Five People Born on May Day

Today is May 1, 2010 (also known as May Day) and the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 965 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1776, secret society, the Illuminati is established in Upper Bavaria – despite what Dan Brown writes about. Here are five people born on this day.

Calamity Jane (1852-1903)
This U.S. frontierswoman, scout, Indian fighter and performer grew up in Montana and worked in mining camps, where she acquired riding and shooting skills. In 1876 she settled in Deadwood, S.D., site of new gold strikes; her pursuits there included hauling goods and machinery to the outlying camps and working as a cook and a dance-hall girl. There she probably first met Wild Bill Hickok, who would become her companion.  She was a woman who exhibited kindness and compassion towards others, especially the sick and needy.   In 1891 she married Charley Burke, and from 1895 she toured with Wild West shows in the Midwest. Facts about her life were embellished by contemporary feature-magazine writers.  Her real name is thought to have been Martha Jane Cannery.  Her parents died before she was 14 and she was responsible for six children, since she was the oldest.  She took on whatever jobs she could to support them and it trained her to live as hard as the land.  She supposedly got her nickname as a warning to men who tried to offend her.  She settled in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876, where she met Wild Bill Hickok.  It is here that she most likely earned a living as a prostitute. Jane greatly admired Hickok (to the point of infatuation), and she was obsessed with his personality and life. After Hickok was killed during a poker game on August 2, 1876, Calamity Jane claimed to have been married to Hickok and that Hickok was the father of her child (Jane), whom she said was born on September 25, 1873, and whom she later put up for adoption by Jim O’Neil and his wife. No records are known to exist which prove the birth of a child, and the romantic slant to the relationship might have been fabrication. During the period that the alleged child was born, she was working as a scout for the Army. At the time of his death, Hickok was newly married to Agnes Lake Thatcher.  However, on September 6, 1941, the US Department of Public Welfare did grant old age assistance to a Jean Hickok Burkhardt McCormick, who claimed to be the legal offspring of Martha Jane Cannary and James Butler Hickok, fter being presented with evidence that Calamity Jane and Wild Bill had married at Benson’s Landing, Montana Territory, on September 25, 1873, documentation being written in a Bible (for that’s how records were kept) and presumably signed by two reverends and numerous witnesses. The claim of Jean Hickok McCormick was later proved to be spurious by the Hickok family.  In 1893, Calamity Jane started to appear in Bufallo Bill’s Wild West Show.  She also participated in the Pan-American Exposition, but by this time she was depressed and an alcoholic – a problem she might have suffered her entire life.  In 1903, she came down with pneumonia and died.  She was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok as a joke by some of his friends.  They stated that Wild Bill didn’t want to have anything to do with her when he was alive, so they’d force her upon him when he was dead.  She was 51.

Joseph Heller (1923-1999)
Heller was an American novelist, probably best known for his book, Catch 22.  The title of this work entered the English lexicon to refer to absurd, no-win choices, particularly in situations in which the desired outcome of the choice is an impossibility, and regardless of choice, the same negative outcome is a certainty.  Heller is widely regarded as one of the best post-World War II satirists. Although he is remembered primarily for Catch-22, his other works center on the lives of various members of the middle class.  He was born in Coney Island, New York and tried his hand at being a blacksmith, file clerk and messenger before signing up for the Air Force during World War 2.   Here, he was  made a bombardier on a B-52 and flew on 60 combat missions in Europe.  He claimed that although people treated him like a hero, most of the missions he flew on didn’t have a lot of action.  After the war, Heller studied English at the University of Southern California and NYU as part of the GI Bill.  In 1949, he received his M.A. in English from Columbia University.  His satirical novel Catch-22 (1961), based on his wartime experiences, was one of the most significant works of postwar protest literature and a huge critical and popular success. His later novels include Something Happened (1974), Good as Gold (1979), God Knows (1984), and Closing Time (1994). After suffering from Guillain-Barres Syndrome for years – which left him partly paralyzed, he succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 76.  Upon hearing about his death, his friend, Kurt Vonnegut said, “Oh, God, how terrible. This is a calamity for American letters.

