September 20 in history:
Explorer Ferdinand Magellan left Spain on September 20th, 1519, on a voyage to reach the Spice Islands by sailing west to reach the Pacific Ocean. Magellan’s ships were the first ones to reach the Pacific from the Atlantic, and eventually, one ship, the Victoria, became the first to travel around the world to return to Spain.
Lewis and Clark were headed back from the Pacific Ocean toward the Mississippi when they reached a white settlement in Missouri on this date in 1806. It took them another three days to reach St. Louis, ending the exploration of the Louisiana Territory which lasted more than two years.
The famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King took place on September 20th, 1973 at the Houston Astrodome, before a crowd of 30,000 and a worldwide TV audience. King was the defending women’s champion at Wimbledon. Riggs won the men’s title at Wimbledon 34 years earlier. The female pro defeated the older male pro in three straight sets.
On the same night that Billie Jean and Bobby dueled in Texas, singer Jim Croce and five other people died in the crash of a small plane headed for Texas. Croce had just performed that night at a college in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and the plane crashed shortly after take-off from that city’s airport. Croce’s song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was a number-one hit that summer, and his follow-up, “I Got a Name,” was released the day after he died.
Pop singer Ricky Nelson died in a Texas plane crash in 1985. His twin sons, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, formed the rock band Nelson. They were born on September 20th, 1967. This is also the birthday of another set of rock-and-roll twins, Chuck and John Panozzo of Styx, born in 1948.
March 10th in history:
Nineteen years later, Jefferson was president of the United States, and negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France. The purchase was made official in St. Louis on March 10th, 1804.
And the French Foreign Legion was established by King Louis-Philippe on this day in 1831.
February 15th in history:
The red-and-white Maple Leaf flag first flew over Canada on February 15th, 1965.
That same year, the last piece of the Gateway Arch was put in place, 600 feet over the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch has become the most visible symbol of St. Louis, established on February 15th, 1764.
Another arch was immortalized in a tune by songwriter Harold Arlen, born on this day in 1905. He wrote the music to “Over the Rainbow” and the other songs in “The Wizard of Oz.”
If you wanted to sing “Over the Rainbow” over the Internet, you might post a video on YouTube. February 15th, 2005 was the first full day of operation for the do-it-yourself video website, but there were no videos to watch until the following April, when founder Jawed Karim posted a clip of himself visiting the San Diego Zoo.
October 28 in history:
The Statue of Liberty was completed and dedicated in New York harbor on October 28th, 1886. It was built in France, and then taken apart, boxed up, and the pieces were sent by ship to America.
The statue is considered a national monument, as is the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, a memorial to Thomas Jefferson. On this date in 1965, the final piece of the 630 foot high steel arch was lifted into place.
The original concept for a riverfront memorial in St. Louis was proposed in 1933, the year that Prohibition ended. The ban on alcohol in the U.S. took effect with passage of the Volstead Act on October 28th of 1919, followed shortly after by the 18th Amendment.
The year 1933 also was when Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt moved into the White House. Actress Jane Alexander is famous for playing Mrs. Roosevelt in two TV mini-series, and she has served as head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Alexander was born October 28th, 1939.
October 11 in history:
Teddy Roosevelt became the first U.S. president to fly in a plane on October 11th, 1910. The flight at St. Louis happened more than a year after Roosevelt left the White House. He was the passenger of pilot Archibald Hoxsey.
Teddy’s flight occurred on the birthday of his niece, future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, born in 1884. October 11th, 1975 was the wedding day for another future First Lady, and a future President. Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were married in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Clintons have been popular targets for satire on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which made its debut on the couple’s wedding night. Actress Joan Cusack, born October 11th, 1962, spent one year as a cast member on “SNL”. Three years after being dropped from the show, Cusack got an Oscar nomination for “Working Girl.” She’s also well-known as the voice of cowgirl Jessie in the “Toy Story” movies.
Jane Krakowski once played a famous animated character in a live-action movie, as Betty Rubble in “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.” Krakowski, born this day in 1968, is better known from “30 Rock” as Jenna Maroney. She shares a birthday with the original Wilma Flintstone, Jean Vander Pyl (born 1919).