Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sunday, May 1

This Day In History

  • 1786   Mozart's opera ''The Marriage of Figaro'' premiered in Vienna.
  • May Day has been a traditional holiday celebration since ancient times. On this day, spring festivals and Maypoles are common. The Maypole is a tall pole that is covered with streamers, flowers and other decorations of spring. People grab hold of a streamer and dance around the pole to ward off ol' man Winter for good. Since the 1880s, May Day has been celebrated in some countries, particularly socialist nations, as a labor holiday.
  • 1883   Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody) staged his first Wild West Show.
  • 1898   Commodore George Dewey gave the command, ''You may fire when you are ready, Gridley,'' as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.
  • 1931   New York's 102-story Empire State Building was dedicated.
  • 1931   Singer Kate Smith began her long and illustrious radio career with CBS on this, her birthday. The 22-year-old Smith started out with no sponsors and a paycheck of just $10 a week for the nationally broadcast daily program. However, within 30 days, her salary increased to a more respectable $1,500 a week!
  • 1941   The Orson Welles film ''Citizen Kane'' premiered in New York.
  • 1948   The People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) was proclaimed.
  • 1960   An American U-2 plane invaded Soviet airspace. The Soviets reacted by shooting down the plane piloted by the C.I.A.?s Francis Gary Powers. It took five days for the Soviets to announce the occurrance to the rest of the world. At first the U.S. referred to the U-2 as a weather reconnaissance plane, denying that Powers was a spy. Later, the U.S. State Department admitted that the mission was to photograph Soviet military installations, and that the mission was justified. Powers was tried as a spy by the Soviet Union. He was sentenced to solitary confinement for 10 years in "Matrosskaya Tishina". In 17 months, he was exchanged for Russian spy Rudolf Abel who had been exposed by the CIA.
  • 1967   Anastasio Somoza Debayle became president of Nicaragua.
  • 1967   Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas.
  • 1971   Amtrak, which combined and streamlined the operations of 18 intercity passenger railroads, went into service.
  • 1987   Pope John Paul II beatified Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun who was gassed in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.
  • 1992   On the third day of the Los Angeles riots, Rodney King appeared in public to appeal for calm, asking ''Can we all get along?''
  • 1998   Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther leader who later renounced his past and became a Republican, died at age 62.
  • 1999   The Mercury space capsule Liberty Bell 7 that Gus Grissom flew in 1961 was found in the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles southeast of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
  • 2001   Thomas Blanton Jr. became the second ex-Ku Klux Klansman to be convicted in the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala., that claimed the lives of four black girls.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1909   Kate Smith (singer: God Bless America, When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain; performer: The Kate Smith Show [see above, 1931]; died June 17, 1986)
  • 1918   Jack Paar (TV host: The Tonight Show; died Jan 27, 2004)

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