The Day I Was Born
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Online Project - Discovering YOUR Place in History Since 1999

Class of '77

Ms. Maggie Hos-McGrane
International School of Amsterdam
The Netherlands
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My name is Maggie Hos-McGrane. I was born on Thursday 26th March 1959
and was given the name Margaret after my grandmother, my father's
mother. The name Margaret comes from the Latin word meaning "a pearl".
(At that time, of course, I was Margaret McGrane, the Hos got added
later when I married my husband who is Dutch. We live in Holland and it
is quite usual for a married woman to have both her maiden name and her
married name.) I am a 5th Grade teacher at the International School of
Amsterdam. When I calculated my age in days, on 24th September 1999, I
was 14792 days old (40 years). I was born just after a full moon and,
interestingly enough, so were many students in my class!

Some famous people I share a birthday with are: Diana Ross the singer,
who is 15 years older than me, A. E. Housman, the English poet and
Robert Frost, the New England poet. Also born on 26th March were
Tennessee Williams the playwright and author Erica Jong. I was also
interested to find out that Leonard Nimoy (Spock in "Star Trek") and
James Caan also share my birthday.

Historic events which occurred on my birthday include the death of
Ludwig van Beethoven who died in Vienna, Austria in 1827 and the death
of the poet Walt Whitman in 1892. It was also the day that East
Pakistan proclaimed its independence, taking the name Bangladesh.
Probably the most important event to take place on my birthday was in
1979 when the Camp David peace treaty was signed by Israeli Prime
Miniser Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. This was 37
years to the day after the first Jews were boarded on trains for the
Auschwitz concentration camp where eventually 2 million Jews, hundreds
of thousands of Gypsies, and thousands of Polish political prisoners and
Russian prisoners of war perished. Also on my birthday in 1992 the
former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was sentenced to six years
in prison for raping a Miss Black America contestant, and in 1997 39
members of the Heaven's Gate techno religous cult committed suicide
inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The cult members
believed that by committing suicide they would enter an alien spacecraft
hidden behind the comet Hale-Bopp to prevent human detection, and
thereafter they would pass through Heaven's Gate into a higher
existence.

Popular songs from the year I was born include Bobby Darin's "Dream
Lover", "Lonely Boy" by Paul Anka, "A Big Hunk O'Love" by Elvis Presley,
"Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin and "There Goes My Baby" by the
Drifters. In the week I was born Eddie Cochran entered the 1959 charts
with "C'mon Everybody" his last top 40 hit. Chart toppers in different
years included Perry Como with "Wanted" and Doris Day with "Secret Love"
in 1954, and "Walk like a Man" by the Four Seasons in 1963. I remember
very well the hits from 1972, the year I became a teenager. They
included "A Horse with No Name" by America, "Without You" by Nilsson,
"Mother and Child Reunion" by Paul Simon and "Keep on Loving You" by
REO
Speedwagon. Other musical events in the week I was born include the
Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" which caused enough publicity to get Rubin
"Hurricane" Carter released from jail in 1976, and the marriage of Billy
Joel and Christie Brinkley in 1985.

The best movie of the year 1959 was "Ben-Hur", and not surprisingly the
best actor was the star of "Ben-Hur", Charlton Heston. Biblical movies
were very popular in the 1950s. My parents were at the cinema watching
"The Ten Commandments" when my mother went into labour with me. This
was quite unexpected as I was born two months early! Other great movies
from 1959 include: "The Diary of Anne Frank", "The Nun's Story", "Room
at the Top" and "Some Like it Hot" starring Maralyn Monroe. Walt Disney
also released "Sleeping Beauty" that year.

It's hard to know what people were watching on television in England in
the 1950s because not many people had televisions. 1959 did see the
beginnings of the TV series "Whack-O!", a comedy set in a rather tatty
public school and in the 1960s I remember shows like "Dixon of Dock
Green", "Steptoe and Son" and "Till Death Us Do Part" Another big hit
in the 1960s was "Not Only ... But Also" starring Peter Cook and Dudley
Moore. I can also vaguely remember "The Lucy Show" and "The Dick Van
Dyke Show". We didn't have a television until I was about five or six
years old, but I can remember going to friends houses and watching
chilren's TV programmes such as "Andy Pandy" and "The Woodentops" which
came on at lunchtimes in a "Watch with Mother" slot. A children's
programme I remember very well from the late 1960s was called "Lost In
Space". I remember writing to the actors and receiving signed photos!

Barbie dolls were introduced in 1959, the year I was born. I can
remember playing with these as a little girl. Also Hula Hoops were a
craze in the early 1960s. Another popular toy we played with as
children was the Etch-a-Sketch which sold more than one hundred
million! My mother still has our old one at home, and now my children
play with it! It was also interesting to find out that the "Game of
Life" was invented by Reuben Klammer in the year I was born. We have
the Dutch version of this game today and my children still like to play
it!

I enjoyed researching this project because I learned a great deal about
the year I was born. For example, I had heard the song "C'mon
Everybody" many times - one of my students even performed it in the
school choir last year - but I had no idea it entered the charts on the
day I was born. I think it would also have been fun to research what
people were wearing back when I was born. I remember a lot of strange
fashions in the 1960s and even stranger ones in the 1970s (platform
shoes, afghan coats and so on!). It was really hard to find out
information about places outside the USA though. This has also been a
problem for many of my students (try finding out how much it cost to
send a letter in Korea, or how much a car cost in Norway via the
internet and you'll see what I mean!). My students have enjoyed
researching this topic, but at times we had to wait a long time for the
sites to load when we were in the computer lab, and it was a rather slow
process. The students really enjoyed finding out about their birthdays,
however, and we are using the information as the basis of a writing
assignment.

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