JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Monday, July 21, 2008


I suppose you know that the month of August was named after Augustus Caesar, nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, who was the namesake for July. But did you know that poor old February had to suffer because of it?
The toadying politicians in the Roman Senate had climbed all over each other to prove they had nothing to with Julius Caeser's murder on the Ides of March, and had voted to name the seventh month after him. And to show how much they revered his memory they also voted to make Julies’ month extra long, assigning it thirty-one days. But, since Augustus, the current ruler, could not be insulted by having an inferior month, August was also bestowed with thirty-one days. And that extra day had to come from somewhere.Thus February 29th,comes along only once every four years,instead of every other year as it had under the Julian calander, as designed by the nobile Julius . Hail, Caeser!.
It’s a busy, crowded month even without a single national holiday, being at the same time National Catfish Month and National Water Quality Month, and Peach Month. It is also the month of Woodstock (1969), and in 1965 the Watts race riots. August is the month in which the United States of America dropped three nuclear bombs, two in 1945 on Japan and one in 1986 on New Mexico. (The last one failed to explode). August is home to “National Air Conditioning Appreciation Week”, “National Apple Week”, “National Mustard Day”, and “Nut Monday”. In August 1775 Thomas Paine’s “Pennsylvania Magazine” proposed a woman’s bill of rights, and in August a mere 150 years later women were finally allowed to vote. And male comedians still joke that women can never make up their minds.
It is also month when very odd things happen. On August first (“National Raspberry Cream Pie Day”) in 1889 it rained ants in Strasbourg, Germany. On the second of August, in 1900, a baseball game between Chicago and New York ended when the Manager of the New York team led a mob assault on the umpire: and in 1980 the oldest known goldfish in Great Britain, Frederica, finally succumbed to ‘fish flake poisoning’ at the age of forty. August the third on the Roman Catholic calendar is celebrated as St. Lydia’s day, the patron saint of dry cleaners. And on August fifth in 1693 Dom Perignon invented champagne, and in 1983, in a baseball game in Toronto, Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield picked up a base hit ball and threw a peg to the second baseman, that was intercepted by a seagull, striking and killing it. Winfield was charged with cruelty to animals and had to post a $500 bond.
August fifth is at the same time “National Mustard Day”, and “National Waffle Day”, and, in 1914, it is the anniversary of the first electric traffic lights being installed in Cleveland, Ohio. On August sixth in 1890 Mr. William Kimmler had the honor of being the first person ever executed by electric chair on purpose. August seventh is “National Raspberries and Cream Day”, and also the anniversary, in 1888, of a patent being granted for the invention of the revolving door. And besides being the anniversary of the murder of King Wenceslas of Christmas carol fame and Edison’s invention of the mimeograph machine, August eighth is also “Sneak some Zucchini on Your Neighbors Porch Night”
August tenth is “National S’mores Day”, and the eleventh is “National Raspberry Bombe Day”. Every August 13th the world celebrates “International Left Handers Day”. August fourteenth is “National Creamsicle Day”, and St. Werenfrid’s Day. She is the patron saint of vegetable gardens. Also on the fourteenth in 1457 the German Astrologer Faust was arrested for selling the first printed books in Paris. Because all of the books were identical the authorities assumed the printer's apprentice had been Lucifer.
In 1920 on August seventeenth the Yankees were hosting a twilight doubleheader with the Cleveland “Naps” when Yankee left-hander Carl Mays threw a “submarine” pitch high and inside that bounced off shortstop Ray Chapman’s skull. It hit his temple so hard the ball rolled halfway back to the mound. May’s fielded the ball and threw it to first, thinking Chapman had hit it, so loud had been the impact. But Chappie had not. Chapman dropped like a sack of potatoes, got up, took two steps toward first and collapsed again; this time forever. Ray Chapman remains to this day, the only professional ball player to have ever been killed while playing professional baseball. One year later, on the anniversary of Chappie’s fatal injury, in Cleveland, a “Napper” batter hit a line drive that struck Athletics’ second baseman Curt “Johnny” Walker in the head and sent him to the hospital. Oddly enough, the injury did not impede what proved to be Curt’s Walker’s dream season, the best of his career. That year Curt batted .337, with 12 Home Runs, 196 hits and 66 RBI’s. He was also a participant on August 25th , 1922 in the Phillies/ Chicago game, which Chicago won, 23 to 26: it remains the largest combined score ever recorded in major league baseball.
In 1692, in Salem Massachusetts, on August 19th, five women were hanged for witchcraft, and continuing in that same somber spirit, August 21st is now officially recognized as National Spumoni Day. August 23 is the anniversary of the death, in 1926, of Rudolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi, aka Rudolf Valentino, the romantic silent film mega-star. He died at the age of thirty-one probably from an infection caught while undergoing ulcer surgery. His ulcer was brought on because some writer had accused him of being gay, which was an absurd charge, as silly as someone today accusing Tom Cruise of being gay.
On August 24, 1905, during the 18th inning of tied ballgame, a bored Philadelphia outfielder named Jimmy Slagle reached into his back pocket to pull out a plug of chewing tobacco. At that very moment a Chicago batter hit a high drive and instinctively Slagle started running to the ball. But he couldn't get his hand out of his hip pocket. With his left hand stoll firmly jammed behind him Slagle leapt, and made a one handed off balance catch for the out. He then paused to free the tobacco from his pocket and bit off a chew. He threw the ball back to the infield and then he took a bow. Chicago went on to win the game, 2-1 in 20 innings, the longest major league game ever played.
August 25 is National Banana Split Day and August 28 is National Cherry Turnover Day. But far more importantly August 28th is also the date, in 476 A.D., when an army of revolting German mercenaries captured their erstwhile commander, Orestes, and cut his throat. Within days of Orestes’ death his son, the “little emperor", Romulus Augustus, had eagerly abdicated and been pensioned off. And that was the fall of the great empire created by Augustus Caesar some 500 years before. And it all happened in the month of August.

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