Inspired by a squeaker of a University of Michigan football win over the University of Chicago on this day in 1898, University of Michigan band member Louis Elbel pens the iconic fight song “The Victors” later that night.
Elbel, a student at the University of Michigan’s school of music, had been watching the match between the Wolverines and the University of Chicago Maroons from the stands. It was an intense match – a win would bring Michigan its first undefeated season since 1891 and the league championship. Michigan’s success was unclear to the end, until Michigan broke out a last-minute 12-11 win with a touchdown followed by an extra point. Michigan students who had traveled to Chicago for the game broke out in song and celebration, following their marching band into the streets of the big city.
Everything would have been perfect, except Elbel didn’t feel any of the marching band’s music lived up to the big occasion.
Elbel had a sister living in Chicago at the time, and as he made his way to her house, the first lines of the tune came to him. He rushed to her home and banged out the rest on her piano, then finished the piece off on the train back to Ann Arbor. When finished, he’d written a march for a 23-piece ensemble.
Elbel premiered the song the following year to none other than John Philip Sousa, the “March King” who wrote such notable tunes as “Stars and Stripes Forever” and “The Liberty Bell” (later used by Monty Python as the ending tune as credits rolled on their Flying Circus television show). Sousa directed his own band in playing Elbel’s “The Victors.”
The catchy tune made the University of Michigan’s fight song one of the best-known college anthems. In fact, former president and Michigan alum Gerald R. Ford liked it so much that he sometimes instructed the Naval Band to play it instead of “Hail to the Chief” at official events. It was also the song that played at Ford’s 2006 funeral procession at the U.S. Capitol.
Elbel received the University of Michigan Band Alumni’s first Honorary Life Membership in 1951 for writing the song. The university’s Elbel Field is named in his honor.
Source : Official Blog of the Michigan Democrats, November 24, 2014.
Ernest Hemingway’s family cottage, “Windemere,” in Emmet County was added to the list of national historic landmarks. In 1899, Ernest Hemmingway’s father built the “Windemere” cottage in Emmet County. And it was here that the famous fiction writer spent nearly all the summers of his youth. It was here that he began his life-long passions of hunting and fishing. And most importantly, it was here that he wrote some of his first serious fiction. Hemmingway produced numerous volumes of short stories and some of the most significant novels of the modern era, including The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and The Old Man and the Sea (1952). “Windemere” was added to the list of national historic landmarks on November 24, 1968.
A picture of very young Ernest Hemingway fishing on Horton’s Creek, July 1904. Photo by Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
“Michigan Historical Calendar“, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Jill Arnold, “The Son Also Rises”, Seeking Michigan, September 18, 2012.
When one reads a physics paper in an esteemed journal, one does not generally wonder if it was written by a cat. But such was the case for an article in the 1970s credited to co-author F.D.C. Willard—the Cat Who Published.
Jack H. Hetherington was a professor of physics at Michigan State University in 1975, when he finished what would become an influential and often-cited physics paper. The academic writing, entitled, Two-, Three-, and Four-Atom Exchange Effects in bcc 3He, was an in-depth exploration of atomic behavior at different temperatures. It would have flown over the heads of most lay people, not to mention cats.
He was all set to send it to Physical Review Letters, which today describes itself as “the world’s premier physics letter journal.” However, before he dispatched it, Hetherington gave the paper to a colleague to get one one last set of eyes on the piece. This is when he ran into a strange problem. Hetherington had used the royal “we” throughout the paper. As his colleague pointed out, Physical Review Letters generally only published papers using plural pronouns and adjectives like “we” and “our” if the paper had multiple authors.
Now I Know points out that in 1975, Hetherington couldn’t have simply done a find-and-replace to correct the offending articles. In fact the whole paper had been produced on a typewriter.
