Milestones: Wednesday, October 4, 2023
THE SOVIET UNION INAUGURATED THE “SPACE AGE” with its launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, on Oct. 4, 1957. Named Sputnik, the Russian phrase for “fellow traveler,” the spacecraft was launched at 10:29 p.m. Moscow time (7 hours ahead of New York/Washington) from the Tyuratam launch base in the Kazakh Republic. Sputnik, with a diameter of 22 inches and weight of 184 pounds, orbited Earth once every hour and 36 minutes. It was visible with binoculars during dawn and twilight, transmitting radio signals back to Earth strong enough that amateur radio operators detected them. While Sputnik’s launch was officially timed to correspond with the International Geophysical Year, a solar period that the International Council of Scientific Unions declared would be ideal for the launching of artificial satellites to study Earth and the solar system, it caught the U.S. government, military and scientific communities off-guard.
It was in this wake that NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established, on October 1958, focusing on civil aerospace research.
DODGERS’ ZENITH MOMENT — THE BROOKLYN DODGERS WON THEIR FIRST — AND ONLY — WORLD SERIES ON Oct. 4, 1955, beating their archrival, the New York Yankees, 2-0. Lefty pitcher Johnny Podres pitched a complete, shutout Game 7 to clinch the title in what was called “nine brilliant innings.” At the time, Podres was 23; on his birthday just four days earlier (Sept. 30), he also pitched a complete Game of the series. During that deciding Game 7, the Brooklyn Dodgers got their first run when catcher Roy Campanella hit a double and Gil Hodges sent him home with a well-placed single. Dodgers loaded the bases on a sixth-inning error from the Yankees.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the team lost again to the Yankees in 1956, a fact that many die-hard Brooklynites still gripe about today. The following year, Walter O’Malley angered Brooklyn fans more by moving the team across the U.S. where it became a Los Angeles team.
MORE THAN JUST A LEAP DAY — NATIONS THAT WERE PREDOMINANTLY ROMAN CATHOLIC EXPERIENCED A TIME WARP of 11 days when Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the day following Thursday, Oct 4., 1582, should be Friday, Oct. 15, 1582. The Gregorian calendar that was named for him corrected the existing Julian calendar which was 10 days out of sync with the natural seasons.
However, Great Britain, the American colonies and some Protestant countries continued using the Julian calendar until 1752. Some Eastern Orthodox countries, including Russia and Greece, didn’t switch to the Gregorian calendar until 1918 and 1923, respectively.
CLASSIC ‘50S FAMILY — AMERICAN FAMILY LIFE IN THE 1950s was at the heart of “LEAVE IT TO BEAVER,” which made its TV premiere on Oct. 4, 1957. The sitcom was a stereotypical portrayal of an American family, and focused on the adolescent pangs of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (star: Jerry Mathers); his patient, understanding and all-knowing father, Ward (Hugh Beaumont); impeccably dressed housewife/mother, June (Barbara Billingsley); and Wally (Tony Dow), Beaver’s good-natured, all-American brother. The Cleavers were set up as the perfect, model family. The last episode aired on Sept. 12, 1963, but the show remains popular in syndication.
Had there been a “sister” foil to Beaver and Wally, that might have offered greater perfection. (Later programs, like “Boy Meets World” and “The Cosby Show” featured more girl siblings.)
HIS FIRST NAME WASN’T FRANCIS — THE FEAST DAY OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISSI (usually marked as the day in which a particular saint has either been martyred or died naturally) is observed annually on Oct. 4. Born as Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, at Assisi, which is in the Italian region of Umbria in 1181. Francis renounced the wealth in which he had been raised for a simpler life. He founded of the Friars Minor (Franciscan Order), and, as some sources chronicle, gained the respect of a sultan, and, against the backdrop of the Crusades, helped build common ground between Christians and Muslims. Franciscans have a strong presence today in the Holy Land, and it is believed that it was his outreach that allowed the Franciscans to be guardians of the Christian sites.
Today, many churches observe St. Francis of Assisi Day with the blessing of animals, particularly household pets.
See previous milestones, here.
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