Today in Hystery March 20th

On this day in 1345, the planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mars were in a conjunction of ascension and, in Europe, people thought that was what caused the plague. That’s nonsense, of course! However, if Neptune ever ascended into Uranus that could make you quite feverish.

On this day in 1616, Sir Walter Raleigh was released from the Tower of London and was given royal orders to go and find gold in Guyana. Just before he left, Queen Elizabeth said, “Walter. Go and bring me back some gold from Guyana and this time I mean it. No more of that crazy brown leaf you brought back last time. You know, the one you stick between your lips and set it on fire? That stuff’s worthless.”

On this day in 1885, a man named John Matzeliger of Suriname patented the shoe-lacing machine. This was an amazing device that laced your shoes up tight every time. We had one in our house growing up. It was called ‘mom’.

On this day in 1890, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was founded in New York City, and it just showed you how far women had come between Neanderthal times and 1890. In Neanderthal times, only men had clubs.

On this day in 1932, the Autonomous Region of Kara-Kalpak in the RSFSR became Kara-Kalpak in the ASSR. I have no idea what that means but I’ll bet it wasn’t the lead story on the supper hour news that night.

On this day 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon proclaimed that he would end the Vietnam War in 1970. So it turns out he was a crook AND a liar.

On this day in 1954, the first newspaper vending machine was used in Pennsylvania. And you can bet that the paperboy on the opposite street corner did not yell, “Read all about it! Newspapers now in vending machines! No tip required!”

If your birthday is March 20th, you share it with one of the greatest hockey players ever to play the game, Bobby Orr, who was born on this day in 1948. He became the first defenseman to win the NHL scoring title and he did it twice. However, I think they should have nicknamed him ‘Hap’, because when he joined the Boston Bruins in 1967, they were called the ‘hapless Bruins’. After Bobby joined the team, they had plenty of hap!

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