In the 1982 book More Random Walks in Science, Hetherington gave other reasons for not wanting to add another human authors, including the fact that the compensation for a published piece is changed with each additional author, that a scientific writer’s reputation is tied up in what they publish, and that prestige can take a hit when multiple authors are involved.
Hetherington wrote that after giving the issue “an evening’s thought,” he decided the paper was so good that it required rapid publishing. Unwilling to go back and replace the plural voice in the document, he did the next best thing and just added a second author: his Siamese cat, Chester. Of course just listing “Chester” as a co-author probably wouldn’t fly, so he invented the name F.D.C. Willard. The “F.D.C.” stood for “Felix Domesticus, Chester.” Willard had been the name of Chester’s father.
Portraying F.D.C. Willard as one of his colleagues at Michigan State, Hetherington submitted his paper, and it was published in issue 35 of Physical Review Letters.
Hetherington didn’t feel too bad about the deception, recognizing the possible publicity value of such a stunt. In More Random Walks in Science, he wrote: “Why would I do such an irreverent thing? … If it eventually proved to be correct, people would remember the paper more if the anomalous authorship were known. In any case I went ahead and did it and have generally not been sorry.”
After the paper was published, it didn’t take long for Willard’s true identity to come to light. The first time anyone outside of Hetherington’s close colleagues learned of the cat scientist was when a visitor to the college came looking for the authors. Hetherington was away. As quoted in a piece on Today I Found Out, Hetherington said, “Everyone laughed and soon the cat was out of the bag.”
After that casual reveal, Hetherington leaned into the joke and even issued a handful of article reprints signed by both authors. His was a standard signature, while Willard’s was a pawprint. Clearly, Hetherington wasn’t too worried about how the community would take to his kitty co-author. He even began describing Chester/Willard as the university’s “Rodentia Predation Consultant.”
University officials seemed to love the idea of the cat as a sort of physics mascot. In 1975, the college’s Physics Chairman, Truman Woodruff, even wrote a letter to Hetherington, asking him if he could persuade Willard to join the department full time. The letter read, in part, “Can you imagine the universal jubilation if in fact Willard could be persuaded to join us, even if only as a Visiting Distinguished Professor?”
According to Hetherington, the only people who didn’t think the joke was very funny were editors.
Willard went on to publish another paper in 1980, this time being credited as the sole author (assumedly Hetherington helped out a little, too). This paper, written completely in French, was published in the popular science magazine, La Recherche. While it didn’t hold the prestige or exciting surprise as his first published piece, who knew the cat spoke French?
Willard’s short but sweet publishing career did have a lasting effect on cat-authored physics papers. Inspired by the kitty’s contributions to physics, the American Physical Society declared in 2014 that all cat-authored papers would now be available as open-access documents. The date of this declaration? April 1.
Reposted from Eric Grundhauser, “In 1975, a Cat Co-Authored a Physics Paper“, Atlas Obscura, August 30, 2016.
On November 24, 1997, Irving D. Reid took the oath of office to become Wayne State University’s first African-American president.
Detroit African-American History Project
Thanksgiving 1904 was a somber affair at MAC. A MAC football player died from injuries suffered during a football practice. John W. Burdette’s parents and siblings were with him when he passed on November 25.
Members of the freshman class accompanied their classmate’s remains to the Lakeshore Depot. Burdette’s roommate and fellow member of the Columbian Literary Society accompanied the body home to Kentucky.
Memorial services were held at Y.M.C.A. that Sunday. Burdette was remembered as a student who always listened to his fellow students and his fairness and sportsmanship on the athletic field. The president of the college praised Burdette for his bravery and kindness in his last hours of life.
M.A.C Record-November 29th, 1904 edition
Reposted by Max Forton, “A Somber Spartan Thanksgiving”, Campus Archaeology Blog, November 4, 2013.
On November 25, 1922, contracts for the erection of a building, with 47 rooms, to be used for East Lansing’s first hotel, was let by Mary E. Champs. While East Lansing, the home of the Michigan Agricultural College has many rooming houses, it has no hotel, which is a severe inconvenience for visitors, who have to look for accommodations in Lansing. The cost is estimated at $75,000.
