Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day

Bill Poole portrait from a tobacco company boxer profile card, circa the late 1880s.

“I Know Nothing”

Bill the Butcher

William Poole, also known as Bill the Butcher, was a founder of the street gang the Bowery Boys and a leader of the Know Nothing political movement in mid-19th century New York City. He was one of the most prominent gangsters in 19th Century New York. A butcher by trade who was very skilled with knives, he was a large, imposing man, and was known as one of the toughest street fighters in New York. He led a large gang of hoodlums of American descent, at the behest of the Native American political party. Their chief rivals were Irish gangsters under John Morrissey.

“The Butcher” was a champion New York City pugilist in 1855—before the Marquess of Queensbury rules—when kicking, biting and eye-gouging were acceptable tactics and “fight to the death” was more than a metaphor.  It was also a time when a challenge was likely to be issued out of pure hatred for your opponent. When John Morrissey, the Irish enforcer for Tammany Hall challenged Bill Poole of the anti-immigrant “Know Nothing” Party it promised to be the ultimate grudge match. But when the fighters turned to knives and guns, all pretext of sport was gone. It would be Bill “The Butcher” Poole’s last fight.

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Photos of the Day

There is more than one version of why and/or how Marilyn posed in a burlap potato sack. The story is that Marilyn was once chastised by a female newspaper columnist for wearing a low-cut red dress to a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. According to Marilyn, the columnist called her cheap and vulgar. Not stopping there, the writer then suggested that the actress would look better in a potato sack. So, Twentieth Century Fox decided to capitalize on the story by shooting some publicity stills of Marilyn in a form-fitting burlap potato sack just to prove she would look sexy in anything. The photos were published in newspapers throughout the country. Another story was that someone just made an off-the-cuff statement that Marilyn could make a potato sack look sexy and Twentieth Century Fox took the publicity stills to prove him right.

Vietnamese orphaned babies are strapped into aeroplane seats en route to LAX during “Operation Babylift” (April 12, 1975). Operation Babylift was the name given to the mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States and other countries (including Australia, France, West Germany, and Canada) at the end of the Vietnam War (also the Fall of Saigon), on April 3–26, 1975.

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Photo of the Day

David Livingstone, holding a gun, attacked by a lion. Livingstone had his uvula ( the dangly bit in throat) removed in an operation called a uvulopalatopharyngectomy. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Boy Wonder

Dr Livingstone, I presume?

– Henry Morton Stanley 

There are many extraordinary and inspiring stories about Dr David Livingstone. Livingstone was one of the greatest European explorers of Africa, whose opening up the interior of the continent contributed to the ‘Scramble for Africa’.

Livingstone wrote that several African tribes ostracised their members for farting in the presence of strangers. Livingstone (1813-73) was an enthusiastic Scottish missionary, although not particularly successful: he only ever managed to convert one African, a chieftain who lapsed shortly afterwards due to ‘the temptations of polygamy’.
When Livingstone’s mission was closed, he began an exploration of inner Africa. He discovered the Victoria Falls and was searching for the source of the Nile when he lost contact with the outside world for more than five years, prompting Henry Morton Stanley to set out in search of him.
Livingstone suffered from ill health and, even after Stanley found him, he was never well enough to travel home to Scotland. He died of malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery in 1873.

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Photo of the Day

William Frederick Cody (1846 – 1917), American Army scout and showman, known as Buffalo Bill, after slaughtering huge amounts of buffalo to feed workers for the railroad companys. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Buffalo Bill

At the turn of the 20th century “Buffalo Bill” Cody was the most famous American in the world. His path from frontier poverty and obscurity to international celebrity is one of the most remarkable stories of America’s Gilded Age. It begins on February 26th, 1846, in Le Claire, Iowa, where William Frederick Cody was born to Isaac and Mary Ann Laycock Cody. At age eight he moved with his family to the Kansas frontier where his father hoped to homestead. The family experienced a series of financial and personal setbacks brought on by the turmoil of the slavery debate and culminating in Isaac Cody’s death in 1857. As the oldest male member of the household, eleven-year-old Will took it upon himself to find work and soon joined the freighting firm Russell, Majors, and Waddell as a cattle drover and teamster. Over the next few years, Cody would pursue the life of the Plainsman, accompanying westbound military supply trains. He also met and became friends with James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. In his 1879 autobiography, Cody claims to have also pursued gold prospecting, fur trapping, and work as a Pony Express rider during this period.

In 1864 Cody enlisted in the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and served as a private for one and a half years. After the war he conducted a brief courtship with Louisa Frederici of St. Louis followed by their marriage in 1866. Though the relationship would prove to be stormy and include one attempt on Cody’s part to sue for divorce, the pair would stay married for over fifty years. Cody made several attempts to lead a more settled life; he briefly owned and managed an inn and tried unsuccessfully to found the town of Rome, Kansas, but was forced to take various odd jobs with the railroad first and, later, with the Army.

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Photo of the Day

Image of Juan Pujol Garcia disguised in glasses and a beard.


