Some dates jump out at you but most just fall away almost unnoticed.
Yesterday’s date, like December 7 or June 6, rings out. Today seems like just another day, pale by comparison. Yet, each day’s history can really prove to be quite rich in detail.
Here are a few links for your Sept. 12 this year, from aliens to electronics to color TV to the birthdays and death-dates of famous people.
September 12 events
Flatwood Monster — On this date in 1952, some West Virginia youngsters playing football saw a UFO crash. When they and others went to investigate, they discovered “a towering ‘man-like’ figure with a round, red “face” surrounded by a ‘pointed, hood-like shape.'”
Close encounter of the third kind? Or some hillbillies’ hysterical hallucinations? Alien or owl? Will we ever really know? Or do we now?
Integrated circuit — The first working example of an integrated circuit was demonstrated on this date in 1958 by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments. The importance of this advance in the design of technology cannot be overstated, as it rewrote the fundamental rules on the cost and performance of electronic circuits.
Bonanza — In a sense, Sept. 12, 1959 marks the birth of the color network TV series, with the premiere of this Western tale of a thrice-widower father running a huge Nevada ranch while raising three sons, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. American viewers followed the Cartwright family for 14 seasons.
Some notable September 12 birthdays
Kenneth Threadgill (1909) — pivotal figure in the Austin music scene, his legacy forever assured by his mentoring of the young UT student, Janis Joplin, who sang at his beer joint in the 60s, before her heyday in the San Francisco scene. That legacy remains alive today at 2 locations: the original site of Kenneth’s old beer joint and Threadgill’s World Headquarters, adjacent to the property of the long-gone Armadillo World Headquarters.
RIP, Kenneth — seen here accompanied by his old buddy, Bill Neely.
George Jones (1931) — country singer, possibly the best ever, if only for outliving Hank Williams’ too-too-short career. Known alternately as the “Possum” when he sings, and “No-Show Jones” when he doesn’t appear as scheduled, his career and voice practically defined country music for a generation.
RIP, George Jones
Maria Muldaur (1943) — maybe Maria’s not as famous as George, nor as centrally iconic to a musical scene as Kenneth Threadgill was, but her song, Midnight at the Oasis, will forever strike a chord in the hearts of listeners of a certain age (mine, that is to say).
Celebrity Deaths on September 12th
Raymond Burr — TV’s Perry Mason and later, Ironsides, Raymond Burr also pops up in some of the great movies of the 50s, including Godzilla and A Place in the Sun.
“Perry Mason has become a career for me . . . all I know is that I work, eat and sleep Perry Mason.”
A versatile actor who once worked as a ranch hand near Roswell, New Mexico, Burr died on September 12, 1993.
Johnny Cash — a friendly, familiar voice: our voice it so often seemed, the voice of America itself, weary sometimes, but strong and still standing.
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down…
But for the thousands of recordings he left us, the one and only “Man in Black” went quiet on Sept. 12, 2003.
David Foster Wallace — brilliant but troubled author of Infinite Jest, cited by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923, Wallace succumbed to depression via suicide on Sept. 12, 2008.
Fiction’s about what it is to be a human being.
And today is also the National Day of Encouragement — I strongly encourage you to spread the word by encouraging those you meet, see or talk to today in whatever endeavors or efforts they engage. If we all spent more time encouraging each other and less time tearing each other down, imagine how grand this world could be.
Though seemingly disparate, several of these September 12th threads tie together. Bonanza competed against Raymond Burr’s popular show, Perry Mason, that first season, and the popular opening theme music was later released commercially in many versions, the first version with lyrics recorded by Johnny Cash. The threads of our days weave a tapestry that stretches beyond our view with patterns we can barely discern.
Just another day, just like every other day in the entirety of our history — separate but interconnected.