on this day
ESTABLISHED FREE PUBLIC THEATER — Yosl Papirofsky, born June 22, 1921, in Brooklyn, of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia, and known familiarly as Joe Papp, became one of the leading figures in American theater. Working from a portable flatbed truck, he founded both the New York Shakespeare Festival — representing the consummation of a lifelong goal — and the New York Public Theater. Now known as Shakespeare in the Park, the outdoor productions have continued after his 1991 death, and are staged at the open-air Delacorte Theatre every summer. Before his October 31, 1991 death, Papp had produced and directed more than 400 productions, winning three Pulitzer Prizes, six New York Critics Circle Awards and 28 Tonys.
Looking for a year-round indoor theater space, he rented the old Astor Library on Lafayette Street, renting it from the city for a reported $1 annually. The Astor Library building, which was the first building saved from demolition under the New York City landmarks preservation law, became the home of the New York Public Theater, largely also because of the support of New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson.
HOSPITAL FOUNDED FOR SWEDISH-SPEAKING COMMUNITY — The Swedish Hospital, which had been built for new Scandinavian immigrants who did not yet understand English, was dedicated on June 22, 1906, the result of much fundraising and campaigning for its value among the many Swedish societies already in Brooklyn. Originally at Rogers Avenue and Sterling Place in Crown Heights, the Swedish Hospital, whose president was Justice Peter. B. Hanson of the Children’s Court, purchased the Hotel Chatelaine Building a few blocks north, at Bedford and Dean Streets. One of the hospital’s specialties was physio-therapy, and the move to the larger building allowed for the expansion of this department, the first of its kind in New York City.
Physiotherapy incorporates gymnastics and massage, both of which have been traditionally central to Swedish health and wellness practices. After a decline in the need for a Scandinavian-languages hospital, the Swedish medical center expanded its coverage to the entire neighborhood, but then eventually became a treatment center for alcoholics before closing in 1975, according to the New York Times.
JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY — Television journalist Ed BRADLEY, born (as Edward Rudolph Bradley, Jr., on June 22, 1941, started out as a disc jockey in his Philadelphia hometown. Because he was fluent in French, CBS News hired him as a stringer covering the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War, during which he was wounded and later covered the Paris Peace Accords. Bradley won the Alfred I. DuPont and George Polk awards for his coverage in Vietnam and Cambodia. After Jimmy Carter’s 1976 Presidential win, Ed Bradley became the first African-American TV correspondent to cover the White House. For more than a quarter century, he worked on the “60 Minutes” news program, earning the respect of colleagues and viewers alike, and earning 19 Emmy Awards and four George Peabody Awards, during his long career at CBS.
CBS News, in its November 2006 online obituary of Ed Bradley (who had succumbed to leukemia) noted, “Whether grilling the mass murderer of Oklahoma City or getting a legend like George Burns to drop his guard, he brought hundreds of stories – and countless unforgettable moments – to 60 Minutes.”
SKIRMISH IN AMERICAN WATERS — The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, which took place starting June 22, 1807, was one of the sea battles that led to the War of 1812. Great Britain, fighting France during the Napoleonic Wars, was using the North American Station in the Chesapeake Bay. Several officers of the Royal Navy had decided to join the American fleet and the Chesapeake was allegedly recruiting them. Searching for deserters from the Royal Navy, the British Leopard frigate fired upon and invaded the USS Chesapeake vessel. The Chesapeake’s commander, James Barron, was court-martialed and convicted of not being prepared for action, but reparations were later made to the United States.
Americans, outraged at what they viewed as Great Britain’s rejection of U.S. sovereignty, demanded war. Then-President Thomas Jefferson, taking a more diplomatic approach, observed the citizenry, (as quoted from The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia): “Never since the Battle of Lexington have I seen this country in such a state of exasperation as at present, and even that did not produce such unanimity.”
153 YEARS OF JUSTICE — The U.S. Department of Justice was established on June 22, 1870 (and marked its Sesquicentennial three years ago, during the pandemic). While Congress through the Judiciary Act of 1789 enacted the role of Attorney General, it wasn’t until 1870 that the Department of Justice came into its own — with the Attorney General in charge, being necessitated by the amount of litigation that developed after the Civil War. At the time, the Justice Department, during the Presidential administration of Ulysses S. Grant (the former Union Army general) prioritized the legal and Constitutional (Amendments 13-15) of the freed slaves and prohibited their disenfranchisement. During its first year (1870) the Justice Department was given the responsibility of enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act.
