By Jim Turner
1970 – Earth Day is celebrated for the first time. Thousands of college students, more than ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and millions of other Americans participated in educational programs, rallies, and marches. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a strong environmental supporter, said that he hoped to “get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy.” It worked, and three months later the Environmental Protection Agency was established by the executive order of President Richard Nixon. On Earth Day’s twentieth anniversary, more than 200 million people in 192 countries worldwide celebrated. The United Nations has named the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, as its official Earth Day. The non-profit Earth Day Network coordinates what is now the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.
1969 – The Carpenters signed with A & M records. Brother and sister team Richard and Karen Carpenter’s soft musical style helped them to become some of the best-selling artists of all time. Karen Carpenter had a lead vocal range of an octave and a fifth, plus falsetto. Her range was C below middle C to G above high C.
In fourteen years they recorded eleven albums, thirty-one singles, five television specials, and a summer replacement television series in 1971. To date, Carpenters’ albums and singles have sold more than 100 million copies. Their career ended in 1983 with Karen’s death due to heart failure related to anorexia. Extreme media coverage surrounding her illness helped increase public awareness of eating disorders.
1889 – The Oklahoma Land Run, or land rush, started on this day. Known as the Boomer State because of the land boom, Oklahoma is also the Sooner State after those participants who got there sooner and claimed the best free land. The University of Oklahoma team nickname is the Boomer-Sooners. People who gathered at the Arkansas or Texas borders were permitted to enter Oklahoma, which had previously been set aside for Native Americans, seek a parcel of unclaimed land, and file a claim of ownership. Federal marshals, railroad personnel, and other persons lawfully in the territory before the opening (“legal sooners”) were prohibited from filing land claims – a provision that was more often violated than observed.
Quoting from an article in Harper’s Weekly published a month after the land rush on May 18, 1889:
“In some respects the recent settlement of Oklahoma was the most remarkable thing of the present century. Unlike Rome, the city of Guthrie was built in a day. To be strictly accurate in the matter, it might be said that it was built in an afternoon. At twelve o’clock on Monday, April 22d, the resident population of Guthrie was nothing; before sundown it was at least ten thousand. In that time streets had been laid out, town lots staked off, and steps taken toward the formation of a municipal government. At twilight the camp-fires of ten thousand people gleamed on the grassy slopes of the Cimarron Valley, where, the night before, the coyote, the gray wolf, and the deer had roamed undisturbed. Never before in the history of the West has so large a number of people been concentrated in one place in so short a time.”