On This Day, August 16

Posted on 16th Aug 2012 by ian under On This Day | No Comments »

It’s Thursday and, on this day in 1920, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians was whacked in the head by a fastball thrown by Carl Mays of the NY Yankees and died the next day…

If, like Rupert Holmes, you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain, if you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain, then thank your luck August 16s!  On this day in 1954, the world’s first piña colada was made (from Spanish piña meaning pineapple + colada, meaning strained).  It is a sweet, rum-based cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, usually served blended or shaken with ice. It may be garnished with a pineapple wedge, a maraschino cherry or both. The piña colada has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978.

On this day in 1960, Joseph Kittinger parachuted from a balloon over New Mexico at 102,800 feet (31,300 m), setting three records that still stand today: High-altitude jump, free-fall, and highest speed by a human without an aircraft.

To those born on this day…

In 1888, the writer and soldier known as Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence, was born.  He died, aged 46, in a motorbike accident.  The circumstances of Lawrence’s death had far-reaching consequences. One of the doctors attending him was the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. He was profoundly affected by the incident, and consequently began a long study into motorbike accident head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists.  Ray Chapman could have done with one of them.

Others born on August 16 – American actor Robert Culp in 1930… Australian director, Buce Beresford, in 1940… fast bowler Jeff Thompson in 1950… INXS member, Tim Farris, in 1957…

…In 1958, Madonna, the singer Sir Elton John referred to last week as a “nightmare” and looking like a “f*&%ing fairground stripper”… and, in 1967, Pamela Smart, an American convicted of murder.  She did,’t do the actual crime but got her 15yo love to take out her husband under threat of cutting off his access to sex.  On August 1, 1990, a Detective Daniel Pelletier approached her and said, ‘Well Pam, I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that we’ve solved the murder of your husband. The bad news is, you’re under arrest for first-degree murder. Stand up and face the wall.”

On this day in 2006, Aussie playwright, Alex Buzo, died.  I met Alex a couple of times and enjoyed a few ales one afternoon in a Kensington pub (we both got our degrees from nearby UNSW) – He seemed a lovely guy who cared about the world, who was a cricket tragic and who had both love for and loathing of tautology and Rex Mossop.

Buzo’s second play, the iconic Norm and Ahmed, explored issues of racism and generational envy and hit the headlines around Australia in the late 1960s when producers of the play were charged with obscenity for use of the f-word in public.  The charges were eventually quashed by the Attorney-General.