Tag Archives: History

Happy Birthday, Apple Macintosh


I have never owned an Apple “Mac”.

I have tried to use them but I have been too contaminated by Gatesware.

Yes, since you ask, I am strongly monolingual as well!

Yet I acknowledge that the Mac has an extremely important position in the history of home computing.

So, in honour of its 25th anniversary, here is the TV commercial which kicked the whole show off.

Odd Shots on Monday #4


Perth, Western Australia was a child of the vision of one Captain, later Admiral Sir James Stirling.

There is the obligatory statue on a small lawned area just outside the old, convict built, Town Hall.

In the middle of a city it is easy for children to become bored.

So the statue of our founding father is often used as a piece of playground equipment.

There were contemporaries of Stirling who would have enjoyed seeing this disrespect!

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What Happened The Year You Were Born


While there is a very strong US bias in the events, this is an interesting exercise.


In XXXX (the year you were born)


Franklin Delano Roosevelt is president of the US

DNA, the basic genetic material of the cell, is found by scientists at the Rockefeller Institute

D-Day, the Normandy invasion of Europe by the US and the Allies begins

US forces land at Leyte, in the Philippines

President Roosevelt signs the GI Bill giving education and housing benefits to veterans

A tip leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse where they find Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family

Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the only U.S. president to be elected to a fourth term

Jimmy Page, Jerry Springer and Diana Ross are born

St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series

Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship

Montreal Canadians win the Stanley Cup

Pippi Longstocking is published in Sweden

Roofline


When I was young the Perth Railway Station on Wellington Street, had a series of platforms, side by side, separated by the rails. The trains were all clouds of steam and noisy and wonderful to a little boy.

The station building was enormous and old and elegant as can be seen from this image, taken in 1932. You had to buy a ticket just to go into the platforms, even if you were not travelling on the train.

Then steam were replaced by diesel power which was more powerful but nowhere near as impressive.

Those original platforms were covered by a series of little roofs which allowed the smoke and steam to escape. This was no longer as necessary when diesel took over and became completely unnecessary when the whole network was changed to electric powered units.

While the old building is still there at the front, the platforms have been completely renovated over the past few decades.

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Now we come to where I originally wanted to be. This is the post which grew. This is the image I first wanted to share, everything which precedes is due to my pedantic historian’s need to over-explain.

The new roof of the Perth Railway Station, which no longer needs to be open to the elements, has a striking appearance from below.

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Perth’s Past #12 (Conclusion)


Around the 1940’s or 1950’s we used to have the “Candid Cameraman” who would take your photo while you walked down the street. Having given you his card, you visited the studio to see if you liked the print. If you did, you could buy it. Some of the best of our photos were taken this way. Shirley (b 1932)

We were not called teenagers in those days. If anything, it was “flappers”, because of the large bows that were fashionable to wear at the back of the neck, fastening our hair back. We had never heard of generation gaps and young people, especially girls, had very few rights. You did as you were told until you turned 21 or were married. Except for an evening at the pictures, which did not finish until 10.30, and later, if we were taken to a show, we were expected to be home by 10.00 o’clock. It seemed that “sin” started at that hour! No “decent” girl would be on the streets at that hour. In fact, a few days before I was married, Ern and I went for a walk and didn’t get in until 10 past 10.00. Mother didn’t approve and told me so! I’m afraid I got a little cross, I was 22 at the time. But things were worse when she was a girl. She told us that when my father came courting, her mother started to wind the clock at 9.00 o’clock, surely a broad enough hint to him that it was time to go. Myrtle (b 1906)

Perth had its share of colourful characters in those days.

Percy Buttons would entertain theatre queues by turning somersaults and standing on his head and then putting it in his hat, which he then passed around. It was said of him that occasionally the Police would put him in gaol for a couple of days, while they cleaned him up a bit and gave him a decent meal.

“Matches” shuffled around Perth streets with a tray of boxes of matches. I think the idea was that you put your money on the tray but did not take the matches – begging in the streets was prohibited. He was reputed to be a Police “nark”, but of that I would not know.

