Events - October 12
1492 - In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And on this day, with a crew of 90 and three ships, the "Nina", the "Pinta" and the "Santa Maria", he landed on Guanahani Island in the Bahamas. An entry in his journal described meeting the natives of the island, “As I saw that they were friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted and became wonderfully attached to us.” And most people in Spanish-speaking countries and the Americas are still pretty much attached to Columbus, as they continue to celebrate this day as a holiday in his honor.
1792 - The first monument honoring Christopher Columbus was dedicated -- in Baltimore, MD.
1895 - The first amateur golf tournament was held -- in Newport, Rhode Island. A chap named Charles Blair McDonald beat a field of 31 others in the event.
1920 - The leading race horse money winner of the day ran for the last time. Man o’ War beat Sir Barton in Canada’s Kenilworth Park. Man o’ War’s career earnings totaled nearly $250,000.
1920 - Construction of the Holland Tunnel got underway. The tunnel would provide a direct link between Twelfth Street in Jersey City, NJ and Canal Street in New York City. The tunnel has two tubes more than 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) long. It opened to traffic on November 13, 1927. Oh, and one more thing: The Holland Tunnel was named for Clifford Milburn Holland (1883-1924), the civil engineer who died while directing the tunnel’s construction.
1923 - The largest crowd to catch a World Series game (over 62,000) saw Casey Stengel hit the winning home run as the New York Giants beat the Yankees 1-0.
1937 - The longest-running detective show on radio debuted. "Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons" lasted until 1955. Three different actors played the title role, Bennett Kilpack was Mr. Keen the longest, and Arthur Hughes saw the final show. Phil Clark also played the part. There were many more than three sponsors -- Anacin, Kolynos (a toothpaste), BiSoDol antacid mints, Hill’s cold tablets, Heet liniment, Dentyne, Aerowax, RCA Victor and Chesterfield cigarettes. Some are long gone, some are still around, some don’t advertise on radio anymore, and some are not allowed to.
1944 - Who could forget the picture of a huge crowd of swooning bobbysoxers stopping traffic in New York’s Times Square as Frank Sinatra made his triumphant return to the famed Paramount Theatre (he had played there for eight weeks starting on December 30, 1942). In what was called the ‘Columbus Day Riot’, 25,000 teenagers, mostly young women, blocked the streets, screaming and swooning for Frankie. Sinatra later explained, “It was the war years, and there was a great loneliness. And I was the boy in every corner drug store ... who’d gone off, drafted to the war. That was all.”
1950 - The Kefauver Crime Commission convened in New York to investigate interstate organized crime. TV was there the following year, showing Frank Costello’s hands for a long, long time on screen. Mr. Costello told Senator Estes Kefauver’s committee that he would refuse to testify on TV if his face was shown. So, viewers were shown his hands instead.
1950 - The "George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" made its debut on CBS-TV. "Burns and Allen" had been on the radio since 1935. The TV show ran through Sep 22, 1958, featuring the real-life married couple at home. George played on-screen host/narrator and straight man for Gracie’s scatterbrained (but hillarious) schemes.
1960 - At the United Nations, Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev went ballistic, taking off his shoe and pounding it on his desk! The UN Assembly President, Frederick Boland, was so irritated that he split his gavel trying to reestablish order.
1961 - The first video memoirs by a U.S. president were made. CBS presented a three-hour discussion with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Reportedly, 11 hours of film were used and later, edited to the final print. The interviewer was Walter Cronkite.
1967 - The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox, 4 games to 3 in the World Series. A few stats worth remembering: In 27 innings, Bob Gibson allowed three runs and 14 hits to notch St. Louis’ eighth title. Although he and Boston’s Jim Lonborg pitched spectacularly, the series tied the record for most pitchers used (20). St. Louis’ Lou Brock collected 12 hits for a .414 average and a Series-record seven stolen bases. He also tied a Series mark with eight runs. Roger Maris batted .385, collecting ten hits. Julian Javier batted .360. Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski batted .400 with three homers. Dalton Jones batted .389.
1968 - "Cheap Thrills", the album by Big Brother and the Holding Company, started an eight-week run as number one in the U.S. It was the first and only album (for a major label) Janis Joplin made with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The album’s tracks: "Combination of the Two", "I Need a Man to Love", "Summertime", "Piece of My Heart", "Turtle Blues", "Oh, Sweet Mary", "Ball and Chain".
1968 - The games of the XIX Olympiad were opened in Mexico City by Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz. Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo became first woman to light the Olympic flame. The high-altitude (2,240 meters or 7,573 feet above seal level) and polluted air in Mexico City, put the athletes to a real test. Black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the black power salute during the national anthem as a protest against racism in the U.S. They were expelled from the Olympic Village & thrown off the team by the USOC.
1971 - Some folks weren’t pleased when "Jesus Christ Superstar" premiered on Broadway because of the controversial content of the musical. Before the show opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, some 2.5 million copies of the album were sold to the curious. The Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Weber collaboration would become a big hit. "Jesus Christ Superstar" would run on Broadway for 720 shows, and spawn several hit songs, including "I Don’t Know How to Love Him" (Helen Reddy) and the title song, "Jesus Christ Superstar" (Murray Head).
