Hoosier History: On This Day, December 31
Today is Monday, Dec. 31, the 365th and final day of 2018.
Today’s Hoosier Highlights in History:
On Dec. 31, 1928, Vocal Group Hall of Fame singer Ross Edwin Barbour, known for his smooth baritone voice, is born in Columbus. Along with his brother Don and two others, he would form the vocal quartet The Four Freshmen while at Butler University’s Arthur Jordan Conservatory in Indianapolis. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, The Four Freshmen released a number of recordings under the Capitol Records label, made film and television appearances, and performed in concert.
On Dec. 31, 1919, Lt. Samuel Woodfill of Jefferson County is issued the Congressional Medal of Honor and becomes the most decorated Hoosier soldier of World War I. The Medal recognized his actions during an offensive where he single-handedly neutralized three German machine gun emplacements while suffering under the effect of mustard gas, and was able to successfully lead his men safely back to the American lines without casualties. Woodfill would also be one of three soldiers later chosen to dedicate Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns. (Photo: Library of Congress)
On Dec. 31, 1938, the modern “breathalyzer” is introduced for the first time in the Hoosier state, used by the Indiana State Police on New Year’s Eve. Developed by Indiana University biochemist Dr. Rolla N. Harger, the “Drunkometer” was the first device that could measure a person’s blood-alcohol level by means of a breath test. (Source: Hoosier History Highlights from the Indiana Department of Administration; Photo by Orlando/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
On Dec. 31, 1921, Francis P. Hamilton launches the first Indianapolis radio station. The first studio was in Hamilton’s garage on North Alabama Street. Mayor Samuel “Lew” Shank spoke on the air for the first broadcast of WLK. (Source: Hoosier History Highlights from the Indiana Department of Administration; Photo: State of Indiana)
On this date elsewhere:
In 1759, Arthur Guinness founded his famous brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light by illuminating some 40 bulbs at his laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
In 1904, New York’s Times Square saw its first New Year’s Eve celebration, with an estimate 200,000 people in attendance.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
In 1951, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1972, Major League baseball player Roberto Clemente, 38, was killed when a plane he chartered and was traveling on to bring relief supplies to earthquake-devastated Nicaragua crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1987, Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH’-bay) was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s first executive president.
In 1995, the syndicated comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” created by Bill Watterson, came to an end after a 10-year run.
In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville at age 64.
In 2001, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spent his final day in office praising police, firefighters, and other city employees in the wake of 9/11, and said he had no regrets about returning to private life.
Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on an Arab request for a binding and enforceable resolution condemning Israel and halting its military attacks on Gaza. A man left four gift-wrapped bombs in downtown Aspen, Colo. in a bank-robbery attempt, turning New Year’s Eve celebrations into a mass evacuation. (The man, identified as 72-year-old James Chester Blanning, shot and killed himself.)
Five years ago: Only hours before the law was to take effect, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, acting on a request from an organization of Catholic nuns in Denver, blocked implementation of part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that would have forced some religion-affiliated organizations to povide health insurance for employees that included birth control. Character actor James Avery, who’d played the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died in Glendale, California, at age 68.
One year ago: New Yorkers endured the second-coldest New Year’s Eve celebration on record; the temperature in the city was 10 degrees Fahrenheit as a glittering crystal ball dropped with a burst of confetti and dazzling fireworks in Times Square. Bitterly cold temperatures spread across the Deep South; the dangerous temperatures would grip wide areas of the U.S. from Texas to New England for days. The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-and-16, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-24. On the last day of the year, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” surpassed “Beauty and the Beast” as the top-grossing film in North America in 2017.
Today’s Birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 89. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 81. Actor Tim Considine (TV: “My Three Sons”) is 78. Actress Sarah Miles is 77. Rock musician Andy Summers is 76. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 75. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 74. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 72. Actor Tim Matheson is 71. Pop singer Burton Cummings is 71. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 70. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 67. Actor James Remar is 65. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 60. Actor Val Kilmer is 59. Singer Paul Westerberg is 59. Actor Don Diamont is 56. Rock musician Ric Ivanisevich (Oleander) is 56. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 55. Actress Gong Li is 53. Author Nicholas Sparks is 53. Actor Lance Reddick is 49. Pop singer Joe McIntyre is 46. Rock musician Mikko Siren (Apocalyptica) is 43. Donald Trump Jr. is 41. Rapper PSY (Park Jae-sang) is 41. Rock musician Bob Bryar is 39. Rock musician Jason Sechrist (Portugal. The Man) is 39. Actor/singer Erich Bergen is 33. DJ/vocalist Drew Taggart (The Chainsmokers) is 29. Olympic gold medal gymast Gabby Douglas is 23.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)