Meet Roxie. Roxie is a, well, I’m not sure what she is supposed to be. But this past weekend when we went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, Roxie was just a short distance inside the entry to greet us. This strange creature (and the other strange folks we saw) really made me think that we’d not fallen into a Renaissance Faire, but into something from the Dark Ages…the VERY Dark Ages! There were people everywhere with elf ears, horns on their heads, elf ears and horns on their head…and even some folks dressed as Imperial Storm Troopers! For a while I thought we’d fallen through a rip in the space-time continuum and were in the future until someone reminded me that Star Wars took places “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away!” That made me feel better right way…at least, until I saw Roxie again!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1987, firefighters finally contained a giant fire sweeping eastward across China, but not before 193 people are killed.
The fateful fire began on May 6 in Mohe County of the Heilongjiang Province. From the outset, authorities mishandled the blaze, failing to contain it while the size was still manageable. It spread quickly and within two days, 2,000 square miles had burned and 100 people were dead. Firefighters also had to contend with a separate large forest fire that had broken out near China’s border with the Soviet Union that threatened to join the initial blaze.
It took several more days for the firefighters to finally stop the spread of the fire as it moved toward Inner Mongolia. Although the city of Manqui was saved by controlled fire breaks set by the firefighters, the toll from this huge fire was already immense. Two and a half million acres of land burned and 50,000 people lost their homes. In addition to the 193 people who were killed, hundreds more were injured.
When the fire finally burned out completely on May 27, Yang Zhong, China’s Forestry Minister, was fired for the initially incompetent firefighting response.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The lobotomy, from the Greek lobe=of brain +tome=slice, was one of the most popular types of brain surgery ever invented. Neurologist and psychiatrist Walter Freeman (who was not a surgeon) simplified the surgery by taking an icepick through the eye sockets instead of through drilled holes in the skull. He chose an ice pick because regular surgical tools made at the time kept snapping off inside of people’s heads. Headache, anyone?