April 1st Holidays and Observances

Cigarette Advertising Banned from TV, 1970

In the early days of television, cigarette advertising knew no bounds. Most shows had a single, or at least a primary sponsor, and often those sponsors were cigarette companies. It was customary for the stars to promote the product, both in commercials, and often by smoking on the show. You can see many of these commercials on YouTube, with various cigarettes being endorsed by Lucy and Ricky, Dick Van Dyke, John Wayne, and even the Flintstones.

As the public became more aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking, the pendulum started to swing the other way. The Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee Report on Smoking and Health. was released in 1964. In 1965, cigarette manufacturers were required to start putting warning labels on their packages. And finally, on April 1, 1970 legislation was passed banning the advertising of cigarettes on television.

The bill took effect on January 2, 1971, in order to allow the advertisers one last chance to air commercials during the New Year’s Day sports programming. The last cigarette commercial aired was on January 1, 1971 at 11:59 pm, during a break on The Tonight Show. It was an ad for Virginia Slims.

Robert the Hermit Died, 1832

It’s a sad story, but, even sadder, it probably wasn’t that unusual a tale. Robert was born a slave in 1770, son of a slave mother and a prominent white Englishman.

Robert was given to his master’s daughter when he was four years old and he traveled with her and her new husband to the District of Columbia. There, when he was about 19 years old, he met a young woman named Alley, who would only agree to marry him if he could obtain his freedom. He knew a white man who he thought would help him, and he asked him to purchase him, and then give him the opportunity to repay him and earn his freedom. The man agreed.

Several years later Robert found himself betrayed. The man denied that they had had any such agreement, or that Robert had ever made any payments to him. Robert was sold to another master, and found himself on a ship bound for South Carolina.

Miraculously, he escaped and stowed away on a ship headed to Philadelphia. There, he was captured, enslaved again, and again escaped. This time he went to Massachusetts.

In Boston, despairing of ever finding his wife and children again, he took another wife. He became a sailor, and went on several trips to India and received what he considered to be remarkably good wages.

One time, returning from one of his sea voyages, his wife rejected him. He never knew the reason, but suspected it was because of his long absences. A this point, although it had been twenty years since he’d seen his wife and children, he decided to look for them again.

Returning to Georgetown, he discovered that his first master and mistress there had both died, and that his second master had moved west. His wife, he was told, had killed herself soon after he left, and his children died shortly thereafter.

It was at this point that Robert returned to New England and took up the life of a hermit. He obtained permission from the owner to build a hut in a secluded area in Rhode Island, did some subsistence farming, and lived a relatively solitary life. (He did say that he went into town once or twice a week to “converse with [his] acquaintances”, so he wasn’t all that much of a hermit.)

The reason we know about Robert the Hermit is because Henry Trumbull, a resident of Providence, published a 36-page pamphlet in 1829 called Life and Adventures of Robert, the Hermit of Massachusetts, Who Has Lived 14 Years in a Cave, Secluded from Human Society: Comprising, an Account of his Birth, Parentage, Sufferings, and Providential Escape from Unjust and Cruel Bondage in Early Life, and His Reasons for Becoming a Recluse. The publication was priced at 12 ½ cents, and the proceeds went to help Robert. You can read the full text of the pamphlet here.

Hard Times Begins Serialization, 1854

Like many of Charles Dickens’s novels, Hard Times first appeared as a serial in the weekly magazine Household Words. Dickens was the editor and half-owner of the magazine, and he serialized his novel in an attempt to boost sales. It apparently worked — circulation doubled during the period.

Other works published in Household Words were Dickens’s A Child’s History of England, Edith Gaskell’s Cranford and North and South, and The Frozen Deep, a play written by Dickens and Wilkie Collins.

International Pooper Scooper Week, April 1 through 7

Yes, I know that these “weeks” usually run either from Monday through Friday, or Sunday through Saturday, but as far as I can figure out, the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists has designated April 1st through 7th, in perpetuity. I guess dogs don’t read calendars, huh?

Regardless, the Association, or aPaws, as they call themselves, would like to remind us of the importance of cleaning up after your pet, be it dog, cat, horse, or goose. And isn’t it wonderful to realize that there are people who will do this for you! Dog ownership suddenly got a lot more appealing.

Sources: Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2011 Edition: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months, Editors of Chase’s Calendar of Events; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_1; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_advertising; http://www.loti.com/smoke.htm; www.youtube.com; http://www.hermitary.com/articles/robert.html; http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/robert/robert.html; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Times; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_Words; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Works_originally_published_in_Household_Words; http://www.apaws.org.