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John’s Believe It Or Not… March 28th

John Fioravanti standing at the front of his classroom.

It’s Tenuous Tuesday! Did you know…

* 1885 – North West Rebellion – Gen Frederick Middleton leaves for the west in command of 5,000 troops. (General Frederick Dobson Middleton leaves for the west in command of 5,000 troops; reaches the end of the CPR on April 2, and splits up; Middleton goes to Batoche, Otter sent to Battleford, Strange goes after Big Bear. These 5,000 British Regulars and Ontario Militia split into three groups will take on Gabriel Dumont’s 300 mounted forces of Metis and Cree Indians. Not very good odds? Stay tuned!)

Picture ofTroops on the Train going West, 1885
Troops on the Train going West, 1885

* 1979 Nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. (At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat. The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises. At the height of the crisis, plant workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, but no one outside Three Mile Island had their health adversely affected by the accident. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded the public’s faith in nuclear power. The unharmed Unit-1 reactor at Three Mile Island, which was shut down during the crisis, did not resume operation until 1985. Cleanup continued on Unit-2 until 1990, but it was too damaged to be rendered usable again. In the more than two decades since the accident at Three Mile Island, not a single new nuclear power plant has been ordered in the United States.

Aerial picture of Three Mile Island.

* 1776 De Anza founds San Francisco. (Juan Bautista de Anza, one of the great western pathfinders of the 18th century, arrives at the future site of San Francisco with 247 colonists. Anza established a presidio, or military fort, on the tip of the San Francisco peninsula. Six months later, a Spanish Franciscan priest founded a mission near the presidio that he named in honour of St. Francis of Assisi—in Spanish, San Francisco de Asiacutes. Though little known among Americans because of his Spanish origins, Anza’s accomplishments as a western trailblazer merit comparison with those of Lewis and Clark, John Fremont, and Kit Carson. Born and raised in Mexico, Anza joined the army when he was 17 and became a captain seven years later. He excelled as a military leader, displaying tactical genius in numerous battles with the Apache Indians.)

Artist rendering of the Presidio in 1790
Artist rendering of the Presidio in 1790

* 845 Paris is sacked by Viking raiders. (The Siege of Paris and the Sack of Paris of 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of the kingdom of the West Franks. The Viking forces were led by a Norse chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar, who traditionally has been identified with the legendary saga character Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar’s fleet of 120 Viking ships, carrying thousands of men, entered the Seine in March and proceeded to sail up the river. The West Frankish king Charles the Bald assembled a smaller army in response, but as the Vikings defeated one division, comprising half of the army, the remaining forces retreated. The Vikings reached Paris at the end of the month, during Easter. After plundering and occupying the city, the Vikings finally withdrew after receiving a ransom payment of 7,000 French livres (2,570 kilograms or 5,670 pounds) of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.)

Vikings Season 3. The Sack Of Paris Of 845 By Ragnar Lodbrok
Vikings Season 3. The Sack Of Paris Of 845 By Ragnar Lodbrok

* 1814 Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine (The funeral of Guillotin, the inventor and namesake of the infamous execution device, takes place outside of Paris, France. Guillotin had what he felt were the purest motives for inventing the guillotine and was deeply distressed at how his reputation had become besmirched in the aftermath. Guillotin had bestowed the deadly contraption on the French as a “philanthropic gesture” for the systematic criminal justice reform that was taking place in 1789. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the Revolution; by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured. However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.)

Drawing showing a demonstration of the 'humane' guillotine
A demonstration of the ‘humane’ guillotine

Look who was born on this date!

* Lady Gaga in 1986. (American Singer-Songwriter:  Rose to prominence with her debut album The Fame (2008), a critical and commercial success. Best known for her flamboyant and diverse contributions to the music industry via her fashion, live performances, and music videos. She is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, with global album and single sales of 27 million and 125 million.)


* Rick Barry in 1944. (American NBA Small Forward:  NBA observers consider him to be one of the greatest small forward of all time as a result of his uncanny ability to score, acute court vision, knowledge and execution of team defence principles, and his tenacious (and ofttimes demanding) will to win. He won the NBA Championship in 1975 with the Golden State Warriors.)


* Vince Vaughn in 1970. (American Actor:  Best known for comedy films such as Old School, Wedding Crashers and Couple’s Retreat.)


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

12 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 28th”

  1. I’m late checking in today, but needed my daily dose of John’s Believe it or Not 🙂

    One event I remember quite well was the accident at Three Mile Island. I live within the evacuation radius and remember exactly what I was doing when those air sirens sounded. It was quite an experience to live through the whole incident. My family didn’t evacuate but many did. I remember going to the bank because people were withdrawing their money like crazy. Central PA turned into a ghost town with highways in gridlock. I remember Jimmy Carter flying in by helicopter. It was a crazy time. Thankfully, the end result was not the disaster it could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a sweet thing to say, Mae! Hugs! I can’t imagine how frightening that incident was for people like you who lived close by. Thank God disaster was averted!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun – and sometimes disturbing – facts on this barely Tenuous Tusday (1:31 AM where I am). Three Mile Island dates were the real shocker for me. I recall it as if it were yesterday, mostly because my father was an AF scientist who spent a great deal of reactor time in Oak Ridge, so I was more concerned than many as a result. One of the sleep gurus claims that it was a result of poor cognition oopses as a result of extreme sleep debt due to inhuman rotation schedules (along with other disasters he’s researched).
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here today, Madelyn. I can only imagine what the families of employees went through during that incident. I wasn’t surprised by role that sleep debt may have played in this and other disasters. Too often, valuable lessons are learned at the expense of human lives. Thanks again, Madelyn! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was unsuccessful finding the source of that sleep-debt info or I would have cited it – somebody well-known in the sleep community. Potential consequences are rarely considered carefully enough since technology became king – that and money, of course.

        Overlooking, covering up and lying about GMO genetic research and cautions to obtain approvals for RoundUp ready corn (etc) is frightening, for example. I boycott anything by Monsanto, and eat as little corn as possible. And now they want to do it to wheat!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is sickening what they’ve done with the food supply, Madelyn. No wonder cancer is running rampant. You’re right, money is king. Hugs.

          Liked by 1 person

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