The year was 1947 and the effects of World War II were still being felt. The Cold War had begun, and in 1947, Communists took control of both Poland and Hungary. Much of Europe had been devastated by the war. Economies were in ruins and hunger and desperation fed the general discontent. With the balance of power in Europe in play, the United States and Russia were in a stand-off.
At a commencement ceremony at Harvard University, George C. Marshall proposed an economic aid program that would lead to recovery with the Western European governments that chose to accept it. The Marshall Plan, as it became known, dispensed today's equivalent of $17 billion to the countries that chose to accept it and allowed democracy to keep a hold on much of Western Europe.
The "Red Scare" made it to the United States as the House of Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC) launched an investigation of the movie industry. Following inquiries with industry insiders, nineteen people were named as having communist views. Ten of these people refused to cooperate, citing their First Amendment rights and became known as the "Hollywood Ten." They were blacklisted in response to their refusal to cooperate.
In Canada, a blizzard swept in on 30 January and lasted ten days, burying towns from Calgary to Winnipeg and shutting down some railroads until spring.
In Wisconsin, a blizzard dumped 18.1 inches of snow and ten-foot drifts were created by sixty-mile-an-hour winds. You can read reminiscences from that storm on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website. There's also a photo gallery from the storm online at WisconsinStories.com.
That year also saw the coldest temperature recorded in North America at Snag, Yukon--63 degrees below zero. Brrr!
In Texas, a man-made disaster unfolded on 16 April when the French freighter, the "Grandchamp," loaded with ammonium nitrate exploded in a Texas City slip. That and the explosion of a ship in an adjoinging slip caused significant property damage and the "Grandchamp" explosion killed 568 people, and it's estimated that 3,500 more were injured, making this the worst industrial disaster in U.S. history.
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