June 26, 1870 -
The day after Leon Day, Congress declared Christmas a federal holiday to the great relief of Americans who'd been forced to flee to Canada every December.
June 26, 1925 -
Charlie Chaplin's classic comedy, The Gold Rush, premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, on this date.
Originally a stagehand wore the chicken suit from Jim's hallucination. But when he couldn't mime Charles Chaplin's walk and manners, Chaplin himself donned the suit.
Today in History
June 26, 1284 -
The town of Hamelin had a large rat infestation. A weirdly dressed minstrel promised to help them get rid of their rats. The townsmen in turn promised to pay him for the removal of the rats. The man accepted, and thus played a musical pipe to lure the rats with a song into the Weser River, where all of them drowned. Despite his success, the people reneged on their promise and refused to pay the rat-catcher. Pied Piper extracting his revenge, lures 130 children of Hamelin away on this date.
People, let this be a lesson to us all - please pay your exterminator bill promptly.
Richard III made himself King of England on June 26, 1483 by killing everyone else who wanted to be king.
It seemed a clever stratagem at the time, especially for a hunchback, but his reign came to a bloody end just two months later as a result of his making a fiscally irresponsible bid on a horse.
Francisco Pizarro conquered the entire Peruvian Empire of the Incas with a handful of soldiers only to have those soldiers turn on and kill him on June 26, 1541. He was stabbed in the throat, then fell to the floor where he was stabbed repeatedly. Pizarro (who now was maybe as old as 70 years, and at least 62), collapsed on the floor, alone, painted a cross in his own blood and cried for Jesus Christ. He cried: Come to me my faithfull sword, companion of all my deeds.
This was the Dawn of the Ironic Age in the New World.
Abner Doubleday was born on this date in 1819. A forgotten footnote in his life is the fact that he aimed the cannon that fired the first return shot in answer to the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, starting the Civil War.
Mr. Doubleday is credited with the invention of baseball, without which Americans would have nothing to watch between waits in line for more beer.
June 26, 1819 -
W.K. Clarkson of New York received a patent for what was then called a velocipede (even though, Denis Johnson of London had patented his velocipede in December 1818.)
Unfortunately, the patent record was destroyed by fire, so the actual design is not known.
June 26, 1963 -
President John F. Kennedy stood before the Berlin Wall and announced to a quarter of a million Germans that he was a jelly donut, in his famous "I am a jelly donut" ("ich bin ein jelly donut") speech.
Although embarrassing, this was considered an improvement over Eisenhower's infamous "I am a well-hung platypus" speech.
June 26, 1968 -
Pope Paul VI declares that the bones of Apostle and first Pope, Saint Peter, were found underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The bones are now housed in containers near where they were found, but some of them are clearly those of domesticated animals.
Oh well, another mystery of the church best left unexplained.
June 26, 1990 -
Irish Republican Army bombs the Carlton Club, an exclusive conservative gentleman's cabal in London.
(It is a well known fact that Margaret Thatcher was denoted an "honorary man" in order to become a member. It is not clear what surgical modifications, if any, were necessary.)
If you're in NYC tomorrow, get ready to shake your groove thang, the Gay Pride parade makes it's way down Fifth Avenue. I'm curious if it's going to keep to the new 5 hour rule.
And so it goes.