Day By Day

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "Sadie Hawkins Day". For you young'uns out there, Sadie was the invention of Al Capp, whose "Lil' Abner" comic strip was extremely popular half a century ago. Sadie was an unpopular girl who couldn't find a man. She was also the daughter of the town's mayor. So he proclaimed a special day in her honor. On that day all the eligible young people in town would assemble for a race. Men would be given a short head start, then the young women would run after them. If a girl caught a boy he would have to marry her. That's the way things went in "Dogpatch", Al Capp's imaginary universe. When I was young we used to have "Sadie Hawkins" dances at our school. On those occasions girls would take the initiative and ask boys of their choice for a date or to dance. Boys were supposed to be passive and accepting. I don't know if they do that any more. It was fun reversing the sex roles and letting women be the aggressors, that is if you were one of the chosen ones. For some guys with an inflated sense of self esteem, Sadie Hawkins Day was a revelation.

And on this day in 1839 the Liberty Party, the first specifically anti-slavery political party in the United States, convened in New York. Eventually the Liberty Party was absorbed into the Republican Party.

On this day in 1921 "The Sheik" starring Rudolf Valentino hit the theaters, producing Hollywoods first superstar. The movie biz would never be the same.

On this day in 1979 Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the presidency. Wonder how that turned out.

And on that very same day, Pittsburgh Pirate Willie Stargell won the National League MVP AND Darryl Dawkins broke his first NBA backboard. Whooda figured?

Happy birthday to Saint Augustine [354 AD], possibly the most influential Christian theologan of all time; and to James Maxwell [1831] Scottish mathematician and physicist whose "demon" contradicted the second law of thermodynamics; and to Robert Louis Stevenson [1850] another Scotsman whose stories of adventure thrilled me as a child; and to Louis Brandeis [1856] the first, but certainly not the last, Jew to sit on the Supreme Court; and to actor Robert Sterling [1917] the pride of Newcastle, PA.

Today also marks the death in 1460 of "Henry the Navigator", the Portuguese prince who instigated and financed that nation's early exploration and colonization efforts along the coast of Africa and in the Atlantic. Few enterprises in history have had such momentous consequences. You can read about his life and accomplishments here.