(This is purported to be a painting of the Eggnog Riot. Let’s assume it got more “rioutous” later)
Christmas Eve Day, and we have a few small historical moments to commemorate as everyone goes into full holiday mode, and one can stand as a bit of a warning against celebratory excess. That’s the message that comes out of the infamous “Eggnog Riots” that roiled the US Military Academy at West Point on this night and into the next morning in 1826. Some of the cadets, in the holiday spirit smuggled in what must have been a substantial amount of whiskey and rum…both forbidden at the academy…for a little celebration. The degree to which the celebration got historically out of hand can be measured by the final score against the offending cadets…70 criminal implications and 19 courtmartials. About a third of the student population at the academy were soiled by the scandal. Some of these drunk cadets became major figures in the Civil War, not the least of whom was Cadet Jefferson Davis, later President of the Confederacy, who may or may not have been captured after the fall of the south while wearing a dress, but we’ve accidentally drifted over into the region of Historical Legend. In 1906, one of the claimants to the title “Father of Radio,” Reginald Fessenden, made what is claimed to be the first broadcast of music on Amplitude Modulation Radio=AM to you…Broadcasting a short program of spoken word and music from his experimental transmitter in Brant Rock Pennsylvania. And in 1965, a 100 pound meteorite broke up on entry into earth’s atmosphere and broke into fragments that rained down on the village of Barwell in Leicestershire in England. Many people there reportedly picked up a little Christmas cash by selling fragments and in some cases, other handy rocks, to collectors. But one unnamed resident found his Motorcar Engine was ruined by a fragment, but his insurance company wouldn’t make good because if your car is hit by a stone falling from space, that sir, is indisputably an Act of God. Good day sir. Therefore, the legend goes, he presented the bill to the local Vicar. History records that the Vicar didn’t pay up either. It’s the birthday of Jean-Louis Pons, the french astronomer who holds the record for discovering the most comets, Frontier Scout Kid Carson, and Hungarian Born film director Michael Curtiz, whose remarkable filmography includes the Errol Flynn version of “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and arguably the greatest motion picture of all time, Casablanca. Happy Holidays to you
Album Notes: Grateful Acknowledgments to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. Some Musical Motifs Written and Performed by Kevin McLeod, Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks. Some audio may be used under the Fair Use Doctrine.