Jennifer Wilson, originally from Exeter, became an iconic image thanks to this old rock festival photograph that epitomised the free spirited summer of love and the hippy movement.

Jennifer Wilson was the subject of an iconic image thanks to this old rock festival photograph that epitomised the free spirited summer of love

The picture was taken at a music festival in 1978 shortly after Wilson, now 67, moved away from her home city of Exeter in Devon to London.

The photo shows the young, long-haired Wilson standing topless amid her friends, playing air guitar, lost in the music at an open-air festival.

But now more than three decades on the woman in the shot has revealed she wasn’t a drug-taking hippie chick of easy virtue, but a straight-laced married woman looking for something to do.

‘I seemed to be photographed at pop concerts every time I went,’ she said.

‘I used to wear unusual clothing with lots of colours – I still do but I’m trying to tone it down now I’m older.

‘I think it was at Reading Festival while dancing to a band like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Genesis – it could have been any band like that.

‘I used to love music when I was at school.

‘The teacher used to tell us to close our eyes when listening to a piece of music so you can hear it properly and not get distracted by what’s going on around you.

‘I still close my eyes now when listening to a new record.

‘Sometimes the photo is used with the wrong story, like drugs or promiscuity, that insinuates all sorts of things I don’t like.

‘I didn’t take drugs, I was too naive. And I wasn’t even promiscuous.

‘I had been married for a few years at that time. I was very straight. I went to pop concerts for something to do.’

Ms Wilson was the eldest of eight children, five girls and three boys, and grew up in Alphington, Exeter.

She got married to an Exeter man and moved to London after her divorce aged 25, where she made a living as a dress maker.

Today she lives in East Acton with her partner of 12 years and has raised three daughters.

2011 Jennifer Wilson

She regularly visits Exeter, where her mother and two sisters still live, and can recall the times her dad used to take her and her brothers and sisters to watch Exeter City.

‘When I divorced I started going to rock concerts as a way of trying to pick myself up off the floor,’ she said.

‘It was a kind of freedom after being brought up strictly and convent educated.

‘I used to go to Reading and Knebworth a lot to listen to various bands.

‘I can’t remember them all. I remember it was a really hot day and people started to sunbathe topless.

‘I looked like the odd ball with my clothes on. All the girls were going round with their tops off so I did the same.

‘I couldn’t believe I was the one who was photographed. It was the happiest time of my life. I met lovely people. It was all love and peace.

‘There was no violence like there is now.’

Ms Wilson said she worked for a time as a Go Go dancer in London.

She also spent a year living in a bus in Morocco sitting on the side of the road selling beaded headbands.

‘I used to get recognised in and around Earls Court near where I lived,’ she said. ‘Even the bread delivery man noticed me.

‘I seemed to get photographed all the time. Every time anyone sees a photo of me I try to get a copy. And a friend’s son found quite a few pictures of me on a hippie website.’

She added: ‘I’m shocked that the photo has been used this long.’

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Edith Shain was immortalised in photographic history when she was snapped locked in a kiss with a US sailor in Times Square New York on Victory over Japan Day, August 14, 1945.

Edith Shain standing next to a statue honoring the legendary photo of her kiss

The photo, which became one of the most iconic images from World War II, was taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life magazine in 1945 with the caption: “In New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers”.

The most iconic kiss in history (Image Credit:Alfred Eisenstaedt)

The identity of the nurse in the photograph was not known until the late 1970s when Shain wrote to the photographer saying that she was the woman in the picture taken at a time when she had been working at Doctor’s Hospital in New York City.

On August 14, 1945, more than 750,000 people gathered in New York City’s Times Square to celebrate the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.

Among the excited crowd was Edith Shain, a nursing school student, along with her roommate who had taken the subway to Times Square upon hearing the news that the war was over.

“We ran to Times Square because that’s where celebrations happen in New York City,” Shain said.

According to historical documents, the Times news ticker in Times Square went dark at 7 p.m. and then at 7:03 p.m., the crowd roared in jubilation as the words “OFFICIAL—TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER” blazed across the news scroll.

Elated by the news, people in the crowd were embracing and hugging and crying tears of joy, but it was a far different experience for Shain.

“This sailor just grabbed me and kissed me,” she said. “Any female closes her eyes when she’s about to kiss so I never saw the guy, and then I walked away. I was kind of embarrassed. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone.”

