Question: Many years ago, I read a short par agraph about America's first riot. I recall two things, which I hope are correct: America was a young nation at the time, and doctors were involved. I would like to look it up, but I don't have enough information to do a search. Can you help? -- M.U.R., Minot, N.D.
Answer: Many historians consider the Doctors' Mob of April 1788 America's first riot.
During this era, grave robbing by "resurrectionists" was common practice. The stolen cadavers were sold to hospitals or medical schools for study, a practice that was appalling to the citizens of New York City. On April 13, a mob descended on the old New York Hospital in lower Manhattan and destroyed the lab. During the night, the mob searched the city for doctors.
On day two, the rioters moved north to Columbia College where Alexander Hamilton and John Jay were assaulted. The lab at the college was destroyed. Gov. George Clinton ordered the militia to open fire, killing eight with many more being seriously wounded.
Doctors who remained in Manhattan treated the wounded, and the rioters disbanded the following morning.
Q: What inspired Syl vester Stallone to write the screenplay for the blockbuster movie "Rocky"? -- P.L., Media, Pa.
A: A boxing match inspired Stallone. On March 24, 1975, in Cleveland, little-known boxer Chuck Wepner, nicknamed the "Bayonne Bleeder," met Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title. The boxing world considered the match a joke, with Ali expected to have an easy win.
Much to everyone's surprise, the champ struggled, nearly losing the match in the ninth round when Wepner caught Ali on the chin, sending him to the canvas. The fight finally ended in the 15th round when Ali knocked Wepner out.
Sylvester Stallone, a struggling actor, watched the match in Philadelphia. He was so inspired that he wrote a screenplay about an underdog boxer named Rocky Balboa. Three days later, he had a finished script in hand.
Most of the producers Stallone considered wanted to cast Ryan O'Neal in the starring role, but Stallone persisted and won the title role. The movie was released the following year.
Wepner retired from boxing in 1978. The last I heard, he was a liquor store manager in New Jersey and he still makes ringside appearances for bouts held in the state. In 2012, ESPN released a documentary about Wepner, "The Real Rocky." His career boxing record was 35 wins (17 knockouts), 14 losses and 2 draws.
Q: I own several books written by James Michen er and Larry McMurtry that mention a man by the name Charles Goodnight. Was he a real person? Can you tell me a little about him? -- W.M.L., Long Beach, Calif.
A: Charles Goodnight was born in Illinois in 1836. When he was 10 years old, he and his family moved to Texas. He became a cowboy at age 20. He later joined the local militia, the Texas Rangers and the Confederate Army.
He went on to become a cattle rancher of renown who was often referred to as the "father of the Texas Panhandle." Goodnight dabbled in newspapers, banking and establishing the Goodnight College. He died in 1929 at age 93.
Larry McMurtry based parts of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Lonesome Dove," on Charles Goodnight. There are statues in Goodnight's honor in the Texas panhandle and at Texas A&M University.
Q: Where did the phrase, "What am I, chopped liver?" originate? -- V.T., Owasso, Mich.
A: The phrase is used to express frustration or anger at being ignored. There are several explanations; the one that I like most is that chopped liver was traditionally served as a side dish rather than a main course. Not everyone appreciated eating chopped liver, and it was often overlooked.
Q: "The Battle of the Sexes" was a tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Can you tell me when and where the match was held? What was the final score? -- Z.L.O., Knox ville, Tenn.
A: On Sept. 20, 1973, 30,472 spectators in the Houston Astrodome watched King defeat Riggs, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3.
I think what many people forget is that this match was the second of two matches in the "The Battle of the Sexes" exhibition. On Mother's Day, May 13, 1973, Riggs, 55, played Margaret Court, who was 30 at that at the time. Court was the top female player in the world, and Riggs beat her 6-2 and 6-1.
Riggs died of cancer Oct. 25, 1995. He was 77.
Q: When and where was big band drummer Gene Krupa born? He had an unusual theme song. Do know its name? What can you tell me about his life? -- S.N., Palm Springs, Fla.
A: Eugene Krupa was born Jan. 15, 1909, in Chicago. He learned to play the saxophone at age 6, but switched five years later because drums were cheaper. His parents were religious and pushed their son to become a priest. After high school, Krupa attended St. Joseph's College for a year. His passion for drumming was too strong, and he left the school to pursue a musical career.
Krupa played for various local bands, developing his skills and mastering his craft. In 1929, he moved to New York City. Within a few years, Benny Goodman urged him to join his band. On Jan. 16, 1938, the band became the first jazz group to play in New York's Carnegie Hall. After that appearance, tensions between Goodman and Krupa became apparent. Krupa had a flashy style that the audience loved, and they wanted him to be more prominent. Goodman felt he was being pushed out of the limelight. Krupa left later that year and formed his own orchestra. He retired in 1967 but continued to be part of reunion bands.
As for Krupa's theme song, he used several during his career, but the one I'm sure you are asking about is "Apurksody." "Apurksody" is his name spelled backwards, along with "sody" from "rhapsody." Krupa died Oct. 16, 1973, in Yonkers, N.Y.
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