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February 17! 1925!

Filed under: Eustace Google   Tagged: ,

That’s the founding date of The New Yorker, as I’m sure you know. I wonder what that not very friendly guy who won the eBay auction for the debut issue is doing tonight? What merriment is that not very friendly guy who won the eBay auction for the debut issue pursuing tonight? Anyway, at least according to Wikipedia, these are other notable February 17 events, selected for fascinating aptness perhaps striking only to me:

* 1621 - Miles Standish is appointed as first commander of Plymouth colony.
* 1895 - Swan Lake, with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is first performed at full length in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
* 1913 - The Armory Show opens in New York City, displaying works of artists who are to become some of the most influential painters of the early 20th century.
* 1933 - The magazine Newsweek is published for the first time.
* 1933 - The Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States.
* 1947 - The Voice of America begins to transmit radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union.
* 1958 - Pope Pius XII declares Saint Clare of Assisi (1193~1253) the patron saint of television
* 1972 - Sales of the Volkswagen Beetle model exceed those of Ford Model-T.
* 1974 - Robert K. Preston, a disgruntled U.S. Army private, buzzes the White House with a stolen helicopter.
* 1996 - In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, world champion Garry Kasparov beats the Deep Blue supercomputer in a chess match.
* 2000 - Microsoft released Windows 2000.

Those sly devils Newsweek and Microsoft! Always trying to get in on other people’s debut dates. Meanwhile, in another corner of the world on February 17, 1925, this is what Ruth Campbell Smith was up to:
I felt better and stronger today. Scrubbed the linoleum and cleaned up the house and spritzed my clothes but didn’t get to iron till after dinner. Mama came over and sewed on buttons and patches. We sent Dale and Dick to the dentist. Dick had a new tooth behind a baby tooth and couldn’t seem to get the baby tooth out so it didn’t take the dentist long. He filled one for Dale and gave them tooth paste.
Presumably, the dentist’s office didn’t have a copy of The New Yorker in its waiting room, since the magazine was only a few hours old, or possibly Harold Ross and Jane Grant were still in labor. But who was Ruth Campbell Smith? She lived in Indianapolis; she was the mother of six; her granddaughter, Carol, has been posting RCS’s 1925-27 entries on her blog. Isn’t that great? I love old diaries; one of my favorite books is The Faber Book of Diaries, which I read often, since you can just pick a date and read the entries of, say, Samuel Pepys, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf, and some ’70s British celebrity you’ve never heard of. Great stuff! (Only one copy left at Powell’s, where the link points, so here are some more at Alibris. You really want this book, I assure you.)

I’m sorry to report that while Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, and Chaim Potok, Ruth Rendell, and Randy Shilts were also born on 2/17 (1929, 1930, and 1951, respectively), it’s also the birthday of Paris Hilton, who was dropped from a passing ship of chortling aliens in 1981. On the other hand, according to whoever thinks these things up, it’s also Random Acts of Kindness Day, about which our friend Clive has something to say, in the form of a review of a new game called Cruel 2 B Kind, in which, as the game designers write, “Some players will be slain by a serenade. Others will be killed by a compliment. You and your partner might be taken down by an innocent group cheer.” This is a game (sort of) in the real world, by the way. Might you be competing already without even knowing it?


Used copies of the book are also for sale at amazon, so save your nickels and dimes.

(Actually, that would be one nickel and one dime as copies are going for 14 cents.)

If I’ve read this correctly, the following is factual:

02/17/25: 1st TNY issue went on sale at newsstands.

“02/21/25”: Is the issue’s “date.”

Can this be confirmed?

Believe it or not, this is not a frivolous question.


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