February 2nd is
Heavenly Hash Day
Hedgehog Day *
Play Your Ukulele Day
Sled Dog Day *
World Wetlands Day
Change Windshield Wipers Day *
MORE! José Posada, Hella Haasse and Jascha Heifetz, click
WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
Christianity – Candlemas (Mary’s purification, and the presentation of Jesus)
Canada – Groundhog Day
France – Avec Crêpe Day
(eat crepes day)
Italy – Bologna: Arte Fiera
United States –
Punxsutawney PA: Groundhog Day
On This Day in HISTORY
506 AD – Visigoth King Alaric II appoints Anianus as head of a committee to make a compilation of relevant Roman laws and imperial decrees as a governing code for his Roman subjects, now known as the Breviary of Alaric
880 AD – Louis III, King of West Francia, is defeated by the Norse Great Heathen Army at Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony; the Danish-Norwegian alliance routs the French in a snowstorm, and Louis’ troops are killed or captured
1141 – During ‘the Anarchy’ civil war, Empress Matilda’s allies capture Stephen, the rival claimant to the English throne, during the Battle of Lincoln
12th-century depiction of the wedding feast of Matilda and Henry V, soon-to-be Holy Roman Emperor (however, she was actually only 12 at the time, so probably not very accurate)
1207 – Terra Mariana (Medieval Livonia) established (present-day Estonia and Latvia)
1576 – Alix Le Clerc born, who became Mother Teresa of Jesus, French foundress and first prioress of the Canonesses of St. Augustine of the Congregation of Our Lady, a Catholic religious order founded to provide free education for girls, especially those living in poverty; she offered members of the order a choice: they could either take public vows as canonesses, wearing the religious habit and observing full monastic enclosure, or they could take private vows as daughters of the congregation, and be free to leave the monastery for works of charity or on business for the order; Mother Teresa of Jesus was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1947; currently, there are missions and related offshoots in 43 countries; the work has expanded to include human rights advocacy, and assistance to migrants
Engraving detail of Alix Le Clerc kneeling
before the Virgin and the Infant Jesus
1600 – Gabriel Naudé born, French librarian, scholar and author; built and maintained the library of Cardinal Jules Mazarin, France’s Chief Minister (1642-1661); Naudé is notable for his influential work, Advice on Establishing a Library
1653 – New Amsterdam (now New York City) is incorporated
1714 – Gottfried August Homilius born, German organist and composer
1754 – Charles Maurice de Talleyrand born, cynical, crafty and manipulative French politician
1795 – The French government offers a prize of 12,000 francs for a method of preserving food for the French army; eventually won by Nicholas Appert, inventor of a successful food canning method
1848 – The first ship with Chinese immigrants arrives in San Francisco
1848 – Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ends the U.S.- Mexican War
1851 – José Guadalupe Posada, influential Mexican satirical illustrator and engraver
Oaxaqueña calavera del montón #1 by José Guadalupe Posada
(roughly translates as ‘Oaxacan skull heap’)
1859 – Havelock Ellis – English essayist and social reformer
1861 – Solomon R. Guggenheim, American businessman and philanthropist, founder of the Guggenheim Museum
1868 – Pro-Imperial forces capture Osaka Castle from the Tokugawa shogunate and burn it to the ground
1869 – James Oliver invents the removable steel plow blade
1875 – Fritz Kreisler born in Vienna, American violin master and composer
1882 – James Joyce born, controversial Irish writer and poet
1883 – Johnston McCulley, American author and screenwriter, created Zorro
1887 – The first Groundhog Day observed in Punxsutawney PA
1892 – William Painter patents a crown-cork bottle cap with a cork seal, used until the cork was replaced by a plastic liner in the 1970s
1897 – Gertrude Blanch born in Russia, American mathematician, and pioneer in numerical analysis and computation; mathematical leader of the Mathematical Tables Project (MTP) from its inauguration, started during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938, which kept 450 clerks working on tabulating higher mathematical functions (their results were later published in 28 volumes by Columbia University Press); MTP clerks also did calculations for a variety of war-related projects during WWII, and continued after the war, with a much smaller group, until 1948; in 1947, her career was temporarily hampered by FBI suspicions that she was secretly a communist. Their ‘evidence’ was tenuous at best, including comments on her never having married or had children. In a remarkable showdown, the diminutive fifty-year-old mathematician demanded, and won, a hearing which cleared her name; went on to work for the Institute for Numerical Analysis at UCLA and the Aerospace Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; a founder of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
1897 – Howard D. Johnson is born, founder of Howard Johnson’s; and Alfred L. Cralle patents an ice cream scooper
