So we have arrived at August 1, a much-anticipated yet often-maligned date on the calendar.
It marks the start of the major vacation period in America, yet it also marks the start of the dog days when humidity and temperatures vie for the highest numbers they can reach on the discomfort scale.
It marks the time when late-summer treats such as strawberries and melons begin appearing in our gardens in profusion, but it also marks the time of highest heat stress on our expensive lawns.
It tells us there still are 33 promising days left until that old killjoy, Labor Day, is upon us, but it also ushers in a time when merchants and the unimaginative among us begin to drone on about how close we are to the start of a new school year.
Historically, its a mixed bag sort of a day.
William Clark of Lewis and Clark, Francis Scott Key, Herman Melville, Yves St. Laurent, Jerry Garcia and Adam Duritz all were born on this day. In 1774, Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen. In 1790, the first U.S. population census said we were a nation of 3.9 million. In 1876, Colorado became the 38th state. In 1876, blacks went to the polls for the first time in the U.S., voting in Tennessee. In 1973, the iconic film American Graffiti debuted.
On the down side, in 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. jumped into a situation that has gotten progressively worse. In 1945, the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1972, George W. Bush was suspended from flying with the Air National Guard.
In the you-rate-it category, on this day in 1863 Robert Todd Lincoln, a son of Abraham Lincoln, was rescued from a train accident by Edwin Booth, brother of the man who two years later assassinated Roberts father; George Samuelson and Frank Harbo completed a two month, 3,000-mile journey from New York to England — in a rowboat; New York State issued its first auto license plates in 1910, and MTV debuted in 1981 by playing Video Killed the Radio Star, by the Buggles.
In the end, like any other day, today is what you make of it.
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