Sunday, August 15, 2010

Odd Moments in History – August

I know, I know. August ain’t half over yet! But already there’s quite a collection of oddities – and who knows what impact they’ve had on life as we know it? For instance:

Aug. 3, 1985 - Mail service is discontinued to a nudist colony in Paradise Lake, FL until residents promise to wear clothes or stay out of sight when the mailperson comes.

Aug. 4, 1693 –Dom Perignon invents champagne. (This day is now more popularly known as U.S. Coast Guard Day. No doubt it’s celebrated with champagne.)

Aug. 6, 1981 – Fire fighters in Indianapolis, IN return from a false alarm to find their station ablaze from a grease fire. (Turn off the burners before you leave, guys…)

Aug. 6, 1762 – The first formally acknowledged “sandwich” since Roman times (beef and cheese between slices of toasted bread) is devised for John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Aug. 7 was quite eventful:
1983 – Over 675,000 AT&T employees, mostly operators, go on strike. Middle management mans the switchboards and quickly decide they need a union, too.
1947 - The balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki struggles across 4,300 miles of Pacific Ocean only to crash into the reef of a Polynesian archipelago.
1876 – The centuries old custom of tup-running (trying to seize a ram by its greased tail) goes wildly awry at Eton College. The panicked ram swims the Thames and runneth amok through Windsor Market with the boys in hot pursuit. Much mischief resulteth.

Aug. 9 was even busier:
2004 - Donald Duck receives the 2,257th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1944 – Smokey Bear debuts as the spokesbear for fire prevention. He’s the creation of The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council.
1905 – Ty Cobb’s mother mistakes her husband for a burglar and kills him.
1678 - American Indians sell the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.

Aug 10, 1846 - Congress charters the Smithsonian Institution, called "the nation's attic."

Aug 14, 2126 - Comet Swift-Tuttle makes its closest approach to Earth. Just a little heads-up there…
1756 – And a society note here: Daniel Boone marries 16-year-old Rebecca Bryan.

Aug 11, 1984 – President Reagan (for a radio voice check): "I have signed legislation that outlaws Russia forever. We begin bombing in 5 minutes." This day has also been declared Presidential Joke Day.

August 13, 3114 BC – The first day of the Mayan calendar, according to the Lounsbury correlation.

August 15 is host to many momentous events:
1969 – The Woodstock Music & Art Fair opens in Bethel, NY (Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm). Billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music," it features
24 bands and draws over 400,000 people. The event became an iconic cultural phenomenon.
1968 – Pirate Radio Free London goes on the air. A transmitter was set up in an apartment, and their aerial was a long wire which ran across a street and a railroad track and was tied to the fire escape of a BBC building.
1877 - Thomas Edison writes to the president of the Telegraph Company in Pittsburgh stating that "hello" is more appropriate than "ahoy" when answering the telephone. Like, why not just call him about it?

Aug. 16, 1920 - The only fatality to date in major league baseball occurs when Ray Chapman (Cleveland Indians) was hit in the head with a fastball from Carl Mays of the NY Yankees.

Aug. 17, 1977 - FTD (Florists Transworld Delivery) reports that orders for flowers to be delivered to Graceland for Elvis Presley’s funeral surpasses any other event in the company's history.

And so it goes. I had no idea what neat stuff I’d be learning when I took on the “Today in History” feature for The biggest shock was August 10, 2003, which was the first marriage from space. It was between cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who was orbiting in the International Space Station, and Ekaterina Dmitriev, who was down at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. Unfortunately, I misunderstood my source’s rather vague listing of the event and thought both were cosmonauts, and both were aboard the ISS.

But no problem. One of VerveStar’s founding partners, Miranda Spigener, is a personal friend of Ekaterina (“Kat”) and was able to correct my entry. It seems Kat even starred in a short film written/directed/produced by Miranda. ( It won Audience Choice as Official Selection at the 2001 Venice International Film Festival and appeared as part of the Alternate Selection/Audience Pick at the 2001 Berlin International Film Fest. Wow. Like I said, you never know what you’re going to learn.

Now get out there and make an Odd Moment for me to report!

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