By Jim Heffernan
"Twas the llth of April in ’54, a day declared a colossal bore…”
Yes, it’s true. Some computer whiz in England fed millions of facts into a giant computer – things that make news – and determined that April 11, 1954, was the most boring day in modern history. This according to National Public Radio, which broadcast an interview with the English gentleman, who sounded like no fool.
Nobody of note died on that date, no major governmental happenings occurred, no wars started or ended, no ships sank, Leslie Nielsen’s movie career was still fledgling, nothing much at all happened, making April 11, 1954, the least eventful and most boring ever.
The researcher, whose name escapes me, did make a point of saying he only analyzed “modern history,” and not all of history. So things like the death of Alexander the Great’s horse or the Battle of Hastings (1066) or Charles Martel defeating the Moors at the Battle of Tours on Oct. 10, 732 (date provided by the Gospel According to Google) were not included. Good thing. They didn’t have computers in those days anyway.
Modern history, that’s what we’re after here: April 11, 1954, BSP (Before Sarah Palin). I’m not sure how far back the researcher dipped in modern history. I consider the last 100 years or so modern history, although serious historians probably take it back further. I do not consider myself a serious historian but rather a secular humorist.
This might be a shocking revelation, but I actually remember April 11, 1954. Well, maybe not exactly that day in 1954 but I was around Duluth in 1954 – 14 years old going on 15. I do know I was checking my legs for hair, not very successfully. Swarthier boys in Lincoln Junior High seemed to be maturing faster than I, and it was of more than a little concern to me.
Of course, they wouldn’t have cared about that in England on April 11 anyway. I was also longing – I mean longing – to get my driver’s license, which you couldn’t get until age 15. A few lucky classmates – boys who were smart enough to flunk a grade or two before reaching ninth grade on hairy legs – were already recklessly driving jalopies to school that spring. Most are now dead.
On the national scene, Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second year as president of the United States. Eisenhower was a calm president who golfed a lot, fished for brook trout quite a bit, and didn’t seem to do much to upset the apple cart, so I suppose April 11, 1954, was just another day around the White House with Mrs. Eisenhower (call her Mamie) presiding over an early cocktail hour, Ike (the president’s nickname) planning a coronary thrombosis in a couple of years, but not that day.
Everybody liked Ike, except maybe Adolf Hitler.
Here in Duluth, Mayor George Washington Johnson must have had a light day in City Hall, or else his successor George Donald Johnson had already taken over. My memory is fuzzy on this. This was during the Johnson period of Duluth history, which not too much later was broken by the likes of Mayor Mork, not from Ork.
Meanwhile, back in the future (now, today, early December 2010), a jeweler in nearby Superior, Wis., advertised a “second coming” sale (all jewels half price) to give customers time to stock up on gems before the imminent arrival of Jesus from heaven. Readers of this from elsewhere might think I made that up. I did not. The jewels are half price! Makes you wonder: “Will there be any stars in my crown?”
Oh, and Santa Claus’ arrival is imminent as well. What if they collided in mid-air? Oh, the tragedy. I don’t even want to think about it.
I wouldn’t look for the second most boring day in modern history this month, that’s for sure.