The Double Event, 1888

On this day in 1888, the murders of not one, but two, prostitutes were committed in the impoverished Whitechapel area of London.  It is widely accepted that a single serial serial killer popularly known as Jack the Ripper committed these murders and the murders of three other Whitechapel prostitutes. Together, the victims of these murders are known as the canonical five. September 30th is the only day on which two Whitechapel murders were committed, hence it became known as the “double event.”

The “double event” victims, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, were killed and mutilated early in the morning. Stride’s body was discovered first at 1 a.m. in Dutfield’s yard, while Eddowes’ body was found 45 minutes later at Mitre Sqaure. Furthermore, part of Eddowes’ bloody apron was found at the entrance to a building in Goulston Street, Whitechapel. Near the apron was graffito that said:

The Juwes are

The men That

Will not

be Blamed

For nothing.

It is not known if the text, which became known as the Goulston Street Graffito, was written by the killer or if he merely dropped the apron piece under it. In any case, the graffito seemed to suggest a Jewish perpetrator. Fearing anti-Semitic backlash,  Police Commissioner Charles Warren ordered the graffito to be removed.

I think that Jack the Ripper holds a certain fascination with the public because he is shrouded in mystery. After all, the Whitechapel Murderer was never caught. For all we know, “Jack the Ripper” could have been “Jill the Ripper” or multiple people committing murders in Whitechapel. But that’s what is fun about historical mysteries; we don’t have all the details so we fill in the gaps on our own, and make the story whatever we want it to be.

Samuel Adams, 1722

On September 27, 1722, Samuel Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his cousin, John Adams (perhaps you’ve heard of him- he was the second US president), were Patriots and politicians.

Portrait of Sam Adams painted by John Singleton Copley.

Adams, a Harvard College graduate, opposed British taxation and led efforts against the Stamp Act of 1765. He also played a key role in organizing the Boston Tea Party in response to the Tea Act of 1773.

Adams was a Massachusetts legislator from 1765 to 1774 and was then appointed to the Continental Congress. In 1776, he and John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, severing ties between America and Great Britain. After the war, he served as Governor of Massachusetts in 1794.

The Declaration of Independence

Adams was the son of a merchant and brewer and even attempted brewery himself (unsuccessfully). I’m mentioning this, of course, because Adams has a well-known beer named after him. Fun fact: the picture on the the Samuel Adams logo is actually a depiction of Paul Revere, not Sam Adams. This is partly due to the fact that the beer was going to be named “Paul Revere Beer,” and partly because, let’s face it, Revere is more attractive than Adams.

Paul Revere pretending to be Sam Adams pretending to be a successful brewer.

The Samuel Adams Statue at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.

-Samuel Adams

Ground Broken for Fenway Park, 1911

Politicians and officials breaking ground on Fenway Park.

On this day in 1911, ground was broken on the historic Fenway Park, which has been home to the Boston Red Sox since it opened in 1912. Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball Stadium used today.

Architect James McLaughlin originally designed Fenway, but since then, there have been many renovations. All in all, Fenway has a very unique, quirky design that gives the park character and charm (or should I say chahm?).

The Green Monster.

The iconic Green Monster, currently the highest wall in Major League Baseball, was part of the original design.  However, it was not painted green until 1947. Before that, it was covered in advertisements, and just called “The Wall.” The Green Monster is so important to the Red Sox that their mascot is a “Green Monster” named “Wally.”

The other Green Monster.

Other features of Fenway Park include The Triangle, Williamsburg, and the Lone Red Seat. The Red Seat marks where Ted Williams hit the longest home run at Fenway Park on June 9, 1946.

The Red Seat.

 

We love Fenway Park because we love antiques, be they rocking chairs or ballparks. But we love it even more because the eccentricities of the place mirror our own. It is, like us, difficult and cranky. And this makes it a mighty hard place for a player to play in. Too bad. Players come and go, but Fenway Park may become an American Pyramid.

-Clark Booth, Red Sox Sportscaster

I’ve never been to Fenway Park, but I really want to go and take a tour (because I’m a history nerd) and catch a game (because hot dogs).

Have you been to Fenway Park?

 

Checkers Speech, 1952

Presidential campaigns can be intense, which is why I think it’s important to counterbalance politics with puppies. Fortunately, Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Richard Nixon agree. On this day in 1944 and 1952, the two presidents addressed the nation and discussed their dogs (among other things).

FDR driving Fala around. No big deal.

 

First, in 1944, FDR gave a campaign speech in which he humorously described Republican attacks against him:

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself … But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog!

Fala listening to FDR defend his honor.

Eight years later, Nixon’s campaign for vice president on the Republican ticket was in shambles because of allegations that he used an $18,000 campaign contribution for personal expenses. Nixon addressed these claims on September 23, 1952 in a televised speech to the nation. In this speech, he channeled FDR and mentioned his family’s dog, Checkers:

One other thing I should probably tell you, because if I don’t they will probably be saying this about me, too. We did get something, a gift, after the election.

A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention that our two youngsters would like to have a dog, and, believe it or not, the day we left before this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was?

It was a little cocker spaniel dog, in a crate that he had sent all the way from Texas, black and white, spotted, and our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it Checkers.

