Thursday, July 17, 2014

Douglas "Wrongway" Corrigan takes off from New York on Historic Flight (July 17, 1938

On July 17, 1938, Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, the last of the early adventure seeking aviators, took off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn, New York, on a flight that would finally win him a place in aviation history. Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. On July 8, 1938, Corrigan piloted his single-engine plane nonstop from Long Beach, California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey. 

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers. Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, "Just got in from New York. Where am I?" He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn't buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway. He died on December 5, 1995 in Santa Ana, California and is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park.


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that includes Final Resting Places Orange County’s Dead & Famous. The book was a 2010 USA Book News Best Book Awards “Finalist.” Visit his website for more information His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" was Published (July16, 1951)

On this date in American literary history – July 16, 1951, J.D. Salinger's only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. The book, about a confused teenager disillusioned by the adult world, was an instant hit and is mandatory reading in many high schools. The 31-year-old Salinger had worked on the novel for a decade. His stories had already started appearing in the 1940s, many in the New Yorker. The book took the country by storm, selling out and becoming a Book of the Month Club selection. Fame did not agree with Salinger, who retreated to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New York, but he continued to publish stories in the New Yorker periodically. He published Franny and Zooey in 1963, based on two combined New Yorker stories. In 1999, journalist Joyce Maynard published a book about her affair with Salinger, which had taken place more than two decades earlier. Notoriously reclusive, Salinger died at his home in New Hampshire on January 27, 2010 at age 91.


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include America’s Literary Legends: The Lives & Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. Visit Michael’s website for more information about his books and events 

The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon through the following link: 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Richard Speck Murdered Eight Nurses in Chicago (July 14, 1966)

What happened during this week (July 14-20) in crime history – Billy the Kid was shot to death by Pat Garrett (July 14, 1881); Richard Speck murdered 8 student nurses in Chicago (July14, 1966); Old west gunslinger Johnny Ringo was found dead (July 14, 1882); John Christie, one of England’s most notorious killers was executed (July 15, 1953); Fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered (July 15, 1997); Jeffery MacDonald’s murder trial began (July 16, 1979); Casey Anthony was released from jail (July 17, 2011); James Huberty opens fire at a San Diego area McDonald’s killing 21 people (July 18, 1984); Boxer Mike Tyson raped a Miss Black America contestant (July 19, 1991); Actress Rebecca Shaeffer was murdered by a stalker (July 19, 1989); Serial killing couple Alton and Debra Coleman were arrested in Evanston, Illinois (July 20, 1984); King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated (July 20, 1951); Kames Holmes shoots and kills 12 people at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater (July 20, 2012).

Highlighted crime of the week -

On July 14, 1966, eight student nurses were brutally murdered by Richard Speck at their residence in Chicago, Illinois. Speck threatened the women with both a gun and a knife, tying each of them up while robbing their townhouse. Over the next several hours, Speck stabbed and strangled each of the young women throughout various rooms of the place. One young woman, Corazon Amurao, managed to escape with her life by hiding under a bed; Speck had lost count of his victims. 

Richard Speck was an alcoholic and a petty criminal with a long criminal record. He had "Born to Raise Hell" tattooed on his forearm and periodically worked on cargo boats traveling the Great Lakes. On the night of July 13, after drinking heavily at several Chicago bars, Speck broke into the townhouse for student nurses of the South Chicago Community Hospital. Speck then used his gun to force three nurses into a bedroom, where he found three more women. Using nautical knots, he then tied the women's hands and feet with strips torn from bed sheets. By midnight, three more nurses had come home only to be tied up as well. Speck assured the women that he was only going to rob them and they wouldn’t be harmed. 

