Hey, We Can All Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for Free Now

Larry King, 82.
Dick Cavett. He’s 79.
Ted Turner, 77.
Ann Curry. She’s 59.
Jodie Foster, 53.

Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella was born on November 19, 1921.

A star with both the bat and glove, Roy Campanella was agile behind the plate, had a rifle arm and was an expert at handling pitchers. He was named National League MVP three times, including a 1953 selection when he set single-season records for catchers with 41 homers and a National League best 142 RBI. Before signing with the Dodgers, the broad-shouldered receiver starred with the Negro National Leagues’ Baltimore Elite Giants for seven seasons. His career was cut short by a tragic auto accident prior to the 1958 season.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Bandleader and trombonist Tommy Dorsey was born on November 19, 1905.

Though he might have been ranked second at any given moment to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, or Harry James, Tommy Dorsey was overall the most popular bandleader of the swing era that lasted from 1935 to 1945. His remarkably melodic trombone playing was the signature sound of his orchestra, but he successfully straddled the hot and sweet styles of swing with a mix of ballads and novelty songs. He provided showcases to vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Jo Stafford, and he employed inventive arrangers such as Sy Oliver and Bill Finegan. [Dorsey] was the biggest-selling artist in the history of RCA Victor Records, one of the major labels, until the arrival of Elvis Presley, who was first given national exposure on the 1950s television show [Tommy Dorsey] hosted with his brother Jimmy.


Evangelist Billy Sunday was born on November 19, 1862. Sunday played professional baseball for the Chicago White Stockings, Pittsburgh Alleghenies and Philadelphia Phillies 1883-1890. Following a conversion in 1886, Sunday became the most influential preacher of the era.

In the early 1900s, Billy Sunday sold what was then a unique brand of muscular, testosterone-laden Christianity.

Today, ministers in some of the country’s largest churches preach in shirtsleeves and talk about God in terms of football or golf. Billy Sunday was one of the first to do this. He was a professional baseball player turned tent preacher who became the richest and most influential preacher of his time.
. . .

Sunday, says Martin, was “one of the most acrobatic evangelists of the age.” One newspaper columnist at the time estimated that Sunday traveled about a mile during each sermon.

NPR : Billy Sunday, Man of God

“I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fist less and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!”

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, was born on this date in 1831. He was assassinated two months before his 50th birthday.

But James A. Garfield – president for less than four months before he was shot is 1881 – is for most Americans an historical footnote.

And that, says author Candice Millard, is a great shame.

“He was without question one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president,” she told Rocca. “He was absolutely brilliant. He was born into incredible poverty – the last of the ‘log cabin presidents.’ His father died before he was two years old, so to put himself through college his first year, he was a janitor and a carpenter. By his second year they made him assistant professor of literature and ancient languages.

“By the time he was 26 he was his college’s president. He had just an off-the-charts mind.”

His loss is all the more heartbreaking because Garfield (Millard writes in a new book) didn’t need to die – even after he was shot.

How Doctors Killed President Garfield, CBS News, 2012

Millard’s Destiny of the Republic about Garfield’s death is first-rate, an excellent read.

Zion National Park (Utah)

… was established on this date in 1919.


Located in Washington, Iron, and Kane Counties in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States. Within its 229 square miles are high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep, sandstone canyons, and the Virgin River and its tributaries. Zion also has 2,000-foot Navajo Sandstone cliffs, pine- and juniper-clad slopes, and seeps, springs, and waterfalls supporting lush and colorful hanging gardens.

With an elevation change of about 5,000 feet-from the highest point at Horse Ranch Mountain (at 8,726 feet) to the lowest point at Coal Pits Wash (at 3,666 feet), Zion’s diverse topography leads to a diversity of habitats and species. Desert, riparian (river bank), pinyon-juniper, and conifer woodland communities all contribute to Zion’s diversity. Neighboring ecosystems-the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Rocky Mountains-are also contributors to Zion’s abundance.

Zion National Park

Originally Zion was proclaimed Mukuntuweap National Monument (July 31, 1909); Mukuntuweap was incorporated into Zion National Monument (March 18, 1918); Zion National Monument became Zion National Park.

President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 152 Years Ago Today

Nicolay Copy

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

November 16th Ought to Be National Holiday

W. C. Handy was born on this date in 1873, the son of former slaves.

I hate to see that evenin’ sun go down,
I hate to see that evenin’ sun go down,
‘Cause my baby has left this town.

If I’m feelin’ tomorrow, just like I feel today,
If I’m feelin’ tomorrow, like I feel today,
I’ll pack my trunk and make my get-away.

St. Louis woman, with all her diamond rings,
Stole that man of mine, by her apron strings;
If it wasn’t for powder, and her store-bought hair,
That man I love wouldn’t’ve gone nowhere!

W.C. Handy is widely recognized by his self-proclaimed moniker, “Father of the Blues” due to his steadfast and pioneering efforts to document, write and publish blues music and his life-long support of the genre. Although much of his musical taste leaned toward a more sophisticated and polished sound, Handy was among the first to recognize the value of the blues, and Southern black music in general, as an important American legacy. Handy was an accomplished bandleader and songwriter who performed throughout the South before continuing his career in New York. He came across the Delta blues in the late 1890s, and his composition “Memphis Blues,” published in 1912, was the first to include “blues” in the title. Some historians don’t consider “Memphis Blues” to be an actual blues song, however it did influence the creation of other blues tunes, including the historic “Crazy Blues,” which is commonly known as the first blues song to ever be recorded (by Mamie Smith in 1920). A Memphis park was named after Handy in recognition of his contribution to blues and the Blues Foundation recognizes the genre’s achievements annually with the prestigious W.C. Handy award.

The Blues | PBS

NPR told the Handy and St. Louis Blues stories as part of the NPR 100 in 2000. Report includes Handy’s own reminiscences and the complete 1925 recording of the song by Bessie Smith accompanied by Louis Armstrong, possibly the most influential recording in American music history. 

The Smith-Armstrong recording makes my desert island list every time.

The Santa Fe Trail

… was opened on this date in 1821.

Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history.

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

The 1940 film Santa Fe Trail, with Ronald Reagan playing George Armstrong Custer — and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland — has little basis in historical fact other than that there was a Santa Fe Trail.