The Story Behind Britain’s Greatest Double Cross Agent

The Normandy Landings of 6 June 1944 marked the beginning of the liberation of occupied Western Europe. Until the very last minute, the place of invasion – Normandy – was the most heavily guarded secret on the planet. The Security Service made a significant contribution to the success of D-Day through its double agent Juan Pujol, codenamed GARBO, who has been described as the greatest double agent of the Second World War. On his own initiative, the industrialist’s son from Barcelona approached the Germans and tricked them into thinking he wanted to spy for them.

Possibly the greatest double cross operation in British espionage history was nearly ruined by a Spanish double agent’s homesick wife and her horror at wartime British food. He went to England, working with MI5 to create a whole network of entirely imaginary agents and feeding misinformation to the Nazis, culminating in the ultimate triumph: a leading role in securing the success of the D-Day landings by convincing the Germans the main invasion would happen around Calais, not in Normandy.

Throughout it all, “the small meek young Spaniard”, as his MI5 handler called him, was never the problem. He fooled the Germans so completely they awarded him the Iron Cross.

The problem was the meek young Spaniard’s wife.

“Mrs Garbo”, Araceli Gonzalez de Pujol, had never left the Iberian Peninsula before she arrived in London in the spring of 1942. Speaking no English, missing her mother, the 23-year-old became terribly homesick. Mrs Garbo was, horrified by having to swap a Mediterranean diet for the rationed offerings of a country that was still decades away from accepting haute cuisine or the gastropub.

Her despair at “too much macaroni, too many potatoes and not enough fish,” was duly noted by MI5.

So too was the fear that driven by the desire to go home to mother, or to the Spanish Embassy in London, Mrs Garbo might divulge to a fascist power the secrets of what was fast becoming the most successful double cross of the Second World War, and arguably of British espionage history.

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Photo of the Day

“The Blind Traveller,” as James Holman was known. Hulton Archive // Getty Images

“World’s Greatest Traveller”

“He had eyes in his mouth, eyes in his nose, eyes in his ears, and eyes in his mind”

– William Jerdan

James Holman, was hailed as one of the ‘greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored’. He was known simply as the Blind Traveller—a solitary, sightless adventurer who fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon and helped chart the Australian outback. Once a celebrity, a bestselling author and inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the charismatic, witty James Holman outlived his fame, dying in an obscurity.  Holman travelled a whopping quarter of a million miles in his lifetime – further than anyone had ever travelled before. It was a record that stood well into the twentieth century. And he did it, incredibly, despite being totally blind.

British adventurer and writer James Holman (1786-1857) became totally and permanently blind at the age of 25. He not only accepted his new condition but also coped with it with remarkable confidence and unwavering self-belief. In his lifetime, he is said to have covered more than 2,50,000 miles through five continents and 200 distinct cultures. As one historian points out, “Holman trekked deep into Siberia, sailed to Brazil, rode through Southern Africa, explored unmapped parts of Australia, and survived the bandit-infested Balkans.”
As interestingly, he tapped his way along the crumbling rim of a Vesuvian volcano, even as clouds of sulphurous gases billowed all around.
Holman joined the British Navy at the age of 12 and rose to become a lieutenant, before being physically afflicted and eventually losing his sight. How he undertook his daring travels across the globe with an iron-tipped stick; how he meticulously documented the many people and cultures that came along his way; how his travels and books earned him short-lived fame; and how he began receding in public memory, unjustly neglected in his own time and ending his days in penury…these are all part of the extraordinary life story of James Holman.
Holman began his ‘Grand Tour’ in 1819 and in the next couple of years, he had covered France, Italy, Switzerland, parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1822, he ambled through parts of Russia, before returning home via Austria, Saxony, Prussia and Hanover. His travels between 1827 and 1832 across many countries resulted in the publication of A Voyage Round the World, including travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, etc. His last journeys took him to Spain, Portugal, Moldavia, Montenegro, Syria and Turkey.

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Photos of the Day

Looking at buildings on the east side of Queen Street from Wyndham Street, showing the premises of W A Taaffe Ltd, H M Marler and Co Ltd, Stacey and Wass Ltd, Reyburn McArthur and Boyes, Harts Diamonds, Leon Beauty Salon, Lands Bag Shop, B A Gilroy Ltd, and W J Strevens Ltd in Ellison Chambers, McKenzies Ltd (left) and Keans Ltd (right). Also, people crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing.” Creator Unknown. Date: 12 October 1964. ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.

Farmer’s free tram. The Farmers’ Trading Company in Auckland ran a free inner-city tram, and later free buses, to make it easy for customers to get to the store. In this 1947 photograph, the tram advertises Farmers’ sale – billed as Hector’s birthday sale. Hector was the store’s famous pet parrot.

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Photo of the Day

Brenda Ann Spencer (born April 3, 1962) is a convicted American murderer who carried out a shooting spree from her home in San Diego, on January 29, 1979.

