Apr. 3, 1999
Poems: "New Yorkers," by Edward Field, from Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems 1963-1992 (Black Sparrow Press).
It's the birthday today of the animal behaviorist JANE GOODALL, born 1934 in London, who has spent most of her life studying the behavior of chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. She's studied chimpanzees for over 35 years, and was the first to describe how chimps make tools of twigs to dig termites out of their moundsup until then toolmaking was thought to be a behavior that separated humans from animals; she also discovered that chimps are omnivorous rather than vegetarian, and documented their highly complex social structure.
It was on this day in Chicago, 1908, that the heavyweight wrestler FRANK GOTCH defeated George Hackenschmidt to win the world heavyweight wrestling championship in a 2-hour match. Gotch was from Humboldt, Iowa and had started wrestling at the age of 22 on barnstorming tours, offering $200 to anyone he couldn't throw in 15 minutes, and few could. By the end of his career in 1917 his record was 364-6 and his fortune worth $750,000.
It was on this day in 1865 that Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant captured RICHMOND, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, spelling the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. The day before Grant and his troops had attacked and captured Petersburg just 25 miles to the south, closing down all of the important railway lines leading into Richmond and forcing the Confederates to flee. The president, Jefferson Davis, escaped that night on a train and Confederate troops set fire to warehouses and supplies as they evacuated. When Grant and his troops arrived in the capital on April third much of the city was a smoldering ruin.
The PONY EXPRESS was inaugurated on this day in 1860, a horse-back mail service that ran over 2000 miles between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, shortening the delivery time of a letter from about 24 days by stagecoach to about eight days. The regular service lasted only about a yearit was discontinued when the first telegraph line to San Francisco was set up in 1861.
It's the birthday in 1783 of one of America's great short-story writers, WASHINGTON IRVING, born in New York City, the first American author to win international recognition. In 1819 he published his most famous collection of essays and stories called The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, which included two of his best-known tales, "Rip Van Winkle," about a man who falls asleep in the woods for twenty years, and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," about a thin, nervous schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane and his run-in with a headless horseman.
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