THIS IS BIG, REALLY BIG

July 7th in history:

On this date in 1958, President Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act, making Alaska the 49th state – and the biggest state in size. Alaska was admitted officially the following January.

Construction of Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) began on July 7th, 1930. At the time it was completed, the 700-foot high dam on the Colorado River was the largest concrete structure in the world.

Was Boulder Dam “the greatest thing since sliced bread”? Maybe not, but pre-sliced bread was considered a big thing when it was introduced on July 7th, 1928, by a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri. That innovation was advertised as the “greatest forward step” in baking since wrapped bread.

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND RINGLING

July 6th in history:

One of the worst circus fires in U.S. history occurred on July 6th, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut. More than 160 people died and hundreds more were injured when the Ringling Brothers big top caught fire and collapsed within minutes. Two young people who survived the Hartford fire and later became famous were actor Charles Nelson Reilly and drummer Hal Blaine.

Among the many famous performers Blaine worked with on records was John Lennon. On this date in 1957, 16-year-old Lennon and his band the Quarrymen were about to perform at a church social in Liverpool, England when he was introduced to 15-year-old Paul McCartney. Only seven years later, Lennon and McCartney became movie stars when the first Beatles movie, “A Hard Day’s Night,” premiered in England on July 6th, 1964.

On the day that “A Hard Day’s Night” made its debut, future president George Walker Bush turned 18. His father, George Herbert Walker Bush, was running for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas that year. The older Bush lost that election, but he rose through Republican ranks to become vice president under Ronald Reagan, and then president himself. First Lady Nancy Reagan, born July 6th, 1921, was Ronald Reagan’s second wife, and he was the first divorced man to be elected president.

When England’s Henry VIII wanted to end his first marriage to wed Anne Boleyn, one of his chief opponents was Lord Chancellor Thomas More. For opposing the king, More eventually was convicted of treason, and was beheaded on July 6th, 1535.

SOMETHING NEW

July 5th in history:

July 5th seems to be a good day for new or unique things…

On July 5th, 1687, Isaac Newton published his “Principia Mathematica,” which contained his laws of motion and his theory of gravity.

The first bikini was introduced at a swimming pool in France on July 5th, 1946.

Arthur Ashe became the first African-American to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon on July 5th, 1975.

The Hormel Company introduced SPAM luncheon meat on this date in 1937.

The first cloned animal, a sheep named Dolly, was born in Scotland on July 5th, 1996.  Because scientists cloned Dolly from a mammary gland cell, they named her after Dolly Parton.  (Would scientists lie to you?)

And another birthday in the “news” is that of singer Huey Lewis (born 1950), leader of the band Huey Lewis and the News.

THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

July 4th in history:

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. Two leaders of the independence movement, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, coincidentally died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration.

Thomas Jefferson’s face would eventually be carved onto Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, and unveiled in the fall of 1936. George Washington’s face was the first to be unveiled on the mountain, on Independence Day of 1934. That was the 10th birthday of actress Eva Marie Saint, who climbed near the Rushmore faces with Cary Grant in the movie “North by Northwest.” Saint won an Oscar for her role in “On the Waterfront”.

The U.S. military academy at West Point was founded on the 4th of July in 1802.

It was on this date in 1817 that construction of the Erie Canal began.

And on July 4th, 1862, English writer Charles Dodgson first told a story about a girl named Alice, to a girl named Alice (Liddell). Dodgson turned the story into a book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which was published July 4th, 1865, under the pen name “Lewis Carroll.”

SHOW YOUR PATRIOTISM

July 3rd in history:

George Washington took command of the Continental Army of the colonies on July 3rd, 1775.

Four score and eight years later, the Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863, with the Army of the Potomac defeating Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Seventy-five years after the battle, President Franklin Roosevelt lit an eternal flame at the Gettysburg memorial in Pennsylvania.

George M. Cohan wrote about being “born on the Fourth of July” in the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But official records show that he was born on July 3rd, 1878. And the star of the movie “Born on the Fourth of July,” Tom Cruise, was a July 3rd baby in 1962.

HELLO, TRAVELERS

July 2nd in history:

The first zeppelin flight in Germany happened on July 2nd, 1900.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan were attempting to fly around the world on July 2nd, 1937, when they were heard from for the last time.

On this date in 2002, adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to complete an around-the-world, nonstop solo flight in a balloon.

Another adventurer used more than forty weather balloons filled with helium to let him fly in a lawnchair on July 2nd, 1982.  Larry Walters rose to an altitude of about 15,000 feet over southern California, and stayed aloft for several hours.  Walters became caught on a power line as his chair slowly descended, and he was famous for a brief time afterward as “Lawnchair Larry.”

Europeans first arrived in Minnesota on July 2nd, 1679, led by Daniel Greysolon Du Luht – better known as “DuLuth.”

Daniel DuLuth reached the Mississippi River from Lake Superior by way of the St. Croix River. Another European native, Englishman Tyrone Guthrie, established a theater company near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in 1963. Guthrie was born July 2nd, 1900.

ROYAL CELEBRATIONS

July 1st in history:

Canada celebrates its version of the 4th of July on this day, marking the date it became a dominion of the British Empire on July 1st, 1867.

It was on Dominion Day of 1980 that “O Canada” officially became the country’s national anthem.

Twenty-year-old Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales by his mother in a ceremony at a Welsh castle on July 1st, 1969. On that same day, future Princess of Wales Diana Spencer was celebrating her eighth birthday.

Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold, born on July 1st, 1942, became famous for playing a royal wife, Anne Boleyn, to Richard Burton’s Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days.”  Bujold received an Oscar nomination for that film.  She shares a July 1st birthday with another Canadian Oscar nominee, Dan Aykroyd (born 1952).  Aykroyd was nominated for a supporting role in “Driving Miss Daisy,” but is better known as Elwood Blues of the Blues Brothers, “Ghostbuster” Ray Stantz, and alien driving instructor Beldar Conehead.  He was one of the original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” on “Saturday Night Live.”