Source : “Lansing”, Detroit Free Press, November 26, 1922, pg. 8.
The aftermath of the 1973 Ohio State vs. Michigan football game was one of the most notorious episodes in Big Ten history. In this game, both teams were undefeated, with Ohio State ranked 1st, and Michigan ranked 4th. A conference championship, Rose Bowl appearance, and possible national championship was on the line in this monumental game, part of the hotly contested stretch of the rivalry known as The Ten Year War. A then-NCAA record crowd of 105,233 watched the game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Michigan’s coaches and players felt that although the game was a tie, that they were the better team and deserved to go to the Rose Bowl. Even Ohio State coach Woody Hayes admitted that his team wouldn’t go to the Rose Bowl. There was lots of debate on who would play in the Rose Bowl. Michigan’s strong second half, and Franklin’s injury were factors in debating who would represent the conference in the “granddaddy of them all”.
Ohio State had gone to the Rose Bowl the year before. The Big Ten at the time had a longstanding policy stating that only the conference champion would go to a bowl, the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten also had a “no-repeat” rule until 1971, and had it still been in effect, Michigan would have gone to the Rose Bowl automatically, even if it had lost to Ohio State. With the latter rule abolished, the decision as to who would represent the conference would be left up to a telephone vote by the Big Ten’s athletic directors. According to Michigan coach Bo Schembechler’s 1989 autobiography, the Big Ten was nervous because the conference had lost the previous four Rose Bowls, and Franklin’s injury may have been a deciding factor.
On the day after the game, following a conference call (or a meeting in Chicago — a current ESPN documentary reports both possibilities), it was announced that Ohio State would play in the Rose Bowl instead of Michigan. Ohio State won the game.
What were the deciding factors? The ESPN documentary speculates that the Big Ten Commissioner revealed that the Michigan quarterback had broken his collarbone in the game, seriously hurting Michigan’s chances in The Rose Bowl. It was also pointed out that Michigan State either voted for Ohio State or itself to go, denying Michigan the spot. Despite being a Michigan man, the MSU athletic director may have been influenced by Michigan’s vote in 1949 to deny MSU a spot in the Big Ten. At any rate, the envelope containing each of the Athletic Director’s votes disappeared, and the Big Ten Commissioner and the Big Ten’s Attorney, the only other two individuals to know the vote’s outcome, never revealed what happened.
At any rate Schembechler was furious at the call, referring to it as “an embarrassment to the Big Ten Conference” and claiming “petty jealousies” were involved, and remained bitter about the decision to his death. Schembechler went on to demand changes to the Big Ten’s policies regarding post-season play.
Soon afterwards the Big Ten Conference abolished the archaic “Rose Bowl or No Bowl” rule. This would allow conference teams other than the champion to accept invitations to other bowls. Michigan would be the first team to receive such an invite, to the Orange Bowl following the 1975 season. Another change, which also took effect in 1975, was the dropping of the athletic directors’ vote in the event of a tie for the championship. The new rule stated the team which had gone the longest without appearing in the Rose Bowl would go to Pasadena. Schembechler had pushed for that reform, claiming that the athletic directors were not qualified to decide which team would better represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
1973 Ohio State vs. Michigan football game wikipedia entry
Bill Livingston, ‘Tiebreaker’ — Vietnam, Watergate, Michigan-Ohio State, and Big Ten concern for its 1973 football image, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 16, 2013.
Frederik Meijer, the Grand Rapids billionaire credited with inventing the supercenter store format in 1962 that made his Meijer chain a successful Midwest retailer and was copied by Sam Walton for his chain Wal-Mart, died Friday at age 91.
