The people and events that shaped this week in history.
1799 – Andrew Ellicott Douglass, an early American astronomer born in Vermont, witnesses the Lenoids meteor shower from a ship off the Florida Keys. This is the first meteor shower on record.
1954 – Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892.
1974, 28-year-old Karen Silkwood is killed in a car accident near Crescent, Oklahoma. Silkwood worked as a technician at a plutonium plant operated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and she had been critical of the plant’s health and safety procedures.
Silkwood was supposed to be meeting with a union rep and the New York Times, reportedly with a folder full of documents that proved that Kerr-McGee was acting negligently when it came to worker safety. Silkwood allegedly took a large dose of Quaaludes before she died; however an accident investigator found skid marks and a suspicious dent in the Honda’s rear bumper, indicating that a second car had forced Silkwood off the road. Silkwood’s father sued Kerr-McGee, and the company eventually settled for $1.3 million, minus legal fees. Kerr-McGee closed its Crescent plant in 1979.
2006 – State officials close the last two of Texas’ famed Pig Stand restaurants, the only remaining pieces of the nation’s first drive-in restaurant empire. The restaurants’ owners were bankrupt, and they owed the Texas Comptroller more than $200,000 in unpaid sales taxes.
1984 – “Baby Fae,” a month-old infant who received a baboon-heart transplant, dies at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.
1849 – A Russian court sentences Fyodor Dostoevsky to death for his alleged anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group. His execution is stayed at the last minute.
1957 – Infamous killer Ed Gein murders his last victim, Bernice Worden, of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota, where he remained until his death in 1984.
1972 – Wealthy socialite Barbara Baekeland is stabbed to death with a kitchen knife by her 25-year-old son, Antony, in her London, England, penthouse. When police arrived at the scene, Antony was calmly placing a telephone order for Chinese food.
2003 – The actor and former bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is sworn in as the 38th governor of California at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Schwarzenegger, who became a major Hollywood star in the 1980s with such action movies as Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator, defeated Governor Gray Davis in a special recall election on October 7, 2003. Prior to Schwarzenegger, another famous actor, Ronald Reagan, served as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975 before going on to become the nation’s 40th president in 1980.
1883 – At exactly 12 p.m., American and Canadian railroads begin using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies.
1978 – 1978, Billy Joel earned his first #1 album when his sixth release, 52nd Street, hit the top of the Billboard pop chart.