The day honors Inventor Stephen Perry's receiving a patent for the rubber band on this date in 1845.
(The ACME Corporation is in no way endorsing this sort of behavior. But what these two young men do in the privacy of their own home is their own constitutionally protected business.)
The U.S. Post Office is the largest consumer of rubber bands in the world – they order millions of pounds per year.
Here's another reason to legalize marijuana - think of the savings if USPS switched to hemp rope (and the number of very mellow postal employees - Please save your e-mails, I know you can't get high from smoking hemp.)
May 17, 1899 -
Thomas Alva Edison copyrighted the first western film, The Cripple Creek Bar Room, which he had shot at his Black Maria studio in West Orange, New Jersey, on this date.
Although there was little, if any, plot to this short film (please note, the role of a barmaid was played by a man,) it was the first with a setting in the west.
May 17, 1940 -
Garson Kanin's screwball comedy, My Favorite Wife, opened on this date.
Leo McCarey was supposed to direct the film, but shortly before the filming began he was injured in an automobile accident, and had to hand over the direction to Garson Kanin.
May 17, 1950 -
Nicholas Ray's excellent film noir, In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame premiered on this date.
In her essay Humphrey and Bogey, Louise Brooks wrote that more than any other role that Humphrey Bogart played, it was the role of Dixon Steele in this movie that came closest to the real Bogart she knew.
May 17, 1955 -
Paramount Pictures put into general release, The Country Girl, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden, based on the Clifford Odets play, on this date.
During filming, Grace Kelly managed to have affairs with Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and William Holden, simultaneously (but we assume not on the same date.) The ACME Corporation has been legally barred from commenting on this sort of behavior. But what the future Princess of Monaco did concurrently with three other dead Hollywood stars in the privacy of their own home or hotel room was their own constitutionally protected business.
May 17, 1980 -
Call Me by Blondie reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts on this date.
Giorgio Moroder told Billboard magazine that his difficult experience of recording this song with Blondie taught him not to work with rock bands. "There were always fights," he recalled. "I was supposed to do an album with them after that. We went to the studio, and the guitarist was fighting with the keyboard player. I called their manager and quit."
Today in History:
May 17, 1673 -
Louis Joliet, who unwittingly loaned his name to a prison, and Jacques Marquette, who loaned his name to an excellent BBQ joint in Minneapolis, first set out to explore the course of the Mississippi, which they believed would lead them to paradise on this date. (Again, according to a very devoted reader, the headwaters of Minneapolis are as close to paradise as you could hope to be.)
May 17, 1792 -
24 drunken stock brokers got together outside of 68 Wall Street in New York under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street which earlier was the site of a stockade fence and signed an agreement with two provisions:
2) the commissions were to be .25%.
Thus the New York Stock Exchange was born (and none of it involved a $2 billion dollar loss.)
May 17, 1954 -
The U.S. Supreme Court on this date, in an unanimous decision ruled for school integration in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.
The Brown v. Board of Education decision serves to greatly motivate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.
May 17, 1973 -
Dear occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, this is a gentle missive to you:
The US Senate began its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal and the role of President Nixon played in it, on this date.
The Watergate affair was a disaster for Pres. Nixon and captivated the nation for over a year, until Nixon finally resigned to avoid being impeached.
May 17, 1974 -
During a gun battle with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army on this date, the LAPD fired tear gas into their Watts hideout. The canisters ignited a fire which soon consumed the house.
Three other SLA members, including kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, watched the events unfold on TV in their motel room down the street from Disneyland.
Proving once again, it is the happiest place on earth.
May 17, 1992 -
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on this date.
You go over there and play the accordion. I'll stay here and beat off the band.
The same day, bandleader, accordion player, and soap bubble junkie Lawrence Welk died of pneumonia in his beachfront condo in Santa Monica, California (not that there's any connection between the two events.)
May 17, 2004 -
Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey were married at Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts on this day as the first legally married same-sex couple in the US.
And so it goes