While browsing a copy of a Life magazine a week later, Shain, then 27-years-old, recognized herself in what has became an iconic photo titled “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan) of a sailor slightly dipping a nurse in a white uniform and kissing her.

In his memoirs, Eisenstaedt explained that when he saw a sailor running along kissing any girl in sight, he ran ahead of the sailor while making sure to look back so that he wouldn’t miss anything.

When the sailor hit on a nurse whose white dress contrasted nicely with his dark suit, Eisenstaedt snapped the shot. But he failed to get their names. Coincidentally, another photographer, Victor Jorgensen, took the same shot from a slightly different angle and also forgot to get the subjects’ names.

The Most Iconic Kiss in History (Image Credit:Victor Jorgensen)

Jorgensen’s version ran in the next day’s New York Times, but as a working military photographer at the time, he didn’t own the rights to his work. So while Eisenstaedt received glory and royalty checks for his image, Jorgensen simply got a nice clipping to hang on his fridge.

The photo was plastered all over newspapers and was seen as a symbol of a new era of peace, love and hope. The image became synonymous with the end of World War II and the sheer delight at being alive that many people felt.

The sailor in the photo has never been identified though about 20 men claimed to be the sailor in the famed photo.

Though Eisenstaedt died in 1995 at the age of 96 and Shain died on June 20, 2010 in Los Angeles at the age of 92, the celebrated picture has not lost its significance. The kiss captured by the photo has often been hailed the most iconic kiss in history.

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Remember Octopus Paul? In case your memory is already hazy, let me help you refresh it. Paul is the octopus who correctly predicted the outcomes of all seven of Germany’s games at World Cup 2010 plus the Spain-Netherlands final. He made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag. He was beyond doubts the star of World Cup 2010.

Paul the Octopus during World Cup 2010

After he passed away in his sleep in October last year, the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, decided the celebrity octopus should be immortalized with a shrine to mark his uncanny predictions.

Yesterday, three months after the soothsayer’s death, the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen unveiled an outsized memorial to the World Cup’s most unlikely star: A 6 1/2-foot (2-meter) tall plastic replica of Paul clutching a ball in his eight arms.

Photographers surround the monument of Paul

Aquarium spokeswoman Tanja Munzig says Paul’s cremated ashes were placed in a gold-leaf-covered urn visible through a see-through screen on the over-sized ball covered with different national flags.

The ashes of the tentacled creature are contained in a golden octopus urn visible through a see-through screen

The urn of a sculpture of Paul inside the ball

“We acted upon the wishes of fans and created a place of remembrance.

“This monument was also built to show visitors just how much people around the world loved Paul,” Munzig told The Associated Press.

In addition, the aquarium created “Paul Corner”, which includes newspaper clippings in many different languages that tell of Paul’s global fame and exhibits gifts sent to the museum.

A family in Spain sent a glass of mussels in oil as a reward for Paul after he correctly predicted that Spain would win the World Cup, Munzig said.

A fan from New Zealand tailored a red, sleeveless football shirt for Paul – with a hole for each tentacle.

A successor to Paul, a French octopus named Paul II, was unveiled at the aquarium on November 3 after spending two months in quarantine.

He has yet to attempt to follow his predecessor’s fortune-telling but it is thought the Sea Life Centre may tempt him with flag-covered mussel treats for the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine and Poland.

After the original Paul’s death last year, Stefan Porwoll, manager of the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre, said: ‘Paul delighted people from all continents with his seven consecutive correct predictions for the matches of the German national team and for the final.

‘He was dear to all our hearts and we will sorely miss him. It is a comforting thought that he had a good life with us with the best possible care delivered by a committed team.

‘His success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup itself.’

Paul the Octopus has finally got his tentacles permanently wrapped around a giant soccer ball.

Paul the Octopus's monument unveiled at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen yesterday.

Here in Malaysia, there was a glut of Octopus Paul t-shirts on sale last year as businessmen capitalised on Paul’s fame. Just look at a few samples of the t-shirts available here in Malaysia.

Paul the Octopus told me so

Paul, the psychic Octopus, ROCKS!

Pulpo Paul t-shirt

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Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday. His “I Have a Dream Speech” text is one of the most famous speeches in our nation’s history.

This is the text of the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington August 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Talk about time-of-the-year coincidences.

