(This may seem like the worst of times, but let’s look back on what else has happened on this date in history).
1250—Pope Innocent III refuses the Jews of Cordova, Spain their request to build a synagogue. This pope was named “innocent?”
1493—Christopher Columbus meets with Queen Isabella in Barcelona. Roast pork sandwiches from ESPOSITO’S were served and a parade was planned in his honor.
1534—Thomas Cromwell is appointed Chief Secretary to King Henry VIII of England. Cromwell’s main attribute is his calm demeanor—the ability to keep his head.
1621—Hugo Grotius arrives in France after escaping prison in a book chest. Asked why a book chest, Hugo replies that he had a lot of reading to catch up on.
1689—French King Louis XIV declares war on Spain after he finds a bad clam in his paella.
1729—Johann Sebastian Bach’s ST. MATTHEW PASSION premieres. Bach edges Kanye West for a Grammy. West starts a Twitter feud.
1755—Samuel Johnson’s A DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE is published in London. No copies ever reach South Philly.
1776—The Duchess of Kingston is found guilty of bigamy. She goes on to form a trio whose biggest hit is TOM DOOLEY.
1802—William Wordsworth and his sister come upon daffodils growing wild in a field. William is inspired to write I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD. One-hundred and seventy-five years later, my Uncle Nunzi obliterates a bunch of daffodils in his garden to make room for his tomato plants. Says Uncle,“You can’t eat daffodils.”
1851—Earl G. Andressy is sentenced to death in Hungary. He apparently screwed up the king’s goulash.
1861—President Abraham Lincoln mobilizes a federal army consisting of 75,000 volunteers–all of them men who couldn’t afford the $300 to pay somebody else to take their place.
1864—General Steele’s Union troops occupy Camden, Arkansas. In retaliation, Camden mounts a television ad campaign CAMDEN RISING.
1865—President Lincoln dies nine hours after being shot attending the play OUR AMERICAN COUSIN at Ford’s Theater in Washington. Jim Acosta of CNN asks Mrs. Lincoln how she liked the play.
1874—The New York legislature passes a compulsory education law. After watching a Trump briefing, every member of the legislature voted for the law.
1877—The first telephone is installed in Boston-Somerville, Massachusetts. Five minutes later, my wife makes her first call to her girlfriend Cathy.
1878—Harley Procter introduces IVORY SOAP. Ralph Nader challenges his claim that it’s “99 and 44/100% Pure.”
1892—The General Electric Company is formed. Its first act is to hire a young actor named Ronald Reagan as its spokesman. Reagan was chosen over a female named Betty Furness.
1895—Josephine Blatt of the U.S. sets a record in the hip-and-harness lift of 3,564 pounds. Ms. Blatt goes on to invent the truss.
1900—The World’s Fair opens in Paris. Someone marvels at the bidet on display and says, “What’s that for?”
1902—Peasants riot in Russia plundering estates to find food. A Russian princess is reputed to have said, “Let them eat blintzes.”
1910—President William H. Taft is first U.S. president to throw out a first ball at a baseball game. The 300-pound Taft also sets a record by eating three dozen hot dogs during the first inning. During the 1912 presidential campaign, Teddy Roosevelt challenges Taft to the first hot dog eating contest.
1911—Walter Johnson sets a record by striking out four batters in an inning. “The first three were so easy,” Johnson remarks, “I thought I’d go for four for the hell of it.”
1912—The TITANIC sinks off the coast of Newfoundland. On the bright side, Celine Dion sings beautifully as the ship goes down.
1918—Georges Clemenceau publishes secret French-Austrian documents. The contents reportedly reveal that both countries’ leaders pooh-poohed the Spanish Flu as a Democrat hoax.
1922—The legendary POODLE DOG restaurant closes in San Francisco due to a local law banning redundancy.
1924—Rand-McNally publishes its first road atlas. The atlas is ignored by 97% of male drivers who wind up getting lost.
1927—Babe Ruth hits the first of his 60 home runs. Howard Eskin asks the Babe if he takes human growth hormone.
1931—First backwards walk across America begins. It is also the last backwards walk across America because no one can answer the question, “Why the hell are we walking backwards?”
1947—Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play major league baseball. It takes the Phillies 10 years before they add an African American player to their roster. He lasts for only five career at-bats.
1948—In the first of several military battles, Israel defeats the Arabs. The Israelis were 3-1 underdogs in Vegas.
1952—Franklin National Bank issues the first bank credit card. Minutes later, my wife discovers NORDSTROM.
1955—In Des Plaines, Illinois, Ray Kroc opens the first McDonald’s. Kroc wisely decides to call his signature sandwich a BIG MAC rather than a BIG KROC.
1959—Fidel Castro begins a goodwill tour in the US. Forecaster Jeanne Dixon predicts that within a couple of years, the White House will collude with the Mob to try to kill Castro with a poisonous cigar.
1969—North Korea shoots at an American aircraft above the Japanese Sea. Then-President Richard Nixon refuses to comment on whether Kim Sr. writes beautiful letters.
1981—Janet Cooke of the Washington Post relinquishes her Pulitzer Prize when it’s discovered her story is fabricated. President Trump cites Cooke as his source for a new cure for the coronavirus.
1991—Magic Johnson sets NBA assists record. Howard Eskin asks Magic why he doesn’t shoot more from beyond the arc.
2019—Measles cases jump 300% in the first three months of the year across the world. That period is now referred to as “the good old days.”
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