Today in History: Dec. 5

The photo at top was taken in London, England, in December 1952. There is nothing remarkable about the photo or the location or the month or the year in which it was taken. The photo was taken at two in the afternoon that December day.

The Great Smog of London, which killed more than 4000 people in one week, began on this date in 1952. The photo depicts it clearly. The combination of London’s typical fog with unusually high levels of coal smoke and vehicle exhaust produced the deadly condition, which also gave the world the word “smog” itself, which combines “smoke” and “fog.”

The modern-day environmental movement was kicked into action by this human-influenced weather event, and air pollution reduction laws started to be passed in London that very month.

* * * *
Until the election of 1848, American voters cast their ballots throughout the month of November in election years.

The Presidential elections that concluded on December 5 are: the election of 1792, in which George Washington was re-elected; 1804, in which Thomas Jefferson was re-elected; and the election of 1832, in which Andrew Jackson was re-elected.

* * * *
Flight 19, a mission in which five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers flew into an unknown eternity over the region of the Atlantic Ocean known as the “Bermuda Triangle,” vanished on this date in 1945. Five planes with a total of 14 crewmen disappeared. When a Martin PBM Mariner flying boat with a crew of 13 was sent to respond to the distressing radio calls from Flight 19 (all five planes reported compass malfunctions), that plane disappeared, too.

To this day, nothing from the six planes has been found. For those who study the folklore of the Bermuda Triangle, this sad, strange loss of life, the loss of Flight 19 and the rescue mission, is the starting point. The absence of evidence is the sheerest proof of evidence that there is something otherworldly about that region of the Atlantic Ocean. The heroes of many books and movies that deal with the Bermuda Triangle or deal with UFOs “find out what happened” to Flight 19 in those books and movies. At the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, for example, the aliens return the flight crews to Earth.

* * * *
Claude Monet died 90 years ago today. Shoeless Joe Jackson died 65 years ago today. Dave Brubeck died four years ago today. Nelson Mandela died three years ago today.

* * * *
Walt Disney was born on this date in 1901. Werner Heisenberg was born in 1901 on this date. Senator Strom Thurmond was born on this date in 1902. Otto Preminger was born on this date in 1905. Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX, was born on this date in 1927. (He died October 13.) J. J. Cale was born in 1938 on this date.

* * * *
Little Richard is 84. “Long Tall Sally”:

Joan Didion is 82. Calvin Trillin is 81. James Lee Burke is 80. Jose Carreras is 70. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards is 53. (He does not come in last on this list.) Margaret Cho is 48. Lisa Marie is 48. Shalom Harlow is 43. Nick Stahl is 37. Frankie Muniz is 31.

Follow The Gad About Town on Facebook! Subscribe today for daily facts (well, trivia) about literature and history, plus links to other writers on Facebook.

Follow The Gad About Town on Instagram!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. angloswiss · December 5, 2016

    I remember the smog and the photo brings it really back to my memory as the No.6 bus was one of my local buseson the Hackney route. I walked to school in the smog many times. My handkerchief had black soot particles in it from my nose after using. The smog was yellow and iif you had a knife, it was as if you could cut pieces out of it. I survived. It seemed to me looking back that it lasted a couple of years, returning every Winter until they realised what the cause was. Even we were burning coal on our fire at home. (Do I get a mention for my 70th birthday tomorrow? Just asking 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Vanish – I often wish | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  3. barbwit · December 5, 2016

    Thanks to Mrs Angloswiss (whose 70th birthday is tomorrow) I found your blog, read and enjoyed it. So thanks to you too, especially for the Little Richard video – we used to sing that all the time. When you get to November 14th, that’s when my mother and father got married in 1930.

    Liked by 1 person

Please comment here. Thank you, Mark.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.