The Thing About Today – January 19

January 19, 2020
Day 19 of 366


January 19th is the nineteenth day of the year. It is Husband’s Day in Iceland.

In the United States, it is “celebrated” as World Quark Day and National Popcorn Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1607, San Agustin Church in Manila was officially completed. It is the oldest church still standing in the Philippines.
  • In 1829, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy received its premiere performance.
  • In 1839, French painter Paul Cézanne was born.
  • In 1853, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il trovatore received its premiere performance in Rome.
  • In 1883, the first electric lighting system employing overhead wires began service at Roselle, New Jersey. It was built by Thomas Edison.
  • In 1915, the neon discharge tube was patented for use in advertising by Georges Claude.
  • In 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was formed.
  • In 1930, Nathalie Kay “Tippi” Hedren was born. She was an American actress and animal rights activist.
  • In 1937, Howard Hughes set a new air record by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds.
  • In 1946, singer, songwriter, and actress Dolly Parton was born.
  • In 1953, nearly 72% of televisions in the United States were tuned to I Love Lucy. The episode was “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” and was remarkable for the main character giving birth.
  • Coincidentally, Desi Arnaz, Jr. was born on the same day. He is the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the stars of I Love Lucy.
  • In 1954, actress and singer Katey Sagal was born.
  • In 1977, President Gerald Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D’Aquino, better known as “Tokyo Rose”.
  • In 1982, actress Jodie Sweetin was born.


In 1809, Edgar Allan Poe was born. An American writer, editor, and literary critic, Poe was best known for his poetry and short stories rooted in mystery and the macabre. In general, he’s considered as the inventor of the detective fiction genre and as a contributor to the emergence of the science fiction genre. He’s also the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone.

Shortly after his birth in Boston, Massachusetts, his father abandoned the family and his mother died. He was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia and stayed with them into young adulthood even though he was never formally adopted. He often clashed with John Allan over finances, especially gambling and education debts. He joined the Army under an assumed name but failed out of West Point and parted ways with John.

Shifting over to his blossoming writing career, Poe moved between multiple cities before marrying his 13-year old cousin, Virginia Clemm, in 1836. He published “The Raven” in 1845 to instant success. Virginia Clemm died two years later from tuberculosis, an event that influenced much of his later work.

Some of his more famous tales include “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, and “The Tell-Tale Heart”.

Poe’s legacy and influence are undeniable in world literature, as well as specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography. His life and work continue to influence popular culture in literature, music, films, and television to this day, and the Mystery Writers of America celebrate his legacy with the annual Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.

Edgar Allan Poe died in Baltimore, Maryland on October 7, 1849. He was 40 years old, and the cause of death was unknown, though it is often attributed to alcohol, cholera, drug abuse, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and several other causes.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.




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