January 25 in History

Robert Burns was born on this date in 1759 in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland. The poet only lived 37 years, but his works live on, recited by people who do not know the quotes are from the pen of the national poet of Scotland: “Auld Lang Syne,” “A Red, Red Rose” (“O my Luve’s like a red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June;/O my Luve’s like the melodie/That’s sweetly play’d in tune”), “Tam o’Shanter.”

In 1801, a few years after his death, his friends came together to celebrate his life. The celebration of his life was held on his birthday, January 25, and every year since 1803, “Burns Suppers” or “Burns’ Nights” have grown in popularity. They are celebrated around the world.

Dinner is always a haggis, a savory meat pudding similar to (but superior to, I have been assured by those who know) scrapple or andouillette. After it is brought in, an attendee recites Burns’ “Address to a Haggis,” seen here after the jump:

The festivities, liberally punctuated with toasts, end with “Auld Lang Syne,” perhaps Burns’ most famous verse.

* * * *
The first transcontinental telephone call—New York City to San Francisco—was placed on this date in 1915. The line had actually been in place since 1914 and had already been voice-tested, but the first public, symbolic, cross-country call was placed on January 25, 1915, during the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

Alexander Graham Bell was at one end of the call, in New York City, and Thomas Watson, his longtime assistant, was at the other end, in San Francisco. Many years before, in 1876, Bell said the first words ever heard over the telephone, to Watson: “Mr. Watson, come here.”

On this date in 1915, Bell repeated his famous sentence for the press and the public, and Watson, now Dr. Watson, replied from cross-country, “It will take me five days to get to you now.”

* * * *
Karel Čapek’s play R.U.R. premiered in Prague on this date in 1921. The word “robot” was introduced to the world by the play.

* * * *
President John F. Kennedy held the first nationally televised presidential press conference in history on this date in 1961. The press conference:

* * * *
Charles Manson and three followers were convicted of all 27 counts against them in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial on this date in 1971. Seven people were murdered in two nights under Manson’s instructions in 1969.

* * * *
Al Capone died 70 years ago today. Jeane Dixon died 20 years ago today. Philip Johnson died on this date in 2005. Concepcion Picciotto died on this date last year.

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W. Somerset Maugham was born on this date in 1874. Virginia Woolf was born in 1882 on this date. Wilhelm Furtwängler was born on this date in 1886. Edwin Newman was born on this date in 1919. Corazon Aquino was born on this date in 1933. Kathleen Tynan was born 80 years ago today. Etta James was born in 1938 on this date. The late Gloria Naylor was born on this date in 1950. (She died on September 28, 2016.) Steve Prefontaine was born on this date in 1951.

* * * *
Alicia Keys is 36 today.

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  1. loisajay · January 25, 2017

    Alicia Keys has the day to herself!

    Liked by 1 person

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