March 6, 2015

It Happened on March 6th

Remember the Alamo!

The Battle of the Alamo, 1836
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo, one of the most famous last stands in history. That means that today is also the anniversary of the deaths of such heroes as Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis. Most of us know the story from fictional sources -- not surprisingly, since the first full-length non-fiction book about the Alamo wasn't published until 1948. Some of the better-known fictional representations of the battle are the John Wayne movie, The Alamo, the Tennessee Ernie Ford song, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, and the Disney series, Davy Crockett.
Bayer Heroin
Bayer Registers "Aspirin" as a Trademark, 1899
Yes, it's true -- Bayer once held the trademark for the term "Aspirin." They didn't get to keep it though. It lost its trademark status in the United States not only because of its widespread use as a generic term, but also because the United States had confiscated all of Bayer's assets and trademarks during World War I. Today the word is used as a generic term in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, but retains its status as a registered trademark of Bayer in 80 other countries. 

Bayer certainly didn't invent the drug however. Salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin, has been around for a long time. Even Hippocrates, who lived around the fourth century BC, left writings prescribing the use of willow bark and leaves for relief from pains and fevers. 

(Incidentally, the picture shown here is not a joke. Bayer also once held the trademark for the word "Heroin",  originally sold as a substitute for morphine.)

Svetlana and Papa in happier days.
Stalin's Daughter Defects to the U.S., 1967
Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, had fallen in love with a visiting Indian Communist, Brajesh Singh. They were not allowed to marry, and Singh was seriously ill with emphysema and bronchiectasis. Singh died while still in Moscow, and Svetlana was allowed to take his ashes to his family in India, to be poured into the Ganges. While there, she visited the United States embassy in New Delhi, and petitioned for political asylum. 

Alliluyeva has also lived for periods of time in the United Kingdom, and in 1984 she returned to the Soviet Union and was granted citizenship. As of 2010, she resides in Wisconsin.

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