Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Oct. 26: A day that
will live in obscurity

Today's a special day, and you probably didn't even know it. A lot of famous stuff has happened on Oct. 26 over the years. For instance, not only does Daylight Savings Time end on Oct. 26, but the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place on the same date in 1881. Makes you wonder if the two things were related. Were the Earp Brothers cranky after trying to figure out whether to set their clocks forward or backward? Did they synchronize their watches with the Clantons so they'd all get to the OK Corral at the same time?

I didn't realize how many amazing things happened on this date in history until, in a fit of unrestrained boredom, I stumbled on a Web site called This Day, That Year (, which tells you everything important that happened on any day of the year.

The first notable thing that ever happened on Oct. 26 was in the year 1366, when a comet flew close to Earth. It was a quiet day. People were washing their laundry in streams or combing their goats or whatever people did back then when, all of sudden, whooooosh! This THING screamed by in the sky and everyone stopped their goat-combing to say, "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!"

Then nothing big happened on this day for more than a hundred years until 1492, when lead pencils were invented and Christopher Columbus coincidentally anchored in the Bahamas. How lucky was that? After sailing for months, he comes across the Bahamas and says: "Man, I better write this down. Someone hand me one of those lead-filled thingies."

THEN THINGS were pretty quiet again until Oct. 26, 1774, when the Minutemen organized after a lengthy acrimonious debate about whether the term "Minuteman" was derogatory in a sexual context and whether "45-Minute Man" would be better.

In 1810 on this date, the United States annexed Western Florida. You hear little of Western Florida in history mainly because Florida is pretty much a north-south, up-and-down state. Western Florida is a small patch of sand just above the high-tide mark in Tampa.

Oct. 26 was a big day for horses in 1861. That's when the Pony Express ended and a lot of horses said: "Thank God. My feet are killing me. I ran from Phoenix to Dodge City three times last week. Just to deliver junk mail."

According to this Web site, it wasn't until Oct. 26, 1901, that a "getaway car" was used. It happened after a shop was held up in Paris. Before that, robbers had to form into a small pack and flee from the scene of the crime in a "getaway jog."

And speaking of that, on Oct. 26, 1951, Emile Zatopek ran world-record times in the 30,000-meter, 25,000-meter and 15-mile track events. He was so far away by the time he stopped running that they couldn't give him medals.

Lots of famous people were born on Oct. 26, mostly dead composers. I mean they're all dead now. Other people born on this day include Pat Sajak, Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Mikhailovich Beloborodov, who you no doubt recognize as the famous Russian cosmonaut and hoarder of consonants.

Sadly, nothing important in Hawaii has happened on Oct. 26. We don't even have Daylight Savings Time, so we can't even mess around with our watches.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail


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