There’s great anticipation in the air as the “not sure if it's winter or spring” month of April finally fades away. We suddenly realize that unless Mother Nature gets really cruel, we’ve finally made it through yet another winter and now the fun season begins with the arrival of good old May.
So, what does the new month offer us? Well, May is Bicycle Month. Which figures, doesn’t it? It’s also Home Improvement Month, as well as “Rake the Crud, Garbage, Muck, Dog-Do, and Road-Sand Off Your Lawn Month.” That last one is not an officially sanctioned event. It’s just one I made up because it’s so obvious, seasonal and necessary.
So, now that you’ve gleefully ripped off that April calendar page, let’s see what we can find in May.
• May 3, 1936 — The major league baseball debut of “Joltin’ Joe” Dimaggio.
• May 6, 1984 — Under the heading, The Agony of Defeat, picture a crucial NBA basketball game coming down to the final seconds for L.A. and Dallas. Derek Harper of the Dallas Mavericks figured they were ahead by one, so he dribbled off the final six seconds and let out a victory yell. But then, someone told him to check the scoreboard. The score was tied at 108. Oops. Oh well, in spite of that blunder, there’s still overtime, right? Uh, sure. Except that in this case, the overtime break went to L.A. and the Mavericks lost the game.
Some days are diamonds, some days are mud.
• May 6 — If you’re a lover of astronomy, don’t forget the annual meteor shower that will be visible in the heavens during this week. After this one, the next shower is around August 13, when we can lie out in our bathing suits on a lounge chair and really get a comfortable “summer-celestial-eyeful” and all the mosquito bites we can tolerate.
• May 6, 1937 — This day found Chicago radio newsman Herb Morrison and radio engineer Charlie Nehlsen trying something new at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The great German Zeppelin Hindenburg was arriving in the U.S. and Morrison was recording his description of the event on a transcription, planned for later broadcast on WLS Radio.
Many people mistakenly think that his history-making report was broadcast “live.”
As the huge airship hovered over the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, Nehlsen started the recording and Morrison described the scene: “The back motors of the ship are holding it just enough to keep it from ...,” he began.
In the very next instant, he shouted: “It burst into flames! It burst into flames and it’s falling! It’s crashing!”
Moments later, he sobbed into the microphone: “It’s a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, the humanity!”
Morrison and Nehlsen flew their record back to Chicago that night. The Nazi government objected to plans to air the report, but NBC broadcast it on the network anyway as radio’s first recorded news event.
The crash killed 35 of the airship's 97 passengers and crew, as well as one American sailor on the ground. The cause of the disaster was never definitely determined. Theories include: hydrogen explosion, lightning, pilot error and even a bullet fired from the ground. The 1970s movie, The Hindenburg, suggested that the cause was anti-Nazi sabotage.
• May 19 — Victoria Day. Ah, the first long holiday weekend of the summer season. That’s when you wear yourself out with golf, gardening, biking, hiking, swimming, tennis, jogging, painting, visiting, picnicking, roller-blading, cleaning, walking, raking, and then look forward to resting.
• May 28, 1991 — At least nine tornadoes touched down in southern Saskatchewan as thunderstorms passed through the region. Perhaps surprisingly, there was no loss of life and little significant damage. Incredibly, just west of Swift Current, hailstones covered the ground to a depth of 14 centimetres (5 1/2 inches).