By John Corbett

November is a month in which many historical events took place.

Michelangelo’s paintings of the Sistine Chapel were shown to the public for the first time on November 1st. 1512.

The first Protestant minister to take an interest in the religious affairs of Native Americans, Reverend John Eliot, began his attempts to convert the Indians in this month in 1846. He came to be known as ‘The Apostle of The Indians.’

November also saw the entrance to King Tutankhamen’s Tomb being discovered in 1922. It was in this month that Ellis Island received its last immigrant in 1954. The Suez Canal was opened on the 17th, in 1869.

Catholics weren’t permitted to eat meat on a Friday in former times but US Catholic bishops decided to dispense with the rule in November 1966 and the hierarchy in other countries followed suit.

On the technology front, the US Weather bureau began operating in the 1870’s. The Soviets launched Sputnik 2 in November 1957 and the first stereo radio appeared in the same month in 1955. The first long distance telephone call without the assistance of an operator, took place on November 10th. 1951.

Operator assisted calls continued to be the norm in this country into the 1970’s. An important medical advance occurred with the patenting of the first artificial leg in November 1846.

Nowadays, many athletes rely on prosthetic limbs to enable them to participate in sporting competitions. I recall seeing a dancer on TV last year who actually danced on ice using artificial legs. It made me reflect how helpless some of the rest of us are as we struggle to keep our balance, even though we have our own natural limbs!


November has been called the ‘dark month’ of the year and not without reason. Daylight is disappearing rapidly, outdoor work is slowing down and lamps are being lit earlier each evening. One Senior used to comment perennially, “Soon there’ll be no day in it at all.”

Storytelling was highly rated in this country at all times but when November came the darker side of life seem to take possession of men’s minds.

Nowadays people dress up as witches or goblins at Hallowe’en but this didn’t really happen when we were children.

‘Trick or treat’ games were all the fashion then. We loved to disguise ourselves and call to the neighbours’ houses, performing songs or recitations.

In return we received small sums of money or ‘goodies’ such as fruit, sweets or chocolate. We also took great delight in fireside sagas, even though we found some of them terribly scary. Were the tellers trying to frighten the life out of us, or did they truly believe the sagas that they were recounting?

Perhaps they got a kick out delving into the occult and they just wanted to share their experiences with their listeners? Did they, as some of them claimed, have personal encounters with spectral entities from another dimension? 

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