1900 – Elena Sánchez Valenzuela born, one of Mexico’s first silent film stars, who also directed a documentary for the Mexican government, and campaigned successfully for the Filmoteca Nacional (Mexican National Film Library), founded in 1942 to collect and preserve the work of Mexican filmmakers; also an ardent feminist and suffragist, who participated in the 1947 Primer Congreso Interamericano de Mujeres (First Inter-American Congress of Women), called together by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
1901 – Jascha Heifetz born in Russia, American master violinist
1912 – Burton Lane born, American composer lyricist; Finian’s Rainbow and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever; discovered Frances Gumm, aka Judy Garland
BLACK HISTORY MONTH highlight:
1903 – Todd Duncan born, African American baritone opera singer and actor; In 1933, Duncan debuted in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana at the Mecca Temple in New York with the Aeolian Opera, a black opera company. He was George Gershwin’s personal choice for the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess in 1935, and played the role more than 1,800 times. In 1936, he led the cast during the Washington run of Porgy and Bess at the National Theatre in protesting the theatre’s policy of segregation. Duncan stated that he “would never play in a theater which barred him from purchasing tickets to certain seats because of his race.” Eventually management gave and allowed the first integrated audience at the National Theatre. Duncan was also the first to play the role of Stephen Kumalo in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and performed in the London production of C.B.Cochran’s musical The Sun Never Sets at the Theatre Royal. In 1945, he became the first African American to sing with a major opera company, and the first black person to sing in an opera with an otherwise white cast, when he performed the role of Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci with the New York City Opera, and as Escamillo, the bullfighter, in Bizet’s Carmen. In 1955, Duncan was the first to record “Unchained Melody”, a popular song with music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret. The recording was made for the soundtrack of the prison film Unchained, in which Duncan played a minor character. Following Duncan’s version, the song went on to become one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century. In 1978, the Washington Performing Arts Society held a gala for his 75th birthday, and in 1984, he was awarded the George Peabody Medal of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University.
Todd Duncan, Anne Brown “Bess, You is My Woman” Porgy and Bess (1940)
1918 – Hella Haasse born, Dutch author, the “Grand Old Lady” of Dutch literature
1920 – Estonia and Soviet Russia sign the Tartu Peace Treaty, ending the Estonian War of Independence; Estonia had been a province of Imperial Russia since 1710; the treaty, among other provisions, established the Estonian-Russian border, the right of Estonians and Russians to return to their respective countries, and return to Estonia of movable property “evacuated” to Russia during WWII
1922 – Sylvia Beach publishes Ulysses by James Joyce in Paris, on Joyce’s 40th birthday
Sylvia Beach and James Joyce in the
entry to Shakespeare & Co in Paris
1923 – James Dickey born, American novelist and poet; Deliverance
1923 – Liz Smith born, American columnist and author; co-founder of wowOwow.com, a website for women
1925 – Sled Dog Day * The ‘Great Race of Mercy’ aka ‘the Serum Run to Nome’ Alaska, which began on January 27, arrives in Nome with the first batch of diphtheria serum via a dogsled replay that covered 674 miles in 127 ½ hours in extreme subzero temperatures in near-blizzard and hurricane-force winds. Several of the dogs died, and the dog mushers suffered from frostbite and hypothermia. The modern-day Iditarod race is run over the same terrain in tribute to the teams who overcame such hardship
1927 – Stan Getz born, American jazz saxophonist
1929 – Věra Chytilová born, avant-garde Czech filmmaker, whose films were banned by the Czechoslovak government in the 1960s; noted for Sedmikrásky (Daisies, 1966), and Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise, 1969)
1931 – Judith Viorst born, American author of children’s books and humorous books for adults; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
1934 – FDR establishes by executive order the Export–Import Bank of the United States (abbreviated as Ex-Im Bank), the official export credit agency of the federal government, operating as a government corporation. Ex-Im Bank finances and insures foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk
1935 – Polygraph tests administered to two murder suspects, the first time polygraph evidence is admitted in a U.S. court
1939 – Mary-Dell Chilton born, American chemist, inventor and one of the founders of modern plant biotechnology; with collaborators, produced the first genetically modified plants; member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
