First Attempted Aerial Crossing of the Atlantic
On 15 October 1910, Walter Wellman, explorer and aeronaut, took off from Atlantic City, New Jersey, in his airship, the America, to attempt the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic. He was accompanied by crew and his pet cat, Kiddo. The cat began to scramble over the cockpit ‘like a squirrel in a cage’, impelling the engineer, Melvin Vaniman, to send perhaps the first, or one of the first in-flight radio transmissions to ground: “Roy, come and get this goddam cat!” Eventually, the cat calmed down but the airship failed to make the crossing. The engines broke down 38 hours into the flight and the airship drifted in the ocean. Sighting the Royal Mail steamship Trent just west of Bermuda, a crew member made the first aerial distress call by radio. They all, including the cat, got into a lifeboat and were eventually saved by the Trent crew and returned to New York.
The Month of Vaccines: Cow Pock
The Bermuda Gazette in 1819 reminds us that even then October was the month for medical shots. The October 23 issue reports: “Dr. Gilbert having just received Vaccine Virus, recently taken at, and forwarded in 12 days from New York, has commenced innoculating for the Cow Pock (long ago proved to be a certain preventive against that dangerous and loathsome disease, the Small Pox) Those who wish to take advantage of the opportunity must apply as soon as possible, as the Virus sometimes loses its activity. The poor will be vaccinated gratis.”
The Month of Vaccines: Tetanus Toxoid
The Bermuda Beacon magazine was printed between August 1941 and April 1943, primarily for American airbase personnel. The October 1941 edition reported a case of lock jaw in Bermuda and quotes Dr. Wayne G. Brandstact’s memorandum recommending people have three injections of tetanus toxoid, four weeks apart. Interestingly, it mentions another kind of anti-toxin previously used and described it as a “transference of immunity from a previously immunized horse,” which he did not recommend as he said it was inadequate and could make “some few individuals very sick.”
St. David’s Landfill
The Bermuda Beacon gives us a fascinating glimpse into the creating of 800 acres of land in St. David’s by landfill operations and the making of the American Base. For example, the October 1941 edition tells us “…the ‘Gulfstream’ [presumably a dredger] has dug up in St. George’s harbor two octapi, 100 feet of good anchor chain, one old cannon ball, an old sailing hulk and several cubic yards of fill for the runway.” It also says a cave “was discovered by workmen digging a water reservoir near the catchment on the east end of Fort Bell on St. David’s Island last week. The dome of the cave was found 128 feet under the original ground surface. The cave is egg shaped, 100 ft long, 60 feet wide, and 30 feet high. It contains several stalactites and stalagmites and one large column about two feet in diameter from floor to ceiling. The cave will probably be filled in, in the course of work on the island.” Of course, it disappeared for ever under the runway.