Wednesday, September 10, 2014

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

            Happy Victoria Day everyone! It’s a gloomy, rainy, long-weekend Monday which makes it a good day to relax and put the feet up and be thankful that we’re not big campers or we’d be out there packing everything up in this nasty weather. I have experienced my share of packing up the camp in the drizzling rain and I don’t miss it today at all. To me, having another Victoria Day-May Long Weekend come and go by so quickly is depressing enough so closing out the weekend on a rainy, gloomy note kind of fits the mood.  
            Turns out that it could be worse, I guess. I could have been Anne Boleyn. You remember Anne don’t you? King Henry VIII’s second wife? On this very day in 1588 she lost her head…literally. She was beheaded for treason. I was curious to know what other people were up to on this day in history and this was the first item that came up. Poor Anne.
            Or I could have been in New England or Eastern Canada in 1780 when everything went dark in the middle of the day. The day is referred to as “New England’s Dark Day”. The event occurred on May 19th, 1780 when an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada. The primary cause of the event is believed to have been a combination of smoke from forest fires, a thick fog and cloud cover. The darkness was so complete that candles were required at noon. It did not disperse until the middle of the next night. Since the communication technology of the day was so primitive, most people found the darkness to be baffling, inexplicable and more than a little disconcerting.
            Of course there’s always a little bit of irony in history, you know? The date of May 19th was both the date of Marilyn Monroe’s famous, or infamous as it were, sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday To You” which she had sung to US President John F. Kennedy at a celebration of his forty-fifth birthday in 1962 amid rumours that JFK had an affair with the blonde bombshell and May 19th also happens to be the day that JFK’s widow, Jacqeline, passed away in 1994. Hmmm…
            Other notable events from this day in history include the day French explorer Jacques Cartier set sail for North America in 1535. Jacques Cartier was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big settlements that he saw at Stadacona (Quebec City) and at Hochelaga (Montreal Island). Thanks Jacques.
            More historical events from May 19th: The Spanish Armada, with its 130 warships, set sail from Lisbon, bound for England in 1588. In the United States in 1864 the Union and Confederate armies launched their last attacks against each other at Spotsylvania in Virginia. Spotsylvania? Whatever.
In 1911 the first American criminal conviction that was based on fingerprint evidence occurred in New York City. Thomas Edison spoke on the radio for the first time on May 19th, 1926. T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia", died from injuries in a motorcycle crash in England on this day in 1935. And last but not least…who could forget that tragic day in 1992 when Mary Jo Buttafuoco was shot and seriously wounded by Amy Fisher who was Mary Jo’s husband Joey’s teen-aged lover? Got it? I know it doesn’t rank up there with Jacques Cartier or Lawrence of Arabia or anything but it dominated the news for weeks and weeks and weeks.
            My boring, gloomy May 19th won’t compete with these kinds of historical events but reading about them has kind of brightened my day a little. As we all know, in so many cases, as bad as we have it…it can always be worse.
“I get a bit gloomy when it’s gloomy.”-Catherine Zeta-Jones (1969-).


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