100 Years Ago
Rolling out the welcome mat
In the Times social column:
"Mr. Henry J. Bender has returned to his home on Rolling Road after visiting friends in New York City. Mr. and Mrs. C. N. Davis have returned to their home on Rolling Road after spending several days with friends in Baltimore."
Mr. Bender and the Davises lived on Rolling Road before its hills, vales and curves were straightened out. The road lived up to its name then and traveling it you could easily imagine those hogsheads of tobacco bumping and rolling down it toward the deep, wide, 18th-century Patapsco River where they were loaded onto ships. This was especially true with my dad at the wheel. Who needed rides at the amusement park when Dad was driving and Rolling Road 10 minutes away!"
75 Years Ago
Heart and San Francisco
From the Times national news section:
"San Francisco Bay Bridge - Opened, this longest vehicle bridge in the world has been under construction since 1933 at a cost of $77,000,000."
The bridge, one President Hoover lobbied for, opened only a few months before the Golden Gate Bridge. While cars traversed its upper deck, trains ran along the bridge's lower deck until the 1960s, when both decks were used for motor vehicles exclusively.
Building a span over eight miles of bay was quite an undertaking. The bridge was designed by the famous bridge builder, Ralph Modjeski. Interestingly this Polish-born American, attended school in Poland with another who would also become famous, Paderewski.
In 1936, while Modjeski's bridge in San Francisco was opening, Ignacy Paderewski was playing himself in the movie "Moonlight Sonata." By then the world-famous pianist, composer, philanthropist and one time Prime Minister of Poland was almost 80 years old.
Paderewski had visited America for diplomatic meetings and for concert tours and in 1913 he bought land in California. But Poland was never far from his mind. Throughout his life he worked for various relief organizations and at the age of 83, he headed the Polish National Council.
Upon his death in 1940, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Although foreign nationals aren't usually buried at Arlington, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized his remains to be buried there temporarily, "until such time as Poland is again free." But that took longer than anyone could have imaged. Though the Germans were defeated in World War II after six years, what followed was 70 years of Soviet rule. It wasn't until 1990 that Paderewski's remains were returned to a free Poland.
However, his love wasn't exclusively for Poland. Paderewski asked that his heart be buried in America. It's in a crypt in Brooklyn, N.Y.
50 Years Ago
Drama in North Africa
In the Elkridge news section:
"Stationed in Africa: A/2C Richard W. Hatfield, son of Mrs. Marie Wicklein is stationed at an air force base in Fr. Morocco, Africa. He enlisted in the Air Force for 4 years and has to serve 2 more years."
The U.S. had had air bases near Morocco and Rabat, but by 1961 the Air Force presence was winding down. While Rabat is the capital of Morocco, Casablanca is its business center, and quite a bit more famous. Though Casablanca was visited by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, its major claim to fame for many is via Rick's Cafe and the various folks that hung out there in the movie, "Casablanca."
Along with Bogart, Bergman, Sydney Greenstreet, and Paul Henreid, Conrad Veidt was a particularly interesting character, on and off the screen.
Veidt, a German actor, was anti-Nazi, which didn't go over well with them. In fact, in the late 1930s the Gestapo planned to have him assassinated. Veidt quickly got out of Dodge, emigrating from Germany and eventually becoming a British citizen.
In 1942, he played, ironically, that malevolent Maj. Heinrich Strasser, stationed in Casablanca, Morocco. He was the Nazi who made things difficult for Rick, Ilse and the gang. It was art imitating life; playing a character type he knew all too well.
Throughout his movie career, Veidt donated much of his earnings to British war relief.