May 24th Ought to Be a National Holiday (and it was in Canada)

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 24th 73 years ago. That’s Bob Dylan, of course.

From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Bob Dylan is the uncontested poet laureate of the rock and roll era and the pre-eminent singer/songwriter of modern times. Whether singing a topical folk song, exploring rootsy rock and blues, or delivering one of his more abstract, allegorical compositions, Dylan has consistently demonstrated the rare ability to reach and affect listeners with thoughtful, sophisticated lyrics.

Dylan re-energized the folk-music genre in the early Sixties, brought about the lyrical maturation of rock and roll when he went electric at mid-decade, and bridged the worlds of rock and country by recording in Nashville throughout the latter half of the Sixties. As much as he’s played the role of renegade throughout his career, Dylan has also kept the rock and roll community mindful of its roots by returning to them. With his songs, Dylan has provided a running commentary on our restless age. His biting, imagistic and often cryptic lyrics served to capture and define the mood of a generation.

For this, he’s been elevated to the role of spokesmen – and yet the elusive Dylan won’t even admit to being a poet. “I don’t call myself a poet because I don’t like the word,” he has said. “I’m a trapeze artist.”

Tommy Chong, he’s Chong of Cheech and Chong, is 76.

Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, that is Gary Burghoff, is 71.

Patti LaBelle is 70 today.

Alfred Molina is 61.

Rosanne Cash is 59. She was born a month before her father released his first record, “Cry, Cry, Cry.”

Kristin Scott Thomas is 54.

Michael Chabon is 51 today.

Criticized by one reviewer for not being ambitious enough, Chabon decided he needed to go in a new direction. About that time, he said: “I found one remaining box of comics which I had saved and I’d been dragging with me for 15 years. When I opened it up and that smell came pouring out [...] I was struck by [...] a sense of my childhood self that seemed to be contained in there.” Soon he wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), an epic story about 1940s comic book creators. The novel moves from the ghetto of Nazi-occupied Prague to the bohemian nightlife of New York City.

The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor [2008]

John C. Reilly is 49. “Shake ‘n Bake.”

Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. She was the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III. None of her uncles had legitimate children who survived, so when her uncle William IV died in 1837, she became queen at age 18. Her reign lasted until 1901; the longest of any British monarch (Elizabeth II can catch her next year). She had nine children and is Elizabeth II’s great great grandmother.

Victoria Day has been celebrated in Canada since 1845. The holiday is now the Monday before May 24th, unless Monday is May 24th. (It was May 19th this year.)

The first passenger railroad in the U.S. began service between Baltimore and Ellicott’s Mills, Maryland, on May 24th in 1830. That’s 13 miles.

The first telegraph message was transmitted by Samuel F. B. Morse on May 24th in 1844. Sent from Washington to Baltimore it said, “What hath God wrought!”

The Brooklyn Bridge opened on May 24th in 1883.

The first Major League Baseball night game was played in Cincinnati on May 24, 1935. The Reds beat the Phillies 2-1. The Reds played seven night games that year (one against each National League opponent).

“Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale, was published in Boston May 24, 1830, by Marsh, Capen & Lyon. It was inspired by an actual event. The Mary was Mary Sawyer who did take a lamb to school. (A witness may have written the first stanza.) Hale was an influential author and editor, known foremost for being a principal in establishing Thanksgiving as a holiday.