The 8th is a date that the town fathers of Roswell[i], New Mexico will celebrate for a very long time. On that day in 1947 reports were broadcast around the nation that a UFO had crash-landed in their little town, thus giving them a firm grip on a sustainable tourist industry and spawning who knows how many t-shirt companies and websites. If you think there is no government cover-up of this alien encounter just try finding Roswell’s Area 51 using Google Earth. You could also just pay a visit to McMinnville, Oregon’s yearly UFO Festival.
[i] Roswell is also home to the world’s largest mozzarella cheese factory
True justice will not be denied and cannot be rushed. Sometimes it takes a little time to come to a decision about how to best serve the interests of society. On the 7th in 1456, Joan of Arc[i] was acquitted of the charge of heresy. It seems more than a little unfortunate that had been burnt at the stake on May 30, 1431.
[i] Joan was beatified by Pope Pius X on April 11, 1909. She was canonized on May 16, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
On the medical front, it should be noted that on the 6th in 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested his rabies vaccine on Joseph Meister[i], a fifteen-year-old kid who had conveniently been bitten by a rabid dog. It is only a vicious rumor, for which there is no credible evidence, that the dog was Pasteur’s pet.
[i] Meister had been born on February 16, 1885; the treatment was successful and Meister lived until June 16, 1940
On the 5th in 1954, Elvis Presley made his first commercial recording. The song[i] was That’s All Right (Mama)[ii], and for my money it remains the best song he ever did, and I don’t really like Elvis all that much. Despite countless rumors disputing the fact, Elvis remains steadfastly dead.
[i] This is seriously dating me. Before CDs, 8-Tracks and cassettes, music was sold on vinyl records, with music recorded on both sides. The flip side of That’s Alright (Mama) was Blue Moon of Kentucky [ii] This event more than overshadows Sir Isaac Newton’s publication on that date in 1687 of his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematic, which, besides lacking a consistent backbeat, only contained a description of universal gravitation and the three laws of gravitation and became the unifying center of the scientific revolution.
On the 4th[i] in 1817, construction of the Erie Canal began in Rome, New York. Typical of most government undertakings, the canal was not completed until October 25, 1825. It would be nice to think that this beautiful canal, which helped make New York City the center of economic power in the country and the world, is now a sweeping panorama of beauty and serenity. While it is a quite lovely inland waterway, sadly, almost 200 years after its completion, lawyers and politicians still have their fingers in this pie up to their elbows. They go back and forth, back and forth on a yearly basis, a bit like the swallows returning to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, over the issue of just who pays what and when it is paid for the canal’s maintenance.
[i] While the 4th is celebrated as Independence Day in America, the Declaration of Independence was not signed on that day. In June of 1776, the second Continental Congress’ Committee of Five (John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut) prepared a draft of the Declaration of Independence. The draft by the committee was presented to the Continental Congress on June 28. On the 4th of July in 1776, after further revisions by Jefferson and Franklin, the document was approved and it was then sent to a printer. Signing began on August 2.
July 3, 1844 saw the death of the last two Great Auks, when both were killed on Eldey Island, which sits off the coast of Iceland[i]. All surviving reports indicate that they tasted like chicken.
[i] Iceland has been continually inhabited since 874 a.d. when Norwegian Ingólfur Arnarson started a colony there, which was to become the city of Reykjavík, which is the world’s northernmost national capital.
Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart[i] and her navigator, Fred Noonan, while attempting to make the first equatorial circumnavigation of the earth, disappeared on the 2nd in 1937 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. To this day, their disappearance remains a mystery. One aeronautical mystery that also remains unsolved is the answer to the question: ‘Why did Larry Walters do this?’ On the 2nd in 1982, he tied 45 weather balloons to a lawn chair and then used this improvised aircraft to rise to an altitude of 16,000 feet. The FAA immediately took an interest in Larry.
[i] Earhart was also the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone and the first woman to fly coat-to-coast across the United States alone