1968: This date sees the first official “911” call placed in the United States. Now taken for granted as first course of action in the event of emergency by nearly all of the nation’s 327 million people, 911 is a relatively recent invention and was still not standard across the United States for many years after its adoption by Congress.
1972: The 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle comes off the assembly line, breaking a world car production record held for more than four decades by the Ford Motor Company’s iconic Model T, which was in production from 1908 to 1927.
1885: Mark Twain publishes his famous and famously controversial novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” (1876). Though Twain saw Huck’s story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.
1970: The Chicago Seven (formerly the Chicago Eight, but one defendant, Bobby Seale, was being tried separately) are acquitted of riot conspiracy charges, but found guilty of inciting riot. The eight antiwar activists were charged with the responsibility for the violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
1985: In a highly controversial vote, the Irish government defies the powerful Catholic Church and approves the sale of contraceptives. Up until 1979, Irish law prohibited the importation and sale of contraceptives.
1961: Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a con man who went by the alias Clark Rockefeller and passed himself off as an American blueblood, is born in Germany. Gerhartsreiter gained the public spotlight in 2008, when he kidnapped his young daughter and became the target of an international manhunt. The attention the case sparked helped lead to Gerhartsreiter’s conviction in 2013 for the murder of a California man in the 1980s.
1980: In one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the four-time defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York. Two days later, the Americans defeated Finland 4-2 to clinch the hockey gold.