Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today -100: November 18, 1910: And the band played Ragtime

Another false rumor of an armed band of Mexicans crossing the border, this one said to be advancing on Marathon, Texas.

Taft is visiting the Panama Canal construction zone. His inadequate reply to the grievances of 100 boilermakers has set off a mass resignation.

Massachusetts Republicans plan to ask the incoming US House of Representatives not to seat newly elected congresscritter James Curley, who once served a year in prison for taking other people’s civil service (post office) exams for them. The Massachusetts Legislature some time back refused to seat his brother Thomas, who was convicted of the same crime. James Curley was elected to the Boston Board of Aldermen in 1904 while still in prison, and will be elected mayor of Boston for his fourth term in 1945 while under indictment for mail fraud. His slogan: “Curley Gets Things Done.” He certainly did. (He also got 6-18 months in the pokey, did not resign his office, to which he returned when Truman pardoned him after 5 months).

Another controversial congresscritter-elect: Caleb Powers (R-KY), who stood trial several times, resulting in overturned convictions and a hung jury, for being the master-mind in the 1900 murder of Governor William Goebel (the only sitting governor ever assassinated, sort of – he was inaugurated a day after being shot and three days before he died); he was pardoned in 1908. The Times thinks that since Curley & Powers are of different parties, the House will simply let both in as a compromise, which I assume was what happened, since both were allowed to sit in Congress (multiple terms).

Reporters finally catch up to Theodore Roosevelt for the first time since the election, but he has absolutely nothing to say about it “now or in the future.”

Ralph Johnstone, the trick-bicycle-rider-turned-aviator (his unfulfilled ambition was to do a loop-the-loop in a plane; Wilbur Wright told him if he tried it, he’d be fired, successful or not) and holder of the current altitude record, crashed after his plane... I think the technical term is “fell apart”... in the sky during an air show. “Scarcely had Johnstone hit the ground before morbid men and women swarmed over the wreckage fighting with each other for souvenirs. One of the broken wooden stays had gone almost through the airman’s body. Before doctors or police could reach the scene, one man had torn this splinter from the body and run away, carrying his trophy. The crowd tore away the canvas from over the body, and even fought for the gloves that had protected Johnstone’s hands from the cold. ... The band in the grand stand, blaring away under contract, never ceased to play” (Ragtime, of course).

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