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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 29th

In 1613 The Globe Theater burns down. In 1990 World’s first female diocesan Anglican Bishop – Dr. Penny Jamieson is appointed in New Zealand. In 1995 U.S. space shuttle docks with Russian space station. In 1972 US Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty. In 1966 Vietnam air war escalates.

John Fioravanti is standing in front of the blackboard in his classroom.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1613 The Globe Theater burns down. (The Globe Theater, where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, burned down on this day in 1613.

The Globe was built by Shakespeare’s acting company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in 1599 from the timbers of London’s very first permanent theater, Burbage’s Theater, built in 1576. Before James Burbage built his theater, plays and dramatic performances were ad hoc affairs, performed on street corners and in the yards of inns. However, the Common Council of London, in 1574, started licensing theatrical pieces performed in the yards of inns within the city limits. To escape the restriction, actor James Burbage built his own theater on land he leased outside the city limits. When Burbage’s lease ran out, the Lord Chamberlain’s men moved the timbers to a new location and created the Globe. Like other theaters of its time, the Globe was a round wooden structure with a stage at one end and covered balconies for the gentry. The galleries could seat about 1,000 people, with room for another 2,000 “groundlings,” who could stand on the ground around the stage.

The Lord Chamberlain’s men built Blackfriars theater in 1608, a smaller theater that seated about 700 people, to use in winter when the open-air Globe wasn’t practical.)

This new theatre was christened “The Globe” and with its new name, the theatre found a group of willing investors, not the least of them being one actor/writer named William Shakespeare.
This new theater was christened “The Globe” and with its new name, the theater found a group of willing investors, not the least of them being one actor/writer named William Shakespeare. (

* 1990 World’s first female diocesan Anglican Bishop – Dr. Penny Jamieson is appointed in New Zealand. (English-born New Zealander Penny Jamieson was the first woman in the world to be ordained a diocesan bishop of the Anglican Church.

While vicar of St Philip’s in Karori, Penny was nominated by a group of women for the position of Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin. She was consecrated in 1990, and some criticized the sudden promotion, foreshadowing opposition from the church’s conservative element that would cloud her 14 years in the role.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Penny married New Zealander Ian Jamieson and moved to Wellington with him. There she lectured in linguistics at Victoria University, then worked for the Wellington City Mission while completing her doctoral thesis and mothering three young daughters. During this time she developed her vocation and was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.

From the start, it was clear the role would bring its challenges. The Anglican Bishop of Aotearoa, the Rt Rev Whakahuihui Vercoe and the Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Leonard Boyle, boycotted Penny’s ordination. Eight years later she spoke candidly at Kings College, London, saying she wouldn’t wish being a woman bishop on anyone. ‘The continuingly subtle, even underground power of patriarchy, whether exercised by men or by women, to destroy from a base of self-righteousness is truly appalling.’)

Bishop Penny Jamieson, 1990
Bishop Penny Jamieson, 1990 (Te Ara)

* 1995 U.S. space shuttle docks with Russian space station. (On this day in 1995, the American space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir to form the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth.

This historic moment of cooperation between former rival space programs was also the 100th human space mission in American history. At the time, Daniel Goldin, chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), called it the beginning of “a new era of friendship and cooperation” between the U.S. and Russia. With millions of viewers watching on television, Atlantis blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in eastern Florida on June 27, 1995.

Just after 6 a.m. on June 29, Atlantis and its seven crew members approached Mir as both crafts orbited the Earth some 245 miles above Central Asia, near the Russian-Mongolian border. When they spotted the shuttle, the three cosmonauts on Mir broadcast Russian folk songs to Atlantis to welcome them. Over the next two hours, the shuttle’s commander, Robert “Hoot” Gibson expertly maneuvered his craft towards the space station. To make the docking, Gibson had to steer the 100-ton shuttle to within three inches of Mir at a closing rate of no more than one foot every 10 seconds.

The docking went perfectly and was completed at 8 a.m., just two seconds off the targeted arrival time and using 200 pounds less fuel than had been anticipated. Combined, Atlantis and the 123-ton Mir formed the largest spacecraft ever in orbit. It was only the second time ships from two countries had linked up in space; the first was in June 1975, when an American Apollo capsule and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft briefly joined in orbit.

Once the docking was completed, Gibson and Mir’s commander, Vladimir Dezhurov, greeted each other by clasping hands in a victorious celebration of the historic moment. A formal exchange of gifts followed, with the Atlantis crew bringing chocolate, fruit and flowers and the Mir cosmonauts offering traditional Russian welcoming gifts of bread and salt. Atlantis remained docked with Mir for five days before returning to Earth, leaving two fresh Russian cosmonauts on the space station. The three veteran Mir crew members returned with the shuttle, including two Russians and Norman Thagard, a U.S. astronaut who rode a Russian rocket to the space station in mid-March 1995 and spent over 100 days in space, a U.S. endurance record. NASA’s Shuttle-Mir program continued for 11 missions and was a crucial step towards the construction of the International Space Station now in orbit.)

