Friday, March 27, 2015

Anna Sewell was Born - March 30, 1820



This week (March 27- April 2) in literary history – Poet Louis Simpson was born (March 27, 1923); Novelist Mario Vargas Llosa was born (March 28, 1936); Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin were married (March 29, 1797); Novelist Anna Sewell was born (March 30, 1820); Charles Dickens published first installment of The Pickwick Papers (March 31, 1836); Western novelist Vardis Fisher was born (March 31, 1895); Hans Christian Andersen was born (April 2, 1805)

Highlighted story of the week -

On March 30, 1820, Anna Sewell was born in Norfolk, England. The daughter of a successful children’s book writer, she helped edit her mother’s manuscripts from an early age but was not published herself until she was 57. Her novel, Black Beauty, was the first significant children’s story in the English language to focus on animal characters, and established the precedent for countless other works.

Appalled by the cruel treatment of horses by some masters during her day, Sewell wrote the book to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses. The story, narrated by the horse, showed Black Beauty’s progression through a series of increasingly cruel owners until the exhausted, ill-treated animal collapses. In the end, the horse is saved by a kind owner.

Sewell wrote the book during the last seven years of her life, when she became an invalid confined to her home. The book was published shortly before her death in 1878 and became one of the best-loved children’s classics of all time. The book was made into a movie three times, in 1946, 1971, and 1994. Anna Sewell is buried at the Quaker Burial Ground in Lamas, Norfolk, England.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Mad Bomber Struck in New York City - March 29, 1951



This week (March 23-29) in crime history – Chilean Ambassador to the U.S. Orlando Letelier’s assassins were sentenced (March 23, 1979); Mexican Presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated (March 23, 1994); The Jonesboro Arkansas School shooting (March 24, 1998); The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Scottsboro Case (March 25, 1932); King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by his own nephew (March 25, 1975); Torture chamber found at the Philadelphia home of Gary Heidnik (March 26, 1987); Mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate Cult (March 26, 1997); First use of finger print evidence solved murders of Thomas and Ann Farrow in Great Britain (March 27, 1905); Members of the Duke University lacrosse team were suspended following sexual assault allegations (March 28, 2006); The Mad Bomber stick in New York City (March 29, 1951). 

Highlighted story of the week - 

On March 29, 1951, a bomb explodes at Grand Central Station in New York City, but injures no one. In the next few months, five more bombs were found at landmarks around the city, including the public library. Authorities realized that this new wave of terrorist acts was the work of the Mad Bomber. 

New York’s first experience with the Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, “Con Edison crooks, this is for you.” More explosive devices were found in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, “I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war.” He went on to say that Con Edison, New York’s electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time. The Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off at Radio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, he struck Grand Central Station, Macy’s, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry. 

The police were unsuccessful in finding the Mad Bomber, but a private investigative team working for Con Ed finally found him. Looking through their employment records, they found that George Peter Metesky had been a disgruntled ex-employee since an accident in 1931. Metesky was enraged that Con Ed refused to pay disability benefits and resorted to terrorism as his revenge. Metesky, a rather mild-mannered man, was found living with his sisters in Connecticut. He was indicted for 47 counts of attempted murder but was declared legally insane and incompetent to stand trial. He was then committed to the Matteawan State Hospital where he stayed until his release in 1973. Metesky died on May 23, 1994 in Waterbury, Connecticut at the age of 90. 

Check back every Monday for a new installment of the “This Week in Crime History.” 

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Yosemite Murders - March 18, 1999



This week (March 16-23) in crime history – Lastania Abarta shot and killed her former lover in Los Angeles (March 16, 1881); Robert Blake was acquitted of murder (March 16, 2005); Judge Roy Bean died (March 16, 1903); Raymond Clark II pleaded guilty to the murder of a Yale University grad student (March 17, 2011); Yosemite Murders (March 18, 1999); Nazi General Friedrich Fromm was executed for helping plot failed assassination of Adolph Hitler (March 19, 1945); Tokyo subway was attacked with nerve gas by terrorists ( March 20, 1995); Alcatraz prison closed (March 21, 1963); Seven teachers were indicted for child abuse at the McMartin preschool (March 22, 1984)
Highlighted crime story of the week -
On March 18, 1999, the bodies of Carole Sund and Silvina Pelosso are found in a charred rental car in a remote wooded area of Long Barn, Califonia. The women, along with Sund’s daughter Juli, had been missing since February when they were last seen alive at the Cedar Lodge near Yosemite National Park. Juli Sund’s body was found thirty miles away a week after the car was found. Compounding the mystery, Carole Sund’s wallet had been found on a street in downtown Modesto, California, three days after they had disappeared.
Police initially focused their investigation on a group of methamphetamine users in Northern California, but this changed in July when Joie Ruth Armstrong, a 26-year-old Yosemite Park worker, was brutally killed near her cabin in the park. The discovery of her body led detectives to Cary Stayner, 37, who worked at the Cedar Lodge motel, where the Sunds were last seen. Stayner was tracked down and caught at a nudist colony in Northern California. He confessed to the murder of Armstrong and then surprised the detectives by admitting that he was also responsible for the murders of the Sunds and Pelosso.
Years earlier, Stayner had been on the other end of another high-profile crime. His younger brother, Steven, was abducted in Merced when Cary was eleven years old. Steven Stayner was held for more than seven years by a sexual abuser, Kenneth Parnell. Following his escape, a television movie, I Know My First Name is Steven, dramatized the incident. Steven Stayner died in a tragic motorcycle accident when he was twenty-four. Cary Stayner pleaded guilty to the Armstrong murder in 2001 and was convicted of the other three murders in 2002 and was sentenced to death. He is currently incarcerated at San Quentin Prison awaiting appeals of his conviction.
Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Nathaniel Hawthorne Published "The Scarlett Letter" - March 16, 1850


