News, Events, Birthdays, History - May 7 - May 13


Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky - May 7, 1840.
Tchaikovsky ranks with Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Schumann and others as one of the most talented composers of all time.  His most famous works include the ballets Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

Harry S. Truman - May 8, 1884.
The 33rd President of the United States was born on this day in 1884.  Truman succeeded to the office upon the sudden death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945, and served until January of 1953.    Truman was the last of the nine U.S. Presidents who did not attend college.

Fred Astaire - May 9, 1899.
Astaire's dance and film career spanned a total of seventy-six years, during which he made thirty-one musical films. Known for his close partnership with fellow dancer Ginger Rogers, Astaire was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. 
If you're a fan of American Idol, think of Astaire the next time you see someone get cut by the judges.  After Astaire's first Hollywood screen test, a producer wrote this note:  "Can't act.  Slightly bald.  Can dance a little".   


May 7, 1915 - Sinking of the Lusitania
Unlike the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier, this was no accident.  The British passenger liner was on a return trip from New York when it was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland.  Of the nearly 2,000 souls on board, 1,198 lives were lost, including 128 Americans.   Germany claimed it had issued a warning, and pointed to the Lusitania's cargo of ammunition as justification.  Just under two years later, on April 6, 1917, the United States would formally enter World War I. 

May 7, 1992 - Twenty-Seventh Amendment Ratified
This amendment prohibits Congress from giving themselves a mid-term pay raise.  Any pay increase voted upon must wait until the next term before it becomes effective.  To think that this sort of self-restraint required a constitutional amendment...

May 8, 1902 - Mount Pelee Eruption
This day saw the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century.  Mount Pelee is located on the tiny French Caribbean island of Martinique.  After two weeks of minor eruptions, a series of deafening explosions were heard and a huge black cloud of searing superheated gas and incandescent volcanic ash and dust rushed down the southern slopes of the volcano and engulfed the town of St. Pierre, killing all but two of its 30,000 residents.
May 10, 1994 - Nelson Mandela Inaugurated 
Mandela had spent over 27 years as a political prisoner in South Africa for his attempts to end the enforced policies of discrimination in that country.  He was released from prison in 1990, and began a movement to support reconciliation, ultimately  leading the country towards multi-racial democracy, and winning the presidency in April of 1994.   Mandela was the first South African President to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.