Unusual Stuff Going on in November
Isn’t it strange that grave-robbing and sky-writing in November haven’t caught on like eating a bunch of turkey and pie has?
As November gets started—hard to believe 2021 is already 11 months old!—there’s plenty of time to get to Turkey Day and our virtual World of Thanks: The Gratitude Scavenger Hunt. First, let’s take a look back at other stuff that has happened this month. Some of it’s surprising, some of it’s just plain weird, and some of these made-up holidays are too much.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
In New York’s East Village stands St. Mark’s Church. In November 1878, millionaire A.T. Stewart, who basically invented the department store, was buried in the church cemetery. But two weeks later, kidnappers removed his body and held it for ransom. Stewart’s remains were recovered two years later, after the ransomers received $20,000 (out of the $250,000 they demanded). No one was ever prosecuted. The Stewart family reinterred their patriarch in a cathedral in Garden City, which he had indeed founded.
Mr. Agent Man
In November 1976, baseball’s first free agent signed a five-year, $2.9 million contract with the Yankees. Reggie Jackson went on to win his fourth and fifth World Series titles in the Bronx and will forever be known as Mr. Nov—uh, October.
Arriving on a Jet Plane
The Concorde supersonic jet made history when it landed at Kennedy airport in November 1977. Delayed for 19 months by an anti-noise lawsuit, the Concorde carried 100 passengers from London in a mere three and a half hours. A ticket cost $793, 20 percent higher than a typical first-class fare for that route. That’s about $3,599 in 2021 money.
They Paid What Now?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art shocked the world in November 1961 when it paid a record-setting $2.3 million for Rembrandt’s Aristotle with the Bust of Homer. Chump change nowadays! Even adjusted for inflation, that’s about a twentieth of the current high-water mark for outrageous art prices: $450 million for da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.
Look, Up in the Sky!
November 1922 saw a high-flying British invasion in the skies of New York City. Former Royal Air Force pilot Major Jack Savage (now there’s a name!) introduced Americans to the concept of skywriting with a demonstration over Times Square. He wrote “Hello USA.”
Around the World in 72 Days
Investigative journalist Nellie Bly rose to fame in 1887 when she published her experiences going undercover at a women’s insane asylum. But she captured the world’s imagination in November 1889, when she set out to circumnavigate the globe in the style of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Traveling mainly by steamship and railroad and packing only a small bag of toiletries and clean underwear, Bly set a world record by completing the trip in 72 days and change.
Seriously, November has a lot more to offer than Turkey Day. Special days (and weeks) that Americans apparently, uh, celebrate in the 11th month include:
- National Split Pea Soup Week (second week of the month) — Yum!
- Deviled Egg Day (Nov. 2) — A whole day to honor Satan’s favorite egg preparation.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul Day (Nov. 12) — Are those books still around?
- National Unfriend Day (Nov. 17) — A Jimmy Kimmel–invented holiday for dropping non-friends on social media.
- National Parfait Day (Nov. 25) — For the pumpkin pie–averse among us.
- Make Your Own Head Day (Nov. 28) — In which people make papier-mâché replicas of their own noggins.
Find More Fun
Image credits: Lead image by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash; St. Mark’s Church photo by Momos – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0; Concorde photo by philippe collard on Unsplash; Nellie Bly via Wikimedia, in the public domain