Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birthday not so exciting

March 12, 2009

Do you remember when you were young and you celebrated your birthday? It was probably the second biggest day of the year, only trailing Christmas. It was a time for celebration with cake and presents.

I was mulling this over and I only remember one birthday — when I was a seventh-grader and 13. Actually, it was a painful memory that had nothing to do with the observation of my birthday. I recall that I broke my nose in the junior high “B” team basketball game at Osawatomie. I have no other special memories of childhood birthdays.

I was born on March 9, which means I celebrated a birthday Monday. As a kid I always thought March 9 was a good day for a birthday because it gave me something to look forward to after Christmas and before Easter. As I got older I liked the date because it was toward the end of winter and there were always great basketball games.

It always seemed to me that the worst month for a birthday was December because your special day got overshadowed by Christmas. I thought the second worst time for a birthday would be during the summer. Nowadays birthdays aren’t all that big, but what I still like most is the cake and ice cream. I really think the calories you eat on your birthday shouldn’t count.

All of this got me wondering if anything important had ever happened on March 9. I did some research and found a page full of events on March 9, but alas none were very exciting. Most of the entries were during the past two decades and almost all of them had to do with government corruption somewhere.

As a Civil War buff, a couple of entries stood out. First, the Union’s Monitor and the Confederate Merrimac, the first iron-clad ships, did battle on March 9, 1862. They fought to a draw. Two years later, one of my heroes, Ulysses Grant, was appointed commander of the Union Armies.

For some reason, March 9 was a big day for inventors dealing with dentistry. In 1822, Charles Graham of New York patented the first artificial teeth. Then some 60 years later, in 1882, a patent was granted for the first false teeth. At my age, I’m just glad that I don’t need these products, yet.

In 1916, Mexican bandit Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, N.M., and killed 12 residents. This came close to starting war between the U.S. and Mexico and, in fact, troops were sent south of the border in a futile attempt to arrest Villa and his followers.

The state of Kansas had a historic event on March 9. In 1889, Kansas passed the first general anti-trust law. This was important in that it was a couple of decades before federal anti-trust legislation was passed.

A couple of bizarre laws took effect on March 9, too. In 1447, Milan, Italy, banned kissing in public, which could be punishable by death. Even today, kissing the wrong person in public could lead to dire consequences. In 1839, the Prussian government approved legislation limiting the work week for children to 51 hours.

Albert Potts, of Philadelphia, patented the first street mailbox on March 9, 1888. And on the subject of unique firsts, Barbie, the famous doll, made her debut on March 9, 1959.

There were a couple important firsts on March 9. In 1497, Copernicus recorded the first astronomical observations. Adam Smith published his book on economics, “Wealth of Nations” in 1776.

I have to admit that March 9, from a historical point-of-view is a fairly average day. I’m sure that most of you could find far more history if you reviewed the date of your birth. If you think about it, every day is important and should be lived to the fullest.

I have been asked many times if getting older bothered me and my answer has always been the same: it is far better than second choice.

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