Mir-19 Crew/NASAAtlantis, the space shuttle, connected to the Mir Space Station in 1995.
Mir-19 Crew/NASAAtlantis, the space shuttle, connected to the Mir Space Station in 1995. (The Learning Network – The New York Times)

* 1972 US Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty. (In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged the progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.” In 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who had murdered an elderly couple because they would not lend him their car, was the first person to be executed since the end of the ban. Defiantly facing a firing squad in Utah, Gilmore’s last words to his executioners before they shot him through the heart were, “Let’s do it.”)

A protest before the U.S. Supreme Court, 2007. Jason Reed / Reuters / Alamy
A protest before the U.S. Supreme Court, 2007. Jason Reed / Reuters / Alamy

* 1966 Vietnam air war escalates. (During the Vietnam War, U.S. aircraft bomb the major North Vietnamese population centers of Hanoi and Haiphong for the first time, destroying oil depots located near the two cities. The U.S. military hoped that by bombing Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, and Haiphong, North Vietnam’s largest port, communist forces would be deprived of essential military supplies and thus the ability to wage war.

In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy sent the first large force of U.S. military personnel to Vietnam to bolster the ineffectual autocratic regime of South Vietnam against communist forces. Three years later, with the South Vietnamese government crumbling, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered limited bombing raids on North Vietnam, and Congress authorized the use of U.S. ground troops. By 1965, Vietcong and North Vietnamese offensives left President Johnson with two choices: escalate U.S. involvement or withdraw. Johnson ordered the former, and troop levels soon jumped to more than 300,000 as U.S. air forces commenced the largest bombing campaign in history.

However, as the Vietcong were able to fight with an average daily flow of only 20 tons of supplies from North Vietnam, and U.S. forces in Vietnam required 1,000 times as much, the bombing of communist industry and supply routes had little impact on the course of the war. Nevertheless, North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh placed the destruction of U.S. bombers in the forefront of his war effort, and by 1969 more than 5,000 American planes had been lost. In addition, the extended length of the war, the high number of U.S. casualties, and the exposure of U.S. involvement in war crimes such as the massacre at My Lai turned many in the United States against the Vietnam War.)

Vietnam War escalates with first U.S. air strikes near Hanoi and Haiphong 50 years ago #OTD this hour (June 29 1966)
Vietnam War escalates with first U.S. air strikes near Hanoi and Haiphong 50 years ago #OTD this hour (June 29, 1966) (RetroNewser)

Today’s Sources:

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport

* This Day In History – What Happened Today

* New Zealand History                          

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… June 29th”

    1. I agree, Teagan – Shakespeare was such a giant, so the Globe is of great interest. I’m serving birthday cake and coffee and tea. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As I recall, Gary Gilmore fought for the right to be executed. There was a book written about him called “The Executioner’s Song.” I never read it, but I remember all the hoopla surrounding Gilmore’s fight to be executed. I never realized what his crime was. What a senseless and tragic crime with a horrific outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting – I’m not familiar with the case. Sounds a bit like suicide by cop – or executioner. It is a very emotional issue. Our criminal code in Canada is a federal power. When Parliament outlawed capital punishment, that was it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mae.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that certainly was the lesson of Vietnam. However, I fear that an all-out engagement in Vietnam may well have drawn in Red China and the Soviets – World War III. It was a very tough call. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Nixon and the neocons criticized the Johnson administration about “limited engagement.” When he became president, the war escalated beyond Vietnam’s borders and with a more vigorous bombing campaign. Nothing worked as intended. America’s problem in Vietnam wasn’t that it didn’t act aggressively enough, the real problem was that it supported a thoroughly corrupt regime in the south which the Vietnamese people despised. This reality was too obvious to ignore even for Nixon and Kissinger, and that’s when the U.S. pullout began amid anti-war unrest at home.

      Korea was a different situation. The government in the south wasn’t as unstable as its Vietnamese counterpart. However, China was much more committed to supporting the communist regime of North Korea. When U.N. forces crossed the 38th parallel after the successful Inchon invasion, China intervened with a massive infantry counterattack which caught General MacArthur’s command unawares. Mac’s strategic miscalculation, as well as his subsequent demand to use nuclear weapons and to directly attack targets inside China, led President Truman to fire him. Had nuclear weapons been used, it would have precipitated retaliation by the Soviet Union and the Korean conflict could have easily escalated into another devastating world war.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree – the nuclear devastation would have been inevitable – there wouldn’t have men many of us left to pick up the pieces, Robert. Thanks for sharing your insights today.

        Liked by 1 person

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