May 18th in history:
On May 18th, 1927, more than 40 people, mostly children, died in the deadliest attack on a school in U.S. history, when a bomb went off at a school in Bath Township, Michigan. The explosion was planned by a school board member, who was upset that rising property taxes used to fund the schools were driving him out of his farm home.
Another man-made blast, by a rocket, sent the Apollo 10 mission into space on May 18th, 1969. It was the second manned spacecraft to orbit the moon, and the crew rehearsed procedures needed for the landing of Apollo 11 two months later.
Nature created a major explosion on this date in 1980, when the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington State erupted. Fifty-seven people died in the explosion, which followed weeks of earthquakes and the venting of steam.
July 20 in history:
July 20th of 1921 was the first day of regular air mail service between New York and San Francisco.
On this day in 1976, Viking I became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars. The Viking landing occurred on the seventh anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon. July 20th, 1969 was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface and left the first human footprints in the moon dust during the Apollo 11 mission.
Actor Josh Holloway was born on the day of the Apollo landing in 1969. Holloway’s best-known character is a passenger on a fateful flight that crash-lands on an island. He played Sawyer on the TV survival drama “Lost.”
Another actor well-known for a sci-fi series died on July 20th, 2005: James Doohan, engineer Scotty of the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.” Doohan’s ashes have been sent into space on more than one occasion.
And July 20th is the birthday of a man who went high places without being in an airplane or spacecraft: Mount Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary (born 1919).
July 16th in history:
Yankees slugger Joe di Maggio got three hits in four times at bat against the Cleveland Indians on July 16th, 1941, extending his record hitting streak to 56 games. The streak would end the next day in Cleveland.
Ohio native Neil Armstrong would become the first man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it lifted off in a ball of fire from the Kennedy Space Center on this day in 1969.
The comedy “Ball of Fire” earned an Oscar nomination for Barbara Stanwyck, as did “Stella Dallas” and “Double Indemnity.” Stanwyck helped sell a lot of popcorn during a 60-year career in movies and TV. She was born on July 16th, 1907 — the same day and year as another person in the popcorn business, “gourmet popcorn” grower, Orville Redenbacher.
One of Barbara Stanwyck’s later movies was called “Jeopardy.” Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek in several “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketches during a seven-year run on “Saturday Night Live,” before starring in movies such as “Elf” and the “Anchorman” comedies. Ferrell, born on this day in 1967, performed with the Groundlings comedy group in Los Angeles, as did Sherri Stoner, born July 16th, 1965. Stoner has written movies and cartoon series, provided the voice of Slappy Squirrel on “Animaniacs,” and was a body model for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”