The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



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Today in History: The First U.S. Minimum Wage Law

Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 4, 2019 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (June 4) in 1912, Massachusetts passed the first minimum wage law in the United States. It did not actually establish a minimum wage. Instead it formed a committee to investigate accusations of low wages for women and children. If the wages were determined to be below the cost of living the committee shamed the employers by publishing their names in local newspapers. Shaming was not a particularly successful strategy in inspiring positive change. Even so, the Supreme Court declared this law unconstitutional in 1937.

Today in History: The Opium Wars

Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 3, 2019 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (June 3) in 1839, Lin Zexu, acting for the Manchu Emperor of China, began destroying 1300 tons of confiscated British opium. The opium trade was illegal in China and the emperor had decided to stamp it out.

The opium was dumped into three massive open trenches, lined with salt and lime and then covered with water. The mixture was then stirred and flushed into a nearby creek where it was washed out to sea. Using this process, it took 500 workers 22 days to complete the destruction.

When news of the destruction reached Britain, a groundswell of public opinion demanded China be forced to pay compensation for the destroyed opium leading to the First Opium War.

The Fire Islands Is Now Available in Audio

Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 1, 2019 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The Fire Islands is now available as an audio book on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Narrator William L. Hahn does an amazing job bringing the book to life. If you enjoyed reading the book, you'll absolutely love this narration. And if you haven't tried the Legionairre series yet, this audio book is a perfect introduction to Marcus and his fellow legionnaires.

Lesser Tribune Marcus Venandus, Legion officer exemplar, was exiled to the disease-ridden hell hole known as the Fire Islands as punishment for the failed political machinations of his father. While the days of the powerful witchdoctor kings throwing skeletal armies against the shields of the legion have faded into history, all is not right at the edge of the world. Unrest is boiling once again as long dead darkness seeps back into the islands. With the legion more concerned with its personal rivalries than with its duty, it will fall to Marcus and his small, highly disciplined, command to put the horrors of the past back in their graves and literally save Aquila from a fate worse than death.

Today in History: An Emperor Assassinated

Posted by Gilbert Stack on June 1, 2019 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (June 1) in 193, Emperor Didius Julianus was assassinated by a soldier to make way for his successor, Emperor Septimius Severus. Didius served for only nine weeks after quite literally buying the imperial throne by offering each soldier of the Praetorian Guard 25,000 sesterses (a brass coin worth about one-quarter of a silver denarius). Didius Julianus immediately upset the people of Rome by reversing a recent monetary reform and reducing the amount of silver in the denarius. The outcry led three legion commanders to refuse to recognize him. One of them, Septimius Severus, marched on Rome and quickly gained the support of the Senate. Just before his murder, Didius Julianus is reported to have asked: “But what evil have I done? Whom have I killed?”

Today in History: The Model T

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 31, 2019 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 31) in 1927, Ford produced its last Model T. The Model T utilized assembly line production to make cars affordable by more than the rich. 15,007,003 were produced. It’s estimated that some 50,000 of them still remain roadworthy.

Today in History: The Last Stage Coach Robbery

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 30, 2019 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 30) in 1899, Pearl Hart committed what may have been the last stagecoach robbery in the U.S. Pearl had been born to affluent parents who gave her the best education, but at 16 she ran off from her boarding school to elope. Unfortunately, her new husband was an abusive drunkard. They split and reconciled several times, having two children who were raised by Pearl’s mother. At the Chicago World Fair she saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and decided to become a cowboy. She left for the west, possibly with a man other than her husband. She had a variety of jobs, possibly including prostitution, but decided to rob a stagecoach to raise money when she learned her mother was ill and needed her. The crime earned $412 of which Pearl returned $1 to each passenger. A posse caught them eight days later and Peal became a media sensation due to the fact she was a female stagecoach robber.

On October 12th she escaped the room she was being confined in (they didn’t want to put a lady in a jail cell) by making a hole in a plaster wall. She was recaptured two weeks later. During her trial, Pearl pleaded with the jury to find her not guilty because she had needed the money to go to her mother’s side. The jury acquitted her (enraging the judge). Almost immediately thereafter, she and her partner were re-arrested for tampering with the mail. This time they were convicted. Boot, her partner, got thirty years, Pearl got five. She was the only woman in the prison and was given an oversized eight-by-ten foot cell with a small yard so she could entertain the numerous reporters who called upon her. She was pardoned in 1902. After getting out of jail, she worked for a time (under an alias) in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She died in either 1955 or 1960.

Today in History: The Bonus March

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 29, 2019 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 29) in 1932, U.S. veterans of World War I began assembling in Washington DC as part of the Bonus March. These veterans had been promised a "bonus" for their service in WWI to be paid in 1945, but in the Great Depression they and their families were destitute and in urgent need of relief. They were asking for their bonus to be paid early. Congress and President Hoover would reject their pleas and Hoover would go on to have them violently removed from Washington.

Today in History: The French and Indian War

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 28, 2019 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May Twenty-Eight) in 1754, Lieutenant Colonel George Washington led his troops to victory in the first battle of what would become the French and Indian War. Washington, commanding British forces, was responding to a group of Canadian militia who had driven a construction crew away from building a fort at modern day Pittsburgh. Washington, with Mingo allies, surrounded and ambushed the Canadians. Their leader, Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville, was killed in the fighting. The French forces counter-attacked, surrounding Washington and his men at Fort Necessity and forcing their surrender. As part of the surrender terms, the French forced Washington to sign a document (written in French which Washington could not read) that stated Washington had assassinated Jumonville. The 1754 incident was a major cause of the Seven Years War that broke out in 1756.

Today in History: The Bismarck

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 27, 2019 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 27) in 1941 the Bismarck, the greatest German battleship ever built, was sunk. The Bismarck only conducted one offensive mission. In an eight day raid on allied shipping, it was confronted by the British battleships Hood and Prince of Wales. It sunk the first and badly damaged the second, but determined to retreat to Occupied France for repairs. Dozens of ships from the British navy swarmed after the Bismarck seeking revenge, but it was an attack by 16 Fairey Swordfish (obsolete warplanes) that crippled the battleship when one of them dropped the “lucky torpedo” which damaged the battleship’s ability to navigate by jamming the port rudder. Two more British battleships and two heavy cruisers then caught up with the Bismarck. In the ensuing battle, they hit the Bismarck 400 times but couldn’t sink it. Yet they had damaged it sufficiently for its commanding officer to order the Bismarck scuttled to keep it from falling into British hands. Unfortunately, communications breakdowns within the damaged vessel kept the order to abandon ship from circulating to all of the crew and many went down with the ship. Captain Lindemann, who gave the orders to scuttle the vessel, stood at attention at the stem of the Bismarck as she sank. Out of a crew that started with 2100 members, only 114 survived.

Today in History: Vampires

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 26, 2019 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (May 26) in 1897 Bram Stoker published Dracula essentially opening the subgenre of vampire stories and paving the way for books like Salem's Lot and series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anita Blake and Twilight. My first completed novel (the never published, In the Dark) was a vampire story and a vampire plays a prominent role in my Occult-tober novel, Blood Ties. Anyone have a favorite vampire book or movie?