The most famous [tomato] legend ... was introduced by Joseph S. Sickler in the mid-1900s, and became the subject of a CBS broadcast of You Are There in 1949. The story goes that the lingering doubts about the safety of the tomato in the United States were largely put to rest in 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson announced that at noon on September 26, he would eat a basket of tomatoes in front of the Salem, New Jersey, courthouse. Reportedly, a crowd of more than 2,000 persons gathered in front of the courthouse to watch the poor man die after eating the poisonous fruits, and were shocked when he lived. [However,] there is little, if any, historical evidence for any of these legends, and that they continue to be repeated largely because they are entertaining stories.
This could and may result in some other post about why I love and treasure Wikipedia for its contradictions and its problematic-in-a-good-way relationship with "Truth," but today I'm mildly upset that the tomato-eating Robert Johnson was not the same one who went down to the crossroads, the event didn't actually happen in the home of America's Favorite Witches, and -- if it happened at all -- did not happen on my birthday. Way to pull the rug, Wikipedia!
Here's stuff that seemed to actually happen on this day in history:
Checked In: Confucius, Livia Drusilla (the wife of Caesar Augustus, if you're watching HBO's excellent Rome), Ed Sullivan, William Paley (who, as head of CBS, surely had a hand in the above-referenced You Are There), Li'l Abner creator Al Capp, controversial executee Ethel Rosenberg, Chilean folksinger Victor Jara ("es veradad -- those Washington bullets again"), Brigitte Bardot , Al's favorite blues maven Koko Taylor , Ben E. King , the late great character actor J.T. Walsh, the great character actor (and, er, registered sex offender) Jeffery Jones , director and writer John Sayles , former radio host Janeane Garofalo , and Mighty Aprhodite's Mira Sorvino .
Checked Out: Pompey (have you even watched Rome?), Herman Melville, Louis Pasteur, department store and catalog entrepreneur Richard Sears, presumably far-sighted astronomer Edwin Hubble, Harpo Marx, John Dos Passos, cartoonist Charles Addams, Miles Davis, Pierre Trudeau, and HUAC rat Elia Kazan.
It is also the feast day of St. Wenceslas (who is famous for, um, looking out upon the feast of Stephen), Czech Statehood Day, and once -- under the French Rebellion Calendar -- today was Carrot Day. That's all, folks!