Good morning, it’s Sunday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2018. There are eight days left in the year. We’ll start the day in the upper 30s and we’re expecting afternoon highs only in the upper 50s this afternoon under a sunny sky. Overnight temperature will fall into the upper 30s.
On December 23, 1927—91 years ago today—four men, Marshall Ratliff, Henry Helms, Robert Hill and Louis Davis, entered the First National Bank of Cisco with guns drawn. Ratliff, who was wearing a borrowed Santa Claus suit, entered the vault and came out with a sack full of money. But in the meantime, some of the bank’s customers escaped and alerted police and town residents. As Ratliff emerged from the vault, a gun battle erupted. Two officers were killed and Ratliff and Davis were wounded.
The robbers forced all of the employees and customers out the door of the bank and toward their getaway car, but most of the hostages escaped. Two small girls, however, did not and the robbers forced them into the car as they tried to escape, although the vehicle was almost out of gas and one of the tires had been shot out. At the edge of town, with a mob in pursuit, the robbers hijacked another car from a 14-year-old boy. They transferred loot and moved the severely injured Davis into the second vehicle, only to discover that the teenager had kept the keys. Hill was wounded by gunfire in the midst of the transfer, but he, Ratliff and Helms got back in the first car, leaving the unconscious Davis behind. They also left the bag full of money. The more than $12,000 in cash they took, along with a batch of nonnegotiable securities, was returned to the bank. Davis was taken to a Fort Worth Hospital where he died that night.
The other three were finally captured in Graham after a series of car thefts and gunfights. The search for the trio was the largest manhunt ever staged in the state at that time. Hill pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He was paroled in the mid-1940s. Helm, who was identified as the one who killed the two lawmen, was executed in September 1929. Ratliff was first sentenced to 99 years, but later received a death sentence. He appealed unsuccessfully, and then tried to mount an insanity defense. He was returned to Eastland County on a bench warrant and attempted to escape from the county jail, killing a jailer in the process. The next day a mob of 1,000 residents rushed the jail, dragged him outside and tried to hang him from a phone pole, but the knot came loose and he fell to the ground. The second time they succeeded.
Today's Highlight in Local History:
On December 23, 1905, a fire destroyed a block in downtown Clifton.
On December 23, 1991, fire destroyed a house in Corsicana, killing three young children; their father, Cameron Todd Willingham, was convicted of starting the blaze and was executed in 2004, although some experts raised questions about whether the fire had been deliberately set.
Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
On This Date:
In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va.
In 1788, Maryland passed an act to cede an area "not exceeding ten miles square" for the seat of the national government; about 2/3 of the area became the District of Columbia.
On Dec. 23, 1805, Joseph Smith Jr., principal founder of the Mormon religious movement, was born in Sharon, Vt.
In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was created as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act.
In 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
In 1954, the first successful human kidney transplant took place at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a surgical team removed a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick and implanted it in Herrick's twin brother, Richard.
In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on his way home from a visit to Australia and Southeast Asia, held an unprecedented meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican; during the two-hour conference, Johnson asked the pope for help in bringing a peaceful end to the Vietnam War.
In 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.
In 1975, Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, was shot and killed outside his home by the militant group November 17.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1997, a federal jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder. (Nichols was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.)
In 2003, the government announced the first suspected (later confirmed) case of mad cow disease in United States, in Washington state. A jury in Chesapeake, Va., sentenced teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty. A gas well accident in southwestern China killed 233 people. New York Gov. George Pataki posthumously pardoned comedian Lenny Bruce for his 1964 obscenity conviction.
Ten years ago:
Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, founder of an investment fund that had lost $1.4 billion in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, was discovered dead after committing suicide at his Madison Avenue office. A military-led group seized control of the airwaves in Guinea and declared a coup after the death of the country's long-time dictator, Lansana Conte.
Five years ago:
The last two imprisoned members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot (Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova) were given amnesty and set free after spending nearly two years in prison for a protest at Moscow's main cathedral. Auburn's Gus Malzahn was honored as The Associated Press national coach of the year. Mikhail Kalashnikov, 94, designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, died in Izhevsk, Russia.
One year ago:
The top leadership of the Miss America Organization resigned amid a scandal over emails in which pageant officials had ridiculed past winners over their appearance and intellect and speculated about their sex lives. A federal judge in Seattle partially lifted a Trump administration ban on certain refugees after two groups argued that the policy kept people from some mostly Muslim countries from reuniting with family living legally in the United States.
Actor Ronnie Schell is 87. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 85. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 83. Actor Frederic Forrest is 82. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 78. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 77. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 75. U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark (ret.) is 74. Actress Susan Lucci is 72. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 69. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 62. Actress Joan Severance is 60. Singer Terry Weeks is 55. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 54. The former first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 51. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 43. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 41. Actress Estella Warren is 40. Actress Elvy Yost is 31. Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle is 28. Actor Spencer Daniels is 26. Actor Caleb Foote is 25.
Thought for Today:
"If you want to do things, do things." - Grace Paley, American writer (1922-2007).