There was Percy Brunton, who went around immaculately dressed, with a top hat with a Union Jack draped around it. He always wore a mauve waist-coat and pushed a baby’s pram around with his pamphlets in it. He was a fluent speaker and very clever at repartee, and usually attracted a large crowd when he spoke on the Esplanade. He put up for Parliament once, but I think he lost his deposit. He was really clever, and no one knew why he chose to live as he did.

“Pink top, lolly pop. Lemonade, all in the shade” – I don’t remember the rest but this was the cry of “Pink Top” one of our most colourful characters. He had a fruit barrow outside Perth Station, and afterwards bought into a sweets shop in Barrack Street. While he had the barrow, my mother bought fruit from him as she walked to the station for her train. She told how he counted the dozen oranges …”one, two, three…”, up to 12, “…and one for the baby”. She watched carefully but there were always just twelve when she got home!

Another figure was “Drewy Dyson”. A huge mountain of a man who drove around in a sulky with a miserable looking pony in the shafts. “Fat as Drewy Dyson” was a common expression to describe a very fat person.

“Jimmy Foureyes”, a black-skinned man who pushed his barrow around the streets, sharpened knives and scissors.

“Giblets” too, went around Perth with a tray around his neck containing studs, bootlaces and other oddments. Myrtle (b 1906)

Very different social attitudes from the present day are reflected in the newspapers of fifty years ago. The “Public Notices” column makes interesting reading …..

“Mr. J.E. Jones is not the John Edward Jones referred to in the Divorce Court last week”.

“As my wife Mrs. Florence Jones is no longer under my protection, having left the family home against my wishes, I will no longer be responsible for any debts incurred by her. Signed: John Edgar Jones, Guildford.”

“Mrs. F. James of Devenish Street, Cottesloe, wishes the public to know that Miss R. Roe, convicted of stealing in the Police Court on Tuesday, was only a boarder in her house.” Shirley (b 1932)

Perth’s Past#11


One of the great celebrations of the year, as far as children were concerned, was Guy Fawkes Night. This disappeared many years later when the sale of crackers was banned. I don’t think the crackers we had could have been as powerful as those produced later for I never heard of anyone being injured in any way. While our grandmother lived, she always came to visit us on that night and brought us crackers. We had a bonfire, for which we had been gathering sticks, etc., for weeks before. Sometimes we begged a few potatoes from our mother and roasted them in the fire. They were mostly burnt on the outside and half-raw in the middle, but we thought they were marvellous. For weeks before the great day, small boys would be seen pulling their home-made carts with an effigy inside, calling out “Penny for the Guy”. Most passers-by tossed pennies in the cart and the proceeds went to buy crackers. Myrtle (b 1906)

Our Saturday treat was to spend a penny each at the corner shop. It was a serious occasion and we made the most of it. As we walked we planned how to get the best value for our money. “You buy a milk pole and a licorice strap, and I’ll get eight lolly balls, and we’ll share”. We wasted nothing, even licking the paper the sweets were wrapped in. Myrtle (b 1906)

In the ‘fifties, the Saturday treat was the “pictures”. 1/6d. gave us entry to the local theatre, where we had the hard choice to spend a 1/-d. for entry to the Dress Circle and 6d. on a box of Jaffas; or 6d. on entry to the Stalls (only to be on the receiving end of the Jaffas (launched with unerring accuracy from the Dress Circle when the film got “soppy”!), 6d. for an ice-cream and 6d. for a packet of Columbines. “Hopalong Cassidy”, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, three cartoons, Tarzan – all favourites and all expected each week. There were also serials which ran over about six Saturday afternoons. And a “Movietone” newsreel! Love scenes were NOT approved of, and the violence of myriad Indians being shot did not appear to worry us. The “good” guy always had the white hat, and the “baddies” always wore black. John (b 1944)

