6 August 1930

The judge, Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears never to be seen again.

NEW YORK — You can come back now, Judge Crater. Everybody’s dead.

Sixty-five years ago, on Aug. 6, New York State Judge Joseph Force Crater caught a cab in midtown Manhattan and completely vanished.

His disappearance captured the imagination of America, mired in the Great Depression and has never entirely let go.

Groucho Marx joked he was going to “step out and look for Judge Crater,” while nightclub comedians quipped, “Judge Crater, please call your office.”

Mad magazine ran a cartoon showing Lassie having finally found the missing judge, while on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” a judge reassured an anxious Rob and Laura Petrie that, no, he wasn’t “that” Crater – his name was spelled K-r-a-d-a.

Pulling a Crater, i.e. disappearing, became part of the lexicon.

Jokes aside, experts in the case have determined that the 41-year-old Crater spent the morning of Aug. 6, 1930, hastily packing up papers in his office and cashing large personal checks at two separate banks.

Named to the bench by then New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Crater had been a judge for just four months.

That evening, Crater ate dinner at a steakhouse on West 45th Street with friends, one of them a showgirl. He was last seen getting in a cab at 9:15 p.m., headed to the theater.

Was he silenced by the mob? Did he flee for his life? Did he leave his wife for another woman? Everyone had a theory.

“Every kid grew up wondering, where did Judge Crater go?” said Lincoln Diamant, author of books on New York history.

The Crater craze took hold less than a year after the stock market’s devastating crash, he noted.

“People were trying to steady themselves and get a grip on things and then somebody totally disappeared before their eyes,” he said.

Over the years, Crater was spotted, like Elvis, in the most unlikely places–running bingo games in Africa, prospecting for gold in California, herding sheep in the Northwest.

Most people suspected the mob had hired a hit man to silence Crater for what he supposedly knew about political corruption in New York. The historian for the city Police Department, John Podracky, said that’s become the semiofficial consensus.

Others thought the judge disappeared in fear. One theory had him fleeing to avoid forced to testify in a corruption probe.

Still others imagine his motives lay elsewhere. There’s a theory he was killed for dallying with a gangster’s girlfriend, and another that “Good Time Joe,” as he was known, took off with one of several mistresses.

As for Crater, he would be 106–a tough age for someone on the run for 65 years.

But New Yorkers still wonder. They ask after Crater at the New York Historical Society, the reference librarian said.

“We don’t have an update,” she said. “It’s the same old mystery.”

30 July 1930

Uruguay wins the first FIFA World Cup.

The 1930 FIFA World Cup Final was a football match contested by Uruguay and Argentina to determine the champion of the 1930 FIFA World Cup. The final was a rematch of the gold medal match of the 1928 Olympics, which Uruguay won after a replay.

The final was played at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 30 July, a Wednesday. Up to date, it is, along with the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, the only World Cup Final not to be played on a Sunday the latter being played on a Saturday. This World Cup Final is also the only one not to be played on a weekend. The stadium gates were opened at eight o’clock, six hours before kick-off, and at noon the ground was full, officially holding 93,000 people. A disagreement overshadowed the build-up to the match as the teams disagreed on who should provide the match ball, forcing FIFA to intervene and decree that the Argentine team would provide the ball for the first half and the Uruguayans would provide one for the second. The game ended 4–2 to Uruguay after they trailed 2–1 at half-time, adding the title of World Cup winners to their status as Olympic champions. Jules Rimet, president of FIFA, presented the Uruguayan team with the World Cup Trophy, which was later named after him. The following day was declared a national holiday in Uruguay; in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires a mob threw stones at the Uruguayan consulate.

The last living player from that final, Francisco Varallo who played as a striker for Argentina, died on 30 August 2010.

After 12 minutes, Pablo Dorado put the hosts into the lead, before Argentine winger Carlos Peucelle equalised 8 minutes later, beating goalkeeper Enrique Ballestrero with a powerful shot. In the 37th minute, tournament top scorer Guillermo Stábile gave Argentina a 2–1 lead going into the break. Uruguay leveled the score 12 minutes into the second half via a goal from Pedro Cea, before Santos Iriarte restored the lead for the hosts in the 68th minute. With a minute left, Héctor Castro put Uruguay up 4–2, sealing the victory for Uruguay in the inaugural World Cup.

18 February 1930

Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.

Pluto, once believed to be the ninth planet, is discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh.

