On This Day, August 13

Posted on 13th Aug 2012 by ian under On This Day | No Comments »

Ahhh, another Monday, another working week.  So happy I enjoy what I do.  I would hate to hate Mondays.

My other half asked me why I choose the OTD bits that I do – mostly it is what interests me – the bizarre, the historically interesting and people who have influenced or entertained me.  Being a Baby Boomer and a child of the 70’s, not too many people born in the last 30 years get a run.

When I read this, it tickled both my sense of the bizarre and history.  On this day in 1831 in Virginia, a slave by the name of Nat Turner, saw a solar eclipse.  He interpreted this as a sign from God and rounded up some fellow slaves and killed 60 white folk.  Turner was subsequently executed and at least 100 blacks died in the payback.  Some actions can have an unequal and opposite reaction.

In 1964, Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans became the last people to be executed in the United Kingdom when they were hanged for the murder of John Alan West.  What took my eye here was that they both died at 8:00am – Evans hanged in Strangeways Prison and Allen at Liverpool’s Walton Prison.  The main interest was  another Allen called Harry – he was the executioner who took care of Evans.  Harry always wore a bow-tie as a sign of respect.  He assisted in 53 hangings and was the chief executioner at 29 of them… “So, tell me, young Harry, what would you like to be when you grow up?”  Harry married twice and said that he never felt remorse and always slept well the night before and after the hanging.  “How was your day, dear?”  “Oo it went off lovely, like…”  Harry kept a detailed diary that would make for macabre reading.  For example, he made this entry after one hanging, “”Very good job, but should have had another two or three inches – very strong.”

He’s quite a dapper chap, isn’t he?  In 2008, Harry’s personal effects sold for  £17,000 at auction – they included his diary, tape measure, letters, leather case and his collection of bow ties.

And to those born on this day – Alfred Hitchcock in 1899.  Was a big fan of Hitchcock’s direction and humour.  Have all his movies in a collection.  This week his Vertigo was named the greatest movie of all time, the first time Citizen Kane has been pipped.  My favourites are Psycho, Rear Window and The Birds.

Fidel Castro was born on this day in 1926.  Just amazed that the Cuban dictator is still alive really.  And, in 1935, comedian Rodd Hull, was born.  He did a ventriloquist act with a stuffed emu that amused me greatly.  I still have the images of the emu attacking Don Lane’s nether regions.

Also dying on this day, in 2008, was the world’s tallest woman, coincidentally, another Allen, with the first name, Sandy.  At 7’ 7” (over 230cm) she would not have been able to pick up a coffin off the shelf.