Another red-letter day was Show Day. The Thursday of Show Week was Children’s Day, when children were admitted free, and we saved as much as we could for months before to have money to spend at the Show. If we managed a shilling (10c.) we considered ourselves rich. Taking our lunch with us, we religiously walked round every exhibit, meeting together outside the Poultry Shed to have our lunch. Our pennies were mostly spent on ice-cream – vanilla ice a penny a cup – or peanuts. Sample bags in those days cost 6d. (5c.) but we didn’t have enough money to buy those. Myrtle (b 1906)

Sunday School picnics, too, were a yearly treat. Sometimes a Lorry Picnic, when a flat-topped lorry was hired. Seats were put on this, and we were taken to Peppermint Grove or Mosman’s Bay. Sometimes it was a Launch Picnic, when we walked together to the Claremont Jetty, known to us as “the big jetty”, and here boarded a motor launch to go to Point Walter. Whatever the venue, the procedure was always the same. On arrival, we would line up and were given a bun and an apple, and a mug of ginger beer. We all had our mugs hung around our necks on a piece of string. We then played games until tea time. Always the same, I think we would’ve felt cheated if anything had been varied. Corned beef sandwiches and cups of tea. We finished with cake and sometimes a slice of watermelon. On the trip home we all sang lustily and then we had the long walk home from the jetty. Myrtle (b 1906)

After the 2nd World War, Sunday School picnics (or Legacy picnics, or Works picnics) had changed little. MacKay’s Brewed Ginger Beer was still served from its kegs, the games were still the same – Egg’n’Spoon races, Sack races, Three-legged races, sprints, Wheel Barrow races, etc. There was one addition – Peter’s Ice-creams! Served on a cone from a green canvas-covered cylinder. Again always the same, and yes ….. even in the ‘fifties if anything had changed we also would have felt cheated. John (b 1944)

Of course, we looked forward to Christmas. The contents of our “stockings” varied, according to the state of the family finances, but we always had “chook” for dinner. Chickens were a luxury in those days, not the common meal they are today, but we always fattened up some for Christmas and Easter, or perhaps we had ducks, and naturally, the Christmas pudding. Such excitement! It was made well before the day, and on Christmas morning, the copper would be lit and the pudding boiled in it. With the long boiling it was almost black. There were threepenny pieces in it (too). Miraculously, we each found one in our pudding, but we could never fathom why, if we had a second helping, we never found another, or why my father and uncle, who always had Christmas dinner with us, found a sovereign (a gold coin) in theirs. It was an exciting day, and the start of the school holidays. Myrtle (b 1906)

Perth’s Past #10


One thing that has changed vastly during the last seventy years, is clothing. Our fashion and way of dressing came originally from England with the early settlers, but it is strange that it took so long for men and women to adjust to the different climate.

Men, for instance, were not properly dressed unless in a three-piece suit, with shirt buttoned up to the neck and a stiff collar with tie. My father wore white shirts to work with long sleeves and always a stiff collar. These collars, cold-starched, were ironed and polished with a polishing iron, a flat-iron with a rounded bottom. We sent our mens collars to the Chinese laundry, cost 2d. each. We did learn to do them up when we went to the cooking school, but one still seemed to manage to get a black smudge on them from the ironand we were glad to let “John” have them. Long white trousers with open-necked shirts were worn for sport, but it was many years before shorts were permitted. In the ‘twenties, soft collars were introduced, but these fitted around the neck and must have been hot.

Women’s clothing was as bad, although they changed quicker. I remember my mother always wore boned collars when she went out. In fact, Auntie Myrtle, always more practical, wore a slightly open collar to her mother’s funeral, and people were shocked. “She insulted her mother’s memory”.

Blouses were heavily trimmed with lace and embroidery with pintucks and fancy stitching, and skirts were ankle length and full and heavy, worn over petticoats, flounced and lace-trimmed. These were starched stiff and you can imagine the ironing!

