1888 – The “Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” killed 235 people, many of them children on their way home from school, across the Northwest Plains region of the United States. The storm came with no warning, and some accounts say that the temperature fell nearly 100 degrees in just 24 hours.
T here had been unseasonably warm weather the previous day from Montana east to the Dakotas and south to Texas. Suddenly, within a matter of hours, Arctic air from Canada rapidly pushed south. Temperatures plunged to 40 below zero in much of North Dakota. Along with the cool air, the storm brought high winds and heavy snows. The combination created blinding conditions.
Most victims of the blizzard were children making their way home from school in rural areas and adults working on large farms. Both had difficulty reaching their destinations in the awful conditions. In some places, though, caution prevailed. Schoolteacher Seymour Dopp in Pawnee City, Nebraska, kept his 17 students at school when the storm began at 2 p.m. They stayed overnight, burning stockpiled wood to keep warm. The next day, parents made their way over five-foot snow drifts to rescue their children. In Great Plains, South Dakota, two men rescued the children in a schoolhouse by tying a rope from the school to the nearest shelter to lead them to safety. Minnie Freeman, a teacher in Nebraska, successfully led her children to shelter after the storm tore the roof off of her one-room schoolhouse. In other cases, though, people were less lucky. Teacher Loie Royce tried to lead three children to the safety of her home, less than 90 yards from their school in Plainfield, Nebraska. They became lost, and the children died of hypothermia. Royce lost her feet to frostbite.
1926 – A two-man comedy series, Sam ‘n’ Henry, debuted on Chicago’s WGN radio station. Six weeks later, the show was a phenomenon, attracting a large following in the Chicago area but the duo (Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden – yes, they were white) were even more ambitious. They wanted to expand the audience for Sam ‘n’ Henry by recording the programs in advance and sending the discs to other radio stations – an innovation the two men dubbed a “chainless chain”. What would eventually become standard practice in radio syndication did not sit well with the powers-that-be at WGN, however. Management maintained that they owned Sam ‘n’ Henry,
So, before their WGN contract expired, Freeman and Charlie talked with WGN’s rival WMAQ about a possible move. Owned by the Chicago Daily News, the team found WMAQ much more receptive to the concept. The fact that WMAQ would be getting Gosden and Correll by basically stealing them from WGN probably didn’t hurt matters. Given WGN’s legal position, the two men couldn’t take the “Sam n Henry” name with them…so they settled on a more alliterative title instead: Amos ‘n’ Andy.
Two years later, the Amos ‘n’ Andy show was one of the most popular radio programs in American history. Over the next 22 years, the show would become the highest-rated comedy in radio history, attracting more than 40 million listeners.
But by 1951, when Amos ‘n’ Andy came to television, changing attitudes about race and concerns about racism had virtually wiped out the practice of blackface. Even though it was the first TV series to feature an all-black cast – and the only one of its kind for the next 20 years – that did not stop African-American advocacy groups and eventually the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from criticizing both the radio and TV versions of Amos ‘n’ Andy for promoting racial stereotypes. These protests led to the TV show’s cancellation in 1953.
1932 – Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Caraway had been appointed to the Senate two months earlier to fill the vacancy left by her late husband, Thaddeus Horatio Caraway. With the support of Huey Long, a powerful senator from Louisiana, Caraway was elected to the seat and served for six years.
1943 – Soviet troops created a breach in the German siege of Leningrad, which had lasted for a year and a half. The Soviet forces punched a hole in the siege, which ruptured the German encirclement and allowed for more supplies to come in along Lake Ladoga.
By 1942, 650,000 Leningrad citizens had died from starvation, disease, exposure, and injuries suffered from the siege and the continual German bombardment with artillery. It would take a Soviet counteroffensive in 1944 to finally end the siege after 872 days.
1954 – In a speech at a Council on Foreign Relations dinner in his honor, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces that the United States would protect its allies through the “deterrent of massive retaliatory power.” The policy announcement was further evidence of the Eisenhower administration’s decision to rely heavily on the nation’s nuclear arsenal as the primary means of defense against communist aggression.
The speech was a reflection of two of the main tenets of foreign policy under Eisenhower and Dulles. First was the belief, particularly on the part of Dulles, that America’s foreign policy toward the communist threat had been timidly reactive during the preceding Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman. Dulles consistently reiterated the need for a more proactive and vigorous approach to rolling back the communist sphere of influence. Second was President Eisenhower’s belief that military and foreign assistance spending had to be controlled. Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative and believed that the U.S. economy and society could not long take the strain of overwhelming defense budgets.
1965 – Hullabaloo premiered on NBC. A competitor of ABC’s successful Shindig the program tried to attract a wider audience by featuring both rock music and Las Vegas-type acts. Guests on the first show included the New Christy Minstrels, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Zombies and Woody Allen.
