Writing Out Loud:
A Day that is Auspiciously Ominous

George Stahl

Perhaps one of the most auspicious and ominous days in history has to be today. August 5th has been one of those days when if it was going to happen, good or bad, it was going to happen on August 5. How does that work out?

It’s in the stars, in the cards and in the tea leaves. The number 5 in the Bible is said to symbolize God’s Grace, in the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, is the number used to identify the Human Being, body, spirit and soul, and in Numerology, it demands excitement, and a challenge.

August 5th has proven to be that number personified. Starting in 1861 it was today that resident Abraham Lincoln signed the first bill instituting the income tax. 3% over the first $800 earned. In all of our complaining about paying our taxes, I bet you don’t think of Honest Abe on April 15 before you cuss the IRS. The next year was the Battel of Baton Rouge in the Civil War.

A Confederate General named John C. Breckenridge took 2600 men with him to reclaim Baton Rouge, LA. They even had warships following them on
the Mississippi River, but were met by a Union force and were stopped, leaving 84 of his men dead, 315 wounded, and 57 missing. If you are wondering.

Yes, there is a statue of Breckenridge. In 2017, it was moved from its original place at the Courthouse Lawn in Lexington, Kentucky where Breckenridge was born, to the Lexington Memorial Cemetery. So far, it is still there.

On August 5, 1884 the cornerstone for the gift from France was laid on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor. It was almost 2 years later when the Statue of Liberty arrived and was installed. She was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, inspired by the Roman goddess, Liberates.

The less said about her and her designers, sculptors, and erecters the better. Just remember, she was a gift from France as a thank you for our help with their revolution after they helped with ours.

Alright, hey. Today was the day in 1914, that the traffic light was born. It happened on a corner in Cleveland, Ohio. Euclid and E. 105th St. You think they did a traffic survey before choosing that corner? It would have been funnier if it were on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, with a 1914 flatbed Ford and a girl. Oh well. The traffic light that made Cleveland famous. Next, red
light runners, traffic court, and traffic school.

It’s now 1964, still Aug.5. The Beatles are the biggest thing since bubble gum, and they decide to scrap a song, after fully recording it, only done one other time in their career.

It’s called, ‘Leave My Kitten Alone.’ It was a remix of a 1959 R&B song about a kitten, a bulldog, and some violent encounters. It was not released in the 60’s, but it can be heard on the Anthology. Wonder what that sounds like played backwards?

Staying in the 60’s on August 5, and with the world of music, the Beatles go on to release Yellow Submarine, and Elenore Rigby in 1966, and one year later, a girl named Bobbie Gentry gives the world her only hit, ‘Ode to Billy Joe.’

That was supposed to be the B side of the record, but shot to the top of the charts, and stayed there even until now in some people’s opinions. It was a
ballad of ballads, set in a time of unrest, civil rights issues, and the Vietnam
War.

Who was Billy Joe? Who was the singer’s family in the song, and who was the girl to Billie Joe? What did they throw off the bridge and why did he jump the next day? This is not a song that needs to be played backwards to
get the point it makes, not then and certainly not now. Papa died of a virus,
Billy Joe and the girl have a secret, and mama and the family don’t understand.

The answers are in the muddy water below the bridge, or are they. Aug 5th through the 70’s was space races, Mars fly by’s and Richard Nixon admitting that he kept his own secrets about something called Watergate, Arab terrorists showing the world what to expect on the horizon starting in Athens, Greece, Huey Newton of the Black Panthers being released from
jail after three hung juries and the D.A. deciding not to pursue a fourth trial.

On August 5, 1985 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is established, and when it opened less than a year later, quickly begins filling with inductees. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Ray
Charles, and Sam Cook, just to name a few. Eventually, the Beatles and their
kitten were inducted in 1988. Bobbie Gentry did not qualify as Rock and
Roll but she and Billie Joe’s widow were nominated for the 2017 Nashville
Songwriter Hall of Fame.

In 1992, we saw a prelude to what is gripping the nation today, and a repeat of what we saw in the 60’s. On Aug 5, 1992 in Los Angeles California what has become known as the Rodney King riots erupted. Again, a corner was involved. Normandie and Florence in downtown. The streets to the north and south of the intersection were under quarantine, and if you were there that Wednesday, you were told to stay there, and not leave until you were told you could. So, we did.

Last year, 2019, on August 5, it was revealed that according to the European Copernicus Programme, July was the hottest month ever recorded in human history, anywhere. Except for maybe the surface of the
Sun.

And along with all of these, remember, what happened in your life on the many August 5th’s you have had? See ya in the funny papers.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Sun. George Stahl can be reached at stahl_george@yahoo.com