How many readers know that William Pelham Barr served two terms as US Attorney General, the first under President George H.W. Bush, from 1991-‘93? Previously under the elder President Bush’s administration, Barr had served as Deputy Attorney General. Former President Donald Trump nominated Barr again in 2018, and he served until the end of Trump’s term in office. Only one other person has been Attorney General twice: John Crittenden (1841 and 1850-1853).
CROATIAN RESISTANCE MOVEMENT — Croatia and its people in New York City and around the world observe Antifascist Struggle Day on June 22, a national holiday that commemorates the 1941 uprising against fascist invaders. The then-outlawed Croatian Communist Party in the Independent State of Croatia formed the Sisak People’s Liberation Partisan Detachment when the Axis powers, led by Nazi Germany, took on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. The Sisak People’s Liberation Partisan Detachment undertook sabotage and diversionary attacks on infrastructure, including railway lines, telegraph poles, municipal buildings and seizing ammunition.
The Yugoslav government dismissed this group, with General Tito putting forth his own, Serbian-based guerilla unit as being the official one. However, with Croatia and Serbia now separate, but neighboring countries, each claims its own history.
FRANCE FALLS TO GERMAN FORCES — The World War II Battle of France, during which German forces had marched into France at the Meuse River in May, ended with France surrendering to Germany and Paris being declared an open city the previous week, on June 13, 1941. June 22 marked the date when France and Germany signed a second armistice agreement at the Compiègne Forest — the same location as the 1918 armistice of WW I —and thus establishing the supposedly neutral Vichy government, which in reality, collaborated with took its orders from the Nazi forces. Allied land occupation was halted until D-Day, June 6, 1944, when the US, under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, led the invasion of Normandy.
The German occupation of France was depicted in the 1942 Best Picture, Casablanca, in a flashback with the two protagonists: American expatriate Rick Blaine and his love, Ilse Lund. Czech resistance leader Victor Laszlo, secretly Lund’s husband — had been believed dead until that same day – when Blaine and Lund dined at the Belle Aurore as the Germans announced their imminent arrival. That night, Blaine — also a hunted man — fled Paris; and Major Strasser, catching up with him later in Casablanca, said, “We know WHY you left Paris….”
POET AND CO-PILOT — Anne Morrow Lindbergh, born on June 22, 1906 in Englewood, New Jersey, was an author and aviator who often served as his co-pilot and navigator, and was with him when he broke the transatlantic speed record. Anne Lindbergh also flew solo, doing so for the first time in 1930, and being the first American woman to earn a first-class glider pilot’s license. During the 1930s, the Lindbergh couple chartered transcontinental air routes between North America, Asia and Europe. They were also the first to fly from Africa to South America. Following years of turmoil in which their firstborn infant son was kidnapped and murdered, the Lindberghs left the United States and were, for a while, accused of espousing Nazi sympathies because of their isolationist views in the time leading up to World War II. However, they returned and Charles Lindbergh worked mostly as a civilian aviator. Anne Morrow Lindberg regained her reputation as a prolific poet and writer.
In her “Gift from the Sea,” Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.”
FOREMOST FILM DIRECTOR — BILLY WILDER, born on the same date as Anne Morrow Lindbergh, June 22, 1906, became one of Hollywood’s greatest directors. Originally named Samuel Wilder, he was born at Sucha Beskidzka in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His career in Berlin was cut short by the rise of the Nazi party and he fled for the United States in 1933. Settling in Hollywood, Wilder directed and co-wrote some of the best films of the 20th century, including “Double Indemnity,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Stalag 17” (about prisoners of war during WWII), “The Lost Weekend” and the comedy, “Some Like It Hot.”
Billy Wilder won several Oscars (out of 21 nominations), including Best Film for The Lost Weekend (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay) and “The Apartment,” (which won five, including Best Picture and Best Director).
See previous milestones, here.
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