DECEMBER ISN'T all weather -- unusually good or unusually bad. You can view it as a showcase of history. A great many interesting things happened in December, after all, the feast of the former St. Nicholas, patron of children, pawnbrokers, brewers and losers in law suits, being not the least -- on Dec. 6. But we get ahead of ourselves.
For starters, on Dec. 1, 1726, Oliver Wolcott, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born; he died on the same day, in 1797. On Dec. 2, 1814, the Marquis de Sade died, and in an unrelated event on that day in 1885 was born Dr. George R. Minot, who discovered liver as a cure for anemia. The Bronx was purchased from the Indians on Dec. 3 (1639), and abandoned shortly thereafter. Nothing whatever happened on Dec. 4 and 5 -- to be distinguished from the 6th (1877), when The Washington Post was first published.
On Dec. 7, 1915, Eli Wallach was born, just five days before Frank Sinatra, and 26 years before Pearl Harbor. On the 8th (1828) was born Henry Timrod, poet laureate of the Confederacy, a post currently unoccupied. On Dec. 9 the John Birch Society was founded (1958), 350 years to the day after the birth of John Milton. We have Dorothy Lamour's birthday on the 10th (1914); the first use of laughing gas for a tooth extraction on the 11th; and the invention of the wooden gol tee on the 21th (1899).
On the 12th as well, in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the letter S by wireless from Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, though he did not say way. Afain, nothing happened on the 13th through the 20th, unless you count Nero's birthday on the 15th (AD37), which he did, and J. Paul Getty's birthday on the same day in 1892. Joseph Stalin's birthday is on the 21st (you may prepare yourself for his centennial next year), and also on the 21st (1620) the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. On Christmas Eve 1818, "Silent Night" was first sung in the nick of time, and on Christmas day, 1893, Robert Ripley was born, believe it or not.
Which brings us to the 31st (if we skip a few days, and we do) -- the last day of the year, and a difficult occasion, especially in Austria and Korea. In Austria the 31st is known as "Touch a Pig for Luck" day, and in Korea on the 31st, all the citizens must hear a cock crow before going to sleep. This makes for some sleepy Koreans and some unlucky Austra.ians, but an interesting end to the month.