And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.

Sixty million people tuned into Nixon’s Checkers Speech, breaking the record for the largest television audience at the time, and won him public support, particularly in Middle America. The speech demonstrated how television completely changed American political rhetoric.

FDR infused humor in his speech by mentioning Fala, but Nixon went straight for America’s heartstrings with his Checkers speech which consequently became a turning point in his campaign.

Do presidents’ dogs humanize them?

Upton Sinclair, 1878

I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.

On this day in 1878, Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Sinclair is a famous muckraking journalist known today for his 1906 novel, The Jungle. Muckrakers were investigative journalists who rose to popularity during the Progressive Era because they exposed the ugly truths of industrialization and promoted reform. The Jungle uncovered the disgusting secrets of the meatpacking industry.

[T]he meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one—there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit… There were the butt-ends of smoked meat, and the scraps of corned beef, and all the odds and ends of the waste of the plants, that would be dumped into old barrels in the cellar and left there. Under the system of rigid economy which the packers enforced, there were some jobs that it only paid to do once in a long time, and among these was the cleaning out of the waste barrels. Every spring they did it; and in the barrels would be dirt and rust and old nails and stale water—and cartload after cartload of it would be taken up and dumped into the hoppers with fresh meat, and sent out to the public’s breakfast.

-Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

People were so affected by his depiction of the meat-packing industry that they demanded change. The public outcry led to the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Sinclair, a Socialist, is sometimes criticized for the idealistic views  apparent in his writing. Regardless, he shed light on the grisly details of the meatpacking industry and united the public against unsafe practices in the food industry.

I still might not be able to eat sausage in a while though…

Tiffany and Co. is Founded, 1837

Tiffany and Co. sign in the iconic “Tiffany Blue.”

On September 18, 1837, Tiffany and Company was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young in New York City as a “stationery and fancy goods” store. These “fancy goods” include fine diamond jewelry for which the company is best known.

Tiffany and Co. quickly became known for its simple, nature-inspired designs, but gained global fame  in 1867 after winning the grand prize in silver craftsmanship at the World’s Fair.

After winning numerous other awards, Tiffany’s became the jeweler of European royalty as well as the Tsar of Russia and the Ottoman Emperor. Abraham Lincoln bought his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, a seed pearl suite from Tiffany and Co. But that’s not the only Tiffany’s that’s been in the White House; Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy are two other First Ladies who couldn’t get enough blue boxes.

I thought it would be hard to find a picture of Mary Todd Lincoln in the seed pearl suite, but she is literally wearing them in almost every picture. Good job, Abe.

Fictional characters love Tiffany’s too! In Truman Capote’s classic book-turned-movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, protagonist Holly Golightly adores the flagship store and considers it an oasis.

Audrey Hepburn (as Holly Golightly) eating breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 

Well, when I get [the mean reds] the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.

Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The Metropolitan Opera House Opens, 1966

On this day in 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House opened on Broadway at Lincoln Square in New York City. The new Met replaced an older Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street that was established in 1883, but demolished in 1967 after it was deemed to small to house the growing Metropolitan Opera Company.

Former Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, designed by Wallace K Harrison, has 3,800 seats and 195 places to stand to watch a performance.

The current Metropolitan Opera House, in all its glory.

Beautiful chandeliers hang in the auditorium before performances and are raised into the ceiling during the performance.

Here is a trailer for the upcoming season at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Okay, flashback time to my one and only opera experience:

I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Winspear Opera  House in Dallas with my French class in ninth grade, because the opera was in French for some reason (Italian setting + English playwright = French opera?). Everyone got dressed up and we rode there together on our yellow school bus.

We got there with plenty of time to spare, so we waded in the reflecting pool in front of the stunning opera house and visited the gift shop. I also decided to purchase some ridiculously overpriced Toblerone. It’s all part of the experience, I guess. Afterwards, we did some people watching, which was fun because there were some pretty highfalutin people there.

Eventually, we made our ways up and up and up to our humble nosebleed seats. The people around us were thrilled, I’m sure, to see a group of 20 ninth graders sit near them.

But I digress.

Like the Met, there was a stunning chandelier in the auditorium before the performance. Suddenly, the chandelier ascended into the ceiling, the lights dimmed, and the music began. I was so excited! And even though I knew the general story of Romeo and Juliet and I was a French student, I was relieved to see that English subtitles were projected onto the curtain above the stage. This is going to be great! I thought.

And it was… at first. Act 1 was glorious, but then it kept going and going and going. My excitement for opera waned as the night went on. This thing was LONG! By the end, I just couldn’t wait for the characters to die. When Juliet stabbed herself in the diaphragm, I thought, Yes! She can’t possibly sing now! It must be over! But no, she continues to sing even with the dagger lodged in her rib cage. How does that work? HOW? But finally, she collapsed for good, sang her last note, and the velvet curtains closed.

I wanted to love the opera, but it was just too long, and the music- beautiful at first- really started to irritate me by the end. But still, whenever I see a trailer for the opera, I think that I should give the opera another chance, if for no other reason than the Toblerone.

Do you like the opera? Do you like the idea of the opera?