The Kitchen Debate

Today in History, July 24: 1959 – The Kitchen Debate. In ’59 Richard Nixon was Vice-President, and Nikita Khrushchev was the Premier of the Soviet Union, a post he could only gain by being more ruthless that his contemporaries. The two nations put on exhibits on each other’s turf in an “effort” to get to know each other.

Nixon was giving Khrushchev a tour of the American exhibit in Moscow, showing him American technology that far out classed Soviet advances. The hot-headed Russian began an argument with Nixon…very publicly.

Nixon, while in a foreign country and debating a man known for his temper and ruthlessness, traded shot for shot and didn’t back down. I’m not a Nixon fan; “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” and Watergate glaringly reveal his weaknesses. But on July 24, 1959, he showed his mettle.

 

The Kitchen Debate was a series of impromptu exchanges (through interpreters) between then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrush…

Death in the Twilight Zone

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Today in History, July 23: 1982 – Twilight Zone: The Movie met with success, including the “Nightmare at 20,000 ft” segment which included a terrific performance by John Lithgow, but it came at a terrific price. On this date in 1982, on the last date of filming, veteran actor Vic Morrow (Combat!) and two small children were running from a Vietnam era helicopter shooting a scene. Special effects explosives caused the pilot to lose control, and the aircraft crashed into the actors, killing them. It would be the first time movie producers were charged with negligent homicide, a charge they would defeat. However the producers, including Steven Spielberg, settled for an undisclosed amount in the civil suits. I couldn’t find any photos of the child actors, but their loss (Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le) was not less than that of Vic Morrow,

Wiley Post and Winnie Mae


Today in History, July 22: 1933 – After a 7 day, 18 hour, 49 minute flight, Wiley Post completes the first SOLO around the world flight in his already famous Lockheed Vega, Winnie Mae, greeted by a crowd of 50,000 at New York’s Floyd Bennett Field. He beat his own time from an earlier non-solo around the world flight in the same airplane. He was honored with his second New York ticker tape parade. 

Post also used Winnie Mae to set high altitude flight records, designing a pressurized flight suit to do so. He also made use of the Jet Stream in his flight tests. 

 In 1935 he and another of Oklahoma’s favorite sons, Will Rogers, would die together in a plane crash at Point Barrow, Alaska. 

Winnie Mae can be visited at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Fame at Any Cost…


Today in History, July 21: 356 – “Fame at any cost”. The Ephesians had built the Temple of Artemis (Diana in Greek) to honor the goddess. It made it’s home of Epheus (in modern day Turkey) famous, being one of the 7 wonders of the world. It would be destroyed and rebuilt at least 3 times, first by flood, then by arson, and then by war. The second time, it had just been rebuilt when an arsonist set fire to the timbers supporting it’s roof, destroying it again. When captured, the arsonist admitted openly that he had committed the act to secure his name in history. It was ruled that he would be put to death, his name was not to be spoken on pain of death, and his name was removed from all records. He got his wish, however, when the historian Theopompus recorded his name in the next century. Thus we have the term Herostratic Fame…fame at any cost.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Today in History, July 20: 1969 – The day the Earth stood still. Over a billion people world wide stopped what they were doing to watch in awe as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. It had been a decade long odyssey, begun with JFK’s comments that it should be done before the end of the 60’s decade. So much has been gained from America’s space exploration. I was a seven year old boy laying in the living room floor, allowed to stay up late and watch this happen on our black and white TV. First “The Eagle has landed”, then….

I’m Your Huckleberry…

Today in History, July 19: 1879 – “I’m your Huckleberry..” John Henry “Doc” Holliday kills his first man. Holliday was a former dentist, a gambler, a heavy drinker, and was slowly dying of Tuberculosis. He was co-owner of a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico when a former army scout tried talking one of the “girls” working in the saloon into running off with him. When he was rebuffed, he became angry and began firing into the saloon from the street. Doc calmly stood, walked out onto the porch, and shot Mike Gordon down with one shot before Gordon could get off a second shot. While Doc was involved in many gunfights, including the OK Corral, he only killed two men. An aside—was not a big fan of Val Kilmer, until Tombstone.

By the way.  “I’m your Huckleberry” simply means, I’m your man; I’m the right person for the job.  I’m willing, let’s go.

 

Classic scene from Tombstone movie. (1993) **SPOILER**

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