After stealing from the women, he took them into separate rooms, killing them one by one. The remaining women heard only muffled screams from their roommates. Amurao, who was hiding under her bed, waited until early the next morning before leaving her hiding place. She then crawled out onto a second-story ledge and screamed for help. Police responding to the cries obtained a detailed description of Speck from Amurao; the sketch was placed on the front page of every local newspaper the next morning. Speck, who was hiding out at a budget motel, reied to commit suicide on July 16, but failed. He was arrested the next day at the Cook County Hospital. With Amurao's identification and his fingerprints left at the scene, Speck was convicted and sentenced to death. However, in 1972, when the Supreme Court invalidated the death penalty under which he was sentenced, Speck was re-sentenced to 400 years in prison. He died in prison on December 5, 1991 from a heart attack.


Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime.  Visit the author's website for more information   

The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Author E.B. White was Born (July 11, 1899)

On this date in American literary history – July 11, 1899, author E.B. White, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. White, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine who was known for his graceful, witty prose, also updated and expanded The Elements of Style, an English usage guide that remains a standard text for many high school and college students. Elwyn Brooks White was the son of a piano manufacturer and the youngest of six children. He attended Cornell University, where he edited the school newspaper. After graduating in 1921, he worked as a newspaper reporter and a production assistant and copywriter for an advertising agency. In 1927, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, which had been founded two years earlier. White, along with his friend and fellow writer James Thurber, is credited with playing a central role in shaping the magazine’s tone and direction. For over 50 years, White contributed essays, poems and other pieces to the publication.

In the 1930s, White and his wife, Katherine Sergeant Angell, a writer and editor whom he met at The New Yorker, moved to a farm in Maine. In 1945, he published his first children’s novel, Stuart Little, about a mouse born into a human family. The book was followed in 1952 by Charlotte’s Web, about a pig on a farm who is saved from being slaughtered with the help of a spider named Charlotte. The story was inspired by life on White’s own farm. His third children’s book, The Trumpet of the Swan, about a swan born without a voice, was published in 1970. All three works were critical and commercial successes, selling millions of copies. In 1959, White reworked The Elements of Style, a handbook that was irst published privately in 1918 by his former Cornell professor William Strunk. White received numerous awards during his career, including an honorary Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for his body of work. He died at age 86 on October 1, 1985, at his home in North Brooklin, Maine, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include America’s Literary Legends: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. For more information about the author or his books visit his website His book can be pre-ordered from Amazon through the following link.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ernest Hemingway was Injured During World War I (July 8, 1918)

On this date in American literary history – July 8, 1918, Ernest Hemingway was seriously wounded while carrying a companion to safety on the Austro-Italian front during World War I. Hemingway was born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois.  After the war, he married Hadley Richardson and they moved to Paris, where they met other American expatriate writers, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. With their help and encouragement, Hemingway published his first book of short stories in 1925, followed by the well-received The Sun Also Rises in 1926. Hemingway would marry three more times, and his romantic and sporting epics would be followed almost as closely as his writing. During the 1930s and 1940s, the hard-living and drinking Hemingway lived in Key West and then in Cuba while continuing to travel. He worked as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. In 1952, he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, his first major literary work in nearly a decade which won a Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. That same year, Hemingway was seriously injured in a plane crash, from which he never fully recovered suffering from severe anxiety and depression. Like his father, he eventually committed suicide, by shooting himself at his Idaho home in 1961.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include America’s Literary Legends: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. Visit Michael’s website for more information His book can be pre-ordered from Amazon through the following link:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wild Bill Hickok Established his Reputation as a Gun Fighter (July 12, 1861)

What happened on this week July 14-20, in crime history. Mary Surratt and the other Lincoln assassination conspirators were executed (July 7, 1865); Terrorists attack the London transit system (July 7, 2005); Warren Earp, the youngest of the famous gun fighting brothers was murdered in Wilcox, Arizona (July 7, 1900); Francis Gary Powers was charged with espionage (July 8, 1960); Soapy Smith, one of the most notorious con men of the West was murdered (July 8, 1898); Exxon Valdez captain, Joseph Hazelwood’s conviction was overturned (July 10, 1992); Old West gunslinger “Buckskin” Frank Leslie murdered a prostitute (July 10, 1889); The Barefoot Bandit was captured in the Bahamas (July 11, 2010); The Moors Murderers began their killing spree in England (July 12, 1963); Wild Bill Hickok established his reputation as a gunslinger by shooting three men in Nebraska (July 12, 1861); Last woman executed in Britain for murder (July 13, 1955); Jean Paul Marat was assassinated in Paris (July 13, 1793). 