1966 – In his State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson committed the United States to staying in Vietnam. Johnson justified his position on the basis of national security and the principles of democracy and national sovereignty. Citing communist China’s intention to dominate all of Asia, Johnson pledged renewed commitment to helping the South Vietnamese defeat North Vietnam in a war that had become increasingly controversial among Americans.
By 1965, the U.S. military presence in Vietnam had increased to approximately 200,000 troops. In December of that year, the draft quota doubled. Growing numbers of Americans protested the escalation of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. In his speech, Johnson attempted to restore confidence in America’s word and in America’s protection, while the nation was asked to sacrifice the blood of its children and the fruits of its labor for the love of freedom.
Johnson’s speech was a wasted attempt to sway increasingly polarized public opinion in favor of the Vietnam War. By year’s end, Johnson increased American troop numbers in Vietnam to 400,000.
1967 – Dragnet returned to NBC after being off the network schedule for eight years. Jack Webb tried to persuade Ben Alexander to rejoin him as Frank Smith, but Alexander was committed to an ABC police series, Felony Squad, and the producers would not release him. Webb reluctantly came up with a new character to take the role of Joe Friday’s partner, hiring Harry Morgan to play Officer Bill Gannon.
1967 – The Louisville draft board refused an exemption to Muhammad Ali, who then declared that he would refuse to serve in the Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector.
Appearing for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967 in Houston, Ali refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested. On the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit. Ali would not be able to obtain a license to box in any state for over three years.
1967 – Dr. James Bedford became the first person to be cryopreserved after legal death, with the intent of future resuscitation. He remains “frozen in time” at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, AZ.
1969 – In the most celebrated performance of his career, quarterback Joe Namath delivered on his guarantee as the New York Jets stunned the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, 16-7 in Super Bowl III.
Namath’s brash confidence was never more on display than in a public appearance in the days leading up to the game, when he assured a heckler that the Jets (19-point underdogs) would beat the Colts, even going so far as to say “I guarantee it.” While Namath got the glory, it was the Jets’ defense (3 interceptions) and running back Matt Snell (#41 above – 121 yards rushing) who keyed the victory.
1971 – The Reverend Philip F. Berrigan, already serving a six-year prison term on charges of destroying draft records, and six others were indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiring to kidnap presidential adviser Henry Kissinger and of plotting to blow up the heating tunnels of federal buildings in Washington. The “Harrisburg Seven,” as they came to be known, denied the charges and denounced them as a government effort to destroy the peace movement.
1971 – All In The Family premiered on CBS. During its eight-year run, the show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, beast cancer, and the Vietnam War. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series became arguably one of television’s most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with more realistic and topical conflicts.
1975 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 to win Super Bowl IX. The Pittsburgh “Steel Curtain” defense limited the Vikings to Super Bowl record lows of nine first downs, 119 total offensive yards, and 17 rushing yards. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense piled up 333 yards of total offense, including 158 rushing yards from Franco Harris.
1981 – Dynasty premiered on ABC. Over the next eight years, the Carringtons, a rich Denver oil clan, and another wealthy family, the Colbys, would form the center of a campy, yet glamorous universe of greed.
1988 – Willie Stargell was the sole eligible candidate to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Pitcher Jim Bunning was denied election by just four votes but he was eventually voted in by the Veterans Committee in 1996.
2001 – Triple Crown winner Affirmed – famous for his spectacular duels with Alydar, whom he met ten times, including in all three Triple Crown races in 1978 – was euthanized after falling seriously ill with laminitis, a circulatory hoof disease. During his illustrious career, Affirmed made 29 starts (22 wins, 5 seconds, one third). He remains the last horse to claim the Triple Crown.
2009 – Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It was Henderson’s first appearance on the ballot. For Rice, election came on his 15th and final chance.
2010 – A magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years, left over 300,000 people dead and some 895,000 Haitians homeless.
A large-scale, international relief operation was launched soon after the quake hit. The United States took charge, sending thousands of military troops to Haiti to deliver supplies, assist with search-and-rescue efforts and help maintain order. Relief efforts initially were hampered by earthquake damage to roads, communication systems and the Port-au-Prince airport and main port.
Governments and individuals around the world made donations and pledges of aid to Haiti totaling billions of dollars. However, on the first-year anniversary of the disaster, reconstruction efforts were still in their infancy. Thousands of people left homeless by the quake were living in tents, and only a small portion of the heavy debris resulting from the disaster had been cleared.
2012 – Mile High Miracle: Trailing the Denver Broncos 35-28 with 1:09 remaining in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game, Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco heaved a 70-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jacoby Jones to tie the game. The Ravens would win in overtime and go on to win the Super Bowl.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2015 RayLemire.com. All Rights Reserved.
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