October 30, 1938
With the drama being quite convincing and being set as an on the spot news report, it is little wonder why so many people took it to be real, including this quite nasty sounding description of the aliens:
"something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here's another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me. I can see the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it, it, ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it's so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate."
The program had the aliens defeating a mass number of National Guard with heat rays before spewing forth poisonous gas. Reports of more aliens crashing across the US quickly followed and soon panic ensued. People fled their homes, jamming highways, clogging up emergency phone numbers and some believe it resulted in a number of suicides.
Another fact is that this all took place when there was fear of the Germans and their power building, many took the invasion to be that of the Germans and this further fuelled confusion. Add to this the coincidence of a power substation causing a blackout in parts of Washington, it was the perfect storm.
Although there were another two reminders that it was all just a radio play and Welles himself broke character to remind everyone, the panic and confusion lasted for some time.
October 31, 1926
Although he is mostly remembered by such feats of escapism and other grand illusions he also took up a cause for debunking the spiritualist movement. It was his training in 'magic' that allowed him utilise these skills to expose frauds who stated they were psychic or mediums.
He became so well known (and scorned) by the spiritualist community that he had to start attending seances in disguise or else be turned away. His once friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a firm believer and supporter of spiritualism) was convinced that Houdini was a powerful spiritualist medium and used these abilities to debunk and ruin 'competition'. These views cost the pair their friendship.
Apparently blows to the stomach could not hurt Houdini, or so the legend goes. A university student named J Whitehead visited Houdini backstage in his dressing room and enquired if this was true to which Houdini affirmed. Whitehead asked if he could test this to which Houdini gave permission and straight away a flurry of massive blows were landed on Houdini's stomach. Houdini was not given time to take up his usual posture when taking on this feat and as such felt every one.
Houdini went on that night and gave his performance in great pain. Later he found that he had acute appendicitis (incredibly painful) and a fever. On October 24 he gave his past performance, baring the pain just enough to perform, passing out once to continue once he came too, before being admitted to hospital where he passed away at 1:26pm, October 31, 1926.
Before he died he and his wife formed a plan that if Houdini could communicate with her after death he would reveal this through a password. Every Halloween for ten years following her husbands death, Houdini's wife 'Bess' would organise a seance to see if any mediums could contact him and receive the password. Although one, Arthur Ford, provided the password in 1929, Bess believed he had somehow faked it.
In 2007, Houdini's grand nephew announced that he would seek to have his great uncles remains exhumed as he believed they may provide proof to claims that spiritualists had had him murdered. This proposed exhumation has not yet taken place.
November 1, 1791
Life in the first years of Australia's white settlement was quite harsh, especially for the convicts who had been sent there. Much of their time was spent undertaking manual labour, using tools not suited for the job and in the harsh conditions and climate they were in no way used too.
As such many convicts attempted to escape.
Australia was largely unexplored and as such no one really knew what lay beyond the boundaries of these early colonies. However, for some, it was believed that just beyond the blue mountains lay China and for a group of 21 convicts, that was their destination.
On 1 November, 1791, twenty men and one pregnant woman escaped from their gaol and made off on foot for China. They took rations, clothes, food and other necessities needed for the journey but needless to say they were unsuccessful.
Some were later recaptured whilst others died on their journey to the east...