It was just the other day that we were saying, “Boy, I hope this summer is a good one.”
Yes, that was in May. And suddenly, we're half way through those two magic months. July was like a blur. Now, with the calendar in overdrive, it’s August. Before you know it, we’ll be thinking of fall school expenses.
Sorry, I know you didn't want to be rushed into that. Actually, you'd think that we’d be saving money now, wouldn't you? But, with vacation expenses, it just doesn't seem to work out that way. Then, as mentioned, back-to-school costs are next followed by Christmas costs. What we really need is a season that’s free.
Anyway, let’s linger leisurely in good old August for a moment and contemplate things you may or may not know about August.
August 3, 1492 — Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain with his three ships: the Titanic, the Queen Mary and the MS Lord Selkirk. Sorry, I meant the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Columbus ended up in the Bahamas. The hotels were all full.
August 5, 1982 — In Chicago, a woman walking along the street burst into flames and died. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s alleged to be the eighth recorded instance of “human spontaneous combustion,” based on records dating back to the 18th century.
Here’s another example: on August 7, 1938, a 22-year-old woman in England burst into flames at a dance.
August 7, 1971 — In Whitecourt, Alberta, wind-driven hailstones the size of baseballs broke almost every window in town and damaged most roofs.
And while we’re on the topic of summer weather, how's this for “heat.” A town in Libya once endured a temperature of 58°C (136°F). Somewhat closer to home, it’s very hot in Death Valley, California. It boasts — or roasts — the hottest summers in the western hemisphere. During one period of six weeks, the daily temperature hit 49° C (120°F).
Wouldn’t you love to be an air conditioner salesman in that market?
August 16, 1977 — The tragic death of Elvis Presley at the young age of 42. Which, of course, brings us to Elvis trivia (answers at end of column):
1. Elvis’ first recording session with RCA in 1956 produced his first million-selling single. What was the song?
2. How many movies did Elvis make?
3. He sang on-camera in all but one movie. Which one?
4. In 1975, a new recording artist scaled the fence at Graceland in hopes of seeing Elvis. Elvis wasn't home and the guards escorted the intruder out. Who was it?
August 26, 1891 — Manitoba and the Northwest Territories received their first published weather forecasts. The forecast called for rain. It was sunny. Some things never change.
August 26, 1959 — The Chicago White Sox learned that sometimes a great idea can backfire. They held a special day to honour Sox outfielder Al Smith. It was Al’s day! Except it wasn't. The Sox were about to score on three occasions when Al struck out, hit into a double play and popped out. All the attention seemed to unnerve him and he also dropped a fly ball as the Sox lost 7-6. Oops.
August 27, 1892 — Rudolph Diesel patented his internal combustion engine. He planned to call it, “Der Plunken Sputter Smoker.” All his friends said, “Rudy, call it the Diesel.”Fortunately for all of us, he agreed.
It was the same with Isaac Singer. In August of 1851, Isaac obtained a patent for his new fangled idea, the sewing machine. He wanted to call it, “the Weaving, Stitching, Mending, Mechanized, Housewife-helper.” All his friends said, “Isacc, just call it a Singer.”
August 29, 1951 — A surprising tennis tirade from the only tennis player ever banned from the pro circuit for life. It wasn’t be John McEnroe since this was way back in 1951. It was a fellow named Earl Cochell. In the days of pristine politeness on the court, I guess this guy was ahead of his time — McEnroe-wise. Having a bad day, Cochell shocked the fans and officials at the U.S. Nationals when he stormed the umpire and tried to grab the microphone so that he could verbally abuse everyone within earshot. His attempt was unsuccessful and his professional career ended with that stormy incident.
Elvis trivia answers:
1. His first million-selling gold record was Heartbreak Hotel.
2. He made 31 movies.
3. He didn’t sing on-camera in Charro, a 1969 western.
4. The intruder was Bruce Springsteen.