 
This week (March 13-19) in literary history – Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts opened in London (March 13, 1891); Sylvia Beach was born (March 14, 1887); Max Brand published his first novel (March 14, 1919); Nathaniel Hawthorne published The Scarlett Letter (March 16, 1850); Novelist Paul Green was born (March 17, 1894); John Updike was born (March 18, 1932).
Highlighted Story of the Week -
On March 16, 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, a story of adultery and betrayal in colonial America was published. Hawthorne was born July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. Although the infamous Salem witch trials had taken place more than 100 years earlier, the events still hung over the town and made a lasting impression on the young Hawthorne. Witchcraft figured in several of his works, including Young Goodman Brown (1835) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851), in which a house is cursed by a wizard condemned by the witch trials.
After attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Hawthorne returned to Salem, where he began his career as a writer. He self-published his first book, Fanshawe (1828), but tried to destroy all copies shortly after publication. He later wrote several books of short stories, including Twice Told Tales (1837). In 1841, he tried his hand at communal living at the agricultural cooperative Brook Farm but came away highly disillusioned by the experience, which he fictionalized in his novel The Blithedale Romance (1852).
Hawthorne married his childhood sweetheart Sophia Peabody in 1842, having at last earned enough money from his writing to start a family. The two lived in Concord, Massachusetts, and socialized with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Branson Alcott, father of writer Louisa May Alcott. Plagued by financial difficulties as his family grew, he took a job in 1845 at Salem’s custom house, where he worked for three years. After leaving the job, he spent several months writing The Scarlet Letter, which made him famous. In 1853, Hawthorne’s college friend, President Franklin Pierce, appointed him American consul to England, where they lived for three years. Hawthorne died in Plymouth, New Hampshire on May 19, 1864 and was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on Poets’ Ridge in Concord, Massachusetts, near many of his friends and contemporaries such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau.
Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and the recently published America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
http://www.amazon.com/Literary-Legends-British-Isles-Writers/dp/0764344382/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1426263473&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+thomas+barry


http://www.amazon.com/Literary-Legends-British-Isles-Writers/dp/0764344382/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1426263473&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Monday, March 9, 2015

FBI Debuted the "Ten Most Wanted List" - March 14, 1950



This week (March 9-15) in crime history – Rapper Notorious BIG was shot and killed (March 9, 1997); James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. (March 10, 1969); Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed at his abortion clinic (March 10, 1993); Terrorists bombed train in Madrid, Spain (March 11, 2004); Teenager Elizabeth Smart was found alive (March 12, 2003); Czar Alexander II was assassinated (March 13, 1881); Impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson began (march 13, 1868); Mass school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland (March 13, 1996); Jack Ruby was sentenced to death for killing Lee Harvey Oswald (March 14, 1964); FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List debuted (March 14, 1950); Birmingham Six were released from prison (March 14, 1991); Julius Caesar was assassinated (March 15, 44 B.C.)

