Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Lusty Month

Today is May.

Spring is in full bloom. Tender blossoms exude their sweet fragrance as winter's bitter frosts recede. The warming air and diaphanous mists incite the passions and thoughts turn naturally to the ardor of spring—to love, rebirth, renewal, and salad.

You may not have known it, but in the United States May is National Salad Month. By an astonishing coincidence, the second full week of May is National Herb Week. It's a time to celebrate the verdure of the earth with verdure on a plate. Or in a bowl—salad is just that versatile!

Carnivorous readers disinclined to celebrate National Salad Month can choose from any of the following celebrations, all of which last the entire month of May:

Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month
Arthritis Month, Better Hearing and Speech Month
Better Sleep Month
Breathe Easy Month
Correct Posture Month
Digestive Diseases Awareness Month
Hepatitis Awareness Month
High Blood Pressure and Education Month
Huntington's Disease Awareness Month
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Mental Health Month
National Barbeque Month
National Bike Month
National Egg Month
National Photo Month
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Neurofibromatosis Month
Older Americans Month
Osteoporosis Prevention Month
Stroke Awareness Month
Tuberous Sclerosis Awareness Month
Trauma Awareness Month.

Those who like their celebrations a little shorter can choose from the following, all of which take place on the first full week of May: Be Kind to Animals Week, Goodwill Industries Week, National Family Week, National Pet Week, National Postcard Week, PTA Teacher Appreciation, and Small Business Week.

Today in History -

May 1 is recognized as May Day pretty much everywhere but the United States, Canada, and South Africa. Modern May Day celebrations throughout the world typically feature huge outdoor gatherings of people, brightly colored signs and banners, and a whole lot of tear gas.

The holiday has its root in the American labor movement of the 1880s, specifically the Haymarket tragedy of 1886. Depending on whom you ask, the Haymarket tragedy was either caused by overzealous cops with way too many guns, or overzealous anarchists with way too many bombs (i.e., one).

Actually, it no longer matters whom you ask, because all eyewitnesses would give you pretty much the same answer (i.e., none—they're dead).

Either way, nervous, well-armed cops and edgy, bomb-throwing anarchists are not a combination one encounters often in the annals of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, Americans ignore May Day and instead celebrate Labor Day, which features plenty of beer and barbecues and very little tear gas.

We may be complacent, but dammit, we know what to do with a steak.

May 1, 1915 -
A thoughtful German government took out advertisements warning anyone on ships flying British flags that they did so at their own risk.

That very day, the oceanliner Lusitania left New York, flying a British flag.

You do the math.

May 1, 1931 -

The Empire State Building in New York City was dedicated by President Hoover from the White House in Washington DC where he pressed a button that switched on the lights. The 102 story skyscraper, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in New York City, was the first higher than 1,250 feet.

Excavation had begun in January 1930, construction commenced in two months later, and its cornerstone was laid in September 1930. The steel framework rose at a rate of 4-1/2 stories per week. The building's construction was completed in a phenomenal one year and 45 days.

It reigned as the world's tallest skyscraper until 1954, but it still remains an icon for all things New York .

May 1, 1941 -

Orson Welles’ innovative film, Citizen Kane, a film about a man's unnatural love for his sled, opened in New York City on this date.

Film making was never the same.

May 1, 1957 -
Another in the wonderful series of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn films, Desk Set, premiered on this date.

This is the first film that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did in color and the eighth of the nine films they starred in together.

May 1, 1961 -
Cuban leader Fidel Castro decided things were going along so well

that he absolved the Cuban people of ever having to go through all the bother of another election.

And so it goes

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