Posts Tagged ‘on this day


Talk about a funny day…

Comedy is the topic of the day, as we celebrate the birth of Groucho Marx (born in 1890) and the publication of the first Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles M. Schulz.

Even the day’s political news has a comedic air to it, as today is the anniversary of the 2008 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. (Although I’d much rather see Groucho go head-to-head with Lucy from Peanuts.)


Willie Mays and the Catch Heard ‘Round the World

On this day in 1954, New York Giants centerfielder Willie Mays makes the kind of catch that inspires dreams and legends.

It was Game 1 of the World Series, and Cleveland Indians batter Vic Wertz stepped to the plate. He connected with the pitch, driving the ball 450 feet. Mays snagged the ball in a running catch with his back to home plate. Baseball fans and historians widely regard it as the greatest catch ever made.


Big Tobacco gives up the fight

After five days of non-stop (and, I’m sure, very loud) negotiation, a team of state attorneys general from around the country made an amazing announcement: The world’s leading cigarette companies admitted, in both words and dollars, that smoking is deadly.

The tobacco companies agreed to pony up a mind-blowing $368.5 billion (yes, with a “B”) dollars over 25 years to pay for smoking prevention, cessation, health claims, and more. They agreed to change their advertising, promotions, and marketing techniques. (Heck, they probably agreed to wash cars at church fundraisers and buy an annual truckload of Girl Scout cookies, too.) Continue reading ‘Big Tobacco gives up the fight’


Quite the day for civil rights

Civil rights take center stage today (and that’s no small feat — they had to wrest it away from Paula Abdul’s birthday celebration).

Looking back to 1862, slavery was outlawed in all U.S. Territories on this day. Just over 100 years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the United States Senate.

Happy birthday today to:

  • mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623)
  • Wallis Warfield Windsor (1896), the American who King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry
  • band leader Guy Lombardo (1902), whose music filled many, many New Year’s Eves
  • author Salman Rusdie (62)
  • singer Ann Wilson of Heart (59)

And, of course, TV personality Paula Abdul, who doesn’t look a day over 50 (which is a good thing because she turns 47 today).


Churchill rallies the country in “their finest hour”

I originally planned to post something light and fun today, but after finding this event in my research, I just couldn’t. This moment of history deserves to stand alone.

On this day in 1940, Winston Churchill stood before the House of Commons and delivered one of his most famous calls for determination, perseverance, and a focus on the future.

Let’s set the stage: On May 10 (just five weeks before this day), Germany attacked Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. Just 20 days later, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg all surrendered. France lasted until the middle of June. The desperate “Miracle at Dunkirk” saved some 338,000 British and French soldiers from capture, thanks to the Herculean efforts of more than 1,000 vessels ranging from Navy ships to fishing boats.

Against that backdrop, Churchill spoke. Continue reading ‘Churchill rallies the country in “their finest hour”’


Microsoft’s first brush with the Vista effect

Turning to technology, on this day in 1988, Microsoft released DOS 4.0. It introduced many advances, including “extended memory” (allowing programs to use memory beyond one megabyte), mouse support, and a shot at a graphical interface.

Unfortunately, the OS also contained a startling number of bugs

Microsoft squashed many bugs with the release of DOS 4.01, but many companies (including the one I did technical support for way back then), skipped DOS 4.x entirely. Instead, they held onto DOS 3.x (after all, it worked just fine…) and didn’t start replacing things until DOS 5.0 (and ultimately DOS 6.0) hit the market.


A great day for sticky food

Apparently there’s something about the middle of June that brings out the creativity in people who love food.

According to legend, on this day in 1893, R. W. Rueckheim invented the forerunner of the snack with a prize (but an ever-declining number of peanuts) in every box, Cracker Jack. His company, F.W. Rueckheim and Brother, introduced the mixture of caramel coated popcorn, peanuts and molasses at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s first World’s Fair.

According to the Cracker Jack website, it took a few more years (three, to be exact) before Louis Rueckheim (R. W.’s brother) figured out how to prevent everything from sticking together. An unnamed salesman gave the treat its name when he tried the concoction and exclaimed (in the appropriately melodramatic language of the day), “That’s crackerjack!”