This morning I saw two critters on my walk. A bunny in the bush scampered away and this raccoon who was almost to the sidewalk but scampered back up onto the fence. He later scampered down and across to the fence on the other side -barely avoiding a couple of cars – with my constant urging to “run you fool, run!” I last saw a group of four raccoons at night several years ago, but this was after sunrise. Love seeing wild creatures in the neighborhood.

The cars reminded me that in 1886 on this date Karl Benz patented the first gas-powered automobile and the raccoon reminded me that the Raven, Edgar Allen Poe’s first poem was published. And in 1850 Henry Clay introduced the Compromise of 1850 to try and avoid war over slavery, which failed.

In 1863 the continuing saga of clashes between native tribes and settlers continued with the Bear River Massacre, with hundreds of Shoshone men, women, and children by US Army forces. In 1861 Kansas was admitted as the 34th US State and in 1907 Charles Curtis of that same state became the first Native American US Senator, even though it wasn’t until 1925 that natives, in general, were recognized as US citizens.

On this date in 1856 the Victoria Cross – recognizing valor in battle was introduced by Queen Victoria – the specific awarding of the first ones were for the conduct of British soldiers in the just completed Crimean War, but now applies to all. And in 1936 the announcement came of the first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The awards were not handed out until the physical hall of fame was completed in 1939. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth.

There were a number of standout American leaders who were born on this date, beginning with the noted pamphleteer Thomas Paine (1737) and his fellow revolutionary contemporary Lighthorse Henry Lee (1756) general and father of Robert E Lee. Moses Cleaveland (1754) also a general and founder of Cleveland, Ohio was born on this date as well as our 25th US President, also a general, William McKinley, in 1843. And way later – in 1970 -was born our 62nd Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

Among literary figures and actors we were joined on this date by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov in 1860, sharp-tongued actor W.C.Fields in 1880

Victor Mature (the Robe) in 1913 and Tom Selleck (Magnum PI) in 1945. As well as Oprah Winfrey in 1954 and Edward Abbey – American environmentalist and author in 1927.

Greg Louganis dived in 1960 and Adam Lambert began vocalizing in 1982. and way back in 1881, we had the birth of American microbiologist Alice Catherine Evans, who battled sexism and excelled in her field of detecting pathogens and improving the flavor of milk and cheese, once working in the same Department of Agriculture in Washington DC as my maternal grandfather Philip Wright.

The world said farewell – and Americans said good riddance – to the “Mad King” George III on this date in 1820. We lost the wit and wisdom of the nonsense verse and limerick-writing poet Edward Lear (the Owl and the Pussycat) in 1888 and the biting commentary of social critic H.L.Mencken in 1956. The man who came up with the process of synthesizing ammonia from liquid nitrogen and liquid hydrogen, Fritz Haber -enabling fertilizer and explosives, passed on in 1934.

And three years after he spoke at the inauguration of President John F Kennedy we lost one of our greatest poets – Robert Frost in 1963. We also lost on this date a Presidential child who made a name for herself not in politics but in literature, Margaret Truman, the sole daughter of Harry Truman.

This is the roll call for this date in history January 29th. Raccoons and all.