Today in History – What Happened on the 9th of June

68 – With the provinces and his own Praetorian guard rebelling against him, and having now been declared a public enemy by the Roman Senate, Emperor Nero committed suicide saying “What an artist the world is losing in me!”

1623 – British negotiators, who were finalising a treaty with the Indians near Potomac River in North America, offered a toast “symbolising eternal friendship”. Chief Chiskiack, his family and advisers, numbering 200 in all, drank the toast and immediately died of the poisoned drink. The British drank their toast from a different container.

1870 – Charles Dickens died after having suffered a stroke the day before. At the time he was writing Chapter 22 of his fifteenth novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, a work of 44 chapters which he was writing in monthly installments. As a result, the real outcome of the story remains a mystery to this day!

1902 – Frank Hardart and Joe Horn began the fast food business with the opening of the first Automat eatery at 818 Clarence Street in Philadelphia. By inserting three nickels (15 cents) into a slot and turning a handle, diners could help themselves to a fabulous selection of food – all made fresh that morning. They had got the idea for the automat from seeing a waiterless restaurant in Berlin. The last Horn and Hardart Automat, located in New York, closed its doors in April 1991.

1910 – A passenger aboard the steamship “SS Arawatta” wrote a message which was placed in a bottle and thrown overboard between Cairns and Brisbane. It was found 6 June 1983 – 73 years later almost to the day – on Moreton Island off the Queensland coast. (At the time this set a world record for the longest time between sending and finding a message in a bottle. It has since been broken in 1996 when a fisherman found a bottle in the North Sea which had been in the water for 82 years and which made the offer of a small reward if returned. The fisherman collected £1 from the British Government.)

1934 – Donald Fauntleroy Duck made his first appearance. He appeared in a cartoon entitled “The Wise Little Hen” in which Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, sole members of the Idle Hour Club, refuse to help a mother hen with planting and harvesting corn. When all is finished and corn delicacies are on the table, Donald and Peter, now interested, are not invited. Walt Disney had wanted to add a duck named Donald to Mickey Mouse’s gang for some time but it was not until he heard Clarence Nash on a radio show doing his now famous “nash-speak” that he was able to realise his goal. He hired Clarence Nash and the rest is history.

1994 – In North Yorkshire, England, car thieves stole British Home Secretary Michael Howard’s bulletproof car while he was a attending a meeting of police chiefs. The car was found later minus all four wheels.