Today in Hystery May 3rd

On this day in 1494, Christopher Columbus discovered Jamaica and decided to call it “Saint Iago”. However, the natives said, “No, the name is Jamaica”, and after a few cups of rum, Chris said, “Okay, here’s the deal…you get me a few more bottles of this stuff and I’ll go with your name”. And the rest (hic!) is history.

On this day in 1810, the great English poet Lord Byron swam across the Hellespont from Turkey and became the first man in modern times to swim the channel that separates Europe from Asia. And then he wrote a poem about it. This was not the poem; “There once was a poet named Byron

Who swam a great sea without tirin’

When he climbed from the water

He said well I ought-er

Swim back but instead I’m retirin’”

This is why Byron was a great poet and I’m not.

On this day in 1867, The Hudson’s Bay Company gave up all claims to Vancouver Island. “Let Sears have it”, they said.

On this day in 1978, the first unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail, which would later become known as “spam” was sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing representative to every email address on the west coast of the United States. These days, spam is everywhere, mostly offering to enlarge parts of your body or empty your bank account. And just to be sure, you do understand that the son of African King Mumbo Jumbo has not personally selected you to take over the king’s $4 billion bank account, right? Just checking.

On this day in 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of Great Britain. She became famous for closing coal mines, bombing Argentine sheep and stopping at a gas station every morning on her way to 10 Downing Street, to inflate her hair which couldn’t be inflated to higher than 33 psi otherwise it would explode, injuring innocent cabinet ministers.

If your birthday is May 3rd, you share it with singer Bing Crosby who was born on this day in 1903. Bing Crosby is my poster boy for how to die. Here’s why; in 1974, he had just finished playing 18 holes of golf in Madrid. They were shaking hands and Bing Crosby said, according to his biography, “That was a great game of golf, fellas”, then he fell head first into the grass and just like that he was gone. Is that a great way to go or what?

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