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« Dog Fighting League probed | Page One | Revisionist History -- Aug. 26 »


Massachusetts struck a blow for the Colonies' "War on Witchcraft'' on this day in 1692, executing five people found guilty of dabbling in the dark arts.

Evidence included eye of newt, a broom and the testimony of several mischievous young girls. Capital-punishment fans hailed the hangings and scoffed at concerns that an innocent person might be put to death for sorcery.

However, a recent review of the case using a modern investigative technique called "common sense" revealed the so-called "Salem 5" probably were not guilty of witchcraft.

On this day in 1812, the U.S.S. Constitution roughed up the British frigate Guerriere off Nova Scotia, earning the nickname "Old Ironsides." It is now a popular tourist vessel docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard, where these days it receives better care than the piece of paper it was named after.

Afghanistan gained its independence from Great Britian on this day in 1919, soon realizing its destiny as a poverty-wracked, opium-producing haven for terrorists.

On this day in 1929, the radio comedy "Amos and Andy" made its national debut, entertaining millions with racially offensive stereotypes.

The first Soap Box Derby was held in Ohio on this day in 1934. The Budweiser car emerged victorious, hitting the finish line seconds before tiny vehicles plastered with Viagra and Marlboro logos.

Finally, child monarch Mary Queen of Scots, 18, returned from a rehab stint in France on this day in 1561. Her publicist said the 16th century hellcat crashed her Cabriolet while trying to elude the paparazzi.

On today's birthday blotter:

Bill Clinton turns 61. Sources close to the former president's belly say he plans to celebrate with a big cake and some ice cream and Twinkies and potato chips and Quarter-Pounders and doughnuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken and ...

Advisers are urging actor Fred Thompson (star of "Law & Order: Political Opportunists Unit") to mark his 65th birthday with a vigorous game of pin the tail on the Romney.

Birthday gal Tipper Gore, 59, has invited friends over to burn some Marilyn Manson CDs and play the environmentally correct parlor game, Inconvenient Truth or Dare.

Gone but not forgotten:

Born tiny on this day in 1931, legendary jockey Willie Shoemaker died in 2003 but revealed in his memoir that he was always happiest with a half-ton beast between his legs.

Finally, a V-fingered Vulcan salute to "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991), who in 1997 joined fellow dead space cadet Timothy Leary on a funeral rocket to "boldly go where no tube of cremated ashes has gone before."

John Breneman's "This Day in (Revisionist) History" appears in the Boston Sunday Herald.

Posted on August 19, 2007 8:36 AM | Permalink

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