a mélange, an admixture, a miscellanea, a bit of my fictional autobiography – this is September 15th.

1789 (d. September 14, 1851) James Fennimore Cooper: “an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances draw a picture of frontier and American Indian life in the early American days which created a unique form of American literature. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece The novel has been one of the most popular English-language novels since its publication and is frequently assigned reading in American literature courses. . . . It has been adapted numerous times and in many languages for films, TV movies and cartoons.” Wikipedia

The movie, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and released in 1992, is more of a romance than a factual historical drama. However, certain aspects including attention to detail in terms of dress, weapons, and military tactics made it a viable film to show to my colonial history classes. The more astute students realized that I was a) squeamish, as I might not include the gory parts and b) I had a thing for Daniel Day-Lewis back then.

1890 (d. Jan 12, 1976) Agatha Christie, English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright

By grade 4, I “borrowed” from the pile of mystery novels my mother brought home from the library. Christie was one of her favourites.

I enjoyed David Suchet’s marvelous performance in the television series Hercule Poirot, (1989 – 2013) based on Christie’s short-stories and novels featuring the transplanted Belgium detective.

For an interesting twist on Christie, and her actual disappearance for 11 days in December of 1926, check out the Doctor Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp” (17 May 2008).

1907 (d. Aug 08, 2004) Fay Wray, American actress, one of the first “scream queens” and (1933) King Kong’s love interest, born on a ranch in Alberta, Canada

Fay on her co-star:

“Every time I’m in New York, I say a little prayer when passing the Empire State Building. A good friend of mine died up there.”

“At the premiere of King Kong (1933) I wasn’t too impressed. I thought there was too much screaming… I didn’t realize then that King Kong and I were going to be together for the rest of our lives, and longer…”

a “dummy tank”

1916 World War I: Tanks are used for the first time in battle, at the Battle of the Somme.

passchendaele mud

On October 31, 1917, during the Second Battle of Passchendaele, my great-uncle Earle went missing, presumed dead. His body was never found. His brother, Grover, survived the war, returning home in 1918. On a foggy night, eight years later, he and my great-grandfather died when their wooden schooner was sliced in two by a metal-hulled steamer. A family grave marker commemorates both events. 100  years ago and great-uncle earle 

muddy fields of the lost

1945  Homestead hurricane strikes southern Florida and the Bahamas, destroying 366 airplanes and 25 blimps at Naval Air Station Richmond.

1962 The Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis.

During my Cold War childhood, the threat of nuclear missiles was very real. And very scary. I heard air raid sirens scream as part of preparedness drills. We lived within the potential flight path of Russian warheads coming over the Artic and heading for the United States; probably vice versa.

Going through my father’s books and papers, years later, I discovered a pamphlet he had on how to build a nuclear fallout shelter.

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I continue to have the occasional nightmare during which I wait for/watch a nuclear attack/end of the world (as we know it).  I wake myself up; feeling like a frightened child. 

In 1980, the band, XTC, recorded “Living Through Another Cuba,” an apropos song for this post.

Living Through Another Cuba

XTC

Living through another Cuba
It’s 1961 again and we are piggy in the middle
While war is polishing his drum and peace plays second fiddle

Russia and America are at each other’s throats
But don’t you cry
Just on your knees and pray, and while you’re
Down there, kiss your arse goodbye

We’re the bulldog on the fence
While others play their tennis overhead
It’s hardly love all and somebody might
Wind up red or dead
Pour some oil on the water quick
It doesn’t really matter where from
He love me, he loves me not
He’s pulling fins from an atom bomb

This phenomenon happens every 20 years or so
If they’re not careful your watch won’t be the
Only thing with a radioactive glow
I’ll stick my fingers in my ears
And hope they make it up before too late
If we get through this lot alright
They’re due for replay, 1998