John’s Believe It Or Not… March 23rd

Picture of John Fioravanti at the front of his classroom.

It’s Therapeutic Thursday! Did you know…

* 1752 – John Bushell publishes the first issue of his Halifax Gazette, Canada’s first regular newspaper. (The two-sided paper contained public notices, ads from booksellers and wholesalers, notices about slave auctions, poems and elegies, and excerpts from notable publications; will also publish the first book in Canada, an 8-page pamphlet for the government, on December 6. Today’s successor newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, is the oldest existing newspaper in North America.)

Bushell in his print shop (Rex Woods)
Bushell in his print shop (Rex Woods)

* 1839 OK enters the American national vernacular. (On this day in 1839, the initials “O.K.” are first published in The Boston Morning Post. Meant as an abbreviation for “oll korrect,” a popular slang misspelling of “all correct” at the time, OK steadily made its way into the everyday speech of Americans. During the late 1830s, it was a favourite practice among younger, educated circles to misspell words intentionally, then abbreviate them and use them as slang when talking to one another. Just as teenagers today have their own slang based on distortions of common words, such as “kewl” for “cool” or “DZ” for “these,” the “in crowd” of the 1830s had a whole host of slang terms they abbreviated. Popular abbreviations included “KY” for “No use” (“know yuse”), “KG” for “No go” (“Know go”), and “OW” for all right (“oll wright”).A hand forming the "OK" gesture.

* 1994 Wayne Gretzky scores number 802. (On March 23, 1994, Wayne Gretzky scores his 802nd goal, breaking his childhood idol Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League record for most goals scored in a career. Gretzky, known to hockey fans as “The Great One,” broke a total of 61 offensive records in his NHL career, including many previously held by “Mr Hockey” Gordie Howe. Outsized by many in the NHL, Gretzky learned to use his vision and wits to his advantage and went on to become the most dominant player in the league’s history. In 1979-80, he set an NHL record for points by a first-year player with 137, winning the first of eight consecutive Hart trophies, the NHL’s most valuable player award. In his second year, Gretzky scored 164 points, setting a record for most points in a season. The following year Gretzky became the first player to score 200 points in a season, an achievement he matched three times. Upon retiring after the 1999 season, Gretzky’s record of 2,857 career points gave him 1,000 more career points than Gordie Howe, who had previously held the record. Wayne Gretzky wore number 99 throughout his career in tribute to Gordie Howe, who wore number 9.)

12-year-old Gretzky with Gordie Howe.
Wayne Gretzky is shown standing with hockey great Gordie Howe (L) as a boy

* 1969 Jim Morrison prompts a “Rally for Decency”. (“Dear Mike,” wrote the recently inaugurated President Nixon to Miami-area teenager Mike Levesque in a letter dated March 26, 1969, “I was extremely interested to learn about the admirable initiative undertaken by you and 30,000 other young people at the Miami Teen-age Rally for Decency held last Sunday.” The event of which Nixon spoke was organised in response to an incident at a Doors concert some three weeks earlier, when a drunk, combative and sometimes barely coherent Jim Morrison allegedly exposed himself to the crowd at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium. The alleged exposure, whether it took place or not, created serious legal problems for Morrison. It also created an opportunity for socially conservative Floridians and their celebrity supporters to speak out against the counterculture at the massive “Rally for Decency” held at Miami’s Orange Bowl on March 23, 1969.)Picture of crowds at the Decency Rally.

* 1983 Artificial heart patient dies. (On March 23, 1983, Barney Clark dies 112 days after becoming the world’s first recipient of a permanent artificial heart. The 61-year-old dentist spent the last four months of his life in a hospital bed at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, attached to a 350-pound console that pumped air in and out of the aluminum-and-plastic implant through a system of hoses.)

At the University of Utah, 61-year-old retired dentist Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart
At the University of Utah, 61-year-old retired dentist Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart

Look who was born on this date!

Portrait of Margaret of Anjou.* Margaret of Anjou in 1430. (Queen Consort to King Henry VI of England
Why Famous: Figurehead for the Lancastrians during the War of the Roses (1455-85).




Portrait of William Kidd* William Kidd in 1645. (Scottish Pirate Legend:  The only pirate known to have buried treasure. He was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean.)




Head shot of Crawford* Joan Crawford in 1905. (Joan Crawford was an American film and television actress who began her career as a dancer and stage showgirl. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Crawford tenth on its list of the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.)


Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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