November 30, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday – 30 November

It’s 30 November, 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:

1954 – Meteorite and Wrongs

Ever seen stars when you got knocked on the head? Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, probably thought this literally happened to her when a meteorite struck her on this day in 1954 (luckily, it wasn’t on the head, but it still left a brutal impression – both physically and mentally).

According to reports, 34-year-old Hodges was taking a nap at her home one afternoon when a meteorite that sailed through the Sylacauga skies split into three fragments. One of these fragments, weighing 3.8 kilograms, tore through the ceiling of her home, ricocheting off her radio and striking her on the thigh, leaving a large bruise on her skin.

The “Hodges Fragment” became a source of anxiety for Hodges: it brought unwelcome attention from the press and unsolicited fan mail. What’s more, Hodges’ landlady, Birdie Guy, claimed the fragment belonged to her – although Hodges won the ownership following a year-long legal battle, she only managed to sell the fragment for a mere $25 to the Alabama Museum of Natural History (which may have contributed to Hodges’ divorce from her husband, Eugene).

Sadly, Hodges’ physical and mental health declined, exacerbated by post-traumatic stress disorder and kidney failure which would claim her life at the age of 52 in 1972.

2007 – Remembering Evel Knievel

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the passing of the world’s most famous motorcycle stuntman: Evel Knievel.

Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana in 1938, he was already somewhat of a plucky yet pesky personality in his younger years, giving the local authorities plenty of headaches with his criminal antics, thus earning him the nickname “Evil Knievel” (which he later changed to “Evel”).

After dipping his toes into a myriad of odd jobs – including working as a miner who once caused a citywide power outage after ploughing into underground power lines while popping wheelies with an earthmover – Knievel became the co-owner of a local motorcycle shop. To promote the business, he put on a stunt show which saw him sailing over cages containing live rattlesnakes and mountain lions.

From 1965-66, Knievel formed his own stunt troupe called “Evel Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils”, which saw them performing by jumping over caged animals, jumping through fire walls and being towed by dragsters at high speeds. Afterwards, he pursued a solo career that saw him performing over 300 death-defying stunts including jumping over 50 cars, launching himself over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, and making the jump over Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

In the process, Knievel set and broke multiple records … albeit while also breaking almost all of his bones (multiple times!), ranging from his collarbones to both of his legs.

In 1980, Knievel retired at the age of 42; for the rest of his days, his health began to decline. He was ultimately diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which claimed his life at the age of 69 on 30 November 2007.

2017 – Rain = Rainbow = Reigning Record

Biblically speaking, rainbows are a symbol of God’s promise to never again destroy life with floodwaters. Scientifically, they form when sunlight hits a rain droplet, causing some of the light to be reflected from different angles, allowing an array of colours to appear in an arc.

In Taiwan, where monsoons are frequent occurrences (almost TOO frequent, regardless of the season), the heavens and the sciences clearly conspired with each other to create a colourful masterpiece that would go down in the record books as the longest-recorded rainbow in history.

On 30 November 2017, a rainbow formed over the Yangmingshan mountain range in the city of Taipei. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it lasted from 06:57 to 15:55 – that’s a record time of eight hours and 58 minutes!

“It was amazing, it felt like a gift from the sky … it’s so rare!” remarked Chou Kun-hsuan, a professor at Taipei’s Chinese Culture University, who observed the phenomenon and sent their photographic evidence to Guinness.

The previous record for the longest rainbow was in 1994, when a rainbow formed over Wetherby in England and lasted for six hours.

Image Credit: Source