Today in History: #NPS100

The National Park Service Organic Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on this date 100 years ago.

It created the National Park Service and established its jurisdiction in the Department of the Interior. The NPS was mandated “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” In the 1930s, historic sites such as the battlefield at Gettysburg and presidential homes were added to its mandate.

Stephen Mather, a businessman who had lobbied for the creation of some sort of agency to protect the national parks, which were deteriorating and had become the site of hunters freely roaming and poaching endangered wildlife, became the first director of the NPS the next year, a position he held for more than a decade.

As of today, 84 million acres are in national parks and 27,000 historical buildings are protected.

Further, visiting the National Parks and National Memorial Parks is free: the parks are open during daylight hours. If a tour is required, those have fees associated, but being on the grounds of the parks and memorials is free. There are many national parks in the Mid-Hudson Valley, where I grew up; many hours of my childhood were spent on their grounds.

* * * *
Sir Elton John made his American performing debut at the Troubadour in West Hollywood 46 years ago today. His album, Elton John, had attracted industry attention, and the audience was largely composed of well-known musicians. Neil Diamond introduced him with these words: “Folks, I’ve never done this before, so please be kind to me. I’m like the rest of you; I’m here because of having listened to Elton John’s album. So I’m going to take my seat with you now and enjoy the show.”

Elton John performed “Your Song” with no introduction and gave a non-flashy show. In 1990, Rolling Stone magazine listed this and the five shows that followed at the Troubadour from this little-known English singer-songwriter as one of the 20 most important concerts in rock history.

* * * *
“Nissin Chikin Ramen” was introduced to the market on this date in 1958. Nissin Foods’ founder, Momofuku Ando, is credited with the invention, for which every college student owes him a debt of gratitude, or maybe just $1.00 for a block of six packages.

* * * *
Friedrich Nietzsche died on this date in 1900. Truman Capote died on this date in 1984. Senator Ted Kennedy died seven years ago today. Neil Armstrong died four years ago today.

* * * *
Leonard Bernstein was born on this date in 1918.

* * * *
Monty Hall is 95 today. Sir Sean Connery is 86. Regis Philbin is 85. Tom Skerritt is 83. Wayne Shorter is 83. Frederick Forsyth is 78. Anthony Heald is 72. Rollie Fingers is 70. Gene Simmons is 67. Martin Amis is 67. Rob Halford is 65. Elvis Costello is 62. Tim Burton is 58. Billy Ray Cyrus is 55. Claudia Schiffer is 46.

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  1. Edna Bonds · August 25, 2016

    Thanks that was awesome learn something new no matter how old u aree

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Edna Bonds · August 25, 2016

    Thanks that was awesome learn something new no matter how old u are

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loisajay · August 25, 2016

    95?!! Mark Aldrich, come on down!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leigh W. Smith · August 25, 2016

    So many interesting factoids here (as always with your “Today in History” posts, Mark). I know the titular Elton John album from 1970 is recognized for its genius, but for those who’ve never heard it, please to give a good listen to his very first album, 1969’s Empty Sky (although “It’s Me that you Need,” available only on the reissues apparently, is probably pretty close in sound to his later ballads). It’s the raw, existential, progressive-sounding (to my unskilled ears, anyway) counterpart to his bevy of popular albums beginning in the 1970s with works like Madman, Honky Chateau, Yellow Brick Road, Don’t Shoot, etc., and extending well into the 1980s. More than once have I imagined myself singing Empty Sky (the titular track) before “The Voice” judges or—better yet—someone with really good singing chops doing it. “Skyline Pigeon” (at least according to Wikipedia) is the best-known song from Empty Sky, and really (again, to my ear) more in line also with later ballads like Daniel, Levon, and Your Song.
    Also, good on you, Mark, for including Rob Halford.
    And, finally, lest one think TR inaugurated everything to do with conservation in the early-20th century, it’s interesting to see it was Wilson who was the progenitor of the NPS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Aldrich · August 28, 2016

      I love Elton John’s working relationship with Bernie Taupin. Elton is such a melodist that he can take any prose and with a glance m, turn it into an Elton John song. A fun party trick, but when the words are Taupin’s, something more than a party trick emerges. There are some clips of Elton doing this on various talk shows … he sings a kitchen appliance instruction manual in one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Leigh W. Smith · August 29, 2016

        Cool; you clearly know your Elton John better than I. I missed most of the good nightly TV variety show era, as I was either too young (and in bed already) or I wasn’t born yet, unfortunately. Dick Cavett, etc. … I hadn’t heard of Elton singing that. I’ll have to look it up now. Thanks, Mark. Hope you have a great and productive week!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Aldrich · August 30, 2016

          Elton composing on the fly:

          Hope you’re having a great week, too, Leigh!


        • Leigh W. Smith · August 31, 2016

          That’s amazing, Mark. And to do it with Peer Gynt. Wow. I watched the Your Song sequence from this Actor’s Studio interview as well. Priceless. Thank you for the link–a great way to begin my day!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. vermontbookworks · September 10, 2016

    Thanks Mark for more great information about today’s date in history.

    Liked by 1 person

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