Catching up on other stories

Have you ever planned to do things and then suddenly realise that the time has moved on faster than you have?  Well, something like that has happened to me – and I can blame Marlene Dietrich for it.  No, that’s not fair, but I hope you have enjoyed her story so far.

So what should I have been doing?

Well – for 1st March I could tell a 1932 story when police in New Jersey, USA, set up a huge search to try and find a kidnapped baby. This baby and his dad were quite special because that 20-month old son’s dad was the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.  The baby had disappeared while mum and dad were having dinner and a ransom note for fifty thousand dollars was left near his empty cot.  It became a notorious case and there were many theories about what had happened.  However, on 13th February 1935, a jury found one Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of first-degree murder in the kidnapping and death of the infant son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Hauptmann was sentenced to death and was executed.  It is said that Agatha Christie was inspired by story when she wrote ‘Murder On The Orient Express’.

Alternately I could record how, on Sunday 2nd March 1958, a team of explorers led by Vivian Fuchs, became the first people to cross the Antarctic by land. The journey had taken 100 days journey, collecting scientific data on the way. It had taken since 1953 to plan and prepare for it. They had started the risky journey from the Weddell Sea, then across Antarctica to the Ross Sea.  The Weddell Sea has been described as ‘berg-filled waters, the most treacherous and dismal region on earth’.  The Ross Sea, by comparison, was ‘relatively peaceful, predictable and safe’.

For Friday 3rd March 1911 I could that on that day the ‘film star to be’ Jean Harlow was born in Kansas, USA.  When her parents divorced she and her mother went Illinois Jean – and there Jean was introduced to a young man from a wealthy family. She married him when she was sixteen.  Later Jean and a friend who was an aspiring young actress went to Fox Studios together.  There Jean was noticed by talent spotters on the look-out for glamorous new stars. She was paid seven dollars for her first film role as an ‘extra’.  In due time Jean Harlow was nicknamed ‘The Blonde Bombshell’.

Let’s now move forward to Wednesday 6th March 1982 when the Barbican Centre – London’s largest arts venue – was opened.  This Grade II listed building is one of London’s best examples of Brutalist architecture.  It was developed from designs by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon as part of a utopian vision to transform an area of London left devastated by bombing during the Second World War. Originally ‘Barbican’ was the name of a street in a bustling commercial area in the Cripplegate ward.  By the end of the 19th century it was the centre of the rag trade and was home to fabric and leather merchants, furriers, glovers and a host of other tradesmen.

However, on Sunday 29th December 1940 the City of London came under the fire of the German bombers and the area around Barbican was flattened as fire swiftly spread across the warehouses. By the end of the war, only a few buildings still stood, including the damaged Church of St Giles’ Cripplegate.

After the Second World War the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 enabled local authorities, such as the Corporation, to buy land in order to redevelop large areas – and that was taken by the Corporation.  The Centre took over a decade to build and now – on Wednesday 6th March 1982 ‘the whole’ was opened by The Queen who declared it ‘one of the modern wonders of the world’ with the building seen as a landmark in terms of its scale, cohesion and ambition.


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