King Kamehameha I (1758-1819)
Also known as Kamehameha the Great, this king conquered the Hawaiian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai’i (on this exact date in 1785 on his 27th birthday) in 1810.  By developing alliances with the major Pacific colonial powers, Kamehameha preserved Hawaiʻi’s independence under his rule. Kamehameha is remembered for the Kanawei Mamalohoe – the “Law of the Splintered Paddle”, which protects human rights of non-combatants in times of battle.  Kamehameha’s full Hawaiian name is Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kaui Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea (and you thought Kamehameha was long!).  That mouthful of a name means “Hard Shelled Crab”.  His parents were both royalty and when Kamehameha was born, the priests ordered that the boy be put to death to avoid fighting for the throne by his siblings.  However, lucky for the young king-to-be, Haley’s Comet happened to be going by about the same time and his life was spared.  While he did have to fight for his throne, Kamehameha was able to unify all of the islands together.  As king, Kamehameha took several steps to ensure that the islands remained a united realm even after his death. He unified the legal system and he used the products he collected in taxes to promote trade with Europe and the United States.  Kamehameha did not allow non-Hawaiians to own land and ensured the islands’ independence even while many of the other islands of the Pacific were under colonial rule.  In fact, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that Kamehameha established retained its independence until it was annexed by the United States in 1898.  When Kamehameha died May 8, 1819, his body was hidden by his trusted friends.  To this day his final resting place remains unknown. The mana, or power of a person, was considered to be sacred. As per the ancient custom, his body was buried hidden because of his mana.  He was 61.

Horst Schumann (1906-1983)
People ask me why I would put a guy like this one in the birthday list.  My answer is invariably the same, “Because people have to remember.”  This Nazi physician and sadist was a doctor at Auschwitz.  While perhaps not as well known as Josef Mengele, Schumann experimented on the prisoners by irradiating their private areas with intense X-Rays over and over again.  He was also responsible for conducting experiments involving typhus and injecting infected blood into healthy people.  Sick stuff in the name of science.  He was born in Prussia and became a doctor in 1933.  Schumann started his career as an assistant doctor in the Surgical Clinic of the clinic of Halle University.  From 1934, Schumann was employed in the Public Health Office in Halle.  He was recruited to the air force as a physician in 1939 and joined the Aktion T4 Euthanasia Program in early October 1939, after a meeting with Dr. Viktor Brack, in Hitler’s group of advisors.  By January 1940, Schumann became head of the Grafeneck euthanasia center in Wurttemberg, where mentally ill people were gassed with carbon monoxide in the first gas chamber.  In the early summer of 1940 he was ordered to the Sonnenstein euthanasia centre. Schumann also belonged to a commission of doctors, the famous “Action 14 f 13”, who transferred weak and sick prisoners from concentration camps to the euthanasia killing centers.  He was at Auschwitz between 1940-1944 where he was transferred to work as a medical officer on the Western Front.  It was here he was captured by American soldiers who didn’t know what he had done.  They released him soon after and after the war, Schumann became a sports injury doctor in Western Germany.  An application for a license for a hunting gun led to his being identified in 1951 so the GDR issued an arrest warrant.  He fled to Africa where he was recaptured in Ghana and extradited to West Germany where he finally went on trial in 1970.  However, Schumann was released from prison on 29 July 1972 due to his heart condition and generally deteriorating health. However, he did not die until 5 May 1983, eleven years after he had been released.  They should have just let him rot in prison.  It is unknown how many men, women, and children died because of this monster.

Jack Paar (1918-2004)
This Canton, Ohio-born actor, comedian and talk show host is probably best known for being the second host of The Tonight Show (the first being Steve Allen, and before Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno again…).  Paar left school at 16 to work in radio throughout the Midwest.  Paar was drafted into the military in 1943 as part of a special services company entertaining troops in the South Pacific.  More than once, his pointed jibes at officers nearly got him into trouble. After WWII, he came to the attention of RKO Pictures, which hired him to emcee Variety Time (1948) – a compilation of vaudeville sketches.  Paar projected a pleasant personality on film, and RKO called him back to emcee another filmed vaudeville show, Footlight Varieties (1951).  Jack Benny thought Parr was a great comedian and he talked NBC into letting him succeed Steve Allen on the Tonight Show.  He hosted the program from 1957 to 1962. At first, the show was called “Tonight Starring Jack Paar”; after 1959 it was officially known as The Jack Paar Show. On September 19, 1960, the series became one of the first regularly scheduled videotaped programs in color.  In 1959, he was criticized for his interview with Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.  Later that year, during the show’s regular swing through the West Coast, Paar again made the front pages of the national newspapers by asking a visibly-inebriated Mickey Rooney to leave the program during the December 1 telecast.  Paar stayed in television making other shows and guest appearances into the 1990s when his health started to decline.  He had a heart attack followed by a stroke, which eventually killed him at the age of 85.