Pink Slip is devoted to topics related - however tangentially - to the workplace, business, management, the economy, lay-offs, etc. At least that's how it started out. Now it's whatever pops into my mind.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
On this day in history...
I’m a sucker for those “on this
day in history” lists. And who was born, who died. Not that the specific day
matters, one way or the other. And do we really believe that they were keeping
such excellent track back in 1370, that we have great certainty that the Battle
at Radau: Germany beats Lithuania – sounds like a soccer match, doesn’t it? –
took place on that very day.
Fast forward a few centuries,
and we find that Myles Standish was elected the first commander of the Plymouth
Colony. Greater likelihood of accuracy, but is that Julian calendar February 17
or Gregorian calendar?
I like that on this date, in
1776, the 1st volume of Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire” was published. And that 19 years
later, Thomas Seddal harvested 8.3-kg potato
from his garden Chester, England. Way to go, Thomas! That’s one mighty pratie.
Even more interesting, in 1801, the House broke an
electoral college tie to pick Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr. (Good choice,
but let’s hope they don’t get to be tie breakers come November…) And in 1836,
Charles Darwin and HMS Beagle left Tasmania.
On the music front, Verdi’s “Masked Ball” debuted in 1859.
February 17th is apparently a good day for opera: in 1904, Puccini’s
“Madame Butterfly” premiered.
Opera’s not the only thing that debuts on February 17th.
In 1876, the first canned sardines were introduced, in Eastport, Maine, no
less. (Thanks but no thanks. On behalf of my husband, I wish it had been canned
anchovies.)In 1896, the London County Council began enforcing its
muzzling order. (Hiss-boo. Did dogs bite more back in the day? Were there no
rabies shots? I always feel terrible when I see a muzzled pooch.)
On a more
pleasant note, in 1913, Oregon put the US’s first minimum wage law in place.
And in 1924, not-yet-Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller set the 100-yard freestyle
record. In 1933, happy days were,
indeed, here again when Prohibition was lifted, in plenty of time for folks to
enjoy the first color TV, which was demonstrated in 1938. Too bad there was
Not much happened in the forties and fifties on this date,
other than World War II battles and figure skating championships. But in 1962,
the Beach Boys released their first song. Surf was up! More importantly – at least
my husband would say so – Wilt Chamberlain scored 67 points in a game against
the St. Louis Hawks. A few years later (1968), the Basketball Hall of Fame
opened in Springfield. (Jim loved basketball. We were always going to get there
someday when we were out visiting family in Southwick…)
1964 was a biggie: the House voted in the Civil Rights Act
and the Supremes ruled that on one man, one vote. (Seriously, it took that
And in 1972, President Nixon left
for China, opening up a new era in Sino-American relations and, I believe,
prompting someone (neither Verdi nor Puccini: both dead) to write an opera on
the subject. Seriously, what is up
with February 17th and opera?
Over the next couple of decades,
a lot of what happened on February 17th had to do with skating,
cricket, or NBA All Star games.
Other stuff happened on February
17th.For instance, many
well-known people you never heard of were born. That includes French economist
Pierre Le Pesant (1646). Not to mention Southern plantation owner, Haller Nutt
(1816). At least I’ve heard of Montgomery Ward (1844), and Wally Pipp (1893). But
Fyodor Sologub? Who curates these lists, anyway?
Football – and lacrosse – great Jim
Brown was born on February 17, 1936. As was Gene Pitney (1941) who was born in
Hartford, not, as one might have imagined, 24 Hours from Houston. Come to think
of it, Hartford has always struck me as a town without pity.
Rene Russo, an actress Jim had a
crush on, was born on this day in 1954. Michael Jordan, a basketballer that Jim
was not especially wild about – Jordan was no Bill Russell – checked in in
1963. Paris Hilton was born in 1981.
Many notables died on this day.
Geronimo in 1909. Bruno Walter and the guy who played Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace both died in 1962. Lee Strasberg, baseball umpire Nestor Chylak, and
Thelonious Monk checked out in 1982. In 1994, Randy Shilts, who wrote And The Band Played On, a book that was
turned into one of my husband’s favorite films, died of AIDS. In 2013, on this
day, country signer Mindy McCready shot herself. And in 2014, Bob Casale, a
musician I’d never heard of, died.
Anyway, just as all politics is
local, the real important history is personal.On February 2014, Bob Casale
wasn’t the only one who died. So did my husband, Jim.
Seems like just yesterday; seems
like a million years ago.
Life is good. It’s just
different. And it’s just plain not quite as entertaining and interesting as it
was when Diggy was around. Sigh…