At about 16, girls let down their skirts and put up their hair. The first short hair was introduced during the War, and spread fairly quickly. Women wore stays, a heavily-boned corset tightly laced, to give the appearance of a tiny waist. I was thankful that this was no longer the done thing when I reached adolescence. I hated restrictive clothing the, and still do. I do remember when I was 15, remarking to one of the Church girls, that I had never worn a corset. She was horrified and told me my figure would be ruined! Stockings were mainly black – cashmere or lisle, very hot and uncomfortable during summer.

Little girls pants were buttoned on to a bodice with a flap-trap at the back. Quite a lot of work went into the making of these, which were worn down to the knees and lace-edged. It took quite a while for my mother to come to terms with elastic waisted bloomers. She was sure that the elastic around our waists could not be healthy for us. Our petticoats, also lace-trimmed, had short sleeves. As children we were made to wear boots, good solid ones. My father had an idea that wearing boots would strengthen our ankles, so we wore boots and hated them. I remember a pair of patent leather shoes that Auntie Myrtle bought for me with white socks to go with them. How I loved those “shiny shoes”, and of course, as money was always scarce, I was permitted to wear them.

Boys all wore short trousers until adolescence, when they went into “long-uns”.This was quite an occasion, and was usually accompanied by a lot of teasing from the family.Now little boys wear jeans and shorts are for casual wear.

Women shed their shackles sooner than men, appearing in light frocks with short sleeves during the hot weather, their male counterparts still sweltering in navy blue serge. I think it was pretty well into the ‘twenties that there were rumblings and even talk of a Men’s Dress Reform League, and gradually common-sense prevailed and cooler clothing was worn. I remember even after I married, the Bank Manager’s wife saying that she would not permit a man in her drawing room dressed in shorts. Bathers were “neck to knee” with short sleeves. Boys were permitted to wear “vees” in their own baths, but on carnival days, had to appear in one-piece suits. We felt very daring when we had our bathing suits finishing half-way between the knee and thigh. Myrtle (b 1906)

 

When I turned 12 in the mid 50’s, I was presented with a pair of “long-uns”. Long trousers were still a sign of becoming a man. High School uniform included long serge trousers and a shirt and school tie. Shorts were only worn at PT sessions and during sport afternoons. Bathers still had short legs and high waists for swimming carnivals. In the latter half of the 1950s, concerns that Australia’s teenagers, and especially working-class teenagers, were becoming delinquent reached a crescendo. Law-abiding citizens observed with concern bodgies and widgies congregating in milk bars and on street corners. Violence and sexual license were their hallmarks, they believed, with alarmist and sensationalist media reports having established and fuelled these understandings. The Bodgies and Widgies gathered, in Western Australia, at the “Snakepit” on Scarborough Beach for Friday and Saturday night dances. This a part of the new evil, Rock and Roll Music. While the young men wore trousers and collar and ties, they also wore “Desert Boots”, crepe rubber soled shoes. The young women wore tight black pants and smoked in public! Denim jeans became the uniform of the next generation of both male and female teenagers in the late 60’s. T-Shirts became popular at the same time.  John (1944)

Mourning clothes were black. Where men could not afford to buy a black suit, they wore a black armband to denote a death in the family. Widows wore deep black for nine months, and then came out of mourning gradually, wearing perhaps a white blouse with a black skirt. Some even had black-edged handkerchiefs. It was King George Vth during the 1st World War who asked that people did not wear mourning for their soldiers, as most of the community would be in black, which would be most depressing. From this the custom gradually disappeared, for which we give thanks. Some used black-edged stationery for months after a death and sympathy cards were all black-bordered. Myrtle (b 1906)

