The Almanac of Alarming Events -- March 1997

3/1 1932: Contrary to the claims of a recent spate of books, Bruno Hauptmann kidnaps the 20-month old son of New York-to-Paris aviator Charles Lindbergh in Hopewell, New Jersey, apparently killing the infant in the process; nonetheless, he will collect $50,000 ransom two weeks later.3/2 1917: Band leader and sit-com star Desi Arnaz, aka "Mr. Lucille Ball", born in Santiago, Cuba.3/3 1983: In what can only be described as an irrational gambit in his battle for child custody, Charles Rothenberg torches a Beuna Park, California motel room, leaving his six-year old son with third degree burns over 90% of his body.3/4 1986: A presumably lackluster, unsuccessful reunion tour of THE BAND (sans Robbie Robertson) comes to a premature end when founding keyboardist Richard Manuel hangs himself in a Winter Park, Florida motel room bathroom.3/5 1770: Boston Massacre: in a poorly executed bit of crowd control, British Redcoats open fire on an unruly mob in front of the Customs House, killing five and inadvertently giving the rebellious colonials yet another reason to hate the crown.3/6 1978: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is shot by an unidentified gunman outside a Lawrenceville, Georgia courthouse during one of his many obscenity trials; the shooting leaves him paralyzed from the waist down.3/7 1918: An all but forgotten Munich locksmith named Anton Drexler founds a small political party, the "Committee of Independent Workmen". Renamed, the group will rise to international prominence under the leadership of early member, Adolf Hitler.3/8 1908: A fire in the Collingwood Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio causes a panic followed by a stampede among the students when flames block the only exit used in the regular fire drills, leaving 173 students and two teachers dead.3/9 1962: Six babies die in the maternity ward of Binghamton (New York) General Hospital after some twit uses salt instead of sugar in their formula.3/10 1980: Dr. Herman Tarnower, best-selling author of THE SCARSDALE DIET, is shot in his Purchase, New York home by his lover Jean Harris shoots after she discovers his plans to leave her for another woman.3/11 1949: Thomas Williams protests the payment of veteran's benefits to non-combatants and the impending recognition of Franco's by shooting himself outside the U.S. Senate visitor's gallery.3/12 1988: Porn star John Holmes, who is best remembered for things other than his "Johnny Wadd" X-rated detective parodies, dies of AIDs in Sepulvada, California3/13 1964: In front of 38 New Yorkers, none of whom even bother to call the police, much less interfere, a knife welding assailant takes 35 minutes to rape and kill Kitty Genovese in front of her apartment in Kew Garden, Queens3/14 1950: J. Edgar Hoover formally launches the FBI's highly successful "10 Most Wanted" program. Of the more than 400 fugitives listed over the next 47 years (alumni have included a circus clown and a newspaper heiress), over 95% will be captured.3/15 The Ides of March--a very bad day to be a Caesar. E tu, Brute?3/16 1926 Jerry Lewis, infatiguable telethon maestro and star of the never-to-see-the-light-of-day film "The Day the Clown Cried" (he plays a clown entertaining Jewish kids in Auschwitz), born, Newark, New Jersey.3/17 1942: Part time clown, small time politician, third-rate painter, and full-time serial killer John Wayne Gacy born, Chicago.3/18 1925: The deadliest series of tornadoes in history tear through six states, causing the heaviest damage in southern Illinois and killing 689 people.3/19 1936: Ursula Andress, who holds the twin distinctions of being the first "Bond Girl" and having been Mrs. John Derek, born, Bern, Switzerland.3/20 1953: British serial killer John Reginald Christie inexplicably sublets and moves out of his London flat where he had hidden four of his eight victims behind the walls and under the floors. His landlord's unpleasant discovery four days will send Christie to the gallows.3/21 1963: Former featherweight champion boxer Davey Moore inspires a Bob Dylan song when he collapses shortly after losing his title in a nationally televised bout at Dodger Stadium; he will die four days later.3/22 1978: An errant gust of wind blows tightrope walker Karl Wallenda off a high wire strung between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico.3/23 1908: Actress Joan Crawford, the inspiration of 10,000 drag queens and inventor of a parenting style that has yet to be equaled, born, San Antonio, Texas3/24 1985: Twenty-one shoppers in a Los Angeles Ross Dress for Less store are injured by the explosion of a naturally occurring methane pocket in the nearby La Brea tar pits.3/25 1911: A fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Greenwich Village kills 145 workers. Many of the victims, finding the fire exits of the sweat shop locked, leap to their deaths down the elevator shaft or out the windows of the 10th floor loft.3/26 1970: Folksinger Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, & Mary fame) pleads guilty in a Washington DC court to taking "immoral liberties" with a 14-year old girl.3/27 1977: In one of the worst aviation accidents in history, 567 people are killed without even leaving the ground when two 747s collide on the runway at Tenifre Airport in the Canary Islands while taxiing for takeoff.3/28 1941: Downbeat novelist Virginia Woolf commits suicide by walking into a river wearing a coat heavily weighted down with stones.3/29 1951: Bud Cort, the legendary costar of "Harold and Maude" and not much else, born, Rye, New York.3/30 1968: Former Disney kid star Bobby Driscoll ("Song of the South"), who was a personal favorite of Walt and the animator's model for "Peter Pan", found dead at 19 in an abandoned Lower East Side tenement, his arms dotted with needle marks. He will be buried in a pauper's grave until his identity is belatedly discovered weeks later.3/31 1985: "Singing Nun" Jeanine Deckers, who was never able to duplicate the success of her 1963 hit "Dominique", commits suicide with a companion in Belgium after the Church cuts funding to a charity they were running.


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