Highlighted Story of the Week -

On March 14, 1950, the F.B.I debuts the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous criminals. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the “Ten Most Wanted” list was given the go ahead by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. As of 2015, 494 criminals have appeared on the list and 463 have been apprehended or located, 153 as a result of tips from the public. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the FBI asks all fifty-six field offices to submit candidates for inclusion on the list. The CID in association with the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs then proposes finalists for approval of by the FBI’s Deputy Director. The criteria for selection is simple, the criminal must have a lengthy record and current pending charges that make him or her particularly dangerous and the FBI must believe that the publicity attendant to placement on the list will assist in the apprehension of the fugitive. Unless a “Top Tenner” is captured, found dead, or surrenders, they are only removed from the list when they meet one of two conditions. First, the federal process pending against the individual is dismissed. Second, they no longer fit “Top Ten” criteria. When a fugitive is removed from the list, another candidate is added. Only eight women have appeared on the Ten Most Wanted list and Ruth Eisemann Schier was the first in 1968.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1425920900&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Friday, March 6, 2015

Jack Kerouac was Born - March 12, 1922



This week (March 6-12) in literary history – Pearl Buck died (March 6, 1973); Louisa May Alcott died (March 6, 1888); Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born (March 6, 1806); Ayn Rand died (March 6, 1982); Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born (March 6, 1928); Robert Frost published the poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (March 7, 1923); Thomas Wolfe published Of Time and the River (March 8, 1935); Virginia Woolf delivered manuscript to first novel The Voyage Out to her publisher (March 9, 1913); Ernest Hemingway divorced Hadley Richardson (March 10, 1927); Mary Shelley published Frankenstein (March 11, 1818); Erle Stanley Gardner died (March 11, 1970); Jack Kerouac was born (March 12, 1922)

Highlighted Story of the Week -

On March 12, 1922, novelist and poet Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac was the son of French-Canadian parents and learned English as a second language. In high school, Kerouac was a star football player and won a scholarship to Columbia University. His athletic career was cut short by a severe leg injury. During World War II, he served in the Navy but was expelled for severe personality problems that may have been symptoms of mental illness. He then became a merchant seaman. In the late 1940s, he wandered the western U.S. and Mexico and wrote his first novel, The Town and the City. It was not until 1957, when he published On the Road, an autobiographical tale of his wanderings, that he became famous as a seminal figure of the Beat Generation. His tale of a subculture of poets, folk singers, and eccentrics who smoked marijuana and rejected conformist society was written in just three weeks. The book is filled with other Beat figures, including Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Kerouac wrote five more books but none gained the mythic status of On the Road. A heavy drinker his entire life, he died on October 21, 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida, age 47 from a hemorrhage caused from cirrhosis of the liver and was buried at Edson Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that include Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Literary-Legends-British-Isles-Writers/dp/0764344382/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1425664661&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+thomas+barry
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Literary-Legends-Burial-Writers/dp/0764347020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425664661&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Monday, March 2, 2015

Charlie Chaplin's Body was Stolen - March 2, 1978



This week (March 2 – 8) in crime history – Charlie Chaplin’s body was stolen (March 2, 1978); Congress banned sending obscene material through the mail (March 3, 1873); LAPD officers are videotaped beating Rodney King (March 3, 1991); Louis “Lepke” Buchalter was executed (March 4, 1944); Martha Stewart was released from prison (March 4, 2005); Jim Morrison was charged with lewd conduct in Miami (March 5, 1969;); Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg began (March 6, 1951); Defense rested in the trial of Andrea Yates (March 7, 2002); Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez “The Lonely Hearts Killers” were executed (March 8, 1951); Old west outlaw and bank robber, Emmett Dalton was sentenced to life in prison (March 8, 1893)

Highlighted Story of the Week -

On March 2, 1978, two men steal the corpse of silent film actor Charlie Chaplin from a cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, located in the hills above Lake Geneva, near Lausanne, Switzerland. A comic actor who was perhaps most famous for his alter ego, the Little Tramp, Chaplin was also a respected filmmaker whose career spanned Hollywood’s silent film era and the momentous transition to “talkies” in the late 1920s.

After Chaplin’s widow, Oona, received a ransom demand of some $600,000, police began monitoring her phone and watching 200 phone kiosks in the region. Oona had refused to pay the ransom, saying that her husband would have thought the demand was preposterous. The callers later made threats against her two youngest children. Oona Chaplin was Charlie’s fourth wife and the daughter of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. She and Chaplin were married in 1943, when she was 18 and he was 54; they had eight children together. The family had settled in Switzerland in 1952 after Chaplin was accused of being a Communist sympathizer.

After a five-week investigation, police arrested two auto mechanics, Roman Wardas, of Poland, and Gantscho Ganev, of Bulgaria. On May 17 they led authorities to Chaplin’s body, which they had buried in a cornfield about one mile from the Chaplin family’s home in Corsier. Political refugees from Eastern Europe, Wardas and Ganev apparently stole Chaplin’s body in an attempt to solve their financial problems. Wardas, identified as the mastermind of the plot, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years of hard labor. As he told it, he was inspired by a similar crime that he had read about in an Italian newspaper. Ganev was given an 18-month suspended sentence, as he was believed to have limited responsibility for the crime. As for Chaplin, his family reburied his body in a concrete grave to prevent future theft attempts.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: