Saturday, December 25, 2004
800: Pope Leo III crowns King Charles of the Franks "Holy Roman Emperor," reviving a title that has not been seen in the West since 476. The revived empire will last just over a thousand years, finally becoming extinct in 1806.
1066: The continental legal system comes to England, as William the Bastard, duke of Normandy, is crowned King of England.
1642: Physicist Isaac Newton is born at Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire. Everybody knows that he’s famous for his scientific investigations, but his day job was Master of the Royal Mint.
1821: Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, is born. There is a "Red Cross" and a "Red Crescent" for Islamic nations, but the International group refuses to recognize the "Red Star of David," apparently because they’re worried the Buddhists and the Hindus and such like will also want their own.
1887: Hotel king Conrad Nicholson Hilton is born at San Antonio, New Mexico Territory. He will buy his first hotel, the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas (left), at age 32—after his first plan, to buy a small bank, falls through. He rents beds to oilfield workers in the boom town 8-hour shifts.
1906: Louis Winogradsky, the son of a tailor’s apprentice, is born in Tokmak, Russia. As "Lew Grade" he will work his way up from winning prizes at Charleston dance competitions to become one of Britain’s great show-business impresarios.
1913: Journalist Henri Nannen, who will found the German news magazine Der Stern in 1948, is born at Emden in Lower Saxony.
1934: Campbell Soup creates a holiday tradition, when it has Lionel Barrymore read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on CBS’s Campbell Playhouse.
1946: Singer James William "Jimmy" Buffett, whose Margaritaville will do more for Tequila sales than all of Madison Avenue combined, is born in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
1978: Singer Kenny Rogers’s The Gambler is atop the country music charts. It adds "You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em" to the popular lexicon.