This Week in History 11.12-11.17

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Nov. 12

On this date in 1936, the Bay Bridge, which separates the California cities of San Francisco and Oakland, became open to traffic. The bridge is maintained by the California Department of Transportation and it is one of the largest spans in the world.

The idea of the Bay Bridge was conceived during the gold rush of 1849, but the construction did not begin until 1933. The structure was designed by Charles H. Purcell and it was built by the American Bridge Company.

During the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake that took place on Oct. 17, 1989, a section of the upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck and the bridge was closed for a month in order to re-construct that particular area.

Important facts of the bridge include its west length, which spans 10,304 feet and its east length, which was added on Sept. 2, 2013 and it spans 10,176 feet. The bridge is nearly four and a half miles long and it is linked to Interstate 80. It consists of ten lanes that carry an approximate amount of 240,000 vehicles per day.

Nov. 13

On this date in 1947, the Soviet Union completed the development of one of the first proper assault rifles which became famously known as the AK-47. Mikhail Kalashnikov first developed the AK-47 and it is a selective fire, gas-operated weapon with a 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge.

The design work began in 1945, the last year of World War II and it was presented for official military trials in 1946. The Soviet Army put a fixed-stock version of the weapon to use in 1948, the year after it was fully developed. In 1949, the weapon became accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces.

The length of the fixed wooden stock version is 880 mm, the folding stock version is 875 mm, and the stock folded version is 645 mm. Its overall barrel length is 415 mm and the rifled barrel length is 369 mm.

Nov. 14

On this date in 1916, American screenwriter and producer Sherwood Schwartz was born in Passaic, NJ. Schwartz’s claim to fame came during the sixties, when he created two prominent television series. Gilligan’s Island, which premiered on CBS and The Brady Bunch, which premiered on ABC.

Originally planning to travel to California to pursue a Master of Science degree in biology, Schwartz’s entertainment career began by “accident” when he was writing jokes for a radio program that was operated by Bob Hope. All Schwartz did was look for employment, but Hope liked his jokes so much that he hired him to become a member of his writing staff.

Schwartz’s career in writing helped him get his big break on television, where he created shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. He even appeared on The Late Show with Ross Shafer for a special reunion of the cast from Gilligan’s Island. It was the final time where the entire cast of the show would be on television together.

During the late nineties and the 2000’s, Schwartz made numerous TV appearances and talked about his series on shows like The CBS Evening News, TV Land’s Top Ten, and A&E’s Biography. Schwartz was also a guest at the 2004 TV Land awards.

On June 12, 2011, Schwartz died in his home in Los Angeles, Calif. in his sleep at the age of 94. He was survived by his wife Mildred, their four children, their eight grandchildren, and their four great-grandchildren.

Nov. 15

On this date in 1791, Georgetown University, located in Washington D.C., opened its doors as the first Catholic college in the United States. Georgetown is also the oldest Jesuit and Catholic University in the country.

Georgetown was founded in 1789 by John Carroll, who was America’s first Catholic bishop and he tried to establish the university into a Roman Catholic institution. However, the efforts were thwarted because of religious perception.

Currently, Georgetown University has an academic staff of 2,173 employees and a student base of 17,130 people. The college has a pretty good balance of 7,000 graduate and 8,000 post-graduate students who study a wide variety of different subjects, such as religion, ethnicity, and geographic backgrounds which span 130 foreign countries.

Most of the notable alumni include numerous U.S. governors, members of congress, and heads of state. One alumnus in particular was Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States who began serving in office in 1993. Clinton was impeached for perjury in 1998, but he was acquitted by the U.S. Senate and he was able to finish his second term, which ended in 2001.

The athletic program has 23 varsity sports teams which consist of 11 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. However, they are best known for a men’s basketball program who has won a record-tying seven Big East titles and a National Championship in 1984. Georgetown also produced several future NBA players, including Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning, and Allen Iverson.

Nov. 16

On this date in 1907, Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory merged together to form the state of Oklahoma, which was admitted the Union as the 46th U.S. state. Oklahoma is located in the Southern United States where it is bordered by Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

The state is has the 20th largest area in the country and it ranks 28th in total population with 3,814,820 people. Oklahoma’s state capital is Oklahoma City and it is also the largest city in the state with a population of 599,199 people, the 29th largest city in the United States.

Oklahoma is known for its production of natural gas, oil, and agriculture as it relies heavily on aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology. The state reached its peak in 2007 when they became one of the fastest growing states in the nation because of its per capita income growth and gross domestic product growth.

Most of Oklahoma consists of plains and interior highlands with very small mountain ranges. Its nickname is the Sooner State, which is also the nickname for Oklahoma University’s athletic teams.

The football program stands out for having a rich history. Since Oklahoma football was founded in 1895, the Sooners have won 44 conference championships, seven national championships, and produced seven Heisman Trophy winners.

Nov. 17

On this date in 1968, the viewers who were watching the football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets on NBC were denied the opportunity of watching the fantastic finish. The network broadcasted Heidi, which was a made-for-TV film.

In a back and forth game which featured six lead changes, the Jets took a 32-29 lead on a 26-yard field goal with 1:05 remaining in the game. At that time, the network decided that they were going to switch programs and play the movie Heidi. The event took place at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Originally, network executives made the decision to postpone the start of the film until the game was over and they were in the process of calling the studio. However, the call could not go through because numerous viewers were on the line to register complaints about the television schedule.

As the movie started to run, the viewers missed the exciting finish which featured Raiders quarterback Daryle Lamonica throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Smith with 42 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, Jets return man Earl Christy was fumbled after being tackled by Bill Budness and the ball was recovered by Preston Ridlehuber in the end zone.

Oakland won the game 43-32 in what became known as The Heidi Game. Later that season, the Jets would seek their revenge in the AFL Championship Game en route to their stunning upset over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III that same season.

This game was a shootout between Daryle Lamonica and Jets quarterback Joe Namath. Lamonica completed 21 of 34 passes for 311-yards and four touchdown passes and his featured target was Fred Biletnikoff, who made seven receptions for 120-yards. Namath had a good game as well, completing 19 of 37 passes for 381-yards while throwing a touchdown pass to Don Maynard, who racked up 10 catches for 228-yards.

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