Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today -100: August 31, 1911: Of neutrality, fans, and gala picnics


Belgium is preparing for war, creating a military council to determine how to keep France, Germany and/or Britain from violating its borders if they go to war with each other over Morocco. Shells and ammunition has been sent to frontier forts, and artillery and machine guns to posts on the German border. Good luck with the whole neutrality thing, Belgium, you’ll need it.

General Electric has just finished making the most expensive electric fan ever, gold-mounted with an ebony switch. It’s for Queen Mary.

Mississippi has its first public hanging in 35 years (the NYT says that in the South, “executions are universally private and as far removed from the public gaze as possible”. Suuuuure they are.). You’ll be surprised and amazed to hear it’s a black man, who killed his wife. Stands were set up around the scaffold to sell the crowd sandwiches, coffee, lemonade, peanuts and everything else you need to make a day of it. “It was more like a gala picnic than the dispatching of a soul to eternity.”

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