March 27, 2020

Wash you hands, Happy Birthday To You, Racist "Cotton Tom" and more.

Patty Smith Hill

Everyone knows the rules in washing your hands to help prevent the spread of Covid 19.  You do it by singing the Happy Birthday To You song twice.  In 1868 on this day, Patty Smith Hill who composed the birthday song was born.  I wonder what she'd say if she knew her song was now a medical procedure:


Cotton Tom
Speaking of washing your hands, here's a man who's racist ways we should have washed our hands of by now, but haven't with the White Supremacist Revival going in the world.  His name was James Thomas "Cotton Tom" Heflin.  On this day in 1908, after just having introduced a measure in congress that would segregate the streetcars of Washington DC to be like the streetcars back in his hometown of Atlanta,  Cotton Tom boarded a trolley near the Capitol on his way to a temperance meeting and found two black men not only sitting in the trolley car, but sharing a bottle of alcohol. 

When his remonstrations to put away the bottle were met with "vile epithets" from "the negro," as The New York Times reported at the time, the enraged Heflin tossed one of the men off the streetcar.  Then, when his adversary continued to sass him from the street, the congressman natually shot at him.  The bullet missed, though, and hit a bystander in the toe.  Undeterred, Heflin fired again, this time wounding Lumby in the head.  He was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill, and, after being accorded all due courtesy at the police station, released on bail.  Cotton Tom was never tried for the shooting, which he later cited as one of the greatest accomplishments of his career. 

In ancient Rome, the fertility and wine-god Liber Pater was honored annually on this date (and sometimes on the seventeenth of March).  His festival, the Liberalia, was a time of feasting and drinking, and a day when young males entered into their manhood.

First Lady Helen Taft
On this day in 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and the Japanese ambassador's wife, Viscountess Chinda, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac tidal basin.  Mayor Ozaki donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations. Large and colorful helium balloons, floats, marching bands from across the country, music and showmanship are parts of the Festival's parade and other events.

One has to wonder if President Truman noticed the friendship trees on August 6, 1945 or August 9, 1945 when we dropped atomic bombs on them killing 75,000 people.   I wonder how good those apples tasted that day.


 A person can escape the unhappiness that befalls her, but not the unhappiness she creates herself.

--Father Tolstoy

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