On This Day, August 19

Posted on 19th Aug 2012 by ian under On This Day | No Comments »

Must be Sunday!

On this day in 1561, 18yo Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to Scotland after spending 13 years in France.

In 1692, at the Salem witch trials, one woman and four men (including a clergyman) were executed after being convicted of witchcraft.  Do you recall the logic behind the witch conviction in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? In a nutshell, to be burned at the stake she had to be made of wood, and if she were made of wood, she would float and therefore would weigh the same as something else that floated, a duck!  When weighed and found to be the same weight as a duck, even the accused saw it as a fair cop.

In 1895, American outlaw, John Wesley Hardin was killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas.  My Aunt Laura was four at the time.  It’s just sometimes tricky putting parallel history in perspective.

In 1960 the Soviet Union launched the satellite, Sputnik 5, containing two dogs, Belka and Strelka, 40 mice and two rats with no names and a bunch of plants.

To those born on this day…

Tennis player, ophthalmologist and author, Renée Richards.

In 1975 Dr Richards had gender reassignment surgery but was denied entry into the US open as a woman.  She went to court and won the landmark case for the rights of transsexuals.

Ginger Baker (Cream and Blind Faith) was born in 1939, Billy J Kramer (Little Children) in 1943, US President Bill Clinton (close but no cigar) in 1946 and guitar-playing medico and Australian politician, Brendon Nelson, in 1958.

And finally, on this day in 1977 American comedian and actor, Groucho Marx, died.

One famous ‘quote’ of Groucho’s is one he probably didn’t actually say.  During the recording of an episode of You Bet Your Life a contestant said that she had nine children.  Groucho is reputed to have asked why she had so many.  The woman replied, “I love my husband,” to which Groucho retorted, “I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.”

A few things he certainly did say:

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.

I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.

I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.