February, dreary but sometimes remarkable

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

After the Super Bowl, the month of February can be a little gray and unremarkable.

That is unless your team is making a run on the hardwood for a championship. In the Delta, farmers are keeping an eye on acreage intentions and watching the river height.

But on this day, February 6, it was quite an eventful day over the generations.

In 1788, Massachusetts was the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and in 1815, New Jersey issued the first American railroad charter to John Stevens.

He also helped invent the first steam engine and would be the founder of the US Patent system. Though not on this actual day but Samuel Clemens first used his nondeplume of Mark Twain on February 3, 1863 for a story in the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City.

In this same month in 1863, the Arizona territory was created and Congress created the national banking system. 

Oh, and Jesse James robbed his first bank in February 1866.

In 1911, the first “old-age” home for pioneers opened in Arizona. It was still a territory and wouldn’t become a state for another year.

The NFL adopted a rule in 1926 that made college players ineligible to play until their actual college class graduated. I wish they still had that rule and I’m sure many college coaches do as well.

In 1932, the year my dad was born, the Olympic competition included Dog Sled racing for the first time as a demonstration sport. As luck would have it, the US had seven contestants and Canada fielded five for the games at Lake Placid. They were the only two countries competing. Emile St. Godard of Canada won the gold with the best times over two races. Leonhard Seppala took the silver for the US and Shorty Russick got the bronze for Canada. It was never voted in as a legitimate Olympic event despite two more demonstration Olympic events as recent as 1994. Demonstration event winners get smaller medals and the medals are not part of the official medal count. Just in case you were wondering.

The 20th Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1933 and that moved the start of presidential, vice presidential and congressional terms from March to January. They probably saw March Madness coming on strong one day and decided to get out of the way of this One Shining Moment.

On this day in 1952, Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father, King George VI, who had passed away. She’s still on the throne. Not sure who will be left to rule when she decides to step down or passes away. I wonder if I can get my name in the hat? Is there a website or something?

NASA Astronaut Alan B. Shepard swung at three golf balls while on the moon in 1971 with a six-iron.

I’m not sure what the bet was with the other astronauts, though.

Perhaps Charlie Mason knows?

In 1985, the French blessed us with Perrier water that included either a twist of lemon, lime or orange. I’ve yet to partake.

President Ronald Reagan celebrated his 76th birthday while in office in 1987 making him the oldest U.S. President in history.

February is also home to Valentine’s Day each year and I’m sure that’s another column if folks want to send me any of the stories about that day. Will there be another Mark Twain or will the NFL roll back their rules one day soon?

I wouldn’t bet on the latter but another variation of Tom Sawyer is awaiting his newly created written adventures by some up-and-coming steamboat captain or some other creative soul.

February, dreary but sometimes remarkable.

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