The dramatic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners Wednesday invokes memories of another dramatic rescue, that of 18-month-old Jessica McClure. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

October 14 2010 ironically is the 23rd anniversary of when “Baby Jessica” fell into an 18-inch-wide well casing near Midland. Her rescue riveted the nation for 58 hours until she was rescued on Oct. 16, 1987.

Though the miners may not have suffered physical injuries comparable to Jessica McClure’s, they will still feel the effects of their ordeal for many years to come. It is still unknown whether or not they will have any chronic health problems after being underground for 69 days.

Jessica McClure (born March 26, 1986) became a household name at the age of 18 months after falling into a well in Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987

While visiting her sister’s home day-care center, Jessica’s mum, 18-year-old Reba ”Cissy” McClure left Jessica playing with other children in the backyard. Momentarily unattended to, the toddler fell 22 feet into an abandoned well.

Jessica's mum, JeReba ''Cissy'' McClure, holding Jessica at a news interview a few days after the rescue

Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 58 hours to free “Baby Jessica” from the eight-inch-wide well casing.

The rescue of Baby Jessica

Her rescue riveted the nation and gained worldwide attention. This massive media saturation of the ordeal prompted then-President Ronald Reagan to state that “everybody in America became godfathers and godmothers of Jessica while this was going on.”

As hundreds of bone-weary rescuers and onlookers cheered in jubilation, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was pulled to safety on the night of 16th October 1987, 58 1/2 hours after she fell into the abandoned well. Amidst a huge eruption of cheers and jubilation, paramedic Robert O’Donnell carrying a weary-looking and dirt-covered but conscious Jessica, appeared.

18-month-old Jessica McClure safe in the arms of paramedic Robert O'Donnell

She was carried by a paramedic to a waiting ambulance, where her parents waited. She was then rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital for examination.

Throughout Midland and nearby Odessa, motorists sounded their horns in celebration of the young girl’s rescue from 22 feet below ground.

Following her rescue on October 16, 1987, surgeons had to amputate part of McClure’s right foot due to loss of circulation while in the well. She has had 15 surgeries over the years, and has no first-hand memory of being trapped in the well.

She also still bears the scars of the accident, and in a 2007 interview she told the Today Show that she opted not to have doctors remove her scars. She said, “It shows who I am, and the fact that I am here and that I could have not been here.”

Jessica McClure

McClure graduated from Greenwood High School, near Midland, in May 2004.

On January 28, 2006, McClure married Daniel Morales at a Church of Christ in a small rural community outside of Midland. The couple met at a day-care center where his sister worked with McClure. The couple have a son named Simon.

On March 26, 2011, when Morales turns 25, she stands to receive a trust fund of donations from well-wishers, rumored to be in excess of $1,000,000.

McClure’s rescue was credited mostly to paramedic Robert O’Donnell and police officer William Andrew Glasscock Jr., both of whom received tremendous media attention and became heroes.  The saddest thing is what happened to these two heroes. In 1995, after eight years of having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the ordeal, O’Donnell succumbed to the disorder and committed suicide. In 2004, Glasscock was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of sexual exploitation of a child, sexual assault, and improper storage of explosives.

Jessica’s story spawned a book and a TV movie called Everybody’s Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure with Patty Duke and Beau Bridges.

On May 30, 2007, USA Today ranked McClure #22 on its list of “25 lives of indelible impact.”

Jessica McClure is not the only child to have fallen down a well; Kathy Fiscus and Alfredo Rampi also suffered the same fate, but unfortunately they did not survive.

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Facebook is truly the greatest social networking website. It gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected. When used with integrity and with moral values,  it is a blessing and a most powerful tool.

Several weeks ago, I joined the Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang 1976 Facebook group and was able to reconnect with some of my Form 6 schoolmates through the group. We are planning a reunion tentatively scheduled to be held in Kuching in December 2012.

Cover of the 1976 Kolej Bujang school magazine

And today, through the Kolej Bujang group, I managed to connect with Mary Hii,  a schoolmate of mine from Prmary 1 till Form 6.  I saw several Form 3 classmates among Mary Hii’s Facebook friends and was thus able to link up with them again after 36 long years! What a blessing!

Form 3 class photo taken in 1972...guess which one is me?

It is thus not surprising that Facebook is the largest social network and ranked the number 2 top website on Alexa.com just after Google.com.  Thanks, Facebook!

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