The Last Day of April Should Be a National Holiday

It’s Willie Nelson’s birthday.

He’s 82.

Annie Dillard is 70 today. Ms. Dillard won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974). The New York Times has a page with links to several reviews and articles about Dillard and her works. (Eudora Welty wrote the review of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.) And Ms. Dillard has a web site.

Basketball hall-of-famer Isiah Thomas turns 54 today.

Radio and television actress Eve Arden was born on April 30th in 1908. To my generation she was Our Miss Brooks, English teacher at Madison High. The show was on radio from 1948-1957 and TV from 1952-1956. Many considered it a breakthrough character for women. That’s Our Miss Brooks in the photo with Richard Crenna as Walter Denton and Gale Gordon as Principal Osgood Conklin.

Casey Jones wrecked his train on April 30th in 1900.

John Luther Jones from Cayce (pronounced Cay-see), Kentucky, famous to us through song as a brave engineer who romantically died trying to make up time. In truth, he crashed his locomotive at high speed into a freight train that was attempting to get out of the way on a siding. According to reports he failed to heed warning signals that were out. The accident took place early in the morning of April 30, 1900. Jones was the only fatality. Jones was known for his affability and his skill in blowing a train whistle. His engine wiper, Wallace Saunders, reportedly idolized the engineer. Saunders wrote the original song. All you might want to know can be found in this 1928 article.

George Washington took office as the first president of the U.S. on this date in 1789. His term began March 4th, but because neither the House nor Senate achieved a quorum until April, Washington’s unanimous election on February 4, wasn’t made official until April 14. Washington immediately departed Mount Vernon for New York to take the oath and was met along the way with parades and dinners in every little town. As James Madison noted, Washington was about the only aspect of the new government that really appealed to people.

Louisiana entered the union as the 18th state on this date in 1812.