Saturday, October 02, 2010

Today -100: October 2, 1910: Of dynamite, cholera, spectacular prances, souls, and diplodocuses

Today’s (-100) NYT includes some of the blurriest scans I’ve seen yet, some of it quite unreadable. Sigh.

Still, things were much worse at the LA Times, where dynamite exploded in the LAT building, setting off a fire in nearby ink barrels which engulfed the building and killed 21 people (the lack of fire escapes didn’t help).

Another bomb exploded at the home of the paper’s proprietor, Gen. Harrison Gray Otis (who was not home), who had been waging a vicious war against unions in southern California in general and unions at the Times in particular. The LAT put out a single-page edition a few hours after the fire, screaming for revenge. Its headline: “Unionist Bombs Wreck the Times; Many Seriously Injured.” That it was unionists who planted the dynamite was only conjecture at that point. But (spoiler alert) true. There was a big trial, with Clarence Darrow defending the McNamara brothers, and then himself for supposedly bribing jurors.

There’s a Wikipedia page on the bombing and trial, and books, including one I’ve read and can recommend, Geoffrey Cowan, The People v. Clarence Darrow.

Two planes hit each other in Milan in the first-ever mid-air collision. I believe both pilots survived.

France is pissed off at Italy, as well they might be, for concealing the outbreak of cholera in Naples.

Election cycles really were shorter back then. John Dix, who just received the surprise nomination to be governor of NY, has decided – with the election just five weeks away – to have a vacation before he begins campaigning. “Regarding his campaign plans Mr. Dix remarked: ‘There will be no spectacular prance about the State.’” Fun fact about Dix and vacations (and I’ll save you some anxiety and just tell you now that he will in fact be the next governor): in 1912 he was scheduled to take one aboard the second voyage of the Titanic, had there been one).

Thomas Edison says that there is no such thing as the human soul. So that settles that. Scientifically.

Speaking of science, Charles Brooks, the African explorer, wants the British government to fund an expedition into the Rhodesia swamps, because he hears tell that there are dinosaurs there, possibly diplodocus, beside which an elephant “looks like a small cat.” Also there’s a race of copper-colored people. And, um, unicorns. And, er, dragons.

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