February 8: ON THIS DAY in 1952, Elizabeth II proclaimed queen

ON THIS DAY IN 1924, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “Carson City, Nev. — Gee Jon, Chinese Tong slayer, was put to death here this morning in the first lethal gas execution in the history of the United States. Official physicians had observed through a window of the stone death chamber that death ensued within six minutes and that it was painless. Four minutes after the lethal gas had been admitted into the chamber, Gee Jon was still alive, but did not appear to be suffering. Physicians expressed the opinion that he had lapsed into unconsciousness instantly. At the end of six minutes, physicians examining him through the window believed him dead … The execution of Gee Jon was in a little stone building in the prison yard in which a cell had been fitted for the condemned man. The deadly gas which was vaporized from a liquid solution of hydrocyanic acid was in another air-tight stone compartment … A rehearsal of the execution yesterday afternoon snuffed out the lives of two cats in a time estimated at 15 seconds.”


ON THIS DAY IN 1952, the Eagle reported, “London, Feb. 8 (U.P.) — Elizabeth II was proclaimed queen of the Realm today and called on God’s help to ‘discharge worthily this heavy task that has been laid upon me so early in my life.’ The 25-year-old queen, regal in a black dress, took the oath of accession before a distinguished assemblage of lords and statesmen in historic St. James Palace. ‘My heart is too full to say more to you today than that I shall always work, as my father did, throughout his reign, to uphold constitutional government and to advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples – spread as they are the world over,’ Elizabeth said. The ceremony took less than 15 minutes. Then the reading of the proclamation hailing Elizabeth as ‘Queen of this realm and all of her other realms and territories’ drew massive crowds to the same historic landmarks of London where Shakespearean multitudes cheered the accession of another Queen Elizabeth 394 years ago.”


ON THIS DAY IN 1980, the Home Reporter and Sunset News reported, “More than 300 residents turned out to greet the Olympic torch as the runner carried it off the Verrazano Bridge into Bay Ridge on Monday morning. The runner, delayed by crowds in New Jersey, arrived at 11 a.m., a half hour behind schedule … Two sixth grade classes from P.S. 104 on Gelston Avenue witnessed the runner’s arrival in Bay Ridge with special interest. The children, who are studying the history of ancient Greece, were able to watch an old legend come to life … ‘I think the children were impressed by it,’ said Mr. E. Richman, assistant principal of P.S. 104. ‘This is a once in a lifetime type of thing and it fit in perfectly with what they’re learning in school now.’”


ON FEB. 9, 1950, the Eagle reported, “From the sound of the long, low wolf-whistles, you’d think Betty Grable was in the vicinity. But the smiling lads on crutches, in wheelchairs and on stretchers were just coming to their new home in Brooklyn — the ultra-modern, 16-story Fort Hamilton Veterans Hospital. The shining stainless steel walls, the great expanses of glass, the southern-exposed view over the entrance to New York Harbor — it was all quite a change from the Manhattan Beach Veterans Hospital they were leaving. On Sunday, the new $20,000,000 structure along the Belt Parkway in Fort Hamilton will be dedicated officially. Today, the first few patients were assigned their rooms. First man through the portals was former Marine Private First Class George J. Shaw of Hornell, N.Y. The handsome veteran, his black hair slicked back neatly for the nurses who greeted him, was wide-eyed and cheerful as he was wheeled through the halls … Shaw was severely wounded on Guam [on] July 1, 1944. He has been in hospitals ever since — in Seattle, the Brooklyn Naval Hospital, Manhattan Beach and now Fort Hamilton. ‘This is the best one yet,’ he said, admiring the view over the harbor.”

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