August the 6th, a mixed bag.

August 6, 2018

Morning all. Another busy day today... but then.

 

The atomic bomb was dropped o Hiroshima, Andy Warhol and Lucille Ball celebrate their birthdays and Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

 

1945 saw the atom bomb, Little Boy dropped over a surgical clinic in Hiroshima 3 days before another bomb was dropped over Nagasaki. The combined catastrophic effects resulted in the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces, bringing the end of the Second World War closer.

 

A land invasion of Japan was considered in the months prior to the bombings, but the cost, both financially and in human lives was thought to be too high, so the consent of Great Britain was sought and obtained in July, and then preparations were made.

 

In the run up to the bombings, fire bombs were dropped over 67 Japanese cities as a show of strength and to encourage the authorities to surrender. These warnings, which in themselves almost destroyed entire cities and killed hundreds of thousands of people, were largely ignored, so in a final attempt to avoid a land invasion, the Enola Gay took off and Little Boy was dropped.

 

In the city of Hiroshima, 90% of doctors and nurses were killed or injured immediately, and 80,000 people died as a result of the blast and the firestorm which followed. A further 60,000 died by the end of 1945 as a direct result of the bombing. This represents about half of the population of the city and 69% of the buildings in the city were also destroyed. To put those numbers into context, Hiroshima at the time of the bombing had a similar population to that of Leicester.

 

Nagasaki was bombed on August the 9th, and the Japanese surrendered unconditionally on August 15th.

 

17 years earlier, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andrew Warhola was born. Famous for his culturally iconic Pop Art, he created art which brought together advertising, celebrity culture and artistic impression. 

 

As a sickly child, some genuine illness and some hypochondria, he spent a fair bit of time at home in bed. Here he developed his art and personality.

 

After working in shoe advertising and design in the 1950's, Andy Warhol, as he know was known, developed his instantly recognisable style in the early 60's with silk screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, as well as his famous 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. His first exhibition with the soup cans in 1962 caused controversy within the art world, as critics questioned his motives as he moved away from more traditional guidelines in the name of art.

 

He became the highest earning living artist in the US though and survived an assassination attempt in 1968. He eventually passed away in 1987 at the age of 58 following an irregular heartbeat as he was recovering from a gallbladder operation.

 

In 2013, his 1963 work, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold at auction for $105 million, becoming the most expensive piece of Pop Art to daye, beating his previous $100 million high for his Eight Elvises 

 

Another birthday to celebrate today is that of Lucille Ball, star of I Love Lucy and a trailblazer for female comedians, born today in 1911.

 

A young model, acting school classmate of Bette Davies, and in later life the first woman to own her own tv network, Lucille Ball led the way in many areas of popular culture.

 

At the height of her modelling success in New York, she fell ill with a condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Her estate deny any formal diagnosis, but whatever the invisible debilitating condition was, she missed two years of her career as she convalesced.

 

Upon her return to New York she had some bit parts on Broadway and some bit parts in Hollywood for RKO. She auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone in the Wind and played a flower girl in Fred Astaire's Top Hat film in 1935, but her real success was to be in radio and television.

 

I Love Lucy reigned supreme during its lifetime of 180 episodes. A classic sit-com premise of a middle class wife living in New York was filmed in front of a live studio audience (a first) in Hollywood (a first) and using multiple cameras for angled shots (also a first). They also accidentally invented the re-run with repeats of I Love Lucy continuously being aired in LA to this day. My favourite episode where Lucy does a TV commercial can be seen here

 

Finally today, in 1926, Trudy (Gertrude) Edelre, from Manhattan, New York City became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

 

She swam from Cape Griz-Nez in France, landing in Kingsdown, Kent in a time of 14 hours and 34 minutes. At the time, this was the fastest of any cross-channel swim. There had been five men successfully swim the channel before her, and the fastest of those was 16 hours and 33 minutes., She was 1 minute shy of taking 2 full hours off the record, and her record stood until 1950. 

 

The first person to greet the 20 year old swimmer when she reached England was a customs official who asked to see her passport. 

 

Over 2 million people turned out to welcome her back to Manhattan where she was greeted with a classic ticker-tape parade. 

 

Trudy held 29 US and World records between 1921 and 1925. After her retirement form International swimming and a jaunt into the world of celebrity, she lived a long life teaching swimming to deaf children (she was deaf herself as a result of childhood measles) and passed away peacefully in a care home in 2003 at the age of 98. To this day the New York's Battery Park to Sandy Hook New Jersey is an annual swim following the course she took. 

 

When looking for positive role models for young women, Lucille Ball and Gertrude Ederle have a lot to offer. They achieved success in a time even more dominated by us humble men.

 

If you'd like to see some more of Trudy, can I suggest you take a look at this British Pathé reel here ?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Jeremy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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