Perth’s Past #9


Then there was public transport. The open drays and buggies had long gone and in their place were Buses. There were many different bus companies and each had their own area to service: the maroon and brown Beam to Midland and the hills, the green Metro to Fremantle and Claremont, the maroon buses to Kalamunda and the brown Government fleet from Victoria Park to Subiaco. But there were alternatives. Who can forget the thrill of a visit to Perth by Trolley Bus. Many may remember the electric trams, connected by two poles to an overhead power line, grumbling noisily along their steel tracks but the trolley bus represented style. (The noise made by trams was much more interesting. And you couldn’t squash a penny under a trolley bus but trams and trains were great for that. John (b 1944))

 

Powered on the same principle as the trams but with rubber tyres it glided smoothly along with a minimum of noise and fuss. If we were lucky the day continued with a ferry ride to South Perth on the Duchess II and a visit to the Zoo with the special treats of a ride on the elephant or the miniature train. (Where the “Savannah display” now stands was an oval with a small train track running around the perimeter. You could picnic on the oval, either with school group, Sunday school group or just with your family. I have a vague memory of flying to Rottnest Island (it must have been on the DC3 of Jimmy Woods) and being shown the zoo from the air. The miniature railway line is what I remember, with the train going around the rails. I would have been younger than five at the time. John (b 1944))

 

You could also watch Teddy the Chimpanzee sitting down on a small chair at a little table and enjoying afternoon tea with his keeper. Shirley (b 1932)

Financially, life was always a problem. There were no Unemployment Benefits in those days and no Worker’s Compensation, though that came a little later. My father told us of a friend who fell, while working on a building. He broke his leg at 2.45 p.m. and the Boss generously paid him up until 3.00 p.m. He was out of work for nine months and his wife had to go out washing, the only work available to most women at that time. Myrtle (b 1906)

Knives, steel, had to be cleaned, usually a job for one of the children on a Saturday morning. The job was done on a board, with a cork, and using some red powder, which made a horrible mess, so that the child was told to do the work outside. Myrtle (b 1906)

Perth’s Past #8


When I first started school, we used slates, but these were shortly done away with as unhygenic…..They were a piece of slate with a wooden frame around it, about 9 inches (23cm) by 8 inches (20cm). We wrote with a slate pencil, a pencil made out of slate, slightly sharpened at one end. Writing could be washed out with a damp rag, but, of course, being children some just spat on their rags to clean the slates, hence the ban. Myrtle (b 1906)

“[At school] we started in First Infants and progressed through to Third Infants and then First Standard in the Infants School. All the normal subjects such as reading, writing and arithmetic were taught. For writing we had a Copy Book in which the first line was written in a copperplate hand. It was expected that the child would copy this line exactly. John (b 1920)

This copying was fine for anyone with an artistic bent but if you had problems with neatness or could not see the value in making every letter look the same then there were problems with the teacher. If you were lucky you simply missed out on lunch and recess breaks while you tried vainly to come up to the standard demanded by the teacher. If you were unlucky then the hand which was committing the sin of untidiness received an unwelcome visitor – the cane! This part of schooling continued on into the 1950’s. John (b 1944)

After a year or so we learnt to write in ink. On the top of the desk was bored a hole a little over an inch in diameter. In this hole was placed an inkwell to hold the ink. The pen was about the thickness of a pencil with a nib holder on one end. The nib was shaped to retain the ink for writing – light upstrokes and heavy downstrokes. It was obvious that a child had been writing in ink by the state of his hands. Ink from fingertips to elbow and generally a few blots on his shirt. Mothers must have rejoiced when the biro was introduced about 1960. Later we progressed to fountain pens where ink was kept in a rubber bladder inside a plastic tube which fed ink into the nib. John (b 1920)

For many children there was no need to gain more than a basic education. The minimum school leaving age was 14 until the early 1960’s and many children left at the end of second year high school (year eight) to move into the workforce as apprentices. Classes for third year were always smaller and by the time the Junior Examination was passed, fourth year was so small a group that high schools were divided into two groups – Junior High Schools and Senior High Schools. Only at Senior High Schools could you progress to the Leaving certificate at the end of fifth year which then entitled the holder to go on to University.

