This Week in History: Farewell to 'Peanuts,' a crazy election - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

This Week in History: A farewell to 'Peanuts' and a crazy election

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The first photograph taken of a sitting president was of James Polk on Feb. 14, 1849. (Source: Wikipedia) The first photograph taken of a sitting president was of James Polk on Feb. 14, 1849. (Source: Wikipedia)
The floor of the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. (Source: Wikipedia) The floor of the Senate during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. (Source: Wikipedia)

(RNN) – It was a dark and stormy night …

One of the only things I remember from high school literature lessons is the importance weather plays in setting a scene. If it's raining, that usually means something bad is going to happen. I don't know what the weather was like Feb. 13, 2000, but I'm pretty sure it rained somewhere.

The last original Peanuts comic strip ran that day. In it, Snoopy sits on top of his dog house and types a message on his typewriter. The message is a farewell to the readers from the strip's creator, Charles Schulz, and reads, in part, "I am no longer able to maintain the schedule demanded by a daily comic strip."

Schulz died the day before the strip ran. Around the letter from the author was included several of the strip's iconic images, some of which are discussed below

The strip was not only witty and entertaining, but is still ingrained into our culture. Peanuts' holiday specials still appear on TV and are just as entertaining now as they were the first time. Several Google doodles were also inspired by Peanuts, and someone took the trouble to play the Peanuts theme on the Google Les Paul guitar.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Feb. 11-17.

Life and Death

As already stated, Schulz died Feb. 12, 2000. If that wasn't bad enough, legendary football coach Tom Landry died the same day, making that one of the worst days in recent American history. But we can flash back 191 years to the births of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. That's a little piece of trivia right there you can wow your friends with.

I'll step away from Peanuts for a second, but only for people associated with John Wayne. Henry Hathaway died Feb. 11, 1985. He directed several John Wayne films, including my personal favorite, True Grit. Jeremy Slate, who played Emmett Quincy in that movie, was born Feb. 17, 1926. Quincy's role is small, but memorable. He hacks up a turkey, cuts off his friend's fingers and then kills him before being shot by Wayne's character, Rooster Cogburn.

Josh Brolin, who played main antagonist Tom Chaney in the more recent version of the movie, was born Feb. 12, 1968. And Arthur Hunnicutt, who played a crazy bow and arrow-wielding dude named Bull in my second favorite John Wayne movie, El Dorado, was born Feb. 17, 1910.

True Grit is a great movie overall, but it earns that distinction for its climactic gunfight alone. But as much as it pains me to say this, the newer movie did it even better.

Michael Jordan and Dan Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy) were born Feb. 17, 1963. Thomas Edison was born Feb. 11, 1847, Leslie "Don't Call Me Shirley" Nielsen was born Feb. 11, 1926. Jimmy Hoffa was born Feb. 14, 1913.

Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Whitney Houston's death. Houston was found unresponsive in a bathtub in the Beverly Hilton Hotel Feb. 11, 2012. Toxicology reports later revealed she had used cocaine shortly before her death.

Lady Jane Grey was beheaded Feb. 12, 1554, because when people didn't like you in the 1500s that's what happened. Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, was beheaded Feb. 13, 1542, because when you were married to Henry VIII in the 1500s that's what happened.

Geronimo died Feb. 17, 1909, and St. Valentine died Feb. 14, 270, making Hallmark very happy. Dolly, the first cloned mammal – a sheep – died Feb. 14, 2003. There seems to be no truth to the rumor that her last name was Ma-a-a-a-a-dison.

Overlooked Anniversaries

In my ongoing quest to destroy our political system one ridiculous anecdote at a time, I present the following story: Feb. 17, 1801, the House of Representatives broke a tie in the electoral college between Jefferson Davis and Aaron Burr. First off, each state selected its own election day in 1800, so the voting lasted more than half the year. Jefferson won the election over John Adams due to three-fifths of slaves being counted for congressional representation.

But in the electoral college, there was a tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Each representative had two votes, and each counted as a vote for president. Aaron Burr was supposed to be left off one ballot, giving Jefferson the majority, but it didn't happen. So it got sent to the House of Representatives, which voted 36 times before correcting the error.

The Senate made its session open to the public for the first time Feb. 11, 1794, giving us an inside glimpse at all the nothing it accomplishes. The same day in 1812 was the first time a district was gerrymandered, giving rise to the practice of politicians placing you in whatever district they think you should be in because you might vote the way they want you to.

