Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ratcachers, Spooners, Crippen, Roanoke

What really happened in the town of Hamelin?

Yes, we all know the story of the Pied Piper, and how he took away the rats, and then the children. We all grow up figuring it is just a story.

Something did happen to the children of Hamelin, sometime before the year 1200, something that so impressed itself upon the town's consciousness that a stained glass window commemorating it was in the city's church by 1300, verses were composed by that time, and the window itself was to be seen until around 1660, when it was replaced.

Did 130 of the town's children get drafted into a Children's Crusade? Was there a landslide that buried a large group of children out playing near the river? Perhaps several curious children went out to see the river, swollen over its banks with unseasonable rains, and got careless and silly as children do and were washed away.

It's a mystery, and like the mystery of what happened to the first of Roanoke Island's settlers, we will likely never really know.

It did however, take something amazing to happen to sear itself into the minds of a town so strongly.

Another curious coincidence tied to this date. In 1910, the captain of the SS Montrose, and Atlantic steamer, cabled that he believed a notorious murderer named Hawley Crippen and his lover were on board in disguise. He was correct, and when they reached port on July 31, the pair were arrested.

Then, in December of 1914, the SS Montrose was to be sunk at the entry to Dover harbor as a defense against U-boats. It broke from its mooring during a storm and a futile attempt was made to secure cables and rein her in. She was finally sunk in the channel where she can still be seen.

So, what is so curious about that? The last sailor to leave the ship after the attempt to secure her was named Crippen.

Today is

Cleveland Day

Dornach Commemoration Day -- Switzerland

Festival of Boredom and Reverie

Hammock Day

Independence Day -- India

International Childbirth Education Awareness Day

National Liberation Day -- Poland

National Penuche Fudge Day

Pi Approximation Day (22nd day of month 7; 22/7 is the approximation of Pi)

Preparedness Day

Ratcatcher's Day

Soma-Nomaoi -- Japan (wild horse chase), through the 25th

Spooners Day (Spoonerism -- Named for William Archibald Spooner, English cleric and scholar who once fussed at a student because "You hissed my mystery lesson," told a groom it was "kisstomery to cuss the bride," and once accidentally referred to Queen Victoria as "the queer old Dean.")

St. Mary Magdalene's Day

Birthdays Today

Madison Pettis, 1998
Selena Gomez, 1992
Daniel Jones, 1973
Rufus Wainwright, 1973
Shawn Michaels, 1965
David Spade, 1964
Willem Dafoe, 1955
Alan Menken, 1949
Albert Brooks, 1947
Don Henley, 1947
Danny Glover, 1946
Estelle Bennett, 1944
Bobby Sherman, 1943
Alex Trebek, 1940
Terrence Stamp, 1939
Louise Fletcher, 1934
Oscar De la Renta, 1932
Orson Bean, 1928
Bob Dole, 1923
Amy Vanderbilt, 1908
Alexander Calder, 1898
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1890
William Archibald Spooner, 1844

Today in History

A second group of English settlers arrive on Roanoke Island off North Carolina to re-establish the deserted colony, 1587
Alexander Mackenzie reaches the Pacific Ocean becoming the first Euro-American to complete a transcontinental crossing of Canada, 1793
Death of Josef Strauss, Austrian composer, 1870
First ever motorized racing event is held in France between the cities of Paris and Rouen. The race is won by comte Jules-Albert de Dion, 1894
Wiley Post becomes the first person to fly solo around the world traveling 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours and 45 minutes, 1933
Dezik and Tzygan become the first of Russias Space Dogs, making a sub-orbital flight, which they both survived, 1951
The second Blue Water Bridge opens between Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, 1997

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