The first Senior High was Modern School but after the Second World War more were opened. Kent St. High in Victoria Park collected students from the entire Albany Highway corridor, while John Curtin catered for those between the Canning River and Fremantle. If you lived in the country then you firstly had to leave home simply to go to a Junior High such as those at Albany, Cunderdin, Kalgoorlie or Geraldton but once you reached Fourth Year you had to move again, this time to the city. The only University was the one in Nedlands – U.W.A. John (b 1944)

Perth’s Past #7


Then in 1960, TELEVISION arrived.   In the early years only a few people had this new and expensive form of entertainment.   These houses became the most popular in the district and on Friday and Saturday nights a big group would gather to watch the “Cinema in your Home”.   Eventually most households had their own TV and we all retreated behind our own doors and to a very great extent, lost touch with our neighbours.   Daytime soaps now lasted an hour each instead of fifteen minutes as they had on radio and suddenly there was little time left for a chat over the fence.   Remember the “Micky Mouse Club”, Pick a Box”, and others which became favourites?     John (b 1944)

 

To keep food cool it was put in a “Coolgardie Safe”.   The safe was made of a wood frame, well-to-do people had metal, with hessian stretched around the outside.   On top was a a container of water with flannel strips or wicks running down the hessian.   The water ran down the wick and was caught in a flat container in which the safe stood.   The safe was generally kept in a breezeway and the wind going through kept the container cool.

Later [around 1950] we were able to purchase an ice chest.   [this] consisted of a metal container fixed inside a box.   The space between the box and the container was insulated by either sawdust or cork.   The ice was placed in the top of the chest, somewhat similar to the freezer box of a modern refrigerator.   The ice man called regularly and sold ice at sixpence (five cents) or a shilling (ten cents) a block.   Kids used to stand around when he opened the door at the back [of the truck] and ask for chips of ice.   He used an ice pick to break up the blocks into smaller ones and then carried the block into the house with a pair of tongs or in a hessian bag.   John (b 1920)

 

Normally the children got a chip to suck on – a great treat in the days before “Icy Poles” or even homemade iceblocks.   In the days before electricity was generally available there was another marvelous invention – the kerosene powered refrigerator.   This ran with a burning wick supplying the power.   Very popular throughout the country areas but they may not have been so widespread in the near-city areas.   John (b 1944)

 

I can only just remember a blackman coming around to sell props for the clothes line.   This was long before the days of the “Hills Hoist”.   A line was strung between two trees or posts and supported in the middle by a forked stick called a “prop”.   The Aborigines found it a source of revenue to cut a prop out of bush wood and sell it for a shilling.   The prop was about eight foot long with a fork in the top which supported the clothes line.   John (b 1920)

 

And heaven help any child who dislodged the prop by running through it or by hitting it with a ball.   The washing would have to be re-rinsed and “Just wait till your father gets home” was the comment if you were lucky.   If Mum had a broom in her hand when it happened – watch out!   John (b 1944)

 

Clothing was later hung on twin lines supported by two sawn jarrah posts about thirty feet apart with arms about five feet long swung in the middle on a bolt.   The lines were attached to the ends of the arms and a piece of wire also went from the ends of each arm to a bolt lower down on the post to hold the arm high enough for the washing to clear the ground.   John (b 1920)

 

Chinese greengrocers came around in a horse and cart with a high canvas cover on it.   Charlie Wing Hai was well known in the Claremont area for his fresh fruit.   At Christmas he always brought a present for my mother.   It was either a tin of ginger or a cup and saucer made of china that could be seen through.   John (b 1920)

 

The roads were made of gravel and our house was down towards the valley.   It was not unusual for a horse to come down with a cart behind him.   Whoever was near rushed out and sat on the horses head so that he could not move.   The harness was taken off by the driver and the horse brought to his feet.   It was pitiful to see the state of the knees of some of these animals.   Horse troughs were placed at strategic places and a horse was able to be watered at reasonable times…John (b 1920)

We need more history on the Archive


In another time and place, a certain non-blogger who shall remain nameless despite his grey feathers and idiosyncratic mis-spellings, committed an unholy fox pa!

