On the Shelf

By Paul Guffin

The Twentieth of June

In this column, I often focus on what celebrations and observances happen during the various months of the year. This time, however, I thought it might be interesting to focus on a specific date — and, since I’m writing this column on Monday, I figured, why not use this date: June 20. So, here’s what I know and some of what I’ve discovered. (Also, a reminder: you can discover a lot of neat stuff like this in the Downieville Library.)

  • 1214: University of Oxford receives its charter
  • 1685: Monmouth Rebellion — James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, declares himself King of England
  • 1782: U.S. Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States (no, this isn’t a large mammal rescue)
  • 1787: At the Federal Convention, Oliver Ellsworth moves to call the government the “United States”
  • 1819: U.S. vessel SS Savannah arrives in Liverpool, the first steam-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic (though it cheated most of the way by journeying under sail)
  • 1837: 18-year-old Victoria becomes Queen of England
  • 1840: Samuel Morse receives a patent for the telegraph
  • 1863: National Bank of Davenport, Iowa, becomes the first chartered bank in the United States
  • 1867: U.S. President Andrew Johnson announces the Alaska Purchase
  • 1877: Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • 1893: Lizzie Borden is acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother
  • 1895: Caroline Willard Baldwin is the first female to earn a PhD from a U.S. university — Cornell University in science
  • 1903: Barney Oldfield accomplishes the first mile-a-minute performance in a car at Indianapolis, IN
  • 1919: Treaty of Versailles is signed
  • 1941: U.S. Air Force is established, replacing the Army Air Corps
  • 1943: Detroit race riot, with 35 killed
  • 1955: AFL-CIO formed by merger of American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • 1963: U.S. & Soviet Union sign agreement to establish hotline between Washington, DC, & Moscow
  • 1967: Linda & I get married
  • 1975: Movie Jaws is released
  • 1990: Asteroid Eureka is discovered
  • 1991: German Bundestag votes to move seat of government from Bonn to Berlin
  • 2001: World Refugee Day established on 50th anniversary of Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (originally this was known as Africa Refugee Day)

What’s New on the Shelves of the Downieville Library

Some new residents in our library community:


  • A Highland Christmas, by M.C. Beaton (mystery)
  • Final Flight, by Stephen Coonts (thriller)
  • Notorious Nineteen, Takedown Twenty, Top Secret Twenty-One, by Janet Evanovich (mystery)
  • The Dark Wind, by Tony Hillerman (mystery)
  • The Bitter Season, by Tami Hoag (mystery)


  • Los Exploradores, by Penelope Arlon & Tory Gordon-Harris (juvenile)
  • About Three Brick Shy…and the Load Filled Up, by Roy Blount, Jr.
  • Concise Dictionary of the American Indian, by Bruce Grant
  • Five Historic Characters in California Law, by Donald William Hamblin (special book section)
  • James Herriot’s Dog Stories, by James Herriot
  • The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America, by Mark E. Neely, Jr.
  • Paintings of the Southwest, by Arnold Skolnick
  • Galileo’s Daughter, by Dava Sobel

In other (old) literary news this week

Henrik Ibsen arrives in Rome for a self-imposed exile from Norway that will last for 27 years. (June 19, 1864) • J.D. Salinger’s novella Hapworth 16, 1924 takes up most of today’s issue of the New Yorker; it will be Salinger’s last publication before his death (June 19, 1965) • “Bad Gay of History” Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is published (June 20, 1890) • Jack London’s classic novel The Call of the Wild begins serialization in the Saturday Evening Post (June 20, 1903) • The US Supreme Court overturns a lower court ruling that found Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to be obscene (June 22, 1964) • The theaters in London close due to an outbreak of bubonic plague; they will remain shuttered for 16 months (June 23, 1592) • Early writing cliché adopter Washington Irving’s iconic stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are first published in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker (June 23, 1819) • Noted writer-runner Haruki Murakami completes his first ultramarathon (June 23, 1996) • The Hanlin Academy in Peking, the greatest library in the world you’ve never heard of, catches fire and is destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion (June 24, 1900).

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