8 on this date

May 13 in history, pop culture & parts unknown

Stuff happens all the time. Some of it on May 13. Check out these eight events of May 13 vintage, chosen entirely arbitrarily, simply because I can. Pay close attention. There might be a quiz.

May 13, 1884 — Poetic justice? The grim reaper came calling for Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper.

Cyrus McCormick

May 13, 1914 — Future greatness: Heavyweight Champion of the World Joe Louis is born in Alabama. Arguably the greatest boxer ever, Louis won 66 of 69 professional fights and reigned as Heavyweight Champion for 12 consecutive years. Much more than an athlete, the Brown Bomber was a cultural icon. After a sudden heart attack claimed his life in 1981, Joe Louis was afforded the honor of internment at Arlington National Cemetery.

Boxing legend Joe Louis

May 13, 1918 — The U.S. Post Office issues its first-ever AirMail postage stamp at a price of 24 cents. Billions of mail deliveries later, USPS is still out there in the rain, sleet and snow . . . losing billions of dollars every year. Adjusted for inflation over the past 101 years, a 2018 stamp would cost $4.50 today. The actual price of a stamp today is 55 cents. Ironically, the 1918 stamp featured an iconic Jenny biplane, flying inverted. Seems fitting: Post Office balance sheets have been upside down ever since.

USPS: Government efficiency
at its finest.

May 13, 1931 — To the eventual gratification of absolutely no one, Jim Jones is born in Indiana on this date. He would become a preacher, found the People’s Temple, move it to South America, and then become responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths when his narcissism and paranoia intersected tragically at Jonestown.

Jim Jones: Madman

May 13, 1941 — Forever 17: An Iowa plane crash’s victims include rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly, disk jockey and novelty songster The Big Bopper and teen heartthrob Richie “LaBamba” Valens. Valens was born on this date in California and perished three months shy of his 18th birthday.

Richie Valens: 1941 – 1958
The day the music died.

May 13, 1950 — Italian Emilio Giuseppe “Nino” Farina drives an Alfa Romeo to victory at England’s Silverstone Park in what is now recognized as the first Formula 1 Grand Prix ever staged. He became the sport’s first World Champion and scored many international victories in a long career. Farina died in 1966 in a French Alps road accident, while en route to the French Grand Prix for work as an adviser and driving double for Yves Montand in the film Grand Prix.

Nino Farina

May 13, 1972 — Popular actor Dan Blocker dies at age 49 from a pulmonary embolism. He is best remembered as Hoss Cartwright on the award-winning television western Bonanza. The show ran from 1959-1973. None of the Cartwrights survive.

TV’s Cartwright family, from left: Pernell Roberts (Adam), Michael Landon (Little Joe), Dan Blocker (Hoss) and patriarch Lorne Greene (Ben).

May 13, 2018 — Troubled actress Margot Kidder dies of an apparent suicide at age 69. Her career peaked as Lois Lane opposite Christopher “Clark Kent” Reeve in four big-screen Superman features. Both physical and mental illness made her later years difficult. She left behind a daughter and a body of work encompassing more than 100 films.

Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve take Superman’s superpowers for a spin.
Their on-screen chemistry sold millions of tickets.
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