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Friday Fun: History Trivia & Comment

June 22, 2007

On this day in . . .

– 1844, “The influential North American fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon is founded at Yale University.” . . . Blah, blah, blah. Now if the powers behind trivia promotion would just note the first airing of the Delta, Delta, Delta skit on Saturday Night Live, that’d be a “Greek” date worth remembering.

1868, “Arkansas was re-admitted to the Union.” . . . Hmm, I thought most states were readmitted within a year or two after the Civil War? Was there a dramatic pause with Arkansas, or some condition the state took longer to meet? Did Congress somehow foresee that James Dickey, John Boorman, and Billy Redden were going deliver the state (as well as other hillbilly states) a black eye in the 1970s (via hillbillies alone, not the actual movie/book location)?

[Update Note: Oops! After a little research, I discovered that Arkansas was readmitted second chronologically (June 1868) of the eleven total – only behind Tennessee (1866). I’ll let my attempt at humor stand as a warning to all would-be trivializers of history.]

“1898, United States Marines land in Cuba during the Spanish American War.” . . . Ah, one of the highlights of what President Roosevelt called a “splendid little war!” Teddy’s ironic little ditty is probably one of the most overused lines in all post-Civil War history textbooks.

1938, “Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling of Germany in the first round of their rematch in New York City’s Yankee Stadium.” . . . This is a shameless plug for my dissertation director, Lewis Erenberg, but if you haven’t read his book on Louis and Schmeling, you’re missing out. [Note: This was unsolicited by him.]

1969, “The Cuyahoga River caught fire, which triggered a crack-down on pollution in the river.” . . . Not to trivialize an un-natural disaster but, to be sure, one good came of this: The Great Lakes Brewing Company later found the event as inspiration for one of my favorite pale ales!

1970, “President Richard Nixon signed a measure lowering the voting age to 18.” . . . Considering the youth quake of the 1960s, I wonder why he didn’t veto this? Did Nixon actually think that young voters were attracted to him, his administration, and its policies? I haven’t seen the age statistics on those who voted for him, but I can’t imagine a high percentage of under 25 voters casting a ballot on Nixon’s behalf. This is another one of those odd moves, such as allowing for the creation of the EPA, that make it difficult to generalize about Nixon. The 18-voter-age measure certainly makes it more difficult to explain his re-election (i.e. allowing more opposed to vote against him).

2002, “St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile, 33, was found dead of heart disease.” . . . You’re not going to believe this, but I was in the stands – in the bleachers in fact – with my future wife and sister-in-law when Joe Girardi came out to announce Darryl Kile’s death. There’s nothing like getting keyed up for a Cubs-Cardinals game and then having something like this happen. I’ll never forget it.

[Sources: NYT, Wikipedia]

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One Comment
  1. Richard Nixon didn't fare too badly among the 18-20 year old voters. (If memory serves, he did outpoll George McGovern in that demographic nationwide, a few pockets of collegiate resistance notwithstanding.) He ran for reelection on his Vietnamization plan and the end of the draft, and the McGovern-Eagleton-Shriver ticket was a disaster.

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