Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 -- December 31, 2015
I wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.

In January, Rob Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as Commissioner of Baseball. Mario Cuomo, Stu Miller and Ernie Banks died.  In Fresno, Governor Jerry Brown broke groups for the California High Speed Rail Project. We celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.  The Golden Gate Bridge closed for a weekend for the installation of a movable traffic barrier. We marked the 100th anniversary of the first Zeppelin attack on British soil, the Battle of Dogger Bank and the first transcontinental phone call. We had a big grass fire in Pacifica.  Thieves stole gold nuggets from the Wells Fargo History Museum on Montgomery Street.  I spoke at a grammar school career day.  I started a short series about Wallace the Untameable Lion, which I hope to pick up again.

Terrorists attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing much of the staff.  

In February, we marked the 100th anniversary of the German declaration of unconditional submarine warfare, the opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.  Clark Terry died.  We went to the 40th anniversary all-classes reunion at Good Shepherd School. 

I took a break from March through August.  During that time, Lon Simmons, Hall of Fame Giants' broadcaster, Al Rosen, great Giants' GM and Bob Parlocha of KJAZ and KCSM died.  So did writers Ivan Doig, EL Doctorow and Gunter Grass and musicians BB King and Ornette Coleman.

We marked the 100th birthday of Billie Holiday.  We marked the 75th birthday of Ringo Starr.  In April a monster earthquake killed many thousands in Nepal.

We marked the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Robert E Lee at Appomattox Court House, of the murder of President Lincoln and the killing of the coward Booth.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the death of aviator Lincoln Beachey, the sinking of the liner Lusitania, the battle debut of the synchronized machine gun.  We marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  We celebrated the 125th birthday of Man Ray.  We celebrated the 100th birthday of Orson Welles and Saul Bellow. 

We attended the San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint. Heald College, where I used to teach, closed down.  We had our first trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train.  Muni's new E-Embarcadero line made its debut.  Caltrans made a horrible traffic mess in Pacifica. 

American Pharoah (that's how the owner spelled it) was the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.  Rookie Chris Heston threw a no-hitter against the Mets in New York.  The Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. 

In June, the Supreme Court decided not to accept a perverse interpretation of the Affordable Care Act, which would have left millions of people without medical care.

In September we marked the 100th anniversary of Germany giving up on unrestricted submarine warfare.  BART was closed over Labor Day weekend, as it had been for a weekend in August, for refurbishment.  I spoke to students at Good Shepherd School in Pacifica about the topic of this year's DAR essay contest, "A Colonial Family's Reaction to the Stamp Act."  Junipero Serra was canonized, amid some controversy.  We went to the 2015 Muni Heritage Festival.  We marked the 100th birthday of Billy Strayhorn.  Yogi Berra died.

In October we celebrated the 125th birthday of Jelly Roll Morton, the 100th birthdays of Harry "Sweets" Edison and Bob Kane and the 75th birthday of John Lennon.   My Freshman year high school counselor, Father Paul Capitolo, SJ died.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the Germans shooting Nurse Edith Cavell in Belgium.

In November terrorists exploded bombs in Beirut.  The next day, they staged a series of attacks in Paris.  People rightly asked why most of us paid attention to Paris.  I suppose for me it is because I know people who currently live in Paris.  I know people who are from Beirut, but they don't live there now.  On the same day as the Paris attacks, a double decker tour bus in San Francisco ran away near Union Square. 

I started a new series on ragtime.  We marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of Booker T Washington and the murder of Joe Hill by the State of Utah.  Allen Toussaint died.  San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll announced his retirement.

I almost forgot to mention that San Francisco landmark Carol Doda died in November.  I was at my uncle's house and I mentioned the newspaper clipping that he had pinned up.  He said he dated her and she was a nice girl.  She would have made an interesting aunt.  

In December, we marked the 100th anniversary of the closing of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. We observed the 100th birthdays of Frank Sinatra, Turk Murphy and Edith Piaf.

Da'ish is still murdering people in Syria and Iraq.  Russia started to bomb them and other groups fighting the Syrian government. 

The railroads were supposed to have Positive Train Control (PTC) implemented by the end of 2015.  Despite strong efforts, they knew they were not going to succeed and persuaded Congress that they would have to shut down some or all operations.  In October, Congress succeeded in passing an extension until 2018.  Congress didn't get much else done this year. 

Red haired Clara Bow, seen in the photo, was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.

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