Day By Day

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Parfait Day" so go out there and indulge your yearnings for the "perfect" dessert [here are some recipes]. With all that fruit in it you can add a little granola to the mix and think of it as a health food. That way you can have two, three, four, or more without having to feel guilty. At least that's the way I plan to celebrate.

On this day in 2348 BC God decided to punish mankind by inundating the earth and drowning everyone and everything except Noah, his family, and their pets -- at least that was the opinion of some biblical scholars. Other scholars came up with other dates [here]. Supposedly this ultimate act of genocide was retaliation for our sinfulness. At least that's the biblical reasoning. In the original Mesopotamian version of the story it was because we were making too much noise and the Gods were having trouble sleeping.

On this day in 1758 a British expedition headed by General John Forbes captured what was left of the French outpost, Fort Duquesne, in Western Pennsylvania. Three days later Forbes wrote to the British Prime Minister, William Pitt [the elder], informing him that he was constructing a new fort on the site and would name it "Fort Pitt". He addressed the letter from "Pittsborough", and that is how Pittsburgh got its name.

And on this day in 1792 the Farmer's Almanac was first published.

And on this day in 1867 Alfred Nobel [the guy the prize is named for] invented dynamite.

And on this day in 1920 Philadelphia staged its first Thanksgiving parade.

And on this day in 1963 President John F. Kennedy was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

Entering the Building:

Andrew Carnegie [1835] A Pittsburgh kid who rose from poverty to become one of the richest men in the world and the greatest philanthropist of his day. Along the way he created America's modern steel industry.

Karl Benz [1844]. Never heard of him? Just put "Mercedes" in front of his last name and you will know what he is famous for.

Angelo Roncalli [1881] Italian kid who grew up to be Pope John XXIII.

Robert Ripley [1893] Newspaper illustrator who created "Believe It Or Not" which I read assiduously as a kid.

Joe Dimaggio [1914] aka "The Yankee Clipper" San Francisco kid who grew up to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and one of Marilyn Monroe's favorite husbands.

Gloria Steinem [1935] Feminist icon who got her start as a Playboy bunny, and then wrote a book about it.

Leaving the Building:

Luther "Bill" Robinson [1949] -- better known as "Mr. Bojangles".

Here he is doing the "drum dance" from "Stormy Weather". The film, which showcased the most popular black performers of the day, was loosely based on episodes Bill Robinson's life when he got out of the Army and was trying to break into show business. When the film was made Bill was in his mid-sixties. His co-star and love interest in the film was the gorgeous Lena Horne [hubba hubba!], nearly forty years his junior. Not bad for an old man.