Some good things happened on April 15
Note: This post from earlier today has been edited with addition of an entry reflecting the breaking story of a major fire in Paris at the 850-year-old Cathedral of Notre Dame.
In the good old USofA, April 15 comes each year with a connotation that leads most of us to … just … want … it … over. This year, though, we celebrate April 15 in spite of Infernal Revenue Schmaltz. We looked for positive events (and some not-so positive) throughout the years to take your mind off 1040s, 1099s, 401ks and the like. When history didn’t fit our narrative, Born to Blog made things up. Just like Dan Rather taught us.
1452 — Leonardo da Vinci was born in Florence. He would become poster boy for the term “smartest one in the room.”
1532 — The good news was appointment of Thomas Cromwell as chief minister to volatile English King Henry VIII. The bad news came in 1540, when Henry cured Cromwell of being too tall and too alive with an executioner’s axe. Cromwell opposed Henry’s fourth divorce and fifth marriage, which took place right after Tommy’s noggin hit the basket.
1654 — Great Britain and The Netherlands began a period of peace.
1689 — France and Spain began a period of war.
1755 — Samuel Johnson was Webster long before Webster. In 1689, he published A Dictionary of the English Language in London.
1850 — San Francisco incorporated as a city. Tony Bennett’s memoirs claim he sang I left My Heart in San Francisco to mark the event, but his memory may be faulty. Bennett wasn’t born until 1926, and “Left My Heart” was written by George Cory (lyrics by Douglass Cross) in 1953.
1861 — President Abraham Lincoln activates an Army of 75,000 in response to southern secession. Union generals advise him that will be more than enough to quickly put down the rebellion.
1865 — Four bloody years later to the day, Lincoln became the Union’s final casualty. Shot in the head while attending a comedy at Ford’s Theater on the evening of April 14, Lincoln passed away the next morning without regaining consciousness. Assassin John Wilkes Booth evaded capture for 11 days before taking a Union bullet and dying a lingering death.
1874 — What a day for the art world. On this date, the first major exhibition of impressionist paintings opened in Paris. Featured artists included Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro.
1892 — April 15 of ’92 (unless you were Nikola Tesla) was a pretty significant day. Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan merged their interests in electricity generation, and General Electric Company was formed
1894 — Future USSR strongman Nikita Khruschev was born. Legend has it that as a terrible two he broke his mother’s nose and a high chair with a bronze booty.
1896 — The first Modern Games of the Olympics concluded in Athens.
1911 — Hall of Fame legend Walter Johnson completed a rare baseball feat, striking out four batters in an inning. “The Big Train” pitched for 21 years with the Washington Senators, and only Cy Young won more games that the durable right-hander.
1912 — One of the 20th century’s top news stories merged the unsinkable with the unthinkable. Late on April 14, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. A few hours later, the majestic disaster lay in two pi
eces on the ocean floor, and more than 1,500 passengers and crew members were dead or dying. Sinking was inevitable from the moment the berg lacerated 300 feet of Titanic’s starboard side below the water line. Many more lives could have been saved if the lifeboats had been launched fully loaded … and if there had been more of them.
1923 — Entertainment and medical breakthroughs were in the news. In New York City, the Rialto “movie palace” became the first theater to host a public showing of a movie with sound. In retrospect, a much bigger story was introduction of insulin to the masses for treatment of diabetes.
1927 — It was no big deal when the Sultan of Swat slammed his first home run of 1927. But when Babe Ruth hit 59 more in the course of a 154-game season, it was a very big deal. His record of 60 homers stood until the 1960s, when another Yankee, Roger Maris, connected for 61 four-baggers in a 162-game schedule. Others have since eclipsed those achievements, but not without use of performance enhancing drugs or treatments. They can do their own PR. Far as Born to Blog is concerned, Babe Ruth and Roger Maris are still THE sluggers of the 20th century.
1927 — Little ol’ Switzerland keeps a low profile, unless you count The Swiss Guard’s gaudy uniforms worn at the Vatican. It stays intact and crater-free by declaring itself neutral anytime voices are raised in capitals of the world. It got rich by asking no questions and answering even less about secret accounts with billions in assets. So it was not a shock when Switzerland broke with most of the western world and established diplomatic relations with the USSR. Within weeks, French- and German-speaking Swiss bankers mastered the language of the ruble.
1945 — British troops liberate the Nazi’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, just weeks too late to save Dutch teenager Anne Frank. In the US, President Franklin Roosevelt is laid to rest in New York’s Hyde Park.
