70 Years Ago
"This Is A Real Horserace"
In a matchup a year in the making, Seabiscuit, the West Coast's hard-luck horse turned top-earning Thoroughbred, takes on War Admiral, the East's Triple Crown winner, November 1, 1938, at Maryland's Pimlico racetrack. The rivals run neck and neck until the "Biscuit" pulls ahead in the final stretch to win the race—and a place in racing history—by four lengths.
70 Years Ago
An American Tune
Contralto Kate Smith premières "God Bless America," Irving Berlin's anthem to his adopted home, on her radio show November 10, 1938. Berlin had written it 20 years before for a musical and then abandoned it. But with war on the European horizon in 1938, he reworked it as a "peace song." Smith makes it a hit, singing it throughout her career, on broadcasts and recordings and, in the 1970s, as a good luck charm for the Philadelphia Flyers. It is the last song she performs before her death in 1986 at age 79.
90 Years Ago
It's Over Over There
Facing advancing Allied forces on the Western front and a revolution at home, Germany signs an armistice November 11, 1918, ending the Great War. But the terms agreed upon in Allied commander Marshal Foch's rail carriage in Rethondes, France—including Germany's surrender of armaments and its withdrawal from France, Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine, East Africa and eastern Europe—inspire resentment in Germany that will make the "war to end all wars" a precursor to World War II.
175 Years Ago
Fire In The Sky
Wakeful Americans watch as more than 1,000 meteors a minute light up the sky before dawn November 13, 1833. While some fear divine retribution or overactive volcanoes, astronomers observe that the flashes emanate from the constellation Leo. Looking for earlier such episodes, they calculate that the Leonid meteor showers, as the phenomenon becomes known, peaks every 33 years. Now understood to be debris from the tail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle, the Leonids should peak next in 2031-33.
225 Years Ago
French scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes, take off from Paris in the first manned free flight in a balloon on November 21, 1783. Their 20-minute trip in a straw-burning hot-air balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers takes them some five miles across the Seine. The first gas balloon ascension comes ten days later, and the age of human air travel is launched. Pilâtre de Rozier is killed in a balloon accident in 1785; Laurent dies in 1809.