1942 – Norwegian sabotage organization the Osvald Group stages the first major anti-Nazi resistance in Norway, to protest the installation of Vidkun Quisling as Minister-President of the puppet government under the supervision of Nazi Reichskommissar Terboven, hated not only by Norwegians, but by many in the German occupying force
1942 – Graham Nash born, English-American singer-songwriter; The Hollies, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
1949 – Yasuko Namba born, Japanese mountain climber; oldest woman, at 47, to complete the Seven Summits, and to climb Mount Everest; she and seven others were caught in a blizzard on Everest during their descent in 1996, and all of them died
1950 – Libby Purves born, British radio presenter, journalist and author; Adventures Under Sail, Holy Smoke, Mother Country
1959 – The Coasters song “Charlie Brown” is released
1963 – Eva Cassidy born, American vocalist-guitarist, almost unknown until her recordings were played on BBC Radio 2, after her death at age 33 from melanoma
1971 – Idi Amin overthrows President Milton Obote to take control of Uganda
1980 – First reports the FBI’s Abscam operation targets allegedly corrupt Congressmen
1982 – Syrian President Hafex al-Assad orders troops to quell an anti-government Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama, a stronghold of the brotherhood, which wants Syria to be a fundamentalist Muslim state; the fighting turns into a 27-day siege in which at least 2,000 Syrian citizens, mostly civilians, are killed while large sections of the old city are destroyed, and the Syrian Arab Army suffers about a 1,000 casualties
1989 – The last Soviet armored column leaves Kabul, Afghanistan
1990 – South African State President F. W. de Klerk announces the unbanning of the African National Congress and promises to release Nelson Mandela
1994 – Hedgehog Day, * started as an ancient Roman ceremony using a hedgehog to forecast the weather (no wonder Groundhog Day predictions are iffy – they’ve been using the wrong animal!)
1997 – The first World Wetlands Day * celebrating the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971
2005 – The Canadian government introduces the Civil Marriage Act; which becomes law on July 20, 2005, legalizing same-sex marriage
2007 – World’s leading climate scientists warn about global warming
2009 – Hillary Rodham Clinton sworn in as U.S Secretary of State
2012 – Change Windshield Wipers Day * The National Highway Transportation Board recommends changing your windshield wipers at least once a year, but every six months if you use them a lot
When my wife and I first got married, there were not too many places to eat out. It was long before Ray Kroc bought the McDonald brothers drive-up restaurant. One of the more decent restaurants was attached to the Howard Johnson inn. That was back when every motel had a restaurant attached. Reason being, there were never any other places to eat within walking, or even easy driving distance. Younger folk can’t imagine a motel that is not built within a block of at least three restaurants or fast food place. At any rate, we went out to eat at Howard Johnson’s several times when we were dating.
I will never be able to think of Howard Johnson’s again without thinking of Blazing Saddles.
On my memorable childhood summer trip to Washington DC, Howard Johnson’s was the first choice of a place to stay because both the adults and kids liked the food in the restaurant.
I was so disappointed by HOJO’s. I never got over it. They had fried clams and I thought they were like new England fried clams. It was like thinking you were going to make love to a woman but ended up with a guy. You send those clams back and you don’t go there again. You also learn to ask the waiter at other restaurants if this is real clam or just the snout.
Not being a big fan of clams, I never ate them. What I remember mostly from eating there as a kid was the ice cream.
I wonder if that was a function of a particular franchise, or company wide? There is a Perkin’s restaurant here. It is a chain of family friendly restaurants. My wife ordered the fried catfish, and asked about hush puppies. The server did not know what that was, so sent for the cook. The cook did not know anything about hush puppies either. He said the catfish came with dinner rolls.
She changed her order.
I just checked their menu. They no longer have fried catfish. It’s just as well.
got to have hush puppies with catfish.
The best hush puppies I have ever eaten are the Mississippi Hush Puppies from the Catfish Institute in Belzoni, MS. We lived just a short drive from Belzoni.
This recipe appeared in Southern Living magazine in the 1990s. My daughter Mary Beth made them. She preferred to use beer because it made them so light they would almost float off the plate.
Okay, stop now cause you’re making me hungry.
hush puppies should never have been southern cuisine, they spent unholy years as little corn balls when they could have had jalapeños or bacon and cheese added to them. Or other things for that matter. The Indian samosa is much the same. It needs the western mind, the product of the enlightenment to add butternut squash and fennel to them.