January 18, 2024

#ThrowbackThursday – 18 January

It’s 18 January, and that means it’s time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! Today, we’re taking a look back at three prominent events that went down on this day in history:

1644 – A UFO Came Travelling …

Since the 1940s, the world has wanted to believe that aliens exist. Sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are constant in this day and age, especially in the USA, where alien fever runs especially rampant.

But did you know that UFOs have been spotted long before? As in, back in the 17th century?

On 18 January 1644, John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony – a settlement which was founded by the Puritans, and centred around the towns of Boston and Salem – wrote about strange goings-on that were observed by locals.

Per Winthrop’s diary entry: “About midnight, three men, coming in a boat to Boston, saw two lights arise out of the water near the north point of the town cove, in form like a man, and went at a small distance to the town, and so to the south point, and there vanished away.”

He reported a similar event that occurred one week later: “A light like the moon arose about the [northeast] point in Boston, and met the former at Nottles Island, and there they closed in one, and then parted, and closed and parted diverse times, and so went over the hill in the island and vanished. Sometimes they shot out flames and sometimes sparkles.”

It’s not the first time that potential visitors from other planets may have visited us: five years before, Winthrop described seeing a “great light in the night sky” that darted back and forth for a few hours before fading away.

1983 – Return to Glory

Native American athlete Jim Thorpe was truly a gifted sportsman: he played a variety of sports throughout his life, from football and baseball to lacrosse and even ballroom dancing. Thorpe was also an Olympic-winning athlete in the fields of pentathlon and decathlon … but he wasn’t recognised as such by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a long time.

Back in 1912, Thorpe won two gold medals in the Summer Olympics. However, he was stripped of his medals by the IOC the following year because he breached his amateur status: according to reports, prior to participating in the Olympics, Thorpe played professional baseball.

Because this was indeed somewhat true – as Thorpe did play semi-professionally for a minor baseball team in North Carolina years prior – this went against IOC’s rules, which at the time stated that only amateurs could compete in the Olympics.

Seventy years after Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon, pressure from the Jim Thorpe Foundation prompted discussions within the IOC about reinstating his medals. This is because the committee stripped him of his medals outside of the regulatory 30-day time period: per IOC’s own rules, any questions regarding Thorpe’s eligibility should have been put forward during this time period, not after.

So, on 18 January 1983, the IOC gifted replicas of Thorpe’s medals (which were stolen) to two of his children, although he was listed as a co-champion in the official record book. Fortunately, he was named sole champion of both events as a result of an IOC vote in June 2022.

1996 – Divorce Drama

On this day 28 years ago, Michael Jackson and Lisa-Marie Presley called it quits on their marriage.

The pair first met when Presley attended her father Elvis Presley’s concert in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1975: she was seven-years-old, while Jackson – then a member of the Jackson Five – was 17. It was only when they reconnected as adults in 1992 that their friendship soon turned into a romantic relationship.

On 6 May two years later, Presley divorced her husband Danny Keough, a fellow musician and the father of their two children. Twenty days had then passed when she became a married woman for the second time: per a marriage certificate, she and Jackson got hitched in a secret ceremony in the Dominican Republic.

Alas, the marriage only lasted for two years. Jackson’s substance abuse largely contributed to Presley’s reason for filing for divorce on 18 January 1996. They would keep in touch over the years, until Jackson’s death in 2008.