Monday, July 2, 2007

July 2


Yes, I know, you are surely rolling your eyes. Everybody knows that Canada Day is actually July 1st. Except when the first of July lands on a Sunday, in which case, Canada Day is celebrated on July 2nd.

I have a very close relationship with Canada. I spent 2 hours there one winter, as our touring van crossed the border from Michigan to Canada to New York. It was snowing, and the lunch we stopped for was, well, unoffensive. And that's what Canada is all about, isn't it?

At least Canadians officially celebrate July 2nd, even if only occasionally. Americans overlook the date without fail. July 2 is always overshadowed by its more flamboyant sibling, July 4.

But the 2nd should not be discounted. It is the exact middle of the calendar year, with 182 days preceding it, and 182 days following it. (Unless it's a leap year, but don't open that can of worms.)

And July 2 has it's own historical significance. It is the actual date, in 1776, that the Second Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence (though it took that group of slackers two days to actually get the thing signed and printed).

A year later, it was the date that Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery. And Vermont wasn't even AT the Second Continental Congress.

It was also on this date that one of only 4 presidential assassinations took place. James Garfield was shot on this date, though he lingered hopefully until September, when he finally croaked.

Perhaps I'm being a little bit zealous about July 2nd. You have already guessed that it must be my birthday.

But not just mine. Lindsey Lohan was also born on this date, and I imagine she is hoisting a few to celebrate even as I write this. Many significant folks share my birthday, including some with whom I share an affinity. Theatrical genius Tyrone Guthrie was born this day in 1900. I never met him, but sure would like to work at his theatre.

Polly Holliday( Alice's Flo) and Ron Silver (former AEA president and Rhoda co-star) both entered the world today. And Larry David started curbing his enthusiasm on this date, too.

I can't claim to share much in common with Thurgood Marshall (I don't have an airport named after me) or Imelda Marcos (I haven't bought new shoes in years) or the Roman Emperor Valentinian. (Let's get real, who the hell even knows anything about any Roman Emperor after Nero? Well maybe Constantine, but just because he popped up in Sunday School...).

But Happy Birthday to that famous flip-flopper Thomas Cranmer. He was the 15th century cleric who pronounced Henry VIII legally divorced from Catherine of Aragon, and was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury for his pains.

You want to appoint me something important? I'll proclaim whatever the hell you want.

Of course, Cranmer later made a faux-pas by trying to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne, for which that spoil-sport Bloody Mary burned him at the stake. But that didn't happen on July 2nd, so who cares?

Speaking of death and destruction, I have to admit that many more important people died on July 2nd than were born on it. That sourpuss Nostradamus left this earth in 1566, signalling the way to a whole host of influential folks to follow suit.

Earnest Hemingway stopped wondering For Whom the Bell Tolls, discovering on this date that it tolls for he.

WWII Pin-up girl Betty Grable finally retired those million-dollar legs today (In her later years, I saw her in "Hello, Dolly" in summer stock, she wasn't half bad!)

Fred Gwynne made his move out of 1313 Mockingbird Lane permanent today.

Lee Remick and Jimmy Stewart both passed away today. So did the late, great Michael Bennett, creator of "A Chorus Line," "Dreamgirls," and the sorely underrated "Ballroom." (I saw it twice in one week during its short Broadway life.)

On this date, Mario Puzo, creator of "The Godfather," began sleeping with the fishes.

So did Bathsheba Spooner. She was a real piece of work back in the 18th century. She nursed a 16 year old soldier back to health during the Revolutionary War, then became pregnant by him. She then arranged for two escaped British Prisoners of War to kill her aging husband, and dump the old coot down a well.

At her trial, she pleaded extenuating circumstances (wouldn't you?), and became the first woman to be executed by the newly formed United States of America.

She was still pregnant at the time.

Happy Execution Day, Bathsheba!

Amelia Earhart disappeared on this date, in the middle of that round-the-world flight she was taking, and according to the Post, some goof-ball is still looking for her.

...and on this date, it is generally recognized that the fall of modern civilization truly began:

Wal-Mart opened its first store.

Happy Second, Everybody!