November 6th Trivia

After writing about Guy Fawkes for yesterday’s post, I decided to do some digging into the history of November 6th. One of the first things I discovered reminded me of an old trivia question.

What state was the birth place of two American Presidents who served simultaneously?

The other things I discovered are a real hodgepodge of historical facts… with something to interest almost everyone. For instance, in 1869, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University defeated Princeton University, 6-4, in the first official intercollegiate American football game. I’m not exactly sure how points were awarded back then. Could it have been three safeties to two? Maybe someone out there knows a football fanatic who can set us straight.

In 1913 Mohandas Gandhi was arrested while leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa. Many people would more readily recognize the man if we used the more familiar Mahātmā Gandhi. Mahatma is an honorific meaning “Great Soul”. The title was bestowed on Gandhi years later. Gandhi was a lawyer working in South Africa and this action was the beginning of his non-violent civil disobedience that would eventually free his homeland of India from the colonial binds of England.

In 1934 Memphis, Tennessee became the first major city to enter the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA was part of Franklin Roosevelt’s plan for recovery from the Great Depression and was aimed at bringing the rural electrification of America to fruition. The fact that people who live hundreds of miles from the nearest city have electricity is something we take for granted, but it wasn’t all that long ago that the people who relied on outhouses also relied on kerosene to light their homes after dark.

One of the dams that was begun in the late 1930’s and completed in the early 1940s created Fontana Lake in North Carolina. The citizens of the area fought the dam because it cut off the main routes to other small towns… and, in some cases, the cemeteries where their kinfolk were buried. After the beginning of World War II, the Federal government said they needed the hydro-electric power from the dam to drive the Alcoa plant in nearby Tennessee that was producing aluminum for bombers. The Feds also promised to build a road around the lake so people from Bryson City could get to the neighboring towns and cemeteries. They went so far as to build a road and a tunnel. But they never finished the project. To this day, the road ends less than a quarter of a mile from the other side of the tunnel. If you are ever in Bryson City and want to begin a heated discussion, ask about the road to nowhere.

In truth, the dam was built because the Federal Government needed the electrical power for the Manhattan Project in Oakridge, Tennessee.

While there were many other events that happened on November 6th, most are rather unrecognizable to most Americans. Therefore, I’ll just move on to the famous people who were born on this day. A small part of the total list includes Mike Nichols (film director), Stonewall Jackson (country singer), Sally Field (actress), Maria Shriver (Journalist and wife of California’s Governor) and Pat Tillman (the football player who was killed in Afghanistan).

Of course I saved the most important event for last. Today, November 6, 2008 is the anniversary of my bride and I getting married. I’ve had many blessings in my life, but this marriage ranks right up there with the births of my sons and the day my daughter became part of my family.

As for the trivia question about the two presidents, the answer is Kentucky.

While many might think Abraham Lincoln was born in Illinois, he really was born in Kentucky. And so was Jefferson Davis, the other American President who served simultaneously with Abe.

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