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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Vintage Voice: It Happened in April...

April 3, 1793: America's first circus opens in Philadelphia

April 3, 1860: First Pony Express Rider leaves St. Joseph, MO.

April 5, 1976: Billionaire Howard Hughes dies a recluse.

April 6, 1909: Peary and Henson reach the North Pole.

April 8 1981: Ronald Reagan gets a goldfish. While the President was recovering from the gunshot wound he received from the attempted assassination on March 31, 1981 by John Hinckley, well-wishers showered him with cards and gifts, including 500 flower bouquets, a music box, a 55 lb glass pig filled with jellybeans, a 10 lb box of chocolates and a photograph of Bob Hope and Jill St. John wearing bunny costumes. One get well gift was outstanding, however, especially it's manner of delivery; it was a goldfish that survived a trip through the mail from Albany, NY in a water-filled plastic bag. Barney Bullard, the 10 yr old who sent it, explained in a note that the fish was named "Ronald Reagan II." The note went on to say, "I hope you like him. Just feed him daily every morning and he will be fine."  Dubbed the First Fish, RRII was placed in a tank emblazoned with the Presidential Seal, where he lived happily for more than 3 years.

April 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant in Wilmer Mclean's parlor.

April 9, 1867: Senate approves Alaska purchase by one vote.

April 12, 1955: Dr. Jonas Salk announces development of his polio vaccine on 10th anniversary of FDR's death.

April 14, 1614: Indian princess Pocahontas marries Jamestown planter John Rolfe.

April 14, 1865: Abraham Lincoln is assassinated; U.S. flag is raised at Fort Sumter.

April 16 1889: Charlie Chaplin is born in England; Thomas Edison patents the movies.

April 17, 1850: Henry S. Foote pulls a gun on Thomas Hart Benson during a Senate debate.

April 18, 1861: Robert E. Lee refuses command of the Union Army. Gen. Winfield Scott, hero of the war of 1812 and the Mexican War, became the first commander of the Union Army. Declining health and old age forced him into retirement within months. Before the Civil War broke out, Gen. Scott pleaded with Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee not to join the secession. Scott hinted that although Lee would be nominally serving under him, Lee would in fact be commanding the Union Army in the field, since Scott himself was too old. Lee declined, not because he supported slavery, but because of loyalty to Virginia, whose history had been shaped by his ancestors for generations. Virginia officially proposed secession on April 17th, 1861. On the 20th, Lee resigned from the U.S. Army and three days later he was named commander of Virginia's armed forces.

April 18,1906: San Francisco is destroyed by an earthquake.

April 18, 1955: Albert Einstein dies. His brain is preserved for study.

April 21, 1910: Mark Twain, fulfilling his prediction, dies as Halley's Comet passes perihelion.

April 22, 1889: The Oklahoma land rush begins at noon; some people start out sooner.The ones who snuck in sooner to stake their claim, even lathering their horses with soap to make them look as if they had just arrived, were derisively called Sooners. The term later became respectable and today Oklahoma is known as the Sooner State.

April 24, 1907: Alferd Packer, the Colorado Cannibal, dies. Alferd Packer, a miner who led a foolhardly expedition into the San Juan Mountains in deep winter of 1874, later was convicted and sentenced to hang for murdering and eating his fellow companions on the expedition after the men became lost in the mountains. Jailed in 1874, he escaped, and was on the run for 9 years before he was captured. He was tried and found guilty and sentenced to death. His death sentence was later overturned, but 3 yrs later, he was re-tried and sentenced to 40 years in prison. His victims' remains are buried on Cannibal Plateau, just above Dead Man's Gulch. A snack shop at the University of Colorado is called the Alferd A. Packer Memorial Grill. It's most popular menu item is the Packerburger.

April 26, 1865: John Wilkes Booth dies in a burning barn; Boston Corbett claims the kill.

April 28, 1834: Naturalists John Townsend and Thomas Nuttall set out to explore the West.

April 27, 1908: The farmhouse of mass murderess Belle Gunness burns, revealing evidence of her ghastly crimes.

April 29, 1942: Naval Intelligence asks mobster Lucky Luciano for help with the invasion of Sicily.

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