1981 - Barbara Mandrell walked away with the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year honor for the second year in a row.
1986 - It cost $100 a seat. It featured refreshments and food. It ran for 8.5 hours. "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" closed on Broadway this day. Incidentally, those who saw it may remember that there were potty breaks scheduled, so the audience wouldn’t miss one thrilling moment...
1992 - An earthquake, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, hit Dahshur, near Cairo, Egypt. More than 500 people were killed and about 6500 others were injured.
1997 - Singer/songwriter John Denver, piloting an experimental, amateur- built Long-EZ airplane, crashed into Monterey Bay, California. Witnesses said the plane, made of fiberglass with a single engine and two seats, was flying about at about 500 feet “when it just sort of dropped unexpectedly into the ocean. When it hit the water it broke into numerous parts.” Denver, age 53 and the only occupant of the plane, was killed.
Birthdays - October 12
1860 - Elmer A. (Ambrose) Sperry (inventor: Sperry Automatic Pilot [gyroscopic compass]; founder: Sperry-Rand Corp.; died Jun 16, 1930)
1872 - Ralph Vaughan Williams (composer: The Pilgrim’s Progress, Fantasia on a Theme of Tallis, Mass in G Minor; died Aug 26, 1958)
1891 - Perle Mesta (Skirvin) (socialite: ‘The hostess with the mostes’; diplomat: appointment as U.S. envoy to Luxembourg  inspired Broadway play Call Me Madam; died Mar 16, 1975)
1906 - Joe (Joseph Edward) Cronin (Baseball Hall of Famer: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals [World Series: 1933/all-star: 1933, 1934], Boston Red Sox [all-star: 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941]; American League president; American League Chairman; died Sep 7, 1984)
1923 - Jean Nidetch (diet mogul: founder of Weight Watchers; died Apr 29, 2015)
1932 - Dick Gregory (comedian; civil rights activist; died Aug 19, 2017)
1932 - Ned Jarrett (auto racer: NASCAR/International Motorsports Hall of Famer: 50 Grand National victories; radio/TV commentator)
1935 - Tony (Anthony Christopher) Kubek (baseball: NY Yankees outfielder/shortstop [Rookie of the Year: 1957/World Series: 1957, 1958, 1960-1963/all-star: 1958, 1959, 1961]; broadcaster: Toronto Blue Jays, NBC Game of the Week)
1935 - Samuel Moore (singer: group: Sam & Dave: Hold On! I’m a Comin’, Soul Man, I Thank You, Soul Sister Brown Sugar)
1935 - Luciano Pavarotti (Emmy Award-winning opera star: Pavarotti in Philadelphia: La Boheme [1982-1983]; actor: Yes, Giorgio; died Sep 6, 2007)
1939 - Jerry Hill (football: Baltimore Colts running back: Super Bowl III, V)
1940 - Glenn (Alfred) Beckert (baseball: Chicago Cubs [all-star: 1969-1972], SD Padres)
1948 - Rick Parfitt (singer, musician: guitar: group: Status Quo: LPs: Piledriver, Hello, On the Level, Blue for You, 1982)
1949 - Dan Medlin (football: Oakland Raiders guard: Super Bowl XI)
1950 - Susan Anton (singer: Killin’ Time [w/Fred Knoblock]; actress: Cannonball Run 2, Goldengirl, Baywatch, Stop Susan Williams)
1951 - Sally Little (golf champion: Nabisco Dinah Shore , Du Maurier Classic , LPGA )
1951 - Jeff Winans (football: University of Southern California [USC])
1956 - Dave Vanian (Letts) (singer; group: The Damned: Love Song, Grimly Fiendish, Shadow of Love, Eloise, Alone Again Or)
1968 - Adam Rich (actor: Eight is Enough, The Devil & Max Devlin, Zertigo Diamond Caper, Code Red)
1970 - Kirk Cameron (actor: Growing Pains, Listen to Me, The Best of Times, Like Father, like Son, Two Marriages)
1970 - Charlie Ward (football: Florida State quarterback: Heisman Trophy winner )
Chart Toppers - October 12
I’ll Walk Alone - Dinah Shore
Is You is or is You Ain’t - Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters
Together - Helen Forrest & Dick Haymes
Smoke on the Water - Red Foley
You Belong to Me - Jo Stafford
Wish You Were Here - Eddie Fisher
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) - Jo Stafford
Jambalaya (On the Bayou) - Hank Williams
Mr. Custer - Larry Verne
Chain Gang - Sam Cooke
Save the Last Dance for Me - The Drifters
Alabam - Cowboy Copas
Hey Jude - The Beatles
Fire - The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Little Green Apples - O.C. Smith
Harper Valley P.T.A. - Jeannie C. Riley
A Fifth of Beethoven - Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band
Lowdown - Boz Scaggs
Disco Duck (Part 1) - Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots
The Games That Daddies Play - Conway Twitty
Let’s Go Crazy - Prince & The Revolution
I Just Called to Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
Hard Habit to Break - Chicago
Everyday - The Oak Ridge Boys
Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end...
Written and edited by Carol Williams and John Williams
Produced by John Williams
Those Were the Days, the Today in History feature
from 440 International
No portion of these files may be reproduced without the express, written permission of 440 International Inc.