Marilyn Monroe Sings "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" (1962)

In 1962, US President John F. Kennedy’s birthday was celebrated with a lavish party at Madison Square Garden in New York City. During the event, Monroe took the stage and delivered a sultry version of “Happy Birthday,” substituting “Mr. President” for Kennedy’s name, a gesture that has served to fuel the persistent rumors that she and Kennedy had engaged in an affair. The performance was one of Monroe’s last major public appearances. What did Kennedy say about the song during the party? Discuss

St. Dunstan's Day

St. Dunstan (c. 909-988) was the archbishop of Canterbury. According to legend, one day when Dunstan was working at the monastery forge, he looked up and saw the devil peering at him through the window. He quickly pulled the red-hot tongs from the coals and grabbed the devil’s nose with them, refusing to let go until he promised not to tempt him any more. Howling in pain, Satan ran and dipped his nose in nearby Tunbridge Wells to cool it off, which is why the water there is sulphurous. St. Dunstan is the patron saint of blacksmiths, jewelers, and locksmiths. Discuss

Johns Hopkins (1795)

Hopkins, a US merchant and financier, worked with an uncle as a wholesale grocer before going into business with his brothers in 1819. As he continued to prosper, his interests diversified into banking, insurance companies, steamship lines, and railroads. In his will, he set aside $7 million—the largest philanthropic bequest in US history at the time—for the founding of a free hospital and university in Baltimore, Maryland. His will also called for the establishment of what other institution? Discuss

Towers of Silence

According to Zoroastrian tradition, a dead body is unclean and must be disposed of in a safe manner. To prevent the pollution of earth or fire, dead bodies are placed atop a tower, where they are exposed to the sun and birds of prey. The towers are circular raised structures with nearly flat roofs that are divided into three concentric rings; one ring is designated for the bodies of men, one for women, and one for children. Who coined the term “tower of silence”? Discuss

First Ascent of Lhotse (1956)

Reaching 27,890 ft (8,501 m), Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain on Earth. Tibetan for “south peak,” it is located in the Himalayas on the Nepal-Tibet border and is connected to Mount Everest by a 25,000-ft (7,620-m) ridge. The first ascent of the mountain was made by Swiss climbers Fritz Luchsinger and Ernest Reiss in 1956. Thirty years later, what mountaineer summited Lhotse, becoming the first climber to have ascended all 14 mountains on Earth that peak more than 8,000 m above sea level? Discuss

Gertrude Käsebier (1852)

Käsebier was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century and a promoter of photography as a career for women. She photographed famous figures like the sculptor Auguste Rodin and American showman Buffalo Bill, but she is best known for her evocative images of motherhood and portraits of Native Americans. In 1899, Alfred Stieglitz declared her “the leading artistic portrait photographer of the day,” but a decade later, he was speaking out against her work. Why? Discuss

Lake Baikal

At 12,160 sq mi (31,494 sq km), Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in Eurasia. It is also the world’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 5,714 ft (1,742 m). Located in southern Siberia, the clear, oxygen-rich waters are home to a wide range of aquatic plants and creatures, including such unusual species as the world’s only freshwater seal, and can sustain animal life more than 5,200 ft (1,600 m) below the surface. What percent of the world’s surface freshwater is held in Lake Baikal? Discuss

Bartholomew Roberts (1682)

Now infamous as “Black Bart,” Roberts was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the coasts of the Americas and West Africa in the 18th century, during the period known as the “Golden Age of Piracy.” Considered the most successful pirate of the era, he is estimated to have captured more than 400 vessels in a matter of a few years—far more than some of the best-known pirates of his day, such as Blackbeard or Captain Kidd. Roberts is one of the pirate captains mentioned in what famous pirate story? Discuss