24 March, 2009

Dorus Rijkers

Theodorus "Dorus" Rijkers was a famous Dutch lifeboat captain and folk hero, most famous for his sea rescues of 487 shipwrecked victims over a total of 38 rescue operations, and at least 25 before joining the lifeboat-service.

Dorus received his nickname Grandpa (Dutch: Opa) while still a young man. He had married Neeltje Huisman, a fisherman's widow who already had 6 children. Shortly after the marriage, the oldest of Neeltje's daughters had a child of her own, and so at only 23 years old Dorus became known as Opa in Den Helder where he lived. Although the nickname began as a joke, Dorus soon started acting and looking like a grandpa, and from that time on he became primarily known by his nickname.

Dorus gained most of his fame as a result of his service to the Noord- en zuid-Hollandsche Redding Maatschappij (NZHRM), one of the two main Dutch lifeboat-societies at the time. The NZHRM would later become the Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij (KNRM).

However his life-saving career began in 1872 before he joined the NZHRM, while acting as captain of his own boat. While at sea, he saved all 25 crew members of the barque Australia from drowning at sea. Because of this incident, Dorus gained a reputation as a rescuer, which preceded his joining the NZHRM as a volunteer. On the basis of his reputation, he was granted the position of coxswain upon joining the NZHRM without having to prove his qualifications. His rank of coxswain entitled him to immediately command his own boat and crew.

Although Dorus joined the NZHRM as a volunteer, he worked so many hours that it precluded him from taking on other paid work. Dorus and all of his crew members received a sum for each trial and each service.

During his nearly 30 years service with the NZHRM, Dorus saved hundreds of people from drowning at sea, becoming legendary long before his retirement. In the waters where he served, he saved such large number of people with such effectiveness that the survival statistics increased dramatically. At the end of his career, although he remained active, his role became more symbolic in nature.[citation needed]

In 1888, Dorus Rijkers met King William III of the Netherlands after rescuing sailors from the German barque Renown. The King gave Dorus a gold medal of honor and smoked a pipe with him.

A 1911 list showing Dorus most important between 1872-1911 rescues (including the Renown-rescue). Note that his full name, Theodorus, is used here.

In 1911, Dorus retired at age 64, after which he received only a very small pension. He struggled to make ends meet by eating simple food and living plainly.

During an October 1922 interview with Dr. L.A. Rademaker, editor of the Hague newspaper 'Het Vaderland', Dorus complained about his situation. He claimed that he had been forced to sell the gold medal of honour in order to buy himself a bicycle. The Helden der Zee Fonds 'Dorus Rijkers' (Dorus Rijkers Fund for the Heroes of the Sea) was created after Dorus' plight and that of other retired life-savers were chronicled in 'Het Vaderland'.

In April 1928, Dorus Rijkers died at the age of 81. He was given a funeral that was so grand that it resembled a state funeral in size and style. There was music, a big parade, thousands who came to pay their last respects including a large number of Marine Officers, also high ranking government officials, among them representatives of the Ministry of the Navy. The grandeur of his funeral showed the great public esteem in which Dorus was held at the time.

Ginger Baker

Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker is an English drummer, best known for his work with Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with New World music and the use of African influences and other diverse collaborations such as his work with the rock band Hawkwind.

Baker gained fame as a member of the Graham Bond Organization, and then for becoming a member of the band Cream with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton from 1966 until they disbanded in 1968. He later joined the group Blind Faith. In 1970 Baker formed toured and recorded with fusion rock group Ginger Baker's Air Force. He recorded Stratavarious in 1972, with the Nigerian pioneer of Afrobeat Fela Ransome-Kuti and the vocalist Bobby Tench from The Jeff Beck Group, an album released under his own name. Baker Gurvitz Army was formed in 1974 until its demise in 1976. Since then Baker has released many albums of ethnic fusion and jazz percussion and has recorded and toured with various jazz, classical and rock ensembles.

Baker's drumming attracted attention for its flamboyance, showmanship, and pioneering use of two bass drums instead of the conventional single bass kick drum. As a firmly established jazz drummer, he dislikes being referred to as a rock drummer. While at times performing in a similar way to Keith Moon from The Who, Baker also employs a more restrained style influenced by the British jazz groups he heard during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his early days as a drummer he performed lengthy drum solos, the best known being the thirteen-minute drum solo "Toad" from Cream's double album Wheels of Fire. He is also noted for using a variety of other percussion instruments and for his application of African rhythms.

