1912

It would be a squandered opportunity indeed if we did not do a post on Titanic exactly 100 years after it’s sinking. A woman came in the other day and asked for the “original” Titanic movie. I was wondering to myself if she meant the 1953 “Titanic”, or maybe the 1958 “A Night To Remember”? Further digging revealed no less than 18 versions of the Titanic story before James Cameron came along. Before I had a chance to clarify her question she said, “You know: The one with Leonardo DiCaprio!”. Original, indeed.

In addition to the Titanic sinking, there are a number of other things celebrating 100 years. 1912 was a busy year.

In no particular order:

Fenway Park opened. Fenway remains, along with Wrigley Field in Chicago, one of the true original cathedrals of baseball. Tiger Stadium also opened in 1912 but closed in 1999. I was lucky enough to see one of the last games in Tiger Stadium. It was a real thrill because growing up the Detroit Tigers were my second favourite team after the Blue Jays. This was because for the longest time our American TV stations came from Detroit, and one of the stations would always carry Tigers games. This was the era of Alan Trammel, Darrell Evans and Jack Morris. I knew the Tigers almost as well as I knew the Jays, and I still have a soft spot for them in my heart. Fenway on the other hand, has been in continuous use as a ballpark for 100 years, which means it will receive National Historic Site status and can never been torn down. Pretty cool for a ballpark, eh? Again, I was lucky enough to visit Fenway in 2007. The Red Sox were on the road, but we had an informative tour of the park and saw things you would never get to see on a game day. It was so great to see the Citgo sign that looms over the outfield in person, and I had the distinction of staying at a hostel a block from Fenway. I literally slept under the Citgo sign. How cool is that?

Fenway Park. Note the Citgo sign in Left Field beyond the Green Monster.

The Girl Guides were created. So is the lesser known “Camp Fire Girls” association. We’ve all heard of the Girl Guides, but what is this “Camp Fire Girls” group all about? Would you take a cookie from them? Apparently it’s a bit of a Girl Guide knock off. It changed its name in 1975 to “Camp Fire Girls and Boys” when dudes were let in, but now it’s just known as “Camp Fire USA”, so I guess they now let in transgendered folk too. Good for them!

Scott gets beat by  that sneaky beggar Amundsen to the South Pole. #teamscott

Gustav Mahler’s 9th Symphony Premieres. Fun fact: Did you know that Mahler was terribly superstitious and believed in the “curse of the ninth“? He believed that completing a ninth symphony would signal your death, as it did for many composers including Beethoven. Because of this , after he finished his 8th Symphony (The Symphony of a Thousand) he didn’t call his next work a symphony out of superstition. He called it “A song of the earth”, but it really was a symphony wasn’t it? More importantly, HE DIDN’T DIE. So bolstered by this supposed breaking of the curse, he merrily went ahead and composed his ninth symphony without so much as a head cold. He cheekily went ahead with number 10 and guess what? BOOM! Dead.

I beat the curse! I beat the curse! I beat the.........

Edgar Rice Burroughs publishes “Tarzan of the Apes” and “A Princess of Mars”. Now faithful followers of this blog will know me a “John Carter” man rather than a “Tarzan” man any day of the week, but for some reason Tarzan has captured our imagination more than any of his “Mars” books ever could. More importantly, without Tarzan the world may not have ever seen Bo Derek’s boobies.

Theodore Roosevelt gets shot in Milwaukee, but his spectacles’ case and speech in his thick overcoat slowed the bullet and probably saved his life. He didn’t even know he was shot until someone noticed a hole in his coat. What the hell?

Julia Child, Eva Braun, Gene Kelly, Jackson Pollock, Woody Guthrie, and Eugene Ionesco are all born. So is my grandma and my wife’s grandma! It’s really hard to believe our grandmas would be 100 if they were still alive.

I have a ton of stories about my grandma, but I’ll share just one now. I remember quite often as a kid going over to my grandma and grandpa’s house for Friday night sleepovers. My brother and I thought this was pretty awesome. It wasn’t til we were older that we realized it was probably giving our parents a much-needed night off. My grandma wasn’t one of those typical grandmas that was always baking and stuff. I’m sure she baked, but I just don’t remember it. A typical Friday night would go like this: My brother and I would get dropped off around supper time. My brother, Grandma and I would walk a couple of blocks down to McDonald’s for supper. My grandma would always carry a plastic knife in her purse to cut her burgers in half. I’m not really sure why she didn’t just ask for one at the counter, but there you go. We’d head back to her house after making a quick stop into the 7-11 to buy a comic book each. From 7-8 we would get to watch “Dukes of Hazzard”. From 8 til 9 she would set up a card table and we would play cards with her. She would always get some “Pic a Pop” in the house. She knew Root Beer was my favourite, but it would often give me gas. We sometimes had a burping session during the game and grandma didn’t even get mad. Sometimes she even joined in. At nine o’clock the cards would get put away and we would sit down and watch “Tommy Hunter” with my grandma and grandpa. My grandpa would magically appear for Tommy Hunter. I don’t know where he was for supper or “Dukes” or cards, but he’d never miss Tommy. Their house was super small, come to think of it. Where was he? He had a workshop out in the garage. Maybe he was out there? We’d usually get tired some time during “Tommy Hunter” and we’d make our way to bed. We’d know we were up too late if we heard Knowlton Nash’s voice anchoring “The National”. And that was a typical Friday night with my Grandma!

I have less memories of my wife’s grandma, obviously. I only got to know her for about three years before she died, and all that time she had suffered a major stroke so I don’t know if I ever really got to meet the real “Helen”. I DID get to come to know and love the wacky stroke victim who despite her health troubles still had a wonderful sense of humour. I don’t think she ever called me by my name. It was always “The Big Boy”. On the first night that my wife had me over for supper, I was seated next to her grandma and went it came time to pass the potatoes she said “Would you like some TITS dear?”. I truly didn’t know how to answer. Remember, this was the first time I was meeting my future wife’s family. “Um, sure. They look great!” I said, pretending she said “potatoes” instead of the other thing. My wife’s family couldn’t contain themselves, and when my wife’s Mom explained to Helen what she had said instead of potatoes, she was laughing until she was crying. This was my first impression of my in-laws.

Well there you have it. Alot of things are turning 100 this year. Take that, James Cameron.

"I'm Billy Zane. Have you met my super hot finance Kate Winslet? How about my good friend Derek Zoolander?"

Update: Apparently getting put on the National Historic Registry doesn’t automatically protect you from demolition. Although Tiger Stadium was on the registry, it was ultimately torn down in 2009. The weird thing is that although the stadium was taken down, the field itself remains undeveloped so you can actually see where the diamond used to be. History buffs maintain it and you can walk around the eerie old site. Today it looks like this:

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