On this date in history, absolutely nothing happened.
Just kidding. Actually, quite a few noteworthy events took place.
On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from the Spanish port of Palos with three ships–the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria–under his command. Just like Captain Kirk, Columbus was trying to go where no man had gone before.
He did not succeed.
Columbus was on a mission to locate a western sea route that would lead to India, China, and Asia’s fabled islands of gold and spice. When he finally found land, Columbus was nowhere near India. What he discovered instead was the island chain we now know as The Bahamas. And it’s not really fair to say he ‘discovered’ these islands, because when Columbus dropped anchor, he found other people already living there.
On this date in history, the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, became the first vessel to accomplish an underwater voyage to the geographic North Pole. On August 1, 1958, the Nautilus left Alaska’s northern coast and submerged beneath the Arctic ice cap. Two days and 1,000 miles later, as the submarine reached the top of the world, Cmdr. William Anderson told the crew: “For our world, our country, and our Navy–the North Pole.” Today, the decommissioned Nautilus is on exhibit at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut.
Private parties in Caracas, Venezuela don’t usually spawn a dance craze and pop culture excitement, but that’s exactly what happened in 1992, when inspiration hit flamenco-pop artists Antonio Monge and Rafael Ruiz. The duo, collectively known for 30 years as Los del Rio, was mesmerized by the live performance of a flamenco dancer.
The pair took an ad-libbed verse they had coined at that party performance, and in 1993 incorporated it into a new song titled ‘Macarena’. The song was a hit in Venezuela, and in 1994 the BMG music label empowered the Bayside Boys to create an English-language remix of the song, hoping to make it more dance-club compatible. Spurred on by extensive radio play, a music video, and a dance that was virtually klutz-proof, the song hit the U.S. charts in 1995, and eventually reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart on August 3, 1996. The song stayed on the Billboard chart for a then record-breaking 60 weeks.
And, 25 years ago today, on August 3, 1988, the ‘final shot’ from the movie Field of Dreams was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa. You remember the scene: Ray Kinsella has reunited with the ghost of his father, and on that magical ball field in the corn, he’s finally getting a second chance to ‘have a catch’ with dear old Dad. As darkness settles in, wife Annie flips a switch from the porch, triggering the stadium lights and illuminating the field. We watch as the camera rises from ground level, revealing a line of cars, headlights twinkling, stretching as far as the eye can see. The prophetic words spoken by Terence Mann at movie’s end (“Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come”) are coming true, right before our very eyes.
Creating this emotion-packed, visually-stunning display required Herculean efforts, the likes of which haven’t been seen since, well, Hercules.
Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot wrote about a ribbon of darkness, but it was going to take a ‘river of lights’ (that’s what movie producer Brian Frankish called it) to capture the closing magic found in Shoeless Joe, the novel written by fellow Canadian W.P. Kinsella and the story upon which Field of Dreams is based.
Sue Riedel, then a volunteer with the Iowa Film Board, was the movie’s local casting director and the person in charge of pulling off the logistically-challenging stunt. Producer Frankish had requested 3,000 participants riding in 1,500 lined-up vehicles, but despite much legwork, volunteer numbers for the final scene were still lagging badly a week before the shoot. The stifling heat, combined with area residents’ unwillingness to sit in man-made gridlock, were undoubtedly contributing factors.
With help from the local paper, area businesses, and good old-fashioned cold-calling, Frankish’s magic number of 1,500 automobiles was met. Let the record show that not one single text message was sent or received in support of this amazing feat.
After a sweltering picnic lunch at a local park, complete with lots of hydrating liquids, the army of volunteer residents lined up their vehicles on Dyersville East Road. No doubt, they were pleased to see several sky-blue portable toilets, strategically placed along the lengthy route by an obviously efficient production crew.
As dusk approached, scene participants turned on their headlights and tuned in their radios to a local frequency where instructions were being given by a studio helicopter. At times, drivers were instructed to switch their headlights between low and high beams, adding a twinkling effect and producing the illusion of movement. After three takes, director Phil Alden Robinson got the ‘river of light’ that Brian Frankish was looking for. He yelled, “Cut! It’s good,” and a long line of sweltering but happy participants honked their horns in celebration.
It had taken an immense amount of planning, work, and coordination, but the legendary Field of Dreams closing scene was finally in the can.
Considering the amount of liquid they consumed, some of the drivers in the last scene probably ended up there, too.
Click on the box below to relive the magic.
The Field of Dreams is alive and well. Click on the pic below to learn more.