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News, Events, Birthdays, History - August 13 - August 19


Alfred Hitchcock - August 13, 1899
English film director and master of suspense born at London, England. Hitchcock's career as a filmmaker dates back to the silent film era when he madeT he Lodger in 1926, based on the tale of Jack the Ripper. American audiences were introduced to the Hitchcock style in 1935 with the Thirty-Nine Steps and The Lady Vanishes in 1938, after which he went to Hollywood. There he produced a string of classics including Suspicion, Notorious, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Birds, Psycho and Frenzy, in addition to his TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." He died 
Apr 29, 1980, at Beverly Hills, CA.

Julia Child, August 15, 1912
America's beloved food authority, who didn't take a cooking lesson until she was in her 30s, was born at Pasadena, CA. Child's cookbooks and television shows (most famously, "The French Chef") encouraged Americans to cook and eat well and to be skeptical of food fads and diet strictures. "Cooking is not a chore; it is a joy," Child believed. She died at Santa Barbara, CA, Aug 13, 2004.

August 17, 1786 - Davy Crockett
Often referred to as the "King of the Wild Frontier", Crockett was a celebrated 19th century frontiersman, solider and politician. He represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives, and greeting a crowd on his way to Congress, he bragged, "I'm that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half-horse, half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle; can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey locust tree." So was Crockett exaggerating his rough and tumble reputation? Quite probably, but then consider this...a recent episode of the Discovery Channel Mythbusters series took on his claim that he could stick an axe partially into a tree trunk, and then fire his musket from 40 yards away and hit the protruding edge of the axe so precisely that the bullet would split in two. The verdict? They declared the myth "Confirmed", as they were able to duplicate the feat from 20 yards.Mae West

August 17, 1893 - Mae West
West was an actress, playwright and sex symbol of the early 1900s, making a name for herself in Vaudeville and on the New York stage before moving to Hollywood and the movie scene. She was one of the more controversial stars of her day, and often confronted with censorship of her work. One rather tame example of her often-edgy quotations..."When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm better."

August 19, 1902 - Ogden Nash
An American writer, best remembered for his humorous poetry. A few examples are in order...

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.


Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.

August 19, 1871 - Orville Wright
Orville and his brother Wilbur are generally credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight. Although they were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, they were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing flight possible. Their breakthrough was the "three-axis control", which enable pilots to steer an aircraft and maintain equilibrium, and which forms the basis of aircraft controls to this day.

August 20, 1833 - Benjamin Harrison Benjamin Harrison
23rd president of the U.S. (Republican). from 1889 to 1893.  A number of milestones were reached during Harrison's one-term presidency. Six additional states were admitted into the Union (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming), and annual federal spending reached one billion dollars for the first time ever. In Harrison's bid for re-election, the Democrats attacked the "Billion Dollar Congress", and used the issue to defeat the Republicans. How times have changed...some 70 years later Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was credited with this remark - "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money".


V-J Day Anniversary - August 14, 1945
Anniversary of President Harry Truman's announcement that Japan had surrendered to the Allies, setting off celebrations across the nation. Official ratification of surrender occurred aboard the USMS issouri at Tokyo Bay, Sept 2.

Transcontinental U.S. Railway Completion - August 15, 1870
The Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory Point, UT, May 10, 1869, was long regarded as the final link in a transcontinental railroad track reaching from an Atlantic port to a Pacific port. In fact, that link occurred unceremoniously on another date in another state. Diaries of engineers working at the site establish "the completion of a transcontinental track at a point 928 feet east of today's milepost 602, or 3,812 feet east of the present Union Pacific depot building at Strasburg (formerly Comanche)," CO. The final link was made at 2:53 PM, Aug 15, 1870. Annual celebration at Strasburg, CO, on a weekend in August.

Panama Canal Opens - August 15, 1914
After 10 years of construction and much multination diplomacy, the Panama Canal opened for operation. A self-propelled crane boat made the first passage through the canal, a 50-mile waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, on Jan 7, 1914. The first ocean steamer, the SSA Incon, passed through Aug 3, 1914, and the canal officially 

Elvis Presley Death Anniversary - August 16, 1977
One of America's most popular singers, Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at the Memphis Baptist Hospital at 3:30 PM, Aug 16, 1977, at age 42. The anniversary of his death is an occasion for pilgrimages by admirers to Graceland, his home and gravesite at Memphis, TN