Baker formed and recorded with Ginger Baker's Energy and was involved in collaborations with Bill Laswell, jazz bassist Charlie Haden and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. He was also member of Hawkwind, Atomic Rooster and Public Image. In 1994 he formed The Ginger Baker Trio and joined bassist Googe in Masters of Reality formed by producer, singer and guitarist Chris Goss.

Ginger Baker sat in for Fela Ransome-Kuti's drummer Tony Allen during recording sessions which were published in 1971 by the Regal Zonophone / Pathe Marconi label under the record title Live! and released through the Polydor label in 1972. Fela also appeared with Ginger Baker on Stratavarious alongside Bobby Gass, a pseudonym for Bobby Tench of The Jeff Beck Group, an album by Ginger Baker released on the Polydor label in the same year. Stratavarious was re-issued as a compilation along with the two complete Ginger Baker's Air Force albums entitled Do What You Like in 1998.

Baker and Bruce played together in the Graham Bond Organisation and Alexis Korner's ecletic Blues Incorporated before they accepted an invitation from Eric Clapton to join the band Cream in 1966. Cream disbanded during 1968 and in 1969 Baker joined Clapton along with Ric Grech and Steve Winwood in forming Blind Faith. Bruce and Clapton also played together near the end of Clapton's tenure with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In 1994 Baker joined BBM (Bruce-Baker-Moore), a short-lived power trio with the lineup of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Irish rock blues guitarist Gary Moore. During May 2005 Ginger Baker was reunited with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce for a Cream re-union at the Albert Hall in UK.

Nellie Fox

Jacob Nelson Fox was a Major League Baseball second baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Fox was born in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania. He was selected as the MVP of the American League in 1959. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Fox began his career with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1947, though he was never a full-time starter during his three seasons with the team. Traded to the White Sox October 29, 1949, Fox's career took off. He spent 14 seasons with Chicago, making 10 All-Star teams. He played his final two seasons (1964-65) with the Houston Colt .45s and Astros.

With the White Sox, Fox played next to a pair of slick-fielding shortstops, Venezuelans Chico Carrasquel (1950-55) and Hall-of-Famer Luis Aparicio (1956-62), and was, year after year, a member of the best defensive infield in the League. Fox won Gold Gloves in 1957, 1959 and 1960.

Only 5-foot-9, he made up for his modest size and minimal power — he hit only 35 home runs in his career, and never more than six in a single season — with his good batting eye, excellent fielding, and base running speed. Fox was perennially one of the toughest batters to strike out, fanning just 216 times in his career, an average of once every 42.7 at-bats which ranks him 3rd all-time. He led the league in most at-bats per strikeouts a phenomenal 13 times in his career. Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times.

After his playing career, Fox was a coach for the Astros (1965-67) and the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers (1968-72).

Nellie Fox died of lung cancer in Baltimore, Maryland in 1975.

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer and cartoonist, most widely known for his children's books written under his pen name, Dr. Seuss. He published over 60 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. His most celebrated books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including eleven television specials, three feature films, and a Broadway musical.

Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the U.S Army, where he wrote Design for Death, a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Henrietta Seuss and Theodor Robert Geisel. His father, the son of German immigrants, managed the family brewery and after Theodor was married, supervised Springfield's public park system. Geisel was raised in the Lutheran faith and remained a member of the denomination his entire life. Geisel attended Springfield's Central High School and entered Dartmouth College in fall 1921 as a member of the Class of 1925. At Dartmouth, Geisel joined the humor magazine Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, eventually rising to the rank of editor-in-chief. While at Dartmouth, Geisel was caught throwing a drinking party, violating national Prohibition laws of the time. As a result, the school insisted that he resign from all extracurricular activities. In order to continue his work on the Jack-O-Lantern without the administration's knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name "Seuss"; his first work signed as "Dr. Seuss" appeared after he graduated, six months into his work for humor magazine The Judge where his weekly feature Birdsies and Beasties appeared. At Dartmouth he was encouraged in his writing by professor of rhetoric W. Benfield Pressey, a beloved teacher who took a keen interest in Geisel's emerging talent.