Mr. Meijer — Fred to most who knew him — will be remembered for his philanthrophy. He invested millions into the West Michigan, including creating the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which quickly became one of the state’s top destinations. Other contributions include: numerous donations to hospitals, universities and landmarks such as the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail and the Pickeral Lake Fred Meijer Nature Preserve.
Mr. Meijer’s family became one of the richest in the country, yet the patriarch of the Walker-based retail chain once remarked: “Money is only a tool. And money doesn’t buy happiness.“
If that’s true, Mr. Meijer found pleasure in giving much of his away, and the people of West Michigan were the beneficiaries.
Despite having his name on numerous stores throughout the region, Mr. Meijer remained very humble. “In the early 80s, he gave Mike Lloyd, Executive Editor, Grand Rapids Press a tour of the new Meijer headquarters in Walker. Along the way he showed me his personal office, which was moderate in size and plainly furnished. He said the architect had originally included an executive washroom in his office. Fred said he flushed the bathroom idea. Being Dutch, he pointed out how expensive plumbing is to install and that his personal use of this facility wouldn’t justify the cost. “That’s what I told the architect,” he said. “The truth was, when I walk down the hall to use the same restroom as the people I work with, it’s clear that I go to the bathroom the same as everyone else.” He also said that those necessary trips got him out of his office and gave people a chance to talk with him. “Few things strip away the pomp and title of the corner office like a trip to the bathroom.”
“In addition to the penny pony rides, the other Meijer icon that is synonymous with having fun is the Purple Cow ice-cream card. Fred and Lena have passed these generously to kids of all ages. Lena personally signs each one she gives out. Fred estimates that they have distributed over 500,000 in the past four decades. Former Michigan Governor James Blanchard once yelled across a banquet room his request for a card. Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos have lined up for their freebies. Summoned to the White House, Fred presented ice cream cards to Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. Even presidential brother Billy Carter got one. Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwartzkopf have ice-cream cards, and, on the international scene, so does Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Fred always uses the cards as icebreakers. “You can always tell when Fred is in the store because the Purple Cow suddenly gets busy,” commented one store director. “The cards have no expiration date, and he once told a customer in Indianapolis, “You have fifty years to redeem that.” The man replied, “Fifty years? I’ll be with the Lord by then.” Fred handed him another card, “Well, in that case, here’s one for the Lord, too.”
For the full article, see “Fred Meijer, West Michigan billionaire grocery magnate, dies at 91“, MLive, November 25, 2011.
Excerpts from ‘Fred Meijer: Stories of His Life’, MLive, March 19, 2009.
Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known
Michele Felice Corné (1752–1845), The Landing of the Pilgrims, 1803. Credit: U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Reception Rooms
“The antidote to feel-good history is not feel-bad history, but honest and inclusive history.” —James W. Loewen, Plagues & Pilgrims: The Truth about the First Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving story you know and the one I know are most likely the same. It’s the story deeply rooted in America’s curriculum—the one that inspires arguably the most important and tradition-filled holiday in American culture. We’re taught that in 1620 the Pilgrims fled harsh religious suppression in Britain, sailed across the Atlantic, and in December stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts. With little food and no shelter, the colonists struggled to survive a brutal winter until a friendly Indian, Squanto, came along and showed them how to cultivate crops. Their first harvest resulted in a feast, as the Pilgrims gave thanks to the kind Indians for helping to bring the colony back to life.
This version of Thanksgiving, while pleasant, isn’t terribly accurate. Told from a perspective that frames the Pilgrims as the main characters, the story leaves out major details, glorifying the Pilgrims’ endeavor and the holiday it birthed, forcing the Wampanoag Indians into forgotten roles. It also erases a monumentally sad history. When we pay homage to the Pilgrims and their bravery, and react to the tragic background of America’s founding myth with silence, we essentially support a mindset that only some people’s history matters.
