Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, August 7, 1963 – August 9, 1963
The youngest child of President John Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was born five and a half weeks early at the Otis Air Force Base (now Otis Air National Guard Base) Hospital on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He developed symptoms of Hyaline Membrane Disease (or infant respiratory distress syndrome) and was transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital. He died two days later.
From this Universal Newsreel film, produced August 8th, 1963:
The dramatic miracle of birth and a fight for life is enacted at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod as Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy gives birth to a premature son, the first child born to a President in office in 69 years. Thousands of good wishes and prayers pour in as the President stands vigil at Boston’s Children’s Hospital as Patrick Bouvier Kennedy wages his fight for life.
The “Solid South” could reliably be counted on to vote Democratic - that is, in the interests of white men, from the end of the post-Civil War period until about 1948, when the Democratic Party began its gradual shift toward progressive causes and, in particular, support for the civil rights of African-Americans. In 1960, not even John Kennedy’s selection of Texan Lyndon Johnson as Vice President could save Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida from falling into the GOP’s hands.
By President Johnson’s election bid in 1964, he had already signed the controversial Civil Rights Act (“I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come,” Johnson said), and, in November, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina would for the first time in decades vote Republican.
This shift, of course, did not go unnoticed by the GOP, who would at times appeal to racist tendencies of some southern strongholds to help elect Republican candidates.
Babe Ruth’s Major League Baseball Debut, 100 Years Ago
George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox one hundred years ago on July 11, 1914. Originally signed as a pitcher, Ruth quickly established a reputation for hitting, breaking the single season home run record by 1919. Ruth played with the Red Sox for 5 years until his contract was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919 (and triggering the now-reversed “Curse of the Bambino” and denying Boston another World Series title for 86 years).
Ruth is seen in this unidentified newsreel excerpt, circa 1919. Based on the clues in the title frame, our best guess is this was the September 8, 1919 Red Sox-Yankees game at the New York Polo Grounds, when Ruth hit his 26th home run of the season.
In July 1948 Berlin Airlift pilot Gail Halvorsen began handing out and later dropping candy via handkerchief parachutes to the children who had gathered to watch at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. With the approval of superiors and the support of confectionery companies, “Operation Little Vittles” was born and “Candy Bombers” and “Raisin Bombers” began dropping care packages to the children of Berlin.
“Some of the eleven thousand planes that opened the path through the so-called impregnable Atlantic wall. Between Le Havre and Cherbourg in Normandy the Allied lightning strikes. Communications necessary to the German defenses are blasted.”
The massive bronze doors of the National Archives first opened on October 18, 1935 (which also happens to fall in the middle of American Archives Month!).
If you have ever visited the National Archives in Washington, DC, you may have noticed two very, very large bronze doors that mark the original Constitution Avenue entrance to the building. Visitors enter through the Constitution Avenue entrance to view the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as well as the many other exhibits the National Archives Museum offers.
These bronze doors stand about 37 feet, 7 inches high and are 10 feet wide and 11 inches thick. Each weighs roughly 6.5 tons. The building’s architect, John Russell Pope, understanding the national significance of the structure, sought to design a public exhibition hall of monumental proportions. As a reminder to visitors of the importance of the building’s purpose, the public exhibition hall Pope designed—the rotunda—measures 75 feet high; the bronze doors leading into the exhibition hall match that in size and character.
The doors were first opened on October 18, 1935. Then visitors to the National Archives climbed up 39 steps on Constitution Avenue and walked past two rows of giant Corinthian columns before passing through the large, motorized doors. Each morning, guards opened the doors by turning a key to slide them open. In the evening, the guards would close them for the night. Just past the bronze doors are another, smaller set of doors that kept out the elements.
For 65 years, visitors walked through these stunning doors to visit National Archives exhibits. When the Archives reopened in 2003 following a two-year renovation, the bronze doors remained closed. Visitors now enter on the sidewalk level of Constitution Avenue. While the bronze doors are now opened only on special occasions, they remain a notable feature of the building and continue to remind visitors of the significance of the National Archives and its work.