Georgia was founded as the 13th colony Feb. 12, 1733. Thirteen is generally considered an unlucky number, and since Georgia is responsible for Honey Boo Boo, I'd say that's just about right. Oregon was admitted as a state Feb. 14, 1859. It's responsible for hideous football uniforms, so that was a bad idea. Arizona became a state Feb. 14, 1912. I've been to Phoenix a couple of times, and it's pretty nice, but one time when I was there, a news report said a troop of Boy Scouts was attacked by a swarm of bees. That's my worst nightmare, so Arizona can go away, too.

Bill Clinton was acquitted in his impeachment trial Feb. 12, 1999, giving presidents a 2-0 impeachment record over the Senate. A two-thirds majority is needed to remove the president from office. Neither charge brought against him earned even a simple majority. It wasn't nearly as close as the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, who came one vote short of being convicted.

Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray applied for telephone patents Feb. 14, 1876. Bell won, but there is some dispute over whether he should have. There's also dispute over a 500,000-year-old rock found Feb. 13, 1961, that contained a spark plug embedded in it. It wasn't from the Flintstones' car, though, it was a hoax.

Sweden switched to the Gregorian calendar Feb. 17, 1753. In order to sync with the rest of the world, the remaining days in February were eliminated, and Feb. 17 was followed by March 1.

James Polk was the first president to have his picture taken Feb. 14, 1849. He's buried at the Tennessee State Capitol, and the guide of a ghost tour I went on one time in Nashville said people have been known to take pictures in front of his tomb and have his ghost standing over them in a menacing pose. The picture of me standing there doesn't prove that, but I hope it's true.

It's good to believe in stuff like that, like Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch year after year waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear, despite it never happening. He misses out on candy while everybody makes fun of him. If the Great Pumpkin had any decency in him at all, he'd show up at least once.

Something About Sports

The holder on a field goal is one of the most underrated people on the field, proved so by the actions of the worst teammate in sports history, Lucy van Pelt. Lucy is not only one of the world's worst outfielders, inspiring Jose Canseco to imitate her, but mocking Charlie Brown while he pitches and gives up home run after home run. But it is her glorious incompetence at football that she is best known for. She perpetually taunts Charlie Brown by holding the football for him only to pull it away at the last minute. He never wears a helmet, so she probably contributed to him suffering several concussions from hitting the ground with a loud "AAUGH!"

The Negro National League was formed Feb. 13, 1920. Some of the teams it included were the Indianapolis ABCs, Cuban Stars, Chicago Giants and Kansas City Monarchs.

The National Hockey League became the first – and only – North American league to cancel a full season due to a labor dispute Feb. 16, 2005. The terribly-managed NHL almost did the same thing this season, too.

The Basketball Hall of Fame opened Feb. 17, 1968.

The Week in Warfare

A bunch of countries got together Feb. 11, 1971, and banned nuclear weapons on the ocean floor in international waters. The United States was one of them, but as I pointed out last week, that doesn't mean we can't stash them close to shore where they can't be found, and might kill people without them even knowing it.

I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the world famous World War I Flying Ace, who did battle with the Red Baron time and time again, and despite always losing, never failed to come back for more. Of all the characters in Peanuts, Snoopy has to be by far the best and most beloved. I used to have a T-shirt with Snoopy on it, and not when I was a child. I was in college. I wore it so much, it's life was literally ripped away.

Everybody wishes they had a dog like Snoopy, or even that they were Snoopy. His life is much more entertaining than that of any human. From his writing, to his flying, to traveling to see his brother in the desert and standing around doing nothing as Joe Cool, it's hard not to like him.

Schulz himself said of Snoopy, "He is like a lot of us – when he really gets himself into trouble, he simply retreats into fantasy and survives in that way."

Or as Snoopy's friend Woodstock might say, " ‘'' ‘' ‘‘' ‘' ‘ ‘''' ‘‘ ".

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Today is National Peppermint Patty Day. It has nothing to do with the Peanuts character of the same name, however it is spelled the same. Hershey's and York, who produce the candy treat the day celebrates, spell it "pattie." Either way, have one, and then sleep through class/work.

Good grief.

Preview of next week

We lost Dale Earnhardt.

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