After Dartmouth, he entered Lincoln College, Oxford, intending to earn a D.Phil in literature. At Oxford he met his future wife Helen Palmer; he married her in 1927, and returned to the United States without earning the degree. The "Dr." in his pen name is an acknowledgment of his father's unfulfilled hopes that Geisel would earn a doctorate at Oxford.

He began submitting humorous articles and illustrations to Judge, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. One notable "Technocracy Number" made fun of the Technocracy movement and featured satirical rhymes at the expense of Frederick Soddy. He became nationally famous from his advertisements for Flit, a common insecticide at the time. His slogan, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" became a popular catchphrase. Geisel supported himself and his wife through the Great Depression by drawing advertising for General Electric, NBC, Standard Oil, and many other companies. He also wrote and drew a short-lived comic strip called Hejji in 1935.

In 1937, while Geisel was returning from an ocean voyage to Europe, the rhythm of the ship's engines inspired the poem that became his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.[citation needed] Geisel wrote three more children's books before World War II, two of which are, atypically for him, in prose.

As World War II began, Geisel turned to political cartoons, drawing over 400 in two years as editorial cartoonist for the left-wing New York City daily newspaper, PM. Geisel's political cartoons, later published in Dr. Seuss Goes to War, opposed the viciousness of Hitler and Mussolini and were highly critical of isolationists, most notably Charles Lindbergh, who opposed American entry into the war. One cartoon depicted all Japanese Americans as latent traitors or fifth-columnists, while at the same time other cartoons deplored the racism at home against Jews and blacks that harmed the war effort. His cartoons were strongly supportive of President Roosevelt's conduct of the war, combining the usual exhortations to ration and contribute to the war effort with frequent attacks on Congress (especially the Republican Party), parts of the press (such as the New York Daily News and Chicago Tribune), and others for criticism of Roosevelt, criticism of aid to the Soviet Union, investigation of suspected Communists, and other offenses that he depicted as leading to disunity and helping the Nazis, intentionally or inadvertently.

In 1942, Geisel turned his energies to direct support of the U.S. war effort. First, he worked drawing posters for the Treasury Department and the War Production Board. Then, in 1943, he joined the Army and was commander of the Animation Dept of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces, where he wrote films that included Your Job in Germany, a 1945 propaganda film about peace in Europe after World War II, Our Job in Japan, and the Private Snafu series of adult army training films. While in the Army, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. Our Job in Japan became the basis for the commercially released film, Design for Death (1947), a study of Japanese culture that won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950), which was based on an original story by Seuss, won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

After the war, Geisel and his wife moved to La Jolla, California. Returning to children's books, he wrote what many consider to be his finest works, including such favorites as If I Ran the Zoo, (1950), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), If I Ran the Circus (1956), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957). Although he received numerous awards throughout his career, Geisel won neither the Caldecott Medal nor the Newbery Medal. Three of his titles from this period were, however, chosen as Caldecott runners-up (now referred to as Caldecott Honor books): McElligot's Pool (1947), Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949), and If I Ran the Zoo (1950).

At the same time, an important development occurred that influenced much of Geisel's later work. In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. Accordingly, Geisel's publisher made up a list of 348 words he felt were important and asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words. Nine months later, Geisel, using 236 of the words given to him, completed The Cat in the Hat. This book was a tour de force —it retained the drawing style, verse rhythms, and all the imaginative power of Geisel's earlier works, but because of its simplified vocabulary could be read by beginning readers. These books achieved significant international success and they remain very popular.

Geisel went on to write many other children's books, both in his new simplified-vocabulary manner (sold as Beginner Books) and in his older, more elaborate style. In 1982 Geisel wrote Hunches in Bunches. The Beginner Books were not easy for Geisel, and reportedly he labored for months crafting them.

At various times Geisel also wrote books for adults that used the same style of verse and pictures: The Seven Lady Godivas; Oh, The Places You'll Go!; and You're Only Old Once.

Though he devoted most of his life to writing children's books, Geisel never had any children himself.

Geisel died, following several years of illness, in San Diego, California on September 24, 1991. His ashes were scattered after he was cremated.