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1850–1936), The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914. Collection of Pilgrim Hall Museum. Not all mythical history is verbal. The Plains Indian headdresses worn by Brownscombe’s Wampanoag leaders are probably enough said about The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth. Top: The shirtless-in-December figure on shore in Corné’s Landing of the Pilgrims notwithstanding, William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, wrote in his journal that it was four months before the Pilgrims saw the first Indians. Credit: Pilgrim Hall Museum
The true history of Thanksgiving begins with the Indians.
About four years before the Pilgrims anchored off Massachusetts, British fishermen had already started making their way through New England, storming through Indian towns to kidnap Native people for profit in the slavery trade. Although it’s often left out of textbooks, this series of intrusions was the catalyst to what is probably the most important event in this nation’s history, without which Europeans would not have been able to settle on top of the millions of Native people who already lived in America—at least, not as fast: epidemic illness.
Before 1492, the Western Hemisphere was largely isolated, sparing its indigenous peoples from diseases the rest of the world succumbed to time and time again. But this lack of contact prevented Natives of the Americas from developing any type of immunity to European, Asian, and African pathogens. When Europeans started trekking through Indian towns, they brought sickness with them. Indians died at an alarming rate, making it substantially easier for colonists to overpower entire villages—well, what was left of them.
The Pilgrims already believed they were part of God’s plan. Finding empty villages as 90 percent—yes, 90 percent—of America’s Indians perished in front of them only furthered Europeans’ sense of their destiny, influencing them to continue the colonization westward. As Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora) and Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) wrote in Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories, one of the opening exhibitions at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, “That initial explosion of death is one of the greatest tragedies in human history because it was unintended, and unavoidable, and even inevitable. But what happened in its wake was not.”
One people who famously suffered from the onslaught of disease were the Wampanoag, a nation made up of 69 villages scattered throughout present-day Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Skilled hunters, gatherers, farmers, and fishers during spring and summer, the Wampanoag moved inland to more protected shelter during the colder months of the year. Like indigenous groups everywhere, the Wampanoag had a reciprocal relationship with nature and believed that as long as they gave thanks to the bountiful world, it would give back to them. Long before the arrival of the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag held frequent Thanksgiving-like celebrations, giving thanks in the form of feasts and ceremonial games.
Exposed to new diseases, the Wampanoag lost entire villages. Only a fraction of their nation survived. By the time the Pilgrim ships landed in 1620, the remaining Wampanoag were struggling to fend off the Narragansett, a nearby Native people who were less affected by the plague and now drastically outnumbered them.
For a moment of history, the interests of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag aligned. When the Pilgrims landed in New England, after failing to make their way to the milder mouth of the Hudson, they had little food and no knowledge of the new land. The Wampanoag suggested a mutually beneficial relationship, in which the Pilgrims would exchange European weaponry for Wampanoag for food. With the help of an English-speaking Patuxet Indian named Tisquantum (not Squanto; he spoke English because he was kidnapped and sold in the European slave trade before making his way back to America), the Pilgrims produced a bountiful supply of food that summer. For their part, the Wampanoag were able to defend themselves against the Narragansett. The feast of indigenous foods that took place in October 1621, after the harvest, was one of thanks, but it more notably symbolized the rare, peaceful coexistence of the two groups.
The events that followed the first Thanksgiving also depart from the peaceful ideal we celebrate. To read what happened next, see the earlier post Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
Lindsay McVay is a senior at the University of Central Florida, majoring in writing and rhetoric. Her professional experience includes writing grants for nonprofits; contributing to blogs, especially Book Baristas; and designing websites for Florida independent publishers. During the fall of 2017, Lindsay has worked as an intern in Marketing and Communications at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Reposted from the National Museum of the American Indian Blog, November 22, 2017.
On November 25, 1824, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass declared the first Thanksgiving holiday for the residents of Michigan in Detroit. Now Thanksgiving also occurs on the 4th Thursday of November.
Pasty Central Day In History: November 25
Thanksgiving at great-great-Grandma’s house, Detroit News Blog, November 18, 2012.