The existence of an unknown ninth planet was first proposed by Percival Lowell, who theorized that wobbles in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were caused by the gravitational pull of an unknown planetary body. Lowell calculated the approximate location of the hypothesized ninth planet and searched for more than a decade without success. However, in 1929, using the calculations of Powell and W.H. Pickering as a guide, the search for Pluto was resumed at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. On February 18, 1930, Tombaugh discovered the tiny, distant planet by use of a new astronomic technique of photographic plates combined with a blink microscope. His finding was confirmed by several other astronomers, and on March 13, 1930–the anniversary of Lowell’s birth and of William Hershel’s discovery of Uranus–the discovery of Pluto was publicly announced.

With a surface temperature estimated at approximately -360 Fahrenheit, Pluto was appropriately given the Roman name for the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Pluto’s average distance from the sun is nearly four billion miles, and it takes approximately 248 years to complete one orbit. It also has the most elliptical and tilted orbit of any planet, and at its closest point to the sun it passes inside the orbit of Neptune, the eighth planet.

After its discovery, some astronomers questioned whether Pluto had sufficient mass to affect the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. In 1978, James Christy and Robert Harrington discovered Pluto’s only known moon, Charon, which was determined to have a diameter of 737 miles to Pluto’s 1,428 miles. Together, it was thought that Pluto and Charon formed a double-planet system, which was of ample enough mass to cause wobbles in Uranus’ and Neptune’s orbits. In August 2006, however, the International Astronomical Union announced that Pluto would no longer be considered a planet, due to new rules that said planets must “clear the neighborhood around its orbit.” Since Pluto’s oblong orbit overlaps that of Neptune, it was disqualified.

18 February 1930

Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.

On February 18, 1930, amateur astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered “Planet X” using an astrograph, which is essentially a space camera. Planet X was soon named Pluto, and the rest is a nerd battle of historical proportions.

Tombaugh started as a Kansas farm boy, and did not attend college until after he discovered Pluto. He had a knack for building things, particularly his own telescopes. This got him a job at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona starting in 1929. He earned the job after mailing in his own hand-drawn observations of the planets Mars and Jupiter, as observed using a hand-made nine-inch reflector telescope. Tombaugh sought Pluto based on a prediction made by Percival Lowell and William Pickering. They had observed wobble in the outer planets’ orbits, and hypothesized that it was caused by some as-yet-unknown planet in a trans-Neptunian orbit.

On one fateful February day, Tombaugh saw the tiny speck of Pluto on a photographic plate. He found it using a “blink comparator,” a device with which you flip between two images—each taken by the astrograph—and spot tiny dots that move in an unexpected way. It was a tremendous discovery, relying both on high technology and hard work. Tombaugh went on to college after his discovery (he got a scholarship to the University of Kansas). He continued to work in astronomy for decades, eventually becoming a professor at New Mexico State University. He discovered hundreds of objects (mainly asteroids) in the solar system, and took up writing in his later years.

 

2 November 1930

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Haile Selassie is crowned as the emperor of Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie, is an emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 who sought to modernize his country and who steered it into the mainstream of post-World War II African politics. He brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the United Nations and made Addis Ababa the major centre for the Organization of African Unity (now African Union). Haile Selassie played a very important role in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. His rule in Ethiopia continued until 1974, at which time famine, worsening unemployment, and the political stagnation of his government prompted segments of the army to mutiny. They deposed Haile Selassie and established a provisional military government that espoused Marxist ideologies. Haile Selassie was kept under house arrest in his own palace, where he spent the remainder of his life. Official sources at the time attributed his death to natural causes, but evidence later emerged suggesting that he had been strangled on the orders of the military government.Haile Selassie was regarded as the messiah of the African race by the Rastafarian movement.

29 August 1930

The remaining 36 inhabitants of the isolated archipelago, St Kilda, are voluntarily evacuated to other parts of Scotland.

The remaining 36 St Kilda inhabitants were evacuated at their own request from the settlement about 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides

On 29 August 1930, a ship called Harebell took the entire remaining population of 36 inhabitants to Morvern on the Scottish mainland, a decision they took collectively themselves. The evacuation of St Kilda came about for many reasons. The islands’ inhabitants had existed for centuries in relative isolation until tourism and the presence of the military during the First World War led the islanders to seek alternatives to privations they routinely suffered. The changes made to the island by visitors in the 19th century disconnected the islanders from the way of life that had allowed their forebears to survive in this unique environment.