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Cecil Whig - - ACCENT -

The video rental store Block­buster may seem like an out­dated mode of movie dis­tri­bu­tion now, but when the first store opened in Texas on Oct. 19, 1985, such was not the case.

Up to this point, most video stores were smallscale op­er­a­tions with limited selec­tions. Block­buster changed the game, fea­tur­ing thou­sands of tapes on its shelves, as well as a com­put­er­ized check­out process.

The chain quickly ex­panded be­yond its first store and en­joyed al­most two decades of highly prof­itable busi­ness. It fal­tered in the 2000s, how­ever, with ad­di­tional com­pe­ti­tion from com­pa­nies like Ama­zon and Net­flix. In 2016, Block­buster has just around 10 stores still open — the ma­jor­ity of those in Alaska, in­ter­est­ingly enough.

Decades be­fore Block­buster had its im­pact on the film in­dus­try, post-World War II politi­cians had theirs.

As the Cold War heated up be­tween the United States and Soviet Union, con­ser­va­tive watch­dogs in this coun­try sought to ex­pose what they be­lieved was a com­mu­nist in­fil­tra­tion. On Oct. 20, 1947, the Red Scare kicked into high gear when a Con­gres­sional com­mit­tee be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing Hol­ly­wood, of all places, for its sup­pos­edly ram­pant com­mu­nism.

A num­ber of those who re­sisted the al­le­ga­tions as in­fringe­ments on their First Amend­ment Rights served jail terms. Due to pres­sure from Congress, Hol­ly­wood black­listed the work of oth­ers still, in­clud­ing play­wright Arthur Miller, film­maker Or­son Welles and writ­ers Dashiell Ham­mett and Dorothy Park. This black­list has been re­pealed and work re­in­stated.

On Oct. 21, 1959, the new, strangely-shaped Guggen­heim Mu­seum opened at the edge of Cen­tral Park in New York City. It’s con­sid­ered one of the top con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tions in the world.

The build­ing it­self was the re­sult of 16 years of plan­ning and con­struc­tion helmed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the best-known ar­chi­tect in Amer­i­can his­tory. He died six months be­fore the mu­seum opened, with opin­ion some­what split on whether his cre­ation suc­ceeded (some said the build­ing was more about the ar­chi­tect than the art in­side). Ei­ther way, the mu­seum draws nearly a mil­lion vis­i­tors every year.

In an­other bit of his­tory pulled from the stuff of Amer­i­can folk­lore, Oct. 23, 1993, saw a walkoff home run to end the World Se­ries. Toronto Blue Jay Joe Carter home­red to send his team home with a win over the Philadel­phia Phillies.

The Phillies led 6-5 head­ing into the bot­tom of the ninth of the sixth game in the se­ries (the Blue Jays led 3 games to 2). Mitch “Wild Thing” Wil­liams, who had saved 43 games dur­ing the reg­u­lar season, gave up the iconic blast to left field. The YouTube video and game call is worth a watch.

About 45 years ear­lier, the best-known Amer­i­can wrestler was born.

Dan Gable was born Oct. 25, 1948, in Water­loo, Iowa. Though he would be­come the most ac­com­plished col­le­giate wrestler the United States had ever seen (he went nearly un­de­feated — 181-1), he didn’t de­vote him­self en­tirely to the sport un­til age 15, when tragedy struck his fam­ily.

While away on va­ca­tion with his par­ents for the week­end, his 19- year- old sis­ter was mur­dered in their home by a 16- yearold neigh­bor named John Thomas Kyle. Gable has said over the years that this hor­rific event in­spired him to be­come the best he could be as a wrestler, in order to give his par­ents some­thing to look for­ward to, some­thing to hope for. He has said that “It made me even more of a horse with blin­ders as far as wrestling went.”

Gable went on to wres­tle at Iowa State Univer­sity, win­ning every match ex­cept for the fi­nal one of his career, when Larry Owings, a Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton wrestler, bested him to win the na­tional cham­pi­onship. Gable then won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympics without sur­ren­der­ing a sin­gle point the en­tire tour­na­ment, and later coached the Univer­sity of Iowa wrestling team to 15 na­tional ti­tles from 1976 to 1997.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA

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