I came up with a ton of fascinating stuff, tales of fatal misadventures, mob hits, plane crashes (being home to Lockheed, my hometown had a significant aviation history), a fatal fast (1931), a "shotgun duel" (1935), traffic fatalities, railroad train-related deaths, what we would now call murder due to postpartum psychosis (1925), suicides, fatal love triangles, a "shoot-it-out" (1929), industrial accidents, sad stories about children hit by cars and even the sad, suicidal hanging of a fourteen year-old boy in a playhouse (1946). One rancher was buried alive when a tunnel he was digging between two wells collapsed upon him (1908). And in my own high school in 1946 there was an accidentally fatal scuffle between two teens over the use of a drinking fountain. (A part of me wants to know which water fountain on campus it was.)
I had no idea growing up there that there had been so many interesting deaths in town, but that's because I didn't think in those terms. None of us do. But any town or city with a history has its share of deaths which can be plotted on a map. One major thing - other than taste and a sense of propriety - that keeps me from doing a page like this is the realization that there may be descendants in town who would be grieved by such a thing. It's probably better to let most of these sad stories lay... or perhaps there's a way I can cite these incidents without using names...
I found one obituary about a bonafide, nationally-recognized hero who moved into town towards the end of his life. His heroism inspired a Methodist hymn! Here's the link to my page.
There are other revelations; I found an obit about the man who gave the town its name - Dr. David Burbank - as well as one for his brother who lived nearby.
I am still reading that book about the course of a day. Here's an interesting passage: "Philosophers, comedians, and tipsy birthday celebrants all have proposed theories about why time seems to move increasingly swiftly as we grow older. But the most disconcerting rationale is not a theory. It is the undeniable realization that every day we live constitutes a smaller percentage of the accrued experience with which we awaken each morning, and therefore seems proportionately a smidgen quicker and smaller than the day before." How true, how true!
I watched a fabulous movie last night: Mafioso (1962); 2/3rds hilarious ethnic family comedy in the style of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 1/3rd realistic crime drama. (A genial Sicilian working in Milan returns home with his wife and daughters, where he is drafted to perform a murder in New York City for the local Don.) An abrupt change of tone and plot like that is hard to pull off in a film, but director Alberto Lattuada managed it. If you have Netflix streaming, by all means check this one out.
I also finished watching another great Terry Jones (Monty Python troupe) documentary series, Terry Jones' Barbarians (2006). Like his series about medieval lives and the Crusades, it is fascinating; Jones does a stellar job as a genial and witty presenter. Even better, having a scholarly bent of mind he writes these episodes himself! I do have one gripe, however: in one episode he classifies the Greek as being barbarians compared to the Romans. THE GREEKS WERE NOT BARBARIANS! Far from it. The Romans had an intellectual inferiority complex about the Greeks (as well they should). While the Romans conquered Greece, they sought out Greek slaves as tutors for elite Roman youth. In fact, the Greeks coined the term for the Persians, whom they considered uncouth barbarians. (The Persian language sounded like "bar-bar-bar" to the Greeks, hence, "barbarians.") I have written this before, but the ancient Greeks were astonishing. It's like the Lord God had leftover intellect that he didn't completely expend with other races, and simply dumped the excess onto Athens starting in about 350 B.C. Case in point, the Antikythera mechanism which Jones cites as being an example of how the Greeks utterly outclassed the Romans. Dated to about 100 B.C., it is nothing less than history's first retrieved clockwork device built a full 1,500 years before such mechanisms were built in Western Europe. While its use is debated to some extent, it is clear that it could have determined the positions of the known planets forwards and backwards in time. Scholars of ancient history had no idea the Greeks possessed such knowledge and mechanical skill.
I also enjoyed this series because it gave me a new slant on Alaric the Visigoth, whom I have always read (in the pro-Roman/Catholic church-derived histories) was an utter lout. (Is that him, leering at those women?) On the contrary, he led the foederati, Germans working as Roman mercenaries, in military campaigns to strengthen the Emperor, and, like the Romans, was a Christian. And Alaric's dreadful Sack of Rome in 410 A.D.? From wikipedia: "The contemporary ecclesiastics recorded with wonder many instances of the Visigoths' clemency: Christian churches saved from ravage; protection granted to vast multitudes both of pagans and Christians who took refuge therein; vessels of gold and silver which were found in a private dwelling, spared because they 'belonged to St. Peter'; at least one case in which a beautiful Roman matron appealed, not in vain, to the better feelings of the Gothic soldier who attempted her dishonor."
The photo above is an actor in Jones' series who portrayed Alaric. I like the sad, aggrieved look on his face, as if to say, "The history books have me all wrong!" (He also looks like a guy I used to work with at Lockheed.)