The Year was 1896

What is May Irwin famous for? The very first kiss every filmed. May Irwin was born in Canada and named Georgina May Campbell. When she was 13, her father died. Her mother, in need of money to support herself and her two daughters, Adeline and Georgia, had them do a vaudeville act as “The Irwin…

The Year was 1937

The brothers were born two years apart. The younger one died in 1937, when he was 38. The older one lived to be 86. Yet it is the younger one who became the most famous. He was George Gershwin, born in 1898 in Brooklyn. Their parents had emigrated from Russia. They wanted Ira, the first…

The Year was 1939

July 4th 1939 was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. It was a double header against the Washington Senators. Yankee Stadium was jammed with almost 62,000 fans. During the break between games, the fans heard a lot of people speak as Gehrig stood there, silent. He had said he would not speak. Lou’s mother, a German immigrant…

The Year was 1956

“Do not focus your cameras below his waist.” This was the directive to the cameramen on the Ed Sullivan Show Sept. 9, 1956. You could do that on television. In a live concert, there was no way to censor Elvis’s gyrations. Whatever Ed Sullivan and the show’s producers expected, they were surprised by the polite…

The Year was 2010

The oldest (verifiable) person in the world just died. Tajima Nabi was born in 1900, in a small town on an island in Japan. She lived 117 years and 260 days. She is succeeded by another Japanese woman, 116-year-old Miyako Chiyo. The oldest living man, 112-year-old Masazo Nonaka, is also Japanese On any given day,…

The Year was 1151

Did King Arthur actually live? Or Guinevere? Merlin, Mordred – were any of them real? Vaguely real? Their tales of quests, of magic, of forbidden love, of betrayal were sung in ballads for hundreds of years before Geoffrey of Monmouth, a professor at Oxford from 1129 to 1151, included Arthur (books 9 and 10) in…

The Year was 1923

An upscale real estate developer decided he needed to advertise his property in a big way. He commissioned a sign be built – 13 letters, each one 50 feet tall, and set on the hillside overlooking his development. The letters were so big that telephone poles were used to secure them in place. And then…

The Year was 1965

In France, there is a system called en viager. It is like a private reverse mortgage. In 1965, Jeanne Calment, 90, owned a great apartment in Arles. Her lawyer, André-Francois Raffray, 47, wanted it. He made an agreement to pay Calment 2,500 francs per month for the apartment (about $500 at the time). When Jeanne…

The Year was 1959

The Green Bay Packers’ 1958 season had been dismal – 1-10, the worst in its franchise history. The new coach was revamping everything, even the uniforms, which he had ordered someone on his staff to redesign. When the uniform salesman and his young assistant met with the new coach, the coach said he wanted fuchsia….

The Year was 1971

A Muppet Chemist singing “Time in a Bottle”… If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you. These magical words were not written for lovers. They were written for Jim Croce’s unborn child….