He made comment upon the propensities of “Scotchmen”!

For his enlightenment and for the boredom of all those who already know this stuff, I present –

The History of Whisky

Year

Event
1505 Guild of Surgeon Barbers, Edinburgh granted charter to sell whisky
1590 First recorded export of whisky to Ireland
1627 Robert Haig establishes his distillery
1675 Robert Boyle describes his new hydrometer
1689 Ferintosh Distillery burnt down by supporters of James ll
1757 Kilbeggan Distillery, reputedly built in Ireland
1779 Justerini & Justerini sell whisky in London.
Bowmore Distillery founded.
1786 Strathisla Distillery founded
1795 Tobermory Distillery on Mull founded
1810 Glenburgie Distillery founded
1817 Teaninich, Duntocher and Lagavulin Distilleries open
1824 Glenlivet takes out license
1826 First patent for a continuous still awarded to Robert Stein.
James Allardes of Glendronach takes out a license.
1837 Lagg Distillery, Arran founded
1844 Glenfarclas Distillery opens
1789 Black Bottle is introduced
1886 Glenfiddich Distillery founded
1894 Famous Grouse Whisky appears for the first time
1897 Tomatin and Dalwhinnie founded
1909 Johnny Walker Red Label launched
1936 Ballantine’s is bought by Hiram Walker
1949 Tullibardine Distillery is rebuilt
1966 Deanston Distillery opens in an old cotton mill designed by Richard Arkwright
1994 500th anniversary of whisky production in Scotland.
Arran Distillery founded.

Who Killed Cora Crippen?


Dr Hawley Crippen is famous for being the first man captured by police through the use of the new-fangled invention of “Wireless”. In 1910 he allegedly killed his wife and then took passage on the “Montrose” for Quebec.

The captain of the Montrose heard of the discovery of the torso of Crippen’s wife and recognised the doctor. He alerted Scotland Yard before sailing out of range and Crippens was arrested upon his arrival in Canada. Returned to London, he was tried, found guilty and executed.

That was all ancient history.

Now new evidence may have proven that the body Crippens allegedly buried in his basement was not that of his wife!

David Foran, a forensic biologist appears to have found that, by using DNA technology, the remains were not those of Cora Crippen.

So it appears that the first criminal caught using radio waves was not guilty of the crime of which he was convicted.

Note – technical stuff ahead. Continue reading

Strange World #12; Cheney, Obama ‘distant cousins’


From a BBC online News report which, given my interest in genealogy, is totally fascinating;

Barack Obama and Dick Cheney

Mr Obama and Mr Cheney share a French ancestor

They may be polar opposites politically but US Vice-President Dick Cheney and Democratic candidate Barack Obama are related, Mr Cheney’s wife says. Lynne Cheney said she had discovered while doing family research for a new book that her husband and the Illinois senator were eighth cousins.

She said she traced a common ancestor of the two men to be a 17th century immigrant from France.

She described the connection as “amazing”.

“This is such an amazing American story that one ancestor… could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths.”

According to Mrs Cheney’s spokeswoman, Mr Obama is distantly related to Mareen Duvall, whose son Samuel married the granddaughter of Mr Cheney’s ancestor, also called Richard Cheney.

Mr Obama’s spokesman, Bill Burton, responded to the news by saying: “Every family has a black sheep.”

Mr Cheney, the brooding neo-conservative closely associated with the decision to invade Iraq, has little else in common with Mr Obama.

Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, has earned epithets like “rock star” because of his popularity among young Democrats, and a reputation as a liberal because of his voting record in the Senate.

Click for other Strange World entries in the archive.

BBC Bonus Quiz; The Nobel Prizes


It’s the Nobel season.

We all know about them but just how much do you really know?

The BBC has published a quiz on the Nobel Prize.

I got 5/10 – And was classed as a contender

Percy Button


Percy Button

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