Thursday, April 12, 2012

Apr 12: The Biddenden Dole; Tiny Tim; Year Without a Summer

The Biddenden Dole
The Biddenden Maids and the Chulkhurst Charity

The Biddenden Maids on a Biddenden CakeThe Biddenden Maids, Elisa (or Eliza) and Mary Chulkhurst, were conjoined twins (sometimes called Siamese twins) who were born in Biddenden, Kent, England, in 1100. In the popular imagination of the time, the death of King William Rufus (King William II of England) was associated with the Maids and other 'anomalous' occurrences.
They were joined at the hip, although illustrations also depict them joined at the shoulder. Mary and Elisa died in 1134 and left their estate for an unusual charity, associated with Easter Monday. It is said that the death of one was followed in a few hours by the death of the other.
On Easter Monday (some sources say Easter Sunday) some six hundred so-called Biddenden cakes are distributed among parishioners who attended the afternoon services at the church, as well as some about hundred loaves of bread, each of three and a half pounds weight, and each accompanied by a pound and a half of cheese. Beer also used to be distributed until the seventeenth century but the bread, cheese and cakes are still allocated. As well as the picture of the sisters on the cakes their names appear, and on the apron of one is written the number 34 – the age at which Elisa and Mary died.
The endowment comes from the earnings of an estate known as the Bread and Cheese lands, which, according to the best authorities, were some centuries ago left to the parish for this purpose by the Chulkhurst sisters (some sources give their surname as Preston). 
The Biddenden cakes have impressed on them the figures of the sisters. What we know of the story of the Biddenden Maids largely comes from a  handbill that used to be printed and sold on the spot, entitled 'A Short but Concise Account of Elizabeth and Mary Chalkhurst'. 
We note, too, that a similar story has been told of two females whose figures appear in the pavement of Norton St. Philip Church in Somersetshire, England. Edward Hasted in his History of Kent (1798) has examined the Biddenden myth, and decides that it arose simply from the rough impression on the cakes, which had been printed in this manner only within the preceding fifty years.

1932 (probably) Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury; d. November 30, 1996), American singer of antique songs.
Although Tiny Tim achieved not only great fame but a kind of international iconic status following his 1960s hit, 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips', that song only made Number 17 on the charts (June, 1968), hardly a world-shattering status, and he did not again achieve such sales. He brought out the album God Bless Tiny Tim the same year; it sold more than 200,000 copies.

On one track, a version of 'I Got You Babe', he sang a duet with himself, taking one part in falsetto, and the other in the baritone range (he had a fine baritone voice). God Bless Tiny Tim was quickly followed by Tiny Tim's Second Album. His third album, For All My Little Friends, released in 1969, sold poorly and by 1970 Tim was relegated to the one-hit wonders shelf, despite having a unique and significant talent that is probably recognised these days more than at the time.
Something about Tim's eccentric good nature struck a chord with Americans and people around the world and his popularity at that time was enormous, perhaps because in 1968 so much of the news was about tragedy, violence and revolution in many countries. A born-again Christian since 1953, Tiny Tim's message was about innocence and innate human goodness. Before hitting the big time, he had gone by the stage names Larry Love and Gary Dover before one of his managers, George King, gave him the 'Tiny Tim' name.
His wedding on December 17, 1969, to 17-year-old Vicki Budinger of Haddonfield, NJ, or "Miss Vicki", as he called her and the world came to know her, was broadcast live nationwide on the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and viewed by an astounding 45 million-plus viewers. It got the highest Nielsen ratings ever for a talk show. Eight-five per cent of all American households watching television during that hour were watching the wedding. Photos of the ceremony ran in magazines and newspapers worldwide ...

Mt Tambora, NASA pic1815 Mount Tambora blew its top during an eruption event that started on April 5; 92,000 were killed during this eruption, the most powerful in historical records.
From Wikipedia: Mount Tambora (Tomboro) is a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, nearly in a right line to the eastward of Java. The volcano of Tambora suffered the most violent eruption in modern times. Beginning in early April 1815 and continuing till the middle of July 1815, its immediate explosion effects were felt over an immense area, embracing the Maluku Islands (Molucca Islands), Java, and portions of Sulawesi (Celebes), Sumatra, and Borneo.
The mountain blew its top off on April 12, by most accounts, with the most violence between April 10 and April 15. The explosion, of Volcanic Explosivity Index 6-7, ejected an estimated 100 cubic km of rock, weighing approximately 2-3 × 1014 kg. This left a caldera 7km across. Before the explosion, Mount Tambora was about 4000m high; it is now only 2851m high.

Tambora was not, however, the most violent volcanic eruption of all time. The eruption of Thira (Santorini) in Greece in about 1650 BC was greater, but no accounts of the explosion survive, possibly because of the destruction it caused to nearby civilisations. A similar-sized eruption of Toba roughly 75,000 years ago has been theorized to have reduced the worldwide population of mankind (Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis) at the time to just a few thousand individuals, though definite evidence is lacking. One of the greatest known eruptions was of supervolcano Yellowstone about 2,000,000 years ago, an event which almost certainly caused an extended period of volcanic winter with far-reaching effects. Even greater undiscovered cataclysmic eruptions have certainly occurred in the Earth's 4.7 thousand million year history.
The eruption sent so much volcanic ash into the atmosphere that weather patterns around the world were altered, causing the following year to be nicknamed the 'Year Without A Summer'.

Year Without a Summer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
The 'Year Without A Summer' occurred in 1816, after the April 5 - April 15, 1815 volcanic eruptions of Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa in the Dutch East Indies (in today's Indonesia) injected over a million and a half tons of dust into the upper atmosphere. The dust caused a reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the ground over the northern hemisphere, reducing temperatures significantly.

New Englanders and eastern Canada were hit the hardest by the reduced temperatures. In May of 1816, frost killed off much of the crops that had been planted, and in June two large snowstorms resulted in many human deaths as well. In July and August ice formed on the lakes in Canada. Farmers south of New England did succeed in bringing some crops to maturity, but maize (corn) and other grain prices rose dramatically. Oats, for example, rose from 12 cents a bushel the previous year to 92 cents a bushel.

Many historians cite the year without a summer, sometimes called 'eighteen hundred and froze to death', as a primary motivation for the rapid settlement of what is now the American Midwest. Many New Englanders were wiped out by the year (some were not able to pay their property taxes, others were not able to eat), and tens of thousands struck out for the richer soil and better growing conditions of the Upper Midwest


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