“I Don’t Like Mondays”

Brenda Ann Spencer won worldwide notoriety when, as a freckled 16-year-old proclaiming, “I don’t like Mondays,” Spencer sprayed a San Diego elementary school playground with .22-caliber semiautomatic sniper fire.

Monday mornings are tough for everyone, but on Jan. 29, 1979, a freckle-faced red-headed teen found a unique way to sing the beginning-of-the-week blues.

The first note of her displeasure — a rifle crack — came at around 8:30 a.m., just as a bell rang to signal the start of classes at Grover Cleveland Elementary in San Carlos, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. Children waiting in front of the school started to fall to the ground, bleeding. The sounds of gunfire continued.

It took a few shots before the pupils, parents, and teachers realized what was happening. A sniper, somewhere in the row of houses across the street from the school, was using the children for target practice. With children screaming and bullets flying, Cleveland elementary’s principal, Burton Wragg, ran outside to help the victims and move the other children, who were paralyzed with fear, out of harm’s way. There was another pop and Wragg fell, shot in the chest. Mike Suchar,  the school custodian, rushed out to help and was also shot. Teachers and students barricaded themselves in the school, while nurses treated the wounded. Four victims, however, were still outside. San Diego police officer Robert Robb, first to arrive at the scene, got a bullet in his neck.

The shooting continued until another officer, aided by a security guard from a neighbouring high school, commandeered a garbage truck and drove it in front of Cleveland Elementary, blocking the sniper’s sightlines.

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Photo of the Day

True Story Of 9/11 Imposter: Tania Head — World Trade Center’s Fake 9/11 Survivor. “

Untrue Story Of A Sept 11 Survivor

Incredible stories of heroism, heartache, survival and triumph have been shared by survivors, family members and service personnel who were personally affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, but one woman’s story had everyone fooled.

Tania Head surfaced two years after the 9/11 terror attacks with an astonishing tale of survival and loss and had one of the most tragic and inspiring stories to come out of the Sept. 11 attacks. She was in the south tower, on the same floor that the second plane hit. She saw horrific carnage and was handed a wedding ring by a dying man who requested that she give it to his wife. Then she was led to safety by Welles Crowther, the famous “man in the red bandanna,” who lost his own life rescuing others. And finally, she woke up in a hospital burn unit six days later, only to find out that her husband had been killed in the north tower.

Her disturbing account inspired everyone who heard it. Head worked tirelessly to give a voice to 9/11 survivors, and she won the admiration of everyone she met. She cultivated friendships with fellow survivors and ultimately rose to become president of the influential World Trade Center Survivors’ Network.

Tania Head’s astonishing account of her experience on September 11, 2001, was a tale of loss and recovery, of courage and sorrow, of horror and inspiration. It transformed her into one of the great victims and heroes of that tragic day. But there was something very wrong with Tania’s story—a terrible secret that would break the hearts and challenge the faith of all those she claimed to champion.

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Photo of the Day

Raoul Wallenberg. Passport photo from June 1944. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg led one of the most extensive and successful rescue efforts during the Nazi era. His work with the War Refugee Board saved thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Man of Courage

‘One Person Can Make a Difference’

Armed only with his bravery and moral courage, Raoul Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. It’s a story that has inspired the world.

In Jerusalem there is a memorial, Yad Vashem, dedicated to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II. A Street named ‘Avenue of the Righteous’ runs through the area, bordered by 600 trees planted to honour the memory of non-Jewish individuals who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi executioners. One of these trees bears the name of Raoul Wallenberg.

Wallenberg risked his life on an almost daily basis by using his diplomatic status as Sweden’s special envoy to Budapest to issue travel documents and set up safe houses to protect the city’s persecuted Jews. Survivors and people in the young Swede’s immediate entourage have often hailed Wallenberg for his bravery, recounting, for example, how he once climbed onto the roof of an Auschwitz-bound train, handing out Swedish travel passes to the desperate hands reaching out from the windows and doors of the train – all the while dodging German bullets.

Wallenberg is also credited with dissuading a German officer from ordering a massacre in the Hungarian capital’s ghetto, which housed an estimated 70,000 people at the time.

It has often been asked  how it was possible to save such a large number of people-about 100,000-from the Nazi executions. The most important answer: Raoul Wallenberg was the right man in the right place, given the situation then prevailing. Although he was not the heroic type in the ordinary sense, he was a fearless, skilled negotiator and organizer. He was, moreover, a good actor, a talent that served him well during his clashes with the Nazis. He could also show two different personalities. The first was the calm, humorous, intellectual, warm person that his co- workers could see. The second was Raoul Wallenberg in confrontation with the Nazis: he was transformed into an aggressive person who would shout at them or threaten them on one occasion, flatter or bribe them on another, as the circumstances required. They were impressed by him and usually gave in to his demands. One reason, of course, was his Swedish diplomatic status, which the Germans did not dare to violate.

The fact is that neither Raoul nor, his co-workers, at first had any idea that his rescue action would eventually grow to such a large scale.

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