A HISTORIC DAY                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 1-7-18

It isn’t every day that we have as historic of a day as what today is. I happened to look on History.com and couldn’t believe all of the important events that occurred on January 7th. I will list a few of them: 1789 George Washington was elected as the first president of the United States. On this day in 1953 President Harry Truman announced that the US had developed the hydrogen bomb. In 1959 the US recognized the new Cuban government of Manuel Urritia. We all know how that turned out. Just over 2 years later in April 1961 the US severed political ties with Cuba and launched the Bay of Pigs invasion and a nearly a year and a half later President John Kennedy was having to deal with the Cuban missile Crisis. In 1785 the first crossing of the English channel by air took place in a gas-powered balloon piloted by a Frenchman and an American. In 1979 Cambodian rebel dictator Pol Pot was overthrown. In 1989, Japanese emperor Hirohito died. He was the emperor that was in charge of the December 7, 1941 attack on the naval station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On this date in 1999 the Senate impeachment trial of then President Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstruction of justice began.

And finally on the lighter side of history, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was the #1 song on the US pop charts. The story was written by Robert May, who as a department store copywriter, was given the task of writing a story to be given to over 2 million Montgomery Ward customers in 1939 as a cheap replacement of the coloring books that the stores usually gave out. Ten years later, May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks put the words to music. The song found its way to Gene Autry, the original Singing Cowboy and his version sold more than 2 million units in its first year and went on to become the second most successful Christmas record behind “White Christmas.” The rest, shall we say, is history but it doesn’t end there. At this time, someone began to wonder who had the legal rights to this huge money-making song. Since May was a paid employee at the time he wrote it, he had no legal rights to it. To make matters worse, by 1947 May was a single father struggling with enormous debt following his wife’s terminal illness. Now, here is the heart warming happy ending that we all like so much. The president of Montgomery Ward, Sewell Avery signed over 100% of the “Rudolph” copyright to May in January 1947. May lived till his death in 1976, having lived comfortably off of the royalties for the remainder of his life courtesy of “Rudolph.”

I even have one more for you. On this date in 1927, the ambassadors of good will, the Harlem Globetrotters from Chicago, played their first game. Owner Abe Saperstein founded the team after taking over as the coach of an African-American team. He was manager, book-keeper, tailor, coach, publicist, and even at times a substitute player. For their first game, the team was paid 75 dollars. The record was 101 wins and 16 losses in their first year. By 1936 they had played over 1000 games in 9 upper midwest states. They had started out as the Savoy Big Five, being named after a Chicago ballroom where they played their early games. Ironically enough, they never played a game in Harlem until the late 1960’s. The name change to the Harlem Globetrotters came as a promotional stunt by Saperstein, to promote the racial diversity of his team to include whites as well as blacks. To include blacks wasn’t done at that time and an integrated team was unthinkable. They played their first championship game in 1939 losing to the New York Renaissance. That was also the year that they started the comedy and ball handling routines to the delight of their crowds. The players were told to keep it up but only after they had a solid lead. They gained notoriety and respect in 1948 after beating the NBA’s Minnesota Lakers. In 1950 the NBA lifted its color ban and some of the globetrotter stars such as Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, and Nat Clifton went on to noteworthy careers in the NBA. This team that had earned 75 dollars for its first game in 1927, was sold for 3.7 million to a group of Chicago investors in 1966 after Saperstein had died. It was later sold to Metro Media for 11 million dollars. The team has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame as well as a permanent exhibit in The Smithsonian Institute. In 2002 they received the honor of being inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame. They have played for audiences, including dignitaries the world over.

I know this has been a change of pace from my usual posts and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. There is a moral to this article though. No matter what you do, whether it be in politics, business, or sports, you are making history. We all have a legacy and a history that we will one day leave behind. Wouldn’t it be a shame to pass away having never done anything to be remembered for? I know for the most part we will be pretty much forgotten just two or three generations after we are gone. But like Abe Saperstein, the Chicago taylor and Robert May, the Montgomery Ward employee, you never know when something you do or decisions you make might one day bring smiles to the faces of millions the world over. Also, men like George Washington who, through prayer shaped the future of not only a nation but of the world. As an English surveyor and farmer from Virginia, I am sure he never imagined he would make the impact he has made by the decisions he made. Remember this, even the tallest of skyscrapers start with a single shovel full of dirt. Also, the tallest oak tree started as a little acorn overlooked by deer and squirrels. Lift up your head! You are destined for greatness, even if it is only among those you love. On this day, you will make history for someone. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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