— Benjamin Netanyahu
If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.
1947 — I know, I know, this edition of “It happened” has a lot of baseball. But remember, it’s America’s pastime. And this item is bigger than, well, almost every sports story ever. Actually, it’s not a sports story at all, but an American story. On this date, Jackie Robinson took the field for the first time with the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers. It was one small trot to second base for a man, and one huge wake-up call for mankind.
God bless Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, Larry Doby (first African American in the American League) and all who have helped transform baseball into a diverse melting pot of hard hitting, slick fielding, colorblind athletes.
1952 — In case the IRS isn’t enough financial incentive to hate April 15: The nation’s first credit card was issued on this date. President Eisenhower failed to proclaim a National Day of Mourning.
1955 — Claims to fame of Des Plaines, Illinois? Not so many. It was the boyhood home of Robert Reed, aka Papa Brady on TV’s the Brady Bunch. Several pro athletes call Des Plaines home. In 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed in Des Plaines shortly after takeoff from nearby O’Hare International Airport. Lurking beneath the city is The Des Plaines Disturbance, a geologic anomaly thought to be connected to a meteor strike. And then there’s famed entrepreneur Ray Kroc, who chose Des Plaines for the first McDonald’s burger joint, opened on this date. It’s gone. Ray Kroc is gone. But McDonald’s is doing just fine.
1955 — Dodi Al-Fayed was born in Egypt. At age 42, he would perish in a grinding Paris car crash that also claimed his fiancee, the beloved Princess Diana, and their inebriated driver.
1957 — Congress bails out the U.S. Postal Service with a $41 million allocation. Some things don’t change: USPS still regularly feeds at the Congressional trough. And some things do: $41 million is chump change these days at USPS, where anything less than a billion is just a rounding error.
1959 — International politics were front and center as on the same day John Foster Dulles resigned as Secretary of State and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro began an American goodwill tour. The two events were not connected: Dulles was gravely ill and would pass away six weeks later. Neither the Cuban or U.S. government has ever issued a statement denying Castro visited the grassy knoll. Just sayin …
1962 — U.S. National Debt rose above $300 billion. Fiscal restraint and steadfast Congressional self discipline in the intervening years have limited the debt’s increase to only 79 times that amount.
1965 — James Baldwin’s play The Amen Corner opened on Broadway. The Harlem native was not a good writer: He was a great writer, with important commentary on race and social issues in America. Despite an electrifying lead performance from Beah Richards, the play folded after 84 performances. It was later revived as a musical.
1970 — Muammar Gaddafi launched the Green Revolution in Libya. It is not to be confused with the Green New Deal being pushed today by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocacia Cortez. Gaddafi sought to eradicate all opposition to his political power grab. AOC just wants to eradicate cow farts. And, like, college tuition. And, um, medical bills. And, ya know, maybe plastic straws and, um, shopping bags for sure.
1972 — In Belfast, British soldiers shot and killed an Irish Republican Army member. Same day, also in Belfast, Irish Republican Army soldiers shot and killed a British soldier. Blessed are the peacemakers …
1981 — Fake news pioneer Janet Cooke admitted that her celebrated Washington Post article about an eight-year-old heroin addict was a fabrication. That put an end to celebrating her Pulitzer Prize, which The Post returned.
1989 — Illinois pays out a then-record $69 million lottery prize. Today, it takes half a billion to steal headlines.
1997– America On Line, some kind of Internet gimmick with no chance of success, went live. With a dial-up connection, you could download an inauguration photo and have it in time for the next election.
2012 — Another bloom deflowered. News began to break about Secret Service scandals. The agency best known for presidential protection duties came through the PR crisis as a damaged brand. Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus may be the only good guy left.
2013 — America and the entire world were stunned by crude yet effective bombs placed by dissident brothers near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Three died and nearly 300 were injured. One bomber died later in a shootout with police, and the other is on death row.
2013 — Boston’s bombing wasn’t the only tragedy on April 15, 2013. In Iraq, dozens died in a flurry of terrorist bombings. And Venezuelan terror that day came at the ballot box, with a delayed fuse. Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez’ hand-picked replacement, won/stole the presidency. As a bus driver, Maduro drove thousands of Venezuelans where they wanted to go. As President, he has driven the entire nation to poverty and despair.
2019 — Possibly triggered by ongoing repair and restoration work, a major fire erupted at the 850-year-old Parisian landmark Cathedral of Notre Dame. We love The Lord. We love Paris. We love classic architecture. We hate this tragic event, and pray there will be no loss of life.