April 9

Senator J. William Fulbright was born in 1905. He was a U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1945 – 1975. Fulbright was the longest serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Known for his opposition to the Vietnam War, he was also a segregationist. Fulbright established the Fulbright Program, which offered grants to international educational exchanges in 1948. Fulbright died in 1995 after suffering a stroke at age 89.

Magazine publisher and head of Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner was born in Chicago in 1926. After leaving his job as a copywriter for Esquire magazine, he launched Playboy magazine in December, 1953 and it sold over 50,000 copies. Hefner has a star on the Hollywood Wall of Fame. In 1978, Hefner organized fund raising events to help restore the Hollywood Sign. Visit the Playboy Mansion.

In 1959, NASA announced the creation of Project Mercury and the first seven astronauts. Those first seven were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. The goal of the program was to put a human in orbit and doing it before the Russians as part of the space race. Yuri Gagarin was actually the first person to orbit the earth, beating the Mercury Program by about a month. One of my favorite movies is The Right Stuff, which dramatizes the early days of the program.

Speaking of astronauts, the Astrodome opened in Houston in 1965. It was the world’s first multi-purpose domed sports stadium. The Astrodome has been nicknamed the Eight Wonder of the World. No longer in use, parts of it have been demolished. It was built at a cost of 35 million dollars ($262 million in today’s dollars). The idea for the stadium came from Roy Hoffeinz, a former mayor of Houston. On opening day the Houston Astros played an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. In 2005, the Astrodome was used to temporarily house refugees from Hurricane Katrina.

In 1969, The Chicago Eight (later the Chicago Seven) pleaded not guilty to federal charges of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The eight charged were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. The eight were reduced to seven after Bobby Seale was cut from the group and tried separately. The trial was more a circus than a trial with the defendants often showing their disdain for the judge and the proceedings. The trial lasted for months with the jury eventually handing down a verdict of not guilty of conspiracy for all defendants. Froines and Weiner were totally absolved, but five others were sentenced to prison for crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot. Those convictions were later overturned by and appeals court.

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.