Pee Wee Reese

Major League Baseball shortstop for the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers, Harold Peter Henry “Pee Wee” Reese was born July 23, 1918 in Ekron, Kentucky.

Pee Wee Reese displayed in a trading card manufactured by the Bowman Gum Company, 1954.

Maria Spelterini

Stereoscopic image of Maria Spelterini Crossing Niagara Falls, 1876. Photographed by George Curtis. Science Source / New York Public Library

Italian tightrope walker Maria Spelterini became the first and only woman to cross the Niagara gorge on a tightrope. Her first crossing was on July 8, 1876 as part of a U.S. Centennial celebration, and crossed again on July 12th, 19th, and 22nd, backwards with a paper bag over her head and wearing peach baskets on her feet, blindfolded, and with her ankles and wrists manacled respectively.

William Archibald Spooner

William Archibald Spooner as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, April 1898

English Professor William Archibald Spooner was born on July 22, 1844. He is most remembered for mixing up words with often comedic results. His signature turns of phrase are known as spoonerisms. 

Marie-Madeleine d’Aubray

French aristocrat  Marie-Madeleine d’Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers, born July 22, 1630. In 1676, she was tried, convicted, and executed for murdering her father and brothers to inherit their estate. François-Adrien Boieldieu wrote a popular opera based on her life called La marquise de Brinvilliers.

July 11th: An Artic Icarus

In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon, engineer and aeronaut Salmon August Andrée, accompanied by engineer Knut Frænkel, and photographer Nils Strindberg took off from Spitsbergen, Norway on July 11, 1897. They flew for 65 hours, but a series of unfortunate events including flying directionless into heavy storms, they crash-landed onto pack ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

The Eagle sailing north, photographed from Danes Island

They had flown about 495 km, and spent the next three months attempting to head back over frozen terrain, eventually landing on the deserted Arctic island of Kvitøya sometime in October. The three of them died there and their whereabouts were a mystery until 1930 when their bodies (and Strindberg’s photo plates) were found by chance. It is said that Andree ignored many potential flaws in his plan, including that the balloon had come from Paris directly after being made, had never been tested, and was showing serious signs of leaking. He also ignored concerns that his devised method of steering the balloon with a series of weighted ropes might not be as effective as he claimed (which turned out to be true).

Two Horse, One Horse, No Horse 

The Lumière brothers demonstrated their invention of the cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, developer, and projector on July 11, 1895.

Their first film is 46 seconds and is called Sortie de l’Usine Lumière de Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon).

This video shows all three versions, released about a year apart, in 1895, 1896, and 1897 respectively. Each version is often referred to by the number of horses seen in the shot.

Magician Harry Kellar was born July 11, 1849.  Apparently, he was known as the “Dean of Magic,” and specialized in illusions that involved the use of apparatuses. Also, he talked Harry Houdini out of attempting to catch a bullet. He wrote in a letter: “Don’t try the damn bullet catching trick, no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will ‘job’ you.” Also if you click on that link, there is a picture of the two of them that makes Kellar look an awful lot like Houdini’s ventriloquist dummy.

Night Scene, Paris 1913. Boris Grigoriev

Illustrator H.M. Brock was born July 11, 1875; followed by astronomer and author of Astronomy for Young Folks Isabel Martin Lewis in 1881; Russian painter Boris Grigoriev, in 1886; and writer E.B. White, in 1899. I trust you own The Elements of Style, yes?

Writer Alexander Afanasyev was born July 11, 1826. He published eight volumes of Russian fairytales and folktales.

Chester Gilette murdered Grace Brown on July 11, 1906, inspiring Theodore Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy. Also on July 11; Big Ben rang for the first time in 1859, and Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Remember back before there was a musical, and we all knew about those two was from the milk commercial?

Affirmation for your morning: It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.

Hair of the dog that bit you: sheepdog

Number of horses in the shot: 1

For today: horse betting?

a slightly different version of this was first published July 12, 2018 at www.theanatomyofmelancholy.com