Highlighted crime of the week – 

On July 12, 1861, Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter after he coolly shoots three men during a shootout in Nebraska. Born in Illinois, James Butler Hickok moved to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 18. There he filed a homestead claim, took odd jobs, and began calling himself by his father's name, Bill. A skilled marksman, Hickok honed his abilities as a gunslinger. Though Hickok was not looking for trouble, he was always ready to defend himself, and his ability with a pistol soon proved useful.

By the summer of 1861, Hickok was working as a stock tender at a stage depot in Rock Creek Station, Nebraska Across the creek lived Dave McCanles, a mean-spirited man who enjoyed insulting the young stockman. Hickok took his revenge by secretly romancing McCanles' mistress, Sarah Shull. On July 12, 1861, the tension between the two came to a boiling point when McCanles learned about the affair between Shull and Hickok. He arrived at the station with two other men and his 12-year-old-son and exchanged angry words with the station manager. Then McCanles spotted Hickok standing behind a curtain partition. He threatened to drag "Duck Bill" outside and give him a thrashing. Demonstrating remarkable coolness for a 24-year-old who had never been involved in a gunfight, Hickok replied, "There will be one less son-of-a-bitch when you try that." 

McCanles ignored the warning. When he approached the curtain, Hickok shot him in the chest. McCanles staggered out of the building and died in the arms of his son. Hearing the shots, the two other gunmen ran in. Hickok shot one of them twice and winged the other. The other workers at the station finished them off. The story of Hickok's first gunfight spread quickly, establishing his reputation as a skilled gunman. In 1867, Harper's New Monthly Magazine published a highly exaggerated account of the shoot-out which claimed Hickok had single-handedly killed nine men. The article quoted Hickok as saying, "I was wild and I struck savage blows." Thus began the legendary career of "Wild Bill." For the next 15 years, Hickok would further embellish his reputation with genuine acts of daring, though the popular accounts continued to exceed the reality. He died in 1876 at the age of 39, shot in the back of the head by a young would-be gunfighter looking for fame.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author's website for more information His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

George Bernard Shaw Quits his Job to Write Fulltime (July 5, 1880)

On this date in English literary history – July 5, 1880, George Bernard Shaw quit his job at the Edison Telephone Company to write. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856, and left school at the age of 14 to work in a land agent's office. In 1876, he quit and moved to London, where his mother, a music teacher, had settled. He worked various jobs while trying to write plays. He began publishing book reviews and art and music criticism in 1885. Meanwhile, he became a committed reformer and an active force in the newly established Fabian Society, a group of middle-class socialists.
His first play, Widowers' House, was produced in 1892. His second play, Mrs. Warren's Profession, was banned in Britain because of its controversial content. In 1905, when the play was performed in the United States, police shut it down after one performance and jailed the actors and producers. Although some private productions were held, the show wasn't legally performed in Britain until 1926. In 1895, Shaw became the theater critic for the Saturday Review, and his reviews during the next several years helped shape the development of drama. In 1898, he published Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant, which contained Arms and the Man, The Man of Destiny, and other dramas. In 1904, Man and Superman was produced. In his work, Shaw supported socialism and decried the abuses of capitalism, the degradation of women, and the evil effects of poverty, violence, and war. His writing was filled with humor, wit, and sparkle, as well as reformist messages, and his play Pygmalion, produced in 1912, later became the hit musical and movie My Fair Lady. In 1925, Shaw won the Nobel Prize for literature and used the substantial prize money to start an Anglo-Swedish literary society. He lived simply and continued writing into his 90s. He produced more than 40 plays before his death in 1950.

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous book that include Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